Chris Allen is a third-generation Californian who was raised on the San Francisco Peninsula. His grandparents met on a John Muir-led Sierra Club outing in 1908, which started a family tradition of summer backpacking in the high Sierra. Following graduation from the University of California at Davis, Chris co-founded an insurance brokerage company, which he subsequently sold to pursue further studies at Stanford University.
In 1980 Chris entered the commercial real estate field with Cushman and Wakefield, later joining Coldwell Banker (now CB Richard Ellis) to lease and sell major office and industrial properties in the Bay Area. After becoming one of the leading office brokers in the area, Chris turned his attention to real estate development, working on large land projects for Copley Realty Advisors in the Bay Area and in the Central Valley of California.