Person

Susan Pritzker

Nationality:

American

Born:

1948

Occupation:

Philanthropist, Feminist, Political Activist

Residence:

Nicasio, California

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Susan Pritzker is a philanthropist, feminist, and political activist focused on left-of-center issues and redistribution of wealth. She married Nicholas Pritzker, a member of the family that started Hyatt Hotels Corporation and one of America’s richest families, and has spent over 45 years involved in philanthropy and activism. In 2006, she established the Libra Foundation with her husband and four children which supports ethnic-minority-led activist organizations focused on left-of-center racial, gender, and environmental issues. She is a frequent contributor to the Democratic Party, to individual Democratic candidates, and to support left-of-center policies in California.

Background

Susan Pritzker was born in 1948 as Susan Stowell. 1 She was born, raised, and educated in the Midwest and lived much of her life in Chicago before moving to California. 2

In 1969, she married Nicholas Pritzker, a member of the family that started Hyatt Hotels Corporation and one of America’s richest families. 3 Forbes estimated his 2023 net worth is approximately $2.6 billion. 4 He is co-founder and chairman emeritus of clean energy investor Evergreen Climate Innovations. 5 The Pritzkers are Democratic donors with relatives who are prominent in the Democratic Party. J.B. Pritzker is governor of Illinois, and Penny Pritzker was commerce secretary in the Obama Administration. 6

She manages the agricultural operation of her family’s ranch, Hick’s Mountain Ranch, in Nicasio, California. 7 She is a mother of four and grandmother of five. Her interests include “art, music, science, progressive politics, and philanthropy which advances equity and justice.” 8 Pritzker has spent over 45 years involved in volunteer work, philanthropy, community activism, and left-wing politics. 9

Philanthropy

Pritzker is on Inside Philanthropy’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy” for 2023. She was categorized as a megadonor, and her impact on “progressive philanthropy” was recognized. 10 Pritzker’s philanthropic focus is to redistribute wealth and support ethnic-minority-led movement organizations. 11

In 2006, she created Libra Foundation along with her husband Nicholas Pritzker and four children, Regan Pritzker (who is board co-president), Joseph, Jacob, and Isaac. 12 Susan is a board member and co-president of the foundation 13 which funds ethnic-minority-led activist organizations focused on left-of-center racial, gender, and environmental issues. In 2022, the foundation granted $35 million to left-wing advocacy organizations that support liberal social policy, immigration, abortion, race, gender, and the environment. 14 Foundation grantees include Action Center on Race and the Economy Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity, Black Youth Project 100, Center For Reproductive Rights, Climate Justice Alliance, Common Justice, Critical Resistance, Earthjustice, Equal Justice Initiative, Green New Deal Network, Immigrant Defense Project, Justice for Migrant Women, Movement for Black Lives, National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, RISE Together Fund, TGI Justice Project, and Transgender Law Center. 15

In 2020, Pritzker and Libra Foundation joined with eleven other left-of-center philanthropies to launch  Democracy Frontlines Fund (DFF) focused on “funding black power” which provides grants to eleven Black activist led organizations. 16 The initial funding commitment was $36 million. 17 DFF grantees include Black Futures Lab, Movement for Black Lives, and Black Voters Matter. In addition to the Libra Foundation, funding partners include large left-of-center philanthropies Tides Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Schmidt Family Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and daughter Regan’s Kataly Foundation. 18 In 2023, DFF committed another $35.5 million in funding, announcing its “recommitment to racial justice groups.” 19

She was a board member of Chicago Foundation for Women, a left-of-center foundation focused on  providing women, girls, trans, and gender nonbinary individuals in the Chicago area with abortion access, economic, and safety support. 20 Its donors include Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pritzker Family Foundation, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. 21

Pritzker was a board member of Mother Jones, a news organization focused on left-of-center issues including politics, criminal justice, race, LGBT, and climate change 22 and published by Foundation for National Progress. 23

She’s a board member of Women’s Foundation California, 24 a feminist grantmaking organization focused on “racial, economic, and gender justice” by investing in activist organizations and networks led by women of color and non-binary leaders. 25  Supporters include Ford Foundation, Pritzker’s Libra Foundation, and Sixteen Thirty Fund. 26

Pritzker is board treasurer of Solidaire Network, 27 a left-of-center donor group supporting race, gender, and climate based causes. 28 Its 10-year strategy is “a roadmap to liberate wealth for movements to build lasting left power in the United States.” 29 It was awarded the 2023 “Mover and Shaker” Award by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy for their donor engagement and activism. 30 Grantees include Anti Police-Terror Project, Black Lives Matter Phoenix, UndocuBlack Network, Mass Liberation Project, and SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW. 31 Donors to Solidaire Network include Center for Cultural Innovation, New World Foundation, Rockefeller Family Fund, and Tides Foundation. 32

She is a board director for left-wing Kataly Foundation, 33 which was co-founded by daughter Regan Pritzker in 2018 34 and focuses on redistribution of wealth to Black and Indigenous communities. 35 Its 2022 grantees included Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity, Center for Economic Democracy, Mass Liberation Project, National Network of Abortion Funds, and Thousand Currents. 36 In 2023, Kataly Foundation awarded $6.8 million to 137 organizations. 37

In October 2023 Pritzker was a co-chair for the Women’s Media Center (WMC) Women’s Media Awards, along with Melinda Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, and Helen LaKelly Hunt. WMC is a feminist organization founded by feminist activists Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem that supports gender and racial equality in media. 38

Politics

Pritzker is a frequent contributor to the Democratic Party and to individual Democratic candidates. She has donated about $45,000 to support Democrats in the 2024 election cycle as of January 2024 with contributions to Rep. Lateefah Simon (D-CA), Rep. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).

In 2023, she donated to Stacey Abrams who lost her bid for Democratic Governor of Georgia, $20,000 to the Jane Fonda Climate PAC, $5,000 to the PAC to elect Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom, and $10,000 to Way to Lead, 39 a PAC that contributes to Democratic candidates with “bold progressive values and policies.” 40

In 2020, Pritzker and husband Nick contributed $318,800 to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. 41 She also contributed to the 2020 presidential campaigns for Democrats Pete Buttigieg, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jay Inslee, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren. 42 Additional donations in the 2020 election cycle included Democrat aligned Color of Change PAC , Way to Lead PAC, Senate Majority PAC, Democratic National Committee Services Corp, Win Justice PAC, Community Change Voters, Forward Majority Action, and EMILY’s List. 43

In 2020, Pritzker donated $200,000 to support California Proposition 17 and $100,000 to support California Proposition 16. 44 Proposition 17 allowed people on parole for felony convictions to vote. 45 Proposition 16 would have allowed state and local entities to develop and use affirmative action programs that grant preferences based on sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin. 46

When former Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) became Vice President in 2020, Pritzker was one of several feminist activists who sent a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) urging him to appoint a Black woman to replace her. Other signatories of the letter included Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and Women’s Foundation California CEO Surina Khan. 47

Controversy

In 2003, residents of Nicasio, California, a rural area with a population of less than 600, were concerned about the Pritzkers’ plan to build a large compound on the land they had previously purchased as a small ranch for $2.5 million. Their plans included 10 structures totaling 54,000 square feet, with a 12,000 square foot ranch house, a caretaker’s residence, pool house, garages, farming facilities, and additional houses for their children and grandchildren. The Marin Agricultural Land Trust opposed the plans, working to keep the area in agriculture. The Pritzkers responded by indicating that they would increase the number of cattle on their property from 30 to 60 or 70. One resident in the area indicated that the Pritzkers would be better off in Boca Raton, Florida “where opulence is embraced” rather than “trying to justify building a small city by claiming to increase the cattle herd from 30 to 60.” 48 The development of the property did proceed. 49

References

  1. Nancy Jo Sales. “The New Rules of Old Money.” Bazaar. October 7, 2021. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a37628920/radical-giving-october-2021/
  2. Susan Pritzker. Solidaire – Who We Are – Our Team – Board of Directors. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://solidairenetwork.org/team/susan-pritzker/
  3. Nancy Jo Sales. “The New Rules of Old Money.” Bazaar. October 7, 2021. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a37628920/radical-giving-october-2021/
  4. “Forbes World’s Billionaires List – The Richest in 2023.” Forbes. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/
  5.  “Nicholas Pritzker.” Forbes. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.forbes.com/profile/nicholas-pritzker/?sh=24c45dd659d6
  6. Alex Seitz-Wald. “These wealthy Democratic women have a plan to beat Trump at his own game.” NBC News. September 22, 2019. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/these-wealthy-democratic-women-have-plan-beat-trump-his-own-n1057171
  7. “Susan Pritzker.” Women’s Foundation California. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://womensfoundca.org/our-team/susan-pritzker/
  8. Susan Pritzker. Solidaire – Who We Are – Our Team – Board of Directors. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://solidairenetwork.org/team/susan-pritzker/
  9. “Susan Pritzker.” Women’s Foundation California. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://womensfoundca.org/our-team/susan-pritzker/
  10. “The 50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy.” Inside Philanthropy. December 5, 2023. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2023/12/5/the-50-most-powerful-women-in-us-philanthropy
  11. Nancy Jo Sales. “The New Rules of Old Money.” Bazaar. October 7, 2021. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a37628920/radical-giving-october-2021/
  12. Susan Pritzker. Solidaire – Who We Are – Our Team – Board of Directors. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://solidairenetwork.org/team/susan-pritzker/
  13. “About Us.” Libra Foundation. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://www.thelibrafoundation.org/about-us
  14. The Libra Foundation. Return of Private Foundation. (Form 990-PF Additional Data.) 2022.
  15. “All Grantees.” Libra. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.thelibrafoundation.org/grantee-partners/all
  16. “Our Work.” Libra. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.thelibrafoundation.org/work#Program-Areas
  17. Alex Daniels. “Foundations Pool $36 Million for Black-Led Organizing Groups.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. September 17, 2020. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/foundations-pool-36-million-for-black-led-organizing-groups
  18. Democracy Frontlines Fund website. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.democracyfrontlinesfund.org/
  19. “DFF Announces Recommitment to Racial Justice Groups and $35.5 Million More in Funding.” Libra – News. October 31, 2023. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.thelibrafoundation.org/news/dff-beacon-of-hope
  20. “What We Fund.” Chicago Foundation for Women.” Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.cfw.org/what-we-fund/
  21. Fostering Collective Empowerment. Chicago Foundation for Women 2021-2022 report. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.cfw.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/2022-Annual-Report-Fostering-Collective-Empowerment.pdf
  22. “About.” Mother Jones. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.motherjones.com/about/
  23. GuideStar profile – Mother Jones. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.guidestar.org/profile/94-2282759
  24. Susan Pritzker. Solidaire – Who We Are – Our Team – Board of Directors. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://solidairenetwork.org/team/susan-pritzker/
  25. “Who We Are.” Women’s Foundation California. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://womensfoundca.org/who-we-are/about-womens-foundation/
  26. “Our Supporters.” Women’s Foundation California. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://womensfoundca.org/how-we-work/our-supporters/
  27. Susan Pritzker. Solidaire – Who We Are – Our Team – Board of Directors. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://solidairenetwork.org/team/susan-pritzker/
  28. “Movement Partnerships.” Solidaire. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://solidairenetwork.org/movement-partnerships/
  29.  “1-Year Strategy.” Solidaire – Who We Are. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://solidairenetwork.org/who-we-are/10-year-strategy/
  30. “NCRP Identifies Philanthropy’s Best & Boldest Leaders in Announcing the Winners of Its 2023 Impact Awards.” NCRP. September 19, 2023. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://ncrp.org/2023/09/ncrp-identifies-philanthropys-best-boldest-leaders-in-announcing-the-winners-of-its-2023-impact-awards/
  31.  “Black Liberation Pooled Fund.” Solidaire Network. Accessed January 28, 2024. https://solidairenetwork.org/movement-partnerships/black-liberation-pooled-fund/
  32. ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer – Solidaire Network. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/full_text_search?sort=best&form%5B%5D=IRS990ScheduleI&year%5B5D=2022&q=solidaire+network&submit=Apply
  33. “Susan Pritzker.” Kataly Foundation. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://www.katalyfoundation.org/team/susan-pritzker/
  34.  “Regan Pritzker.” Kataly Foundation. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://www.katalyfoundation.org/team/regan-pritzker/
  35. “About.” Kataly Foundation. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://www.katalyfoundation.org/#about
  36. “Grantees.” Kataly Foundation. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.katalyfoundation.org/grantee/?_sfm_filter_year_db=2022
  37. “Money Isn’t Enough.” The Kataly Foundation – Medium. February 1, 2023. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://kataly.medium.com/money-isnt-enough-2f4c455dacce
  38. “The Women’s Media Center 2023 Women’s Media Awards Honor Mariska Hargitay, Fredricka Whitfield, Karen Lincoln Michel, Emily Ladau, Koritha Mitchell, Akila Radhakrishnan.” Women’s Media Center – Press. October 20, 2023. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://womensmediacenter.com/about/press/press-releases/the-womens-media-center-2023-womens-media-awards-honors-marisk-hargitay-fredricka-whitfield-karen-loncolm-michel-emily-ladau-koritha-mitchell-akila-radhakrishnan
  39. “Susan Pritzker.” OpenSecrets – Donor Lookup. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?name=Susan+Pritzker&order=desc&page=1&sort=D
  40. Brian Schwartz. “Leaders of progressive donor fund launch new PAC focusing on down-ballot Races.” CNBC. September 10, 2020. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/10/leaders-of-progressive-donor-fund-launch-new-pac-way-to-lead-.html
  41. Michela Tindera. “Here Are The Billionaires Who Donated To Joe Biden’s 2020 Presidential Campaign.” Forbes. February 17, 2021. Accessed January 23, 2024. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelatindera/2021/02/17/here-are-the-billionaires-who-donated-to-joe-bidens-2020-presidential-campaign/?sh=26d9b6f721c4
  42. Michela Tindera. “ These Are The 61 Billionaires Who Spent Money On Pete Buttigieg’s Now-Defunct Campaign.” Forbes. March 3, 2020. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelatindera/2020/03/03/these-are-the-61-billionaires-who-spent-money-on-pete-buttigiegs-now-defunct-campaign/?sh=72d7e4de185d
  43. OpenSecrets Donor Lookup – Susan Pritzker. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?name=susan+pritzker&cycle=2020&state=&zip=&employ=&occupation=&jurisdiction=&cand=&type=
  44. OpenSecrets Donor Lookup – Susan Pritzker. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://www.opensecrets.org/donor-lookup/results?cand=&cycle=2020&employ=&jurisdiction=&name=Susan+Pritzker&occupation=&page=4&state=&type=&zip=
  45. “California Proposition 17, Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment (2020).” Ballotpedia. Accessed January 24, 2024. https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_17,_Voting_Rights_Restoration_for_Persons_on_Parole_Amendment_(2020)
  46. “California Proposition 16, Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment (2020).” Ballotpedia. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_16,_Repeal_Proposition_209_Affirmative_Action_Amendment_(2020)
  47. Roxanne Szal. “As Kamala Harris Becomes Vice President, Feminists Urge Gov. Newsom to #AppointABlackWoman in Her Place.” Ms. Magazine. December 10, 2020. Accessed January 25, 2024. https://msmagazine.com/2020/12/10/kamala-harris-senate-seat-gavin-newsom-black-woman-senate/
  48. Carol Pogash. “Tiny Hamlet Wary of Hotelier’s Plan for Big Family Compound.” Los Angeles Times. March 16, 2003. Accessed January 26, 2024. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2003-mar-16-me-pritzker16-story.html
  49. “Hicks Mountain Ranch.” Sherwood Design Engineers. Accessed January 26, 2024. https://www.sherwoodengineers.com/projects/hicks-mountain-ranch/
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