The Foundation concluded operations on December 31, 2020. Learn more.

Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., Chair

In 1957, Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. created the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation to improve the quality of life for Californians by addressing issues that challenge the health and prosperity of the state.

Stephen D. Bechtel Jr.A successful engineering career and a lifelong passion for the outdoors inspired Mr. Bechtel to direct the Foundation’s primary investments toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and the environment. With Mr. Bechtel’s leadership, the Foundation has played a key role in strengthening STEM teaching and learning in California and promoting the sustainable management of California’s natural resources.

Before focusing his attention on philanthropy, Mr. Bechtel served as the third-generation leader of the worldwide engineering and construction business the Bechtel Corporation, founded by his grandfather, Warren A. Bechtel. Today, the Bechtel Corporation provides a broad range of technical, construction, and management services in many industries around the globe.

Mr. Bechtel is Senior Director of the Bechtel Group, Inc. He is also Chairman Emeritus and Director of Fremont Group, LLC, a private investment company that specializes in direct investments, real estate, and publicly-traded securities.

A recognized leader in industry, Mr. Bechtel earned a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue University and a Master’s degree in business administration from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. His accomplishments are significant and varied:

  • Received honorary Doctorate degrees from Purdue University, the University of Colorado, and the Colorado School of Mines.
  • Served as Director of the Board for several major corporations, including General Motors and IBM.
  • Appointed to various Presidential committees and commissions by Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Ford.
  • Served several industry and community organizations as Chairman, including the Business Council; the Conference Board, Inc.; and the National Academy of Engineering.
  • Served as Vice Chairman on the California Council for Science and Technology Task Force in 2006, advising California’s governor on strategies to increase the state’s talent pool by improving STEM education.
  • Currently serves on the Hoover Institution Task Force on Energy.
  • Currently serves on the Precourt Institute for Energy Advisory Council.
  • Currently serves on the MIT Energy Initiative External Advisory Board.

Mr. Bechtel and his wife, Betty, have a large family of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He has shared a deep commitment to learning and love for the outdoors with them, while encouraging the family to continue his legacy of service to the community.

In addition, Mr. Bechtel has established foundations for each of his children and grandchildren, committing his time and expertise to their education as responsible and innovative philanthropists.

With the decision to spend down the assets of the Foundation he created, Mr. Bechtel looks to future generations to maintain the family tradition of philanthropy.