Meet Laurene Powell Jobs, the philanthropist who will deliver Penn’s 2021 commencement speech at graduation on May 17.
Powell Jobs, the 95th-richest person in the world and widow of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, is known for her work to fund efforts on environmental justice, immigration reform, education, and a number of other issues.
1. She graduated from Penn in 1985.
Powell Jobs earned a BA in political science from the College and a BS in economics from the Wharton School.
During her time at Penn, she founded Special Deliveries, a student-run cake and care package delivery service within Penn Student Agencies. She also worked at PSA, waited tables at Smokey Joe's, and studied abroad in Paris. Powell Jobs also served on the National Advisory Board of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships.
Following her graduation from Penn, she worked at Goldman Sachs before earning her MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
2. Powell Jobs is not interested in "legacy wealth building."
Powell Jobs, whose net worth is estimated at $19.3 billion, said she does not plan to pass her massive wealth onto her children. Instead, she told The New York Times she has dedicated her life to determining the best way to effectively distribute her wealth to uplift individuals and communities.
“It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined,” she told the Times. “There’s nothing fair about that.”
She added that her husband was also uninterested in legacy wealth building.
3. Her commitment to promoting equity in education began many decades ago.
Powell Jobs founded College Track, a nonprofit that works to equip first-generation, low-income students with resources to earn a bachelor’s degree, in 1997. She still serves as the board chair, working to close the achievement gap among students of color in education.
She is also co-founder of the XQ Institute, which aims to create more equitable high schools and teach students to be civically engaged, critical readers, generous collaborators, and lifelong learners.
4. Powell Jobs sees journalism as a vital civic institution.
As co-owner of The Atlantic, she believes independent journalism is a necessary form of civic education.
"[Journalists] head out into a difficult and complicated world, and tell us stories that allow us to learn, to make informed decisions at the ballot box, and to remain smartly engaged in civic life,” Powell Jobs said at the annual dinner of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York.
She is also co-owner of Anonymous Content and Concordia Studio, a production and management company.
5. She is working to fund aid efforts for a number of social welfare issues.
Powell Jobs founded the Emerson Collective, an organization that aims to create a more just country through impact investing, philanthropy, and advocacy. The organization focuses on creating systemic change in education, the environment, immigration, and cancer research and treatment.
Powell Jobs is also an advocate for Dreamers, people who came to the United States as children and do not have citizenship. She has worked on reforming legislation for Dreamers, purchasing television ads that opposed Trump’s commitment to ending the program that has allowed Dreamers to remain in the country.