Roland Pritzker






Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Chairman of Pritzker Innovation Fund

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Roland Pritzker is the chairman of the Pritzker Innovation Fund, a grantmaker that funds mostly left-of-center organizations that work on climate change, poverty, and issues related to American democracy. He is the son of major left-of-center donor Linda Pritzker and an heir to the Pritzker family fortune, which includes Hyatt hotels, among other ventures.

Pritzker keeps a lower profile than many members of his family. His sisters are Rachel Pritzker, who is a former board member of the Democracy Alliance, and Rosemary Pritzker, founder of the Local Voices super PAC, which runs ads on behalf of Democrats in battleground states. He is an entrepreneur and professional race car driver. He is also a musician for the Grammy-nominated blues group Blinddog Smokin’. 1

Unlike most climate change activists, Pritzker is a major supporter of the expansion and use of nuclear power. He is a supporter of pro-nuclear power causes and has worked with his sister Rachel to expand support for nuclear power among environmentalists. 2

Early Life

Roland Pritzker was born in 1978 to heiress and American Tibetan Buddhist lama Linda Pritzker and as the grandson of Robert Pritzker, who helped build the Pritzker family fortune in manufacturing and the Hyatt hotel chain, among other industries. 3

Pritzker studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Colorado and sustainable business at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute. 4

In 2000, he would join the Southern California based blues band Blinddog Smokin’ as a bassist, taking the stage name Junior Bacon. The band would bounce around on various independent labels until 2014 when it joined in a collaborative album called Decisions, which was nominated for a Grammy award in 2015 for Best Blues Album. 5

Pritzker also became involved in race car driving, helping to found the Rotek Racing team. The team would win the 25 Hours of Thunderhill race in Willows, California in 2013. 6

Nuclear Energy

In 2013, Pritzker, along with his sister Rachel, was a major backer of the pro-nuclear energy documentary Pandora’s Promise. The film made the argument that nuclear power was the safest energy source because it did not emit any pollution into the atmosphere. In addition, the movie made the argument that the public is almost entirely unscathed in the exceedingly rare instance where a reactor overheats and melts and releases a small amount of particulate. 7

In September 2014, Pritzker attended a meeting at Google’s headquarters organized by the center-left think tank Third Way. The meeting was designed to lay the groundwork for lobbying to expand nuclear power. 8

In 2015, Pritzker and his sister Rachel traveled to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant to study the results of the 2011 meltdown on the surrounding area. They found that local agricultural products and fish were testing with negligible radiation counts and had tested that way for several years. It also found that most of the 20-kilometer exclusion zone around the plant had tested no higher than the normal background radiation levels and elevated radiation levels were only found within four kilometers of the plant. 9

In 2016, Pritzker was one of the funders of a campaign to keep open the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Environmentalist groups sought the closure of the plant. 10

Trump Administration

In 2020, Pritzker signed a letter released from philanthropic leaders calling on public officials to “uphold American democracy.” The letter complained about “voter suppression,” which is a common phrase of opponents of voter integrity legislation. The letter also called for a peaceful transfer of power and opposed claims of voter fraud. 11

During the 2020 presidential election, he gave the maximum to the presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden (D). 12


  1. “Pritzker Innovation Fund.” Pritzker Innovation Fund. Accessed October 25, 2021.
  2. Shellenberger, Michael. “Grist Goes Nuclear.” Environmental Progress. Jan. 12, 2018.
  3. McClain, James. “Let’s Talk About The Pritzkers.” Dirt. Feb. 9, 2016.
  4. “Pritzker Innovation Fund.” Pritzker Innovation Fund. Accessed October 25, 2021.
  5.  “Blinddog Smokin’ – Musician Biographies.” Musician Biographies. Accessed October 25, 2021.
  6. “Rotek Racing Audi TT RS Wins 25 Hours Of Thunderhill.” RACER. Dec. 8, 2013.
  7. Shellenberger, Michael. “Grist Goes Nuclear.” Environmental Progress. Jan. 12, 2018.
  8. Toth, Jackie, and Jackie Kempfer. “How Advanced Nuclear Got On The Map.” Third Way. April 8, 2021.
  9. Pritzker, Rachel, and Roland Pritzker. “Reflections From Fukushima.” Stanford Social Innovation Review. Nov. 15, 2015.
  10. Baker, David. “Yes Nukes! Conservationists Rally To Save State’s Nuclear Plant.” San Francisco Chronicle. Jan. 29, 2016.
  11. “Philanthropic Leaders Call To Uphold American Democracy During Tense Election.” Houston Endowment. Oct. 30, 2020.
  12. “Browse Individual Contributions.” Federal Election Commission. Accessed October 25, 2021.
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