Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs kept a low profile as a philanthropist and sometime political donor during her marriage to the Apple co-founder. Since his death however, she has begun to speak out publicly on several political issues, including the need for immigration reform. She has been a particularly strong supporter of the DREAM Act.
The bill, which would grant residency to immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally as minors has failed to pass Congress several times. Earlier this year, Powell joined filmmaker Davis Guggenheim to promote his documentary film, “The Dream Is Now” which was shown to members of Congress. She compared the situation of young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as infants or small children as akin to being in “purgatory”.
In addition to her very public stance in favor of the DREAM Act, Powell Jobs founded the Emerson Collective, an organization that supports social reform as well as conservation by way of grants, investments and partnerships. She is also the co-founder of College Track, which helps minority and low-income children prepare for, attend and graduate from college. The organization’s official website states that over 90% of students in the program go on to college. It was through College Track that her interest in passage of the DREAM Act began.
Unlike Steve Jobs, who shied away from political and charitable causes, Powell Jobs has emerged as a major political donor. Among the candidates she’s supported are California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom as well as out of state candidate Cory Booker of New Jersey. All are Democrats.
Just months after her husband’s death, Powell Jobs was seated next to First Lady Michelle Obama during the President’s 2012 State of the Union address. She has publicly praised President Obama on several occasions, including during the drawn out congressional budget battles and efforts to pass ObamaCare.
Forbes named Powell Jobs the richest woman in Silicon Valley with an estimated net worth of $17 billion. She is also the largest shareholder in the Walt Disney Company. Many of her public appearances and interviews have been controlled, but they have also become much more frequent since the death of her husband. See a piece of one of her interviews about her husband’s death here. Some would consider her an activist, others a fundraiser. She doesn’t seem to fit into any one role, but Washington is certainly taking notice of Laurene Powell Jobs.