Person

Ian Simmons

Ian Simmons is a Democratic political donor, liberal activist investor, and youth voter engagement activist. He has founded or is otherwise involved in a number of left-leaning organizations such as the Foundation for Civic Leadership and Organizing for Action. [1]

A member of the family that started the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores, Simmons married onetime child actor Liesel Pritzker, a member of the prominent Pritzker family of businesspeople and Democratic politicians, in 2011. [2] With his wife, he founded the left-leaning advocacy investment firm Blue Haven Initiative in 2012; the firm makes political and advocacy investments in the U.S. and abroad. [3]

Personal Life and Family

Simmons comes from a family of wealthy business owners and entrepreneurs. They cofounded the department store chain Montgomery Ward and were involved in taking the firm Marsh & McLennan public, among other large business endeavors. [4]

Simmons graduated Harvard in 2000. [5] He and former child actor Liesel Pritzker-Simmons married in 2011 and co-founded the left-leaning social investment firm Blue Haven Initiative in 2012. [6][7]

Pritzker-Simmons likewise comes from a wealthy background; her father’s side of the family owns the Hyatt Hotel chain and is worth billions of dollars. A former child actor, she appeared in the films A Little Princess and Air Force One. [8] She and one of her brothers sued her father for allegedly mismanaging their money. Pritzker-Simmons won $500 million in the suit, $50 million of which she later used to found an education non-profit. [9][10]

Democratic Activism

Simmons is influential in Democratic circles. He donated at least $500,000 to the Obama Foundation. [11] He and his wife were included in a 2014 New York Times profile of 100 high-profile, wealthy young philanthropists with largely left-leaning priorities who attended a White House event. [12]

Simmons was an original funder of the enormously influential small-dollar Democratic fundraising entity ActBlue. [13] He was part of a Democratic Party and funder meeting in April 2017 which was held in response to President Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory. [14] Simmons was included in an e-mail from the Democracy Alliance to top liberal groups and individuals about the need to bounce back after Trump’s election. [15]

Simmons wrote in 2013 in favor of climate change policies pushed by Democrats in 2009-2010 and a California cigarette tax, and in opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Simmons’ piece focused on how more advocacy money was necessary to fight for left-leaning policy priorities. [16]

He was highlighted for increased donor engagement in a 2015 paper by the AFL-CIO organizing group Working America in anticipation of the 2016 elections. [17][18] He and his wife attended a two-day Democracy Alliance conference with other left-leaning VIPs in 2013. [19]

Simmons has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic committees and campaigns. [20] He donated $50,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in January 2018. [21] He donated over $63,000 in February 2018 to Swing Left, a PAC created after Trump’s 2016 victory and dedicated to flipping the Senate and the White House to Democrats. [22] He donated over $50,000 in 2017 to the Democratic National Committee. [23]

Simmons was the 67th largest political donor in America in 2014 according to the Center for Responsive Politics, sending over $260,000 to Democrats and liberals. [24] He was the 444th largest donor in 2016, sending almost $350,000 to Democrats. [25] He was number 61 in 2018, donating almost $740,000 to Democrats. [26]

Simmons was an original donor to Mayday PAC, which seeks to get money out of politics to accomplish left-leaning agenda items like an increased minimum wage. [27] He gave $100,000 in 2014. [28]

Advocacy Investing

Simmons founded the impact investment group Blue Haven Initiative with his wife in 2012. [29] It is a “family office” firm, which means that it exclusively focuses on investing the Simmons’ money. The company’s investments include tech-focused businesses and environmentalist energy projects in Sub-Saharan Africa. [30] All of the Initiative’s investments are focused in investment areas which the Simmonses support. [31]

The Simmonses have a host of investment portfolios. They manage a $50 million portfolio in-house and partner with Goldman Sachs for other investing. [32]

Pritzker-Simmons has written that Blue Haven Initiative engages in two types of philanthropic activity with its profits. The first is grants related to U.S. political goals such as youth engagement and civic involvement, impact investor research, and engagements in Sub-Saharan Africa. The second is a series of donations to a pool for a number of financial-related endeavors such as entrepreneurial operations and blended finance facilities. [33]

Non-Profit Associations

Simmons is involved with a number of non-profit organizations with left-leaning priorities. He founded and is president of the Foundation for Civic Leadership. The organization funds and leads programs which are intended to increase voter engagement among young voters, especially those who are college-aged. [34] Its programs include a Harvard-based hub for left-of-center political advocacy and activism groups. [35]

He is also chairman of the Board of Directors for Youth Engagement Fund. The group is associated with the liberal donor collective Democracy Alliance and focuses on voter engagement, especially of “marginalized” Americans and ethnic minorities in the south and southwest regions of the country. [36][37][38]

Simmons has also served on the Board of Directors for U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, Social Finance, Issue One, the former Obama campaign group Organizing for Action, the National Advisory Board for Public Service at Harvard College, and a Kenya-based affordable housing group called Karibu Homes. [39]

Social Finance uses investment funds to fund initiatives such as society re-entry by criminals leaving prison, educational opportunities for poor children, and increased work opportunities. [40]

The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance is a leader in using impact investing to accomplish social goals. The organization lists a number of organizations as partners, including the George Soros-founded Open Society Foundations and the Ford Foundation. [41]

References

  1. Blue Haven Initiative, Ian Simmons, Accessed September 3, 2019. http://www.bluehaveninitiative.com/team/executives/ian-simmons/ ^
  2. Darby, Luke. “Why a Group of Billionaires Want Their Taxes Raised.” MSN.com, June 24, 2019. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/why-a-group-of-billionaires-want-their-taxes-raised/ar-AADmjJE. ^
  3. Liesel Pritzker-Simmons, “Impact across all investments: The role of family offices in building the impact investing ecosystem across the continuum,” Accessed September 3, 2019. https://beyondtradeoffs.economist.com/impact-across-investments-family-offices ^
  4. Erin Carlyle, “Liesel Pritzker-Simmons sued her family and got $500 million, but she’s no trust fund baby,” November 17, 2011. Accessed September 3, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2013/11/17/liesel-pritzker-simmons-sued-her-family-and-got-500-million-but-shes-no-trust-fund-baby/#10957dcc464c ^
  5. LinkedIn, Ian Simmons profile, Accessed September 3, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/ian-simmons-990a438/ ^
  6. Jamie Johnson, “Including the young and rich,” April 20, 2014. Accessed September 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/fashion/white-house-hosts-next-generation-young-and-rich.html ^
  7. Richard Pollock, “Private-equity and hedge-fund donors dominate new Barack Obama Foundation,” August 13, 2015. Accessed September 3, 2019. https://dailycaller.com/2015/08/13/private-equity-and-hedge-fund-donors-dominate-new-barack-obama-foundation/ ^
  8. Internet Movie Database, Liesel Matthews profile, Accessed September 4, 2019.

    https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0560093/ ^

  9. Drew Mackie, “Where’s A Little Princess star Liesel Pritzker Simmons, 20 years later?” May 10, 2015. Accessed September 3, 2015. https://people.com/celebrity/a-little-princess-liesel-pritzker-matthews-20-years-later/ ^
  10. Erin Carlyle, “Liesel Pritzker-Simmons sued her family and got $500 million, but she’s no trust fund baby,” November 17, 2011. Accessed September 3, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2013/11/17/liesel-pritzker-simmons-sued-her-family-and-got-500-million-but-shes-no-trust-fund-baby/#10957dcc464c ^
  11. Katherine Skiba, “The Obama Foundation announces its latest big givers,” July 15, 2016. Accessed September 3, 2019. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/obama-center/ct-obama-foundation-new-donors-20160715-story.html ^
  12. Jamie Johnson, “Including the young and rich,” April 20, 2014. Accessed September 3, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/fashion/white-house-hosts-next-generation-young-and-rich.html ^
  13. Philanthropy Forum, Ian Thorne Simmons, Accessed September 3, 2019. https://philanthropyforum.org/people/ian-thorne-simmons/ ^
  14. Lachlan Markay, “Democratic donors gather in D.C. to plot the Resistance,” April 10, 2017. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://www.thedailybeast.com/democratic-donors-gather-in-dc-to-plot-the-resistance ^
  15. Elizabeth Harrington, “Democracy Alliance members had to ‘recover’ after election,” November 16, 2016. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://freebeacon.com/politics/democracy-alliance-members-recover-election/ ^
  16. Nick Penniman, Ian Simmons, “Curing philanthropy’s blind spot: One percent for democracy,” Winter 2013. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://democracyjournal.org/magazine/27/curing-philanthropys-blind-spot-one-percent-for-democracy/ ^
  17. Working America, Donor profile, Summer 2015, Accessed September 4, 2019. https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/2107676/workingamerica-da-donorprofiles-04-2015-blacked.pdf ^
  18. Kenneth Vogel and Brian Mahoney, “Big Labor targets Steyer, Soros in massive 2016 fundraising effort,” June 26, 2015. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/big-labor-donors-george-soros-tom-steyer-119454 ^
  19. Democracy Alliance memo, Memorandum to Leader Nancy Pelosi, September 10, 2013. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://blog.fdik.org/80fccea01a230134041c0ee73fee24a3/Finance%202013-2014/MK%202013/NPDemAlliancememo9.12.13.docx ^
  20. Little Sis, Ian T. Simmons, Accessed September 4, 2019.https://littlesis.org/person/139826-Ian_T_Simmons ^
  21. Federal Election Commission, DCCC donations January 2018, Accessed September 4, 2019. https://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/forms/C00000935/1210405/sa/17 ^
  22. Federal Election Commission, Swing Left donations February 2018, Accessed September 4, 2019. https://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/forms/C00632133/1214970/sa/17 ^
  23. Federal Election Commission, Democratic National Committee November 2017 donations, Accessed September 4, 2019.  https://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/forms/C00010603/1195089/sa/17 ^
  24. Open Secrets, Top individual donors 2014 election cycle, Accessed September 4, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/topindivs.php?cycle=2014&view=hi ^
  25. Open Secrets, Top individual donors 2016 election cycle, Accessed September 4, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/topindivs.php?cycle=2016&view=hi ^
  26. Open Secrets, Top individual donors 2018 election cycle, Accessed September 4, 2019. https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/topindivs.php?cycle=2018&view=hi ^
  27. Mayday, Main Page, Accessed September 4, 2019. https://mayday.us/ ^
  28. Amy Schatz, “Techie-funded Mayday Super PAC releases donor information,” August 6, 2014. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://www.vox.com/2014/8/6/11629614/techie-funded-mayday-super-pac-releases-donor-information ^
  29. LinkedIn, Liesel Pritzker-Simmons profile, Accessed September 3, 2019. https://www.linkedin.com/in/liesel-pritzker-simmons-793b8417/ ^
  30. Liesel Pritzker-Simmons, “Impact across all investments: The role of family offices in building the impact investing ecosystem across the continuum,” Accessed September 3, 2019. https://beyondtradeoffs.economist.com/impact-across-investments-family-offices ^
  31. Good Capital Project, “Liesel Pritzker-Simmons and Ian Simmons, Blue Haven Initiative – GCP Candid Series,” October 11, 2018. Accessed September 3, 2019. https://www.goodcapitalproject.com/blog/2018/10/11/liesel-pritzker-simmons-and-ian-simmons-gcp-candid-series ^
  32. Liesel Pritzker-Simmons, “Impact across all investments: The role of family offices in building the impact investing ecosystem across the continuum,” Accessed September 3, 2019. https://beyondtradeoffs.economist.com/impact-across-investments-family-offices ^
  33. Liesel Pritzker-Simmons, “Impact across all investments: The role of family offices in building the impact investing ecosystem across the continuum,” Accessed September 3, 2019. https://beyondtradeoffs.economist.com/impact-across-investments-family-offices ^
  34. Foundation for Civic Leadership, Welcome, Accessed September 3, 2019. http://fcleadership.org/welcome ^
  35. Natalie Handy, “Cambridge’s Democracy Center transforms into social justice hub,” February 26, 2016. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/article/20160226/NEWS/160228410 ^
  36. Youth Engagement Fund, About, Accessed September 4, 2019. http://youthengagementfund.org/#about ^
  37. Youth Engagement Fund, Accessed September 4, 2019. http://youthengagementfund.org/ ^
  38. Democracy Alliance, “Who’s the next big thing? Youth Engagement Fund’s Austin Belali,” September 8, 2016. Accessed September 4, 2019. https://democracyalliance.org/da-news/whos-next-big-thing-youth-engagement-funds-austin-belali/ ^
  39. Blue Haven Initiative, Ian Simmons, Accessed September 3, 2019. http://www.bluehaveninitiative.com/team/executives/ian-simmons/ ^
  40. Social Finance, Focus Areas, Accessed September 4, 2019. https://socialfinance.org/focus-areas/ ^
  41. U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, Partners, Accessed September 4, 2019. http://impinvalliance.org/partners ^
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