Amy Goldman Fowler is a philanthropist, real estate heiress, and psychologist best known for her gardening and advocacy for heirloom crops and seed preservation. She is a member of the left-of-center donor network Democracy Alliance and sits on the board of a number of philanthropic organizations. She has written four books on heirloom gardening. She is married to Cary Fowler, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which runs Svalbard Global Seed Vault. In the 2016 election cycle, she gave about $2.5 million to Democratic campaigns or super PACs. Since 1998, Goldman Fowler has donated more than $4.8 million to candidates and political organizations at the national level; Planned Parenthood has received particular support from her.
Goldman Fowler recently debuted on the Forbes World’s Billionaires list in 2017. She is estimated to have a fortune of $3 billion “thanks to a real estate empire of at least 400 properties, including a stake in the World Trade Center developments.”
Education and Early Life
Goldman Fowler is the second-youngest daughter of real estate mogul Sol Goldman, who died in 1987. Once New York City’s biggest landlord, Goldman left his four children his firm Solil Management and its more than 400 properties. After working at the real estate firm, Goldman Fowler went on to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Her mother Lillian Goldman died in 2002.
Gardening and Activism
Goldman Fowler is best known for her work preserving heirloom strains of garden vegetables. She planted her first kitchen garden as an 18 year-old. She advocates for seed collection and preservation, and sat on the board of Seed Savers Exchange for over a decade, serving as the board chair for half that time. She is now a special adviser to the board of the Exchange.
She has written four books on heirloom gardening: Melons for the Passionate Grower (2002), The Compleat Squash (2004), The Heirloom Tomato (2008), and Heirloom Harvest (2015). Goldman Fowler is vice chair of the New York Botanical Garden’s board of managers; she was also previously a member of the New York Restoration Project’s board of trustees.
Goldman Fowler is a trustee of both the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust and the Amy P. Goldman Foundation. She is an important member of the Democracy Alliance, and hosted a fundraiser for the Alliance headlined by President Obama in her home in 2014. She was an early supporter of the Ready for Hillary PAC, and in the early days of the 2016 Presidential election was the PAC’s biggest donor.
Goldman Fowler donated substantially to left-of-center causes throughout 2016. She gave multiple large donations to Planned Parenthood and has been a supporter of the organization and its political priorities for some time. Between 2011 and 2014, she donated five times to Planned Parenthood Votes, for a total of $2,250,000. In 2016 she gave two donations of $1,000,000 each to Planned Parenthood Votes. Other recipients of substantial donations in 2016 include the Senate Majority PAC, Women Vote!, and American Bridge 21st Century. She also contributed $250,000 to the Democratic National Convention’s Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee. She contributed $750,000 to President Obama’s Organizing for Action in 2014.
Ballotpedia has labeled Goldman Fowler a “Top Influencer” in New York.
Goldman Fowler lives on a 200-acre farm in Rhinebeck, New York, with her husband Dr. Cary Fowler, a former executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which runs the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a seed bank in Norway. The couple married in April of 2012. Goldman Fowler credits her husband’s work with prompting some of her own passion for seed preservation and heirloom crops; she read his book Shattering: Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity in the 1990s.