Our Founder

Donald Chaiken

Donald Chaiken

1936 – 2023

After graduating with top honors from the University of Florida College of Business, Don started his career in 1960 as a Certified Public Accountant with the national firms of Deloitte, Haskins and Sells and later at the firm of Leventhal and Horwath.

In 1970, Don joined a large Northern California homebuilder as Chief Financial Officer. The firm merged with Singer Housing Company in 1971 at which time he took on the responsibilities of what became a multi-state builder/developer of residential and multi-family housing, shopping centers, light industrial facilities, and commercial office complexes. In 1977, Singer Housing was spun off to form a new company, Citation Homes, where Don served as a partner until 1981.

Although Don may no longer occupy the corner office, he was and always will be the cornerstone of Davidon Homes.

In 1982, Don and his wife, Carole, opened the doors of Davidon Homes. At a time when prime lending rates were skyrocketing with mortgage rates at a staggering 17-1/2%, many homebuilders were failing and pulling out of the market. Instead, Don saw opportunity and forged ahead. Over the next few years, the company grew despite the many challenges and in 1986 moved into its current location in Walnut Creek, CA, while expanding operations into Southern and Central California and Nevada. In the mid-1980’s, a Property Management Division was established to build, acquire, and manage hundreds of apartment homes throughout the region.

Through a successful combination of Don’s keen business sense, entrepreneurial spirit, strong and steady leadership, and a team of dedicated employees, Davidon Homes not only survived but thrived through the extreme ups and downs in the California real estate market. Davidon is now one of the largest privately owned real estate developers in Northern California having constructed thousands of single-family homes – from starter homes to multi-million dollar estate homes – as well as luxury condominium/townhome communities and apartment complexes.

Don was also deeply involved and highly respected throughout the homebuilding industry. In addition to making the dream of homeownership a reality for thousands of homebuyers, Don was proud to support a named legacy gift to the Donald Chaiken Building Industry Technology Academy (BITA). BITA is a free construction trade training program made possible through the California Homebuilding Foundation (CHF) to provide aspiring home builders and students seeking a career in the construction industry the opportunity to realize their own dreams. For his many contributions and accomplishments, Don was inducted into the CHF Hall of Fame in 2007.

Philanthropy and giving back to the local, national and international community was a passion for Don and Carole and continues to be for his family who carry on his legacy. In 1988, Don and Carole founded the Donald and Carole Chaiken Foundation which has supported and provided grants to a wide variety of charities and organizations including Jewish, medical, arts, education, civil rights, children, and other programs both locally and around the world. They established the first Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community of the East Bay where Don served as President of the Board of Directors from 1999-2002. Don chaired and co-chaired several non-profit capital campaigns and was the driving force behind the construction of a new Jewish Community Center in Walnut Creek. Through the years, he became a role model and mentor for leaders in the Jewish community, and his contributions and influence will be felt for generations to come.

With a firm belief that there was still so much to be done and an unwavering enthusiasm for the building industry, Don had no plans to retire and continued to be instrumental in the operation of Davidon Homes until his passing in 2023. Don and Carole’s three daughters – Julie, Jennifer, and Dana – along with a seasoned management team and the dedicated employees who made up Don’s work family, will continue the legacy that Don built, grew, and watched over for almost 50 successful years.