Laurene Powell Jobs likes to stay out of the public eye. But behind the scenes, she's philanthropic and lately, those efforts have made her more visible for the first time.
Powell Jobs was married to Steve Jobs. When he died, he left behind an $11.5 billion fortune, comprised mostly of shares in Walt Disney Company and Apple. Jobs founded Pixar which was acquired by Disney in 2006 for stock.
While she's more comfortable with a private life, friends say she realizes her unique opportunity to impact a lot of lives, and that it might require her to leave her comfort zone.
“She’s been mourning for a year and was grieving for five years before that,” a friend of the Jobs', Larry Brilliant, told The New York Times. “Her life was about her family and Steve, but she is now emerging as a potent force on the world stage, and this is only the beginning.”
Powell Jobs is starting to aggressively push the issues she cares about, including education, nutrition, gun control and immigration policies. Last month, she gave an interview about immigration policy.
“If you total up in your mind all of the philanthropic investments that Laurene has made that the public knows about that is probably a fraction of 1 percent of what she actually does , and that’s the most I can say,” Powell Jobs' friend and fellow philanthropist Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen tells NYT. Arrillaga-Andreessen is married to Netscape founder and startup investor, Marc Andreessen.
Powell Jobs' efforts include a contribution to Emerson College that helps the school make grants and fund education initiatives. She's also well known for College Track, a program she founded 16 years ago, which helps students from low-income households receive better educations.
Powell Jobs is also an advocate for The Dream Act, a legislation that would grant immigrants who are children legal status.
In addition, she sits on the board of Conservation International, a not-for-profit environmental organization. Peter Seligmann, the group's chief executives says of Powell Jobs:
" She knows that she is in an unusual position and has the standing to have a major impact on the world stage. It will be fascinating to watch the choices that she makes."
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