Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of computer pioneer Steve Jobs, has become a very vocal advocate and philanthropist in the areas of education and immigration reform. She also supports environmental initiatives and is a major contributor to Ready for Hillary, a super PAC which contributes money toward the Presidential election of the former First Lady. Forbes magazine has ranked her among the most influential women in the world (#39 in 2013 and #29 in 2014).
Laurene Powell Jobs has had a long-term interest in education reform. In 1997, she co-founded an organization called College Track to help “underserved” students in East Palo Alto, CA. The effort supports students with scholarships, leadership training, and other programs to help them succeed in high school and college. The College Track students regularly graduate at impressively-high rates, and the program has since expanded into five other cities. Her experience with College Track has opened her eyes to the problems of undocumented youth in the United States and pushed her toward working for immigration reform.
Toward that end, Powell Jobs founded and now chairs Emerson Collective, an organization seeking changes in immigration policy in the United States. She has been quite forthright in her support of the DREAM Act, a hotly-debated congressional effort to provide a path to citizenship for the many law-abiding residents who were brought to the United States by their parents when they were young.
Powell Jobs recognized that these youth graduate from high school but are then unable to receive state and federal money for college because they are undocumented. In a television interview (12 April 2013), she called the lack of immigration reform “such a waste of lives, such a waste of potential, such a waste for our country not to have the human capital that we developed … We need all of these brains, we need all of that energy.” And in support of these efforts, Emerson Collective has funded the production of the documentary The Dream Is Now, which focuses on the issues faced by undocumented youths.
Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective has already come out in support of the new immigration policy presented by President Obama on 20 November 2014. Because Congress has been unable to pass the DREAM ACT, not much has changed for these undocumented youths over the past five years. However, with immigration now brought into fresh light, her efforts will no doubt be redoubled.
Laurene Powell Jobs had always be seen as living in the shadow of her captivating husband. But since his death, she has taken a much more prominent stance on topics that are important to her. Politicians on Capitol Hill recognize her as a person of influence because Powell Jobs is clearly a well-informed advocate (with a strong financial backing) that cannot be ignored when lobbying about the most important issues in our country.