For more than 45 years, Donald Bren, Chairman of the Board of the Irvine Company, has been deeply involved in California real estate as a master planner, master builder and long-term investor.
The Irvine Company’s property portfolio exceeds 100 million square feet and includes 480 office buildings, 41 retail centers, 125 apartment communities, three hotels, marinas, and golf clubs, primarily in Orange County, California, with additional investment properties expanding into Los Angeles, San Diego and Silicon Valley.
As a community entrepreneur, Bren focuses his charitable contributions on land preservation and conservation, as well as education and research. BusinessWeek magazine has estimated that he has given more than $1.3 billion during his lifetime.
Bren has led the Irvine Company to set aside more than 52,000 acres of the original 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch as permanently protected open space.
In 2006, this land was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. secretary of the interior and the National Park Service. In 2008, it was also designated as the first California Natural Landmark by the state of California.
Bren has also made significant contributions to K through 12 public schools and endowed more than 50 chairs for distinguished faculty and researchers at universities and research institutions.
Born in Los Angeles, Bren earned a degree in business administration and economics from the University of Washington. Following his education, he served for three years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Bren began his business career in 1958. In 1963, he formed the Mission Viejo Company and, as president, began the master planning and master development of the 11,000-acre new community of Mission Viejo, California.
In 1967, Bren sold his interest in the Mission Viejo Company to focus on statewide building and development activities including the Irvine Ranch.
In 1977, he joined a group of investors to purchase the Irvine Company from the Irvine Foundation. In 1983, he was elected Chairman of the Board. In 1996, he became the principal shareholder.