Alumni Profile: Hayden Watson '92

Hayden Watson

Hayden Watson '92 – Building Dreams and Communities.

From his time at University of the Pacific to leading one of the top home-building companies in the Northwest, Hayden Watson's journey exemplifies passion and community.

Watson’s real estate career began in Redmond, Oregon, after his 1992 graduation from Pacific’s Eberhardt School of Business. Influenced by his parents, Bob and Virginia Watson, he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, a California real estate commissioner and apricot farmer, and his father, a pioneering real estate broker. His mother, Virginia Watson, was a Pacific alumna, graduating in 1942.

Over the past 32 years, Hayden Homes has built nearly 30,000 homes throughout the Pacific Northwest, including 115 for families in need. “My parents were incredibly giving and philanthropic,” Watson said. “My mother, Virginia, believed we should live in a world where we give more than we get.” This philosophy has become central to Hayden Homes, a 350-person organization, creating a culture of generosity known as “Give as You Go.”

Inspired by his parents’ generosity, Watson founded First Story, a nonprofit that offers zero-down, 0% interest loans to under-resourced families, revolutionizing access to homeownership. Eighty percent of the staff contribute to First Story through payroll deductions matched 100% by the company. In 2019, Watson received the Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award for his significant contributions to affordable housing.

“My real estate finance class at Pacific was the first time I started to understand how real estate is done and the impact of finance on the business,” he says. “It gave me a better idea of what my dad had been doing and ideas of how I could contribute to the family business.” Pacific’s intimate environment, with smaller class sizes and fraternity life, taught Watson teamwork and relationship-building, essential for his relationship-focused work. His involvement with the Archania fraternity created lasting connections that continue with annual traditions.

With his daughters Julia, Angelina, and Alicia entering adulthood, Watson looks forward to new personal and professional endeavors. “I’m about to be an empty nester with more time to spend with my wife, Kristin, and look forward to new adult relationships with my girls. Traveling more, engaging in athletic endeavors, and continuing to contribute to communities for another 30 years is fulfilling,” he shares. “There are stresses, challenges, and risk, but it is worth it because you get to be part of a group making a difference.”

Watson’s success is deeply intertwined with his time at the University of the Pacific. “I came to Pacific very young and not totally prepared for the rest of my life,” he reflects. “Pacific was the perfect place to explore and gain skills to be relevant and confident, surrounded by inspiring and hardworking people.” His journey from Pacific to building homes and communities showcases the enduring impact of his education and the values instilled by his family. Watson’s legacy is one of community and a relentless commitment to making a difference.