Hirair Hovnanian is a homebuilder based in New Jersey
Mr. Hovnanian and his wife Anna have five children: Siran, Edele, Armen, Tanya, and Leela, two son in laws, Toros and Levon.
Hirair Hovnanian, President and Founder of Hovsons, Inc., is a founding benefactor of the Armenian Assembly. From his arrival on a freighter in 1951, Mr. Hovnanian has built one of the most successful privately held land and housing development companies in the country. In recent years he has totally dedicated his time and efforts to the betterment of society and to the Armenian-American community.Hrair
A 1956 Villanova University graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, Mr. Hovnanian began his career with a consulting firm constructing the Connecticut Turnpike. In 1958, after seeing a cousin’s home being built in Toms River, New Jersey, Mr. Hovnanian moved there and started building homes. He was later joined by his brothers. After several successful years working with his brothers, Hirair Hovnanian broke out on his own and formed Hovsons, Inc. in 1963.
Within the first year, Mr. Hovnanian had built 74 homes and noticed that eighty percent of his buyers were retirees. That was an epiphany that changed his future. Mr. Hovnanian is referred to in books as one of the innovators of the concept of large scale adult communities of single family homes located on individual lots. This bold move became very successful, and the communities grew and grew later becoming mixed use communities including recreational, medical and commercial facilities. Over tens of thousands of adult community homes and home sites have been built by Mr. Hovnanian. Over the last five decades, Mr. Hovnanian’s business activities have diversified to include the development and construction of health care facilities, major retail centers, office complexes, rental apartments and a 7,200 acre mining business.
In addition to his corporate business achievements, Mr. Hovnanian is involved in numerable charitable and civic activities.
Mr. Hovnanian has also contributed greatly to the Armenian community worldwide with a variety of civic, charitable, educational, and philanthropic activities. Mr. Hovnanian serves as Chairman of the Armenian Assembly’s Board of Trustees and is a founding member of the Hayastan All Armenian Fund. Mr. Hovnanian also directly managed the construction of four housing component factories in Armenia after the 1988 earthquake, on behalf of the Armenian Assembly of America. Along with his contributions of time, his charitable contributions to date exceed $40 million.
Mr. Hovnanian and his wife Anna have five children: Siran, Edele, Armen, Tanya, and Leela, two son in laws, Toros and Levon, and five grandchildren.
Hirair and Anna Hovnanian To Give Away Over Half a Billion Dollars
Edele Hovnanian for the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation formally announced that her parents, Hirair and Anna Hovnanian, will be conveying assets estimated to be worth over $500 million, to the Hirair and Anna Hovnanian Foundation. Their Foundation was formally established in 1986 and states as its mission “…funding for charitable, educational, religious, scientific, literary . . .purposes, with a primary focus . . . to assist Armenian communities world-wide by gifts, grants, contribution and program related investments. . . .”.
When fully endowed, it will be the largest private foundation in history dedicated primarily to Armenians. The Foundation’s board, comprised of the Hovnanian’s five children and his three oldest grandchildren, will be required to distribute an estimated $25 million dollars annually. This extraordinary gift, the culmination of a lifetime of giving, is a fitting legacy to an extraordinary couple and their inspirational lives.
Mr. Hovnanian is known as one of the innovators of the concept of large scale adult communities of single family homes located on individual lots. Tens of thousands of homes have been built by Mr. Hovnanian, and his business activities have diversified to include the development and construction of health care facilities, major retail centers, office complexes, rental apartments and a 7000 acre mining operation.
As soon as his success began, so began the Hovnanian’s lifetime of philanthropy. In 1972 he was one of the founders of the Armenian Assembly of America, and he currently serves as Chairman of the Assembly’s Board of Trustees. Hirair is also a founding member of the Hayastan All Armenian Fund which was founded in the early 90’s, as well as the founder of ANI, the Armenian National Institute, in 1997.
To date, his charitable contributions exceed over $50 million. But it is not just the amount which is commendable, but also the dedicated manner in which it is given. For example, following the December 1988 earthquake in Armenia, he was one of the first Americans to the scene to assess the damage, and on behalf of the Armenian Assembly oversaw the construction of four industrial plants in Gyumri, Armenia which supplied housing components for the victims of the earthquake. He was totally hands on coordinating the mammoth task of constructing the factories which produced concrete blocks, trusses, window and doors, even supervising the loading of the prefabricated factory buildings onto Soviet cargo planes, and traveling constantly back and forth to Armenia to insure their successful operation and maximize the value of every dollar contributed. That plant still operates today.
Currently, Mr. Hovnanian is building a new church in downtown Yerevan in honor of his wife, Anna, and new offices in Yerevan for the Vehapar, at an estimated cost of $5 million – a project which he himself is overseeing.
Vigilant oversight, which has been the hallmark of Hirair’s business and philanthropic activities, will be the guiding philosophy of the Foundation’s Board. All five of his children, Siran, Edele, Tanya, Leela and Armen, entrusted with the responsibility of distributing funds from the Foundation, will be hands on in identifying, through various committees and massive nationwide focus groups, the greatest need and insuring that every dollar is wisely spent. The Foundation has offices in both New Jersey and Yerevan.
“Our children have known from early on that this would be their destiny, and they enthusiastically embrace this responsibility,” says Hirair, from his home in Armenia, which is now his primary residence. “They are all highly educated, with vast experience in philanthropy, and have my full confidence and trust. All of my children are financially secure for their life time and beyond and thus, this donation of a substantial portion of our assets will be a natural end to the fortunate life that Anna and I have had.”
As part of the Foundation’s mission is a commitment to also give back to Ocean County, New Jersey where so much of Hirair’s success began in 1958 and Monmouth County, New Jersey where Anna and Hirair raised their children and where most of them still reside. In accordance to its mission statement the Foundation will also “assist charitable or educational organizations located in Ocean or MonmouthCounties whose primary activities include the provision of health care, or education and training in real estate.” To that end the Foundation in 2008 pledged $2.5 million for a neo-natal unit at MonmouthMedicalHospital and recently pledged $5 million to a new Emergency wing as part of Ocean medical Hospital. Mr. Hovnanian recently also increased his donations to his alma mater, VillanovaUniversity, raising the Hovnanian scholarship, which is open to all students of Armenian descent, to $1.7 million.
The Foundation currently distributes about $3 million per year to charities worldwide and has commitments through 2013 but in the coming years will reach out to select community leaders for their ideas and insight on how best to maximize the impact of this unprecedented gift. Inquiries regarding the Hirair and Anna Foundation can be made to: firstname.lastname@example.org
LA Time letter to the editor
Los Angeles Times
December 24, 2004 Friday
Armenians Decry Politics of Genocide
The Dec. 14 article "Turkey Drifts Further From U.S." portrays with depressing clarity how Turkish and American officials play the politics of genocide.
As a descendant of victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide, I was not surprised but nevertheless appalled that Turkish officials would characterize the U.S.-led operation in Iraq as genocide.
These are the same Turkish officials who categorically reject repeated European Parliament calls for Turkey to come to terms with its genocidal past as a condition of its entry into the European Union.
As a proud U.S. citizen by choice, I again was deeply offended that American officials would express their legitimate anger at Turkey by threatening to "allow" Congress to pass a resolution reaffirming the Armenian Genocide. Remembrance of the Armenian and every other instance of genocide is an essential step in preventing the crime from recurring. The history of the Armenian Genocide is not a political weapon to be used by American politicians to send a message to their Turkish counterparts.
The House and Senate must send the correct message to American and Turkish officials who play the politics of genocide by passing a resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide.
Chairman, Board of Trustees
Armenian Assembly of America, Washington
Turkey port project
In early 1990s, Hrair Hovnanian embarked upon a Turkish project to revitalize the port of Trabizon, having as partner Mr. Alaton (a Turkish Jew). The project was blocked by the Turkish government, which began a land blockade of Armenia that continues to the present.