We’re hearing a lot more of Laurene Powell Jobs’ name lately, with her new media venture, Ozymandias, various philanthropic efforts, her long-standing involvement with College Track, and more recent involvement in immigration reform.
While her name may be more well known to readers of this site as the widow of the Apple founder and superstar, but as time passes since his death, she has been stepping into the spotlight more often, becoming more visible as the world’s ninth richest woman and an active philanthropist in her own right.
As Saturday is the anniversary of Steve Jobs’ passing (and we’ve got an entire Newsstand issue to commemorate it), it seemed fitting to take a closer look at the woman who was by his side since 1991.
She attended Stanford Business School, earning a Master of Business Administration degree there. She met Steve Jobs there, eventually marrying and having three children with him. In 1997, she co-founded College Track, a nonprofit with a mission to improve high school and college graduation for underserved students. Pop music star Will.i.am asked for her help to bring that program to his own home town just this past January. The agency has shown some remarkable results, helping 90 percent of College Track students finish college in four years. The national average is 24 percent.
Powell Jobs also serves on another higher education company board, Udacity, and the Emerson Collective, a group that supports social entrepreneurs working in education and immigration reform. She recently gave an interview to Brian Williams about Steve Jobs to also promote a new film and website, The Dream Is Now, meant to get the immigration-related DREAM Act passed.
In 2010, she was also appointed to the White House Council for Community Solutions by President Obama.
Upon Steve Jobs’ death, the control of his trust, known now as the Laurene Powell Jobs Trust, passed to Powell Jobs. This trust owns a huge amount of stock in The Walt Disney Company, as well as in Apple. Her net worth, according to Forbes, is about $11.7 billion.
When you have that kind of money, of course, you can do a lot of good. But you also don’t want to necessarily shout it all out in public. Sometimes, doing good means doing so quietly. As our own Killian Bell pointed out last May, Ms. Powell Jobs has done a lot of good for a long time, just quite a bit more under wraps than some others.
“We’re really careful about amplifying the great work of others in every way that we can, and we don’t like attaching our names to things,” she told The New York Times.
That’s not to say that Ms. Powell Jobs is only interested in giving money away, of course. That said, even the ambitious new media website she recently backed, Ozymandias (Ozy), has a certain philanthropic vibe about it, and it’s being called media for the “change” generation. Pretty snazzy, that. It’s steps like these that may in fact thrust her into some more press scrutiny, as well.
So, while we may hear Powell Jobs’ name more often in the coming years as we find out about her less under-the-radar philanthropic efforts, it’s good to remember that she is a powerful human being in her own right, and has more than earned the ability to stand on her own as a business person focused on making the world a better place. It says a lot about a man like Steve Jobs, being willing to build a life with such a powerful, intelligent, and talented woman as Laurene Powell.