Person

Wallis Annenberg

Occupation:

Philanthropist and President of the Annenberg Foundation

Nationality:

American

Wallis Annenberg is the president of the Annenberg Foundation, a multibillion-dollar private foundation which funds various left-of-center political groups and causes in the Greater Los Angeles area and throughout the nation.

According to the Annenberg Foundation’s 2018 tax return, the foundation has over $1.4 billion in assets, putting it among the top 50 largest private foundations in the United States. Three of Wallis’s four children sit on the board of directors of the foundation. [1]

While estimates vary, Annenberg’s personal fortune is estimated to be at least $200 million. [2]

Personal Life

Wallis Annenberg is the daughter Walter Hubert Annenberg, an American businessman, diplomat, and philanthropist, and Bernice Veronica Dunkelman, a wealthy socialite from Toronto, Canada. Annenberg was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 15, 1939. She graduated from the Washington, D.C. National Cathedral School in 1957; graduated from Pine Manor Junior College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in 1959; and attended Columbia University for a year before dropping out. [3]

In 1960, Annenberg married Seth Weingarten, a neurosurgeon and graduate of both Princeton University and Yale University, and had four children before their divorce in 1975. In public court filings from 1978, Weingarten accused her of using drugs, drinking excessively, and having affairs with women. In a 2009 article for Vanity Fair, Annenberg admitted to all these accusations and said “If you want to term it a wild phase, fine. I would prefer to say I’m grateful for every one of the life experiences that I had. And I had them.” [4]

Familial Wealth

Her father, Walter Annenberg, owned and operated Triangle Publications, a media group based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which owned prominent newspapers and magazines including The Atlantic, the Saturday Evening Post, the Morning Telegraph, the Philadelphia Inquirer, TV Guide, Seventeen magazine, and Playboy. [5]

Annenberg frequently used his media company for political purposes and personal gain. [6] When Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp (a Democrat) opposed the merger of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central Railroad in the 1960s, Annenberg, who held considerable stock in the Pennsylvania Railroad, used his corporation to campaign against him. [7]

In 1988, Annenberg sold Triangle Publications to media mogul Rupert Murdoch for $3 billion. [8]

In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed Walter Annenberg as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom; he served until 1974. [9] In 1986, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. [10]

In 1989, Walter Annenberg took one third of the proceeds from the sale of Triangle Publications and founded the Annenberg Foundation. [11]

Leadership of the Annenberg Foundation

While Walter Annenberg was a Republican, most of the grantmaking done by his private foundation centered on funding nonpolitical causes like education and the arts. [12] In 1990, Annenberg gave $50 million to the United Negro College Fund, and in 1993, he announced a $500 million gift to better public schools throughout the country, the largest donation ever to be made for public education purposes. [13]

However, Wallis Annenberg took control of the Annenberg Foundation in 2009 after the passing of her stepmother, Lee Annenberg, who had run the charity since Walter’s death in 2002. [14] Sometime between Lee Annenberg’s and Wallis Annenberg’s leadership of the foundation, the foundation began to pivot away from nonpolitical giving and shift towards giving to various left-of-center causes. Under the leadership of Wallis Annenberg, the foundation claims to have funded more than 2,300 nonprofits and other organizations. [15]

In 2017 alone, the Annenberg Foundation gave to numerous left-of-center organizations, including: Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, Center for Reproductive Rights, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, American Civil Liberties Union, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the New Venture Fund. [16] In 2018, the Annenberg Foundation gave $145,000 in general operating support to the Proteus Fund, a prominent left-leaning “pass-through” funder and donor-advised fund provider.

In 2018, Wallis Annenberg created PledgeLA, a partnership program between the Annenberg Foundation, the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), and 130 venture capitalist and tech leaders to support left-progressive social and economic policies. [17] In 2017, Annenberg created AnnenbergTech, a collaboration between the Annenberg Foundation and a number of LA-based tech firms to promote community involvement and civic leadership. [18] According to Annenberg’s biography on the Annenberg Foundation website, these two initiatives seek to “encourage and educate LA’s burgeoning tech sector to be guided by the principles of diversity and inclusion as they expand and to get involved in philanthropy themselves.” [19]

In 1958, Walter Annenberg founded the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. [20] In 1993, the Annenberg Foundation made an endowment to the school to fund the Annenberg Public Policy Center. [21] In 2003, the center created FactCheck.org,[22] a left-leaning and sometimes-criticized fact-checking website. [23]

Board Memberships

Wallis Annenberg sits on the boards of directors of LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the California Science Center, the Music Center and the Performing Arts Center, the LA Philharmonic, the LA County Museum of Art, the Natural History Museum of LA County, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. [24] Annenberg is also the longest-serving trustee at the University of Southern California. [25]

Political Contributions

In 2019, Wallis Annenberg gave $2,800 to the Collins for Senator, Senator Susan Collins’s (R-ME) campaign committee. [26]

In 2015, Annenberg gave $100,000 to Right to Rise USA, a political action committee that supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in the 2016 presidential election. [27]

In 2013, Annenberg gave $30,800 to the Republican National Committee. Following her $25,000 donation to the Democratic National Committee in 2007, she gave the committee another $10,000 in 2011. [28]

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Annenberg gave over $50,000 to Republican challenger Mitt Romney and over $15,000 to Democratic incumbent Barack Obama. [29]

In 2011, Annenberg made $15,000 in contributions to support former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). [30]

References

  1. Internal Revenue Service. Form 990. Annenberg Foundation 2018. https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2018/236/257/2018-236257083-17059439-F.pdf?_ga=2.14216375.1275142280.1601938832-658054072.1598817496 ^
  2. Alexander, Annelise. “L.A. Trading Card: Wallis Annenberg.” Los Angeles Magazine. May 22, 2013. Accessed October 4, 2020.https://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/la-trading-card-wallis-annenberg/#:~:text=The%20firstborn%20daughter%20of%20publishing,pursuing%20a%20career%20in%20medicine. ^
  3. Colacello, Bob. “Her Own Kind of Annenberg.” Vanity Fair. September 14, 2009. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2009/10/wallis-annenberg200910 ^
  4. Colacello, Bob. “Her Own Kind of Annenberg.” Vanity Fair. September 14, 2009. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2009/10/wallis-annenberg200910 ^
  5. “Walter H. Annenberg.” Annenberg Foundation. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://annenberg.org/people/walter-h-annenberg/ ^
  6. Ogden, Chris. “Legacy: a biography of Moses and Walter Annenberg.” Internet Archive. 2009. Accessed October 4, 2020 https://archive.org/details/legacybiographyo00ogde ^
  7. Ogden, Chris. “Legacy: a biography of Moses and Walter Annenberg.” Internet Archive. 2009. Accessed October 4, 2020 https://archive.org/details/legacybiographyo00ogde ^
  8. Eichenwald, Kurt. “The Media Business; Murdoch Agrees to Buy TV Guide In a $3 Billion Sale by Annenberg. The New York Times. August 8, 1988. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/08/business/media-business-murdoch-agrees-buy-tv-guide-3-billion-sale-annenberg.html ^
  9. “Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg Biography.” U.S. Embassy and Consulates in the United Kingdom. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://uk.usembassy.gov/ambassador-walter-h-annenberg/ ^
  10. “Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom 1981-1989.” Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/reagans/reagan-administration/recipients-presidential-medal-freedom-1981-1989 ^
  11. “Who We Are.” Annenberg Foundation. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://annenberg.org/who-we-are/ ^
  12. Glueck, Grace. “Walther Annenberg, 94, Dies; Philanthropist and Publisher.” The New York Times. October 2, 2002. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/02/arts/walter-annenberg-94-dies-philanthropist-and-publisher.html ^
  13. Glueck, Grace. “Walther Annenberg, 94, Dies; Philanthropist and Publisher.” The New York Times. October 2, 2002. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/02/arts/walter-annenberg-94-dies-philanthropist-and-publisher.html ^
  14. Alexander, Annelise. “L.A. Trading Card: Wallis Annenberg.” Los Angeles Magazine. May 22, 2013. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/la-trading-card-wallis-annenberg/#:~:text=The%20firstborn%20daughter%20of%20publishing,pursuing%20a%20career%20in%20medicine. ^
  15. “Wallis Annenberg.” Annenberg Foundation. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://annenberg.org/people/wallis-annenberg/ ^
  16. Internal Revenue Service. Form 990. Annenberg Foundation 2017. https://pdf.guidestar.org/PDF_Images/2017/236/257/2017-236257083-101bd02a-F.pdf?_ga=2.219716633.1275142280.1601938832-658054072.1598817496 ^
  17. “PledgeLA Releases First Ever Los Angeles Venture Capital Survey and Takes Action to Change the Results.” PledgeLA. May 10, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://pledgela.org/news/pledgela-releases-first-ever-los-angeles-venture-capital-survey-and-takes-action-to-change-the-results/ ^
  18. “The Annenberg Foundation Launches AnnenbergTech to Help Ignite the Future of Philanthropy Among the Exploding Los Angeles Tech Community.” Annenberg Foundation. March 1, 2017. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://annenberg.org/annenberg-foundation-launches-annenbergtech-help-ignite-future-philanthropy-among-exploding-los/ ^
  19. “Wallis Annenberg.” Annenberg Foundation. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://annenberg.org/people/wallis-annenberg/ ^
  20. “Mission and History.” University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School of Communication. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.asc.upenn.edu/about/mission-history ^
  21. “About the Annenberg Public Policy Center.” University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/about/ ^
  22. Jackson, Brooks. “Is this a great job, or what?”.” FactCheck.org. December 5, 2003. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.factcheck.org/2003/12/is-this-a-great-job-or-what/ ^
  23. Fader, Carole. “Face Check: So who’s checking the fact-finders? We are.” The Florida Times-Union. September 28, 2012. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.jacksonville.com/article/20120928/NEWS/801246493 ^
  24. “Wallis Annenberg.” Annenberg Foundation. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://annenberg.org/people/wallis-annenberg/ ^
  25. “Wallis Annenberg.” Annenberg Foundation. Accessed October 4, 2020. https://annenberg.org/people/wallis-annenberg/ ^
  26. Federal Election Commission. “Individual Contributions: Wallis Annenberg.” Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Wallis%20Annenberg ^
  27. Federal Election Commission. “Individual Contributions: Wallis Annenberg.” Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Wallis%20Annenberg ^
  28. Federal Election Commission. “Individual Contributions: Wallis Annenberg.” Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Wallis%20Annenberg ^
  29. Federal Election Commission. “Individual Contributions: Wallis Annenberg.” Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Wallis%20Annenberg ^
  30. Federal Election Commission. “Individual Contributions: Wallis Annenberg.” Accessed October 4, 2020. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Wallis%20Annenberg ^
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