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Press Release

Irvine Foundation Names Don Howard as President and CEO

San Francisco — Don Howard, a lifelong Californian whose career in nonprofit leadership has been defined by innovation and a deep commitment to social change, has been appointed president and chief executive officer of The James Irvine Foundation, effective October 1, 2014. The appointment was made unanimously by the Irvine Foundation Board of Directors after a broad and extensive search.

“Don is an innovative leader, recognized for his experience and creativity in both the private and nonprofit sectors,” said Greg Avis, chair of Irvine’s Board of Directors. “His deep passion and commitment to the people and issues of California, as well as his long history of developing partnerships and successful road maps for social change, make him the right person to propel the Foundation towards even greater impact.”

Mr. Howard currently serves as the Foundation’s interim president and CEO, and has served as executive vice president, overseeing the Foundation’s grantmaking, since 2012. As a partner with the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit strategy consulting firm, he managed the Irvine Foundation’s strategic planning process in 2002–2003, which led to the current focus in Arts, California Democracy and Youth. While at Bridgespan, he also advised the Irvine Foundation for over a decade on various programmatic and organizational efforts.

“I am honored, humbled and ready to go to work for the people of California,” Mr. Howard said. “This Foundation is already doing tremendous work to expand opportunity. Yet, I know the board and staff are hungry to move to the next level of impact, to take more smart risks, and to continue innovating in ways that will deepen and expand our effectiveness.”

Mr. Howard has decades of leadership experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors. As a strategy advisor, he has helped scores of nonprofits expand their impact by innovating new approaches to social change, including work on education reform, neighborhood revitalization, and environmental sustainability. He has also helped many leading foundations improve their philanthropic strategy and performance.

Mr. Howard is a lifelong Californian who was raised in Long Beach and earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Stanford University. Prior to joining the Irvine Foundation, he served for over a decade at the Bridgespan Group, where he was partner and headed the San Francisco office. Earlier in his career, Mr. Howard served as a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton and as a managing director at the Scient Corporation.

Mr. Howard has also been a volunteer and activist on HIV and other health-related issues, serving in the past on advisory boards at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, UCSF, and the National Institutes of Health. He currently serves on the board of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Click here to view an October 2013 video interview with Mr. Howard, including insights into his approach to grantmaking and supporting nonprofits.


About The James Irvine Foundation

The James Irvine Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation dedicated to expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. The Foundation’s grantmaking focuses on three program areas: Arts, California Democracy and Youth. Since 1937 the Foundation has provided over $1.3 billion in grants to more than 3,500 nonprofit organizations throughout California. With about $1.7 billion in assets, the Foundation made grants of $67 million in 2012 for the people of California.

For more information about the Irvine Foundation, please visit our Web site at or call 415.777.2244.