For print only.

Jeroen Wright takes the reins of Mutual Operations Department

Paul Donner to retire Aug. 1

By Sam Richards

Staff writer

(Friday, June 16): Jeroen Wright already had a pretty good feel for Rossmoor when he got here, starting June 12 as GRF’s new director of Mutual Operations. He came over from BrightView Landscape Services, which does substantial contracting work with GRF.

Wright was a vice president and senior branch manager there and had already known the man he would one day succeed, Paul Donner, for many years.

News photo by Sam Richards Jeroen Wright, the new director of Mutual operations, sits in front of the desk that greeted the retiring Paul Donner when he assumed the director post 24 years ago.

“I was familiar in general with what (Donner) did, but I had many particulars to learn,” Wright said. “People have said I have some pretty big shoes to fill; my goal is to fill those shoes for the next 20 years or so of my career.”

Donner, a 31-year GRF veteran who has been director of Mutual operations for 24 years, is set to formally retire Aug. 1. It’s no accident there’s a fairly lengthy overlap during which the two men are working together.

“The number of things Paul has in his brain is staggering, not surprising,” Wright said.

In addition to considerable familiarity with Rossmoor, Wright (his first name is pronounced YAIR-own, roll the “r” a little) brings with him a particularly relevant skill set. He has had previous careers not only in landscape services but also in both construction and firefighting, and for a time had his own flooring business.

Being familiar with construction and related fields is helpful, Wright said, when part of your job is overseeing people who in turn oversee maintaining 6,700-some residences within Rossmoor.

The firefighting piece – three years’ experience with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) – should help as Rossmoor continues to work to improve its overall fire resilience. Wright is the point person for Rossmoor’s participation with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District’s Firewise USA program helping bring residents, GRF managers and ConFire together to work to make Rossmoor safer from wildfires.

“Ninety-five percent of what I did as a firefighter was fighting and training for wildfires,” Wright said. “I know a lot about defensible space.”

A Livermore resident, Wright is an avid vegetable gardener and has been a baseball and soccer coach for his two sons for the past eight years. A hobby that he hasn’t had as much time for recently as he may like is Schutzhund, a sport that tests a dog’s tracking, obedience and protection skills. The dogs are generally German shepherds or other large breeds. Wright was once nationally ranked in this sport.

“I competed with the dogs at a high level, and I hope to get back to that one day,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s got his sons, and his new position, at top of mind. He said he aims to be an effective problem solver.

“I want to be an asset to the community,” he said. “I’m here to help.”