Beyond the Entrepreneur: Jennifer Pritzker
Where it began: Jennifer inherited stakes in the family’s Hyatt Hotels chain as well as industrial firms run by her late father Robert and his brothers Jay and Donald.
She established Tawani Enterprises – named for her three children, Tal, William and Andrew – which is a business that declares it is “dedicated to a vision of building a company devoted to connecting people to the history in their midst and creating opportunities for growth and knowledge, while forging stronger, healthier communities.” The firm’s private equity portfolio comprises both start-ups and mature innovative companies in various industries, as well as not-for-profit interests through Tawani Foundation work and military history and education organizations. All investments are based on Tawani’s mission.
Jennifer has a much-decorated military career behind her, and was a lieutenant colonel before retiring in 2001. In 2003, she opened the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago, featuring a collection of more than 65,000 books and military artifacts.
On August 16, 2013, a statement was released to employees at Tawani Enterprises and the Pritzker Military Library indicating Pritzker to be the world’s first transgender billionaire:
“As of August 16, 2013, J. N. Pritzker will undergo an official legal name change, and will now be known as Jennifer Natalya Pritzker. This change will reflect the beliefs of her true identity that she has held privately and will now share publicly. Pritzker now identifies herself as a woman for all business and personal undertakings.”
Interesting fact: Jennifer’s Tawani Enterprises donates significantly to LGBTQ+ organisations to help stop discrimination and to support those in need.
If you haven’t already realised, she’s a bold woman: Jennifer is – or perhaps was – a lifelong Republican, and supported Trump during his 2016 run. However after Trump announced a transgender military ban on Twitter in 2017, she quickly spoke out against it. Later she wrote in a Washington Post opinion piece, which addressed transgender military service: “I have hoped the Republican Party would reform from within and end its assault on the LGBTQ community. When the GOP asks me to deliver six-or seven-figure contributions for the 2020 elections, my first response will be: Why should I contribute to my own destruction?”
She later joined a group of at least 18 billionaires or their spouses who have donated to the Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump super-PAC led by former Republican strategists.