Born in New Jersey in 1963, Laurene Powell Jobs attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Economics. She later attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she earned an M.B.A. in 1991. That same year, she married one of the founders and a former CEO of Apple Inc, Steve Jobs. While Powell Jobs had spent many years in the private sector as a financial analyst for firms such as Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, after her marriage her interests turned to the founding of an organic food company called Terravera and to serving as a member of the board of directors of the Achieva company.
Along with businessman Carlos Watson, Powell Jobs helped to found College Track in 1997, an initiative with six locations around the country that encourages and assists low income children in attending college. With a success rate of over 90% of the 1,400 College Track-trained students who enter higher learning and a rate of 70% who graduate, College Track is a stunning success and there are plans to open a further five centers in cities across America.
As many of the students in College Track are from families of undocumented migrants who entered and remain in the country illegally, Powell Jobs supported a documentary filmmaker in the production of “The Dream Is Now,” a short film highlighting the lives of the children of immigrants and their struggles to obtain legitimate citizenship and further their education. This vital issue has made Powell Jobs a passionate advocate of the Dream Act, a cause whose success she continues to pursue.
While both her late husband and she were adverse to making very public monetary donations to charitable causes, they did give money and gifts anonymously, a practice that Powell Jobs continues in the wake of her husband’s death.
Powell Jobs is also a passionate advocate for issues across the continent of Africa as well, joining actor Ben Affleck in Congo to support his Eastern Congo Initiative. In 2012, in her capacity as board member of Conservation International, she traveled to Botswana for a gathering of African leaders and has played a part in several other charitable ventures across the continent.
An enthusiastic donor to the Democratic Party and passionate advocate of education, immigration and health care reform, Powell Jobs has increased her political profile in recent years, meeting with key lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to bring awareness to issues she finds worthy. Her Emerson Collective, an organization that gives support to both groups and individuals who work to further immigration and education reform, was founded in 2002.
Content to avoid the limelight before her husband Steve’s death, Powell Jobs has since actively sought to use her stature to champion various political causes and bring attention to the plight of underprivileged or immigrant students, causes that go hand in glove with her philanthropic work. Her visibility and passion both serve to bring attention to her personal causes and the future may well reveal a place for Powell Jobs on the national political stage.