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Don Howard, President and CEO of The James Irvine Foundation


Don Howard, CEO of the James Irvine Foundation: Economic Mobility for California's Low-Income Workers.


Don Howard, CEO of the James Irvine Foundation, sheds light on the foundation's unwavering commitment to fostering economic mobility among low-income workers in California. With a rich history dating back to 1937, the foundation has been a pivotal force, directing over $2.6 billion in grants to various organizations across California. In 2023 alone, $180 million was allocated to support initiatives aimed at creating a more inclusive and equitable society.


The foundation's mission is crystal clear: ensuring that every low-income worker in California has the power to advance economically. This goal is pursued through a multifaceted approach that includes improving access to quality jobs, enhancing workers' influence within the economy, fostering community-driven economic planning, and strengthening the safety net for those unable to advance economically.


The foundation's strategy is not just about grantmaking but also about catalyzing broader systemic change. This includes initiatives like Jobs First, a state program designed to engage communities in planning their economic futures in a way that is inclusive, equitable, and climate-resilient.


Despite the challenges, Howard remains optimistic about California's future, viewing the state's diversity and innovation as key assets in rebuilding a more inclusive middle class. He acknowledges the issues of infrastructure, climate change, and inequality but sees these as opportunities for systemic transformation. Through strategic philanthropy, community engagement, and a deep commitment to economic justice, the James Irvine Foundation is leading the way in creating a brighter future for California's low-income workers.


About Don Howard


Don Howard is President and CEO of The James Irvine Foundation, leading the foundation to focus on one goal: ensuring all low-income workers in California have the power to advance economically. Don previously directed Irvine’s grantmaking as Executive Vice President.


He serves on the Public Policy Institute of California’s Leadership Council, the Partnership for Public Service’s Partnership West Advisory Council, and the California Policy Lab Advisory Board.


As a partner at The Bridgespan Group, Don led the San Francisco office and advised nonprofits and foundations on strategy, and he advised corporations while at Booz Allen Hamilton and Scient Corporation.


Don has been an activist around HIV issues and a volunteer (USAID) adviser for small businesses in Poland. He has written and spoken on philanthropic strategy, nonprofit management, and social entrepreneurship.


Don earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and M.B.A. from Stanford University.





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