President and CEO
Don Howard was appointed president and chief executive officer effective October 2014. He served as interim president and chief executive officer from February through September 2014. Prior to that appointment, as executive vice president, Don Howard directed Irvine’s program and grantmaking activities. He helps lead the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to deepen, extend, and amplify the impact of our work.
Prior to joining Irvine in 2012, Don was a partner at The Bridgespan Group for over a decade where he was a strategic advisor to nonprofit and foundation leaders and led Bridgespan’s San Francisco office. As part of this work, he managed Irvine’s strategic planning process in 2002–2003 that led to the Foundation’s development of strategies for Arts, California Democracy, and Youth. Earlier in his career, Don helped corporate leaders formulate strategy and improve the effectiveness of their organizations as a principal at Booz Allen and Hamilton and later as a managing director at the Scient Corporation.
Don grew up in Long Beach, in Southern California, before coming to the Bay Area to earn his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at Stanford University. He later returned to Stanford to obtain his Master in Business Administration from the Graduate School of Business. More recently, he co-developed and taught a class on social entrepreneurship at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.
As a volunteer, Don has been an activist around HIV and other health-related issues, serving in the past on advisory boards at the San Francisco Department of Public Health; University of California, San Francisco; and the National Institutes of Health. He has acted as an advisor to the boards of several San Francisco community-based organizations. He is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, where he is actively involved in the development of a new community-based approach to improving gay men’s health and ending HIV transmission. Don also has worked extensively outside the United States, including a volunteer posting with a USAID-sponsored initiative to provide business advice to private enterprises in Central Europe.
We have been examining how to sharpen our focus to make the best use of our foundation’s experience, skills, connections, and grantmaking resources. Our goal was not to go find something new – it was to build on what’s working and find ways to do it even better.Read the Story
As I took on the CEO role at the James Irvine Foundation, I set out to listen to leaders across California to hear their ideas and advice for the next chapter of Irvine’s work. Over the past five months, I've spoken with many of our state's most passionate, bright, and thoughtful leaders from business, government, and the social sector who shared insights and ideas as we discussed hopes and challenges for California today.Read the Story