Jennifer Pritzker

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Jennifer Natalya Pritzker
Jennifer Pritzker.jpg
Pritzker in 2016
James Nicholas Pritzker

1950 (age 68–69)
ResidenceWinnetka, Illinois
NationalityUnited States
EducationB.A. Loyola University (Chicago)
OccupationInvestor and philanthropist
Known forFirst transgender billionaire,
founder of Tawani Foundation and Pritzker Military Library
Net worthIncrease US$ 1.9 billion (November 2017)[1]
Political partyRepublican[2][3][4]
Spouse(s)first wife Ayelet Pritzker (divorced) resides in Jerusalem.
Lisa I. Goren Pritzker (divorced)
ChildrenTal Hava Pritzker
(with Ayelet)
With Lisa I. Goren Pritzker: Andrew Pritzker (b. 1991)
William Pritzker
Parent(s)Robert Pritzker
Audrey Gilbert

Jennifer Natalya Pritzker (born James Nicholas Pritzker, 1950) is an American investor, philanthropist, and member of the Pritzker family. Pritzker retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Army in 2001, and was later made an honorary Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard. Founder of the Tawani Foundation in 1995, Tawani Enterprises in 1996, and the Pritzker Military Library in 2003, Pritzker has been devoted to civic applications of inherited and accrued wealth, including significant donations to broaden understanding and support for "citizen soldiers."

In August 2013, Pritzker released a statement to individuals associated with two business and philanthropic organizations that subsequently received wide media coverage, indicating the change from "J.N." to "Jennifer Natalya" to reflect her status as a transgender woman, making her the first and only transgender billionaire.

Early life[edit]

Born as James Nicholas Pritzker[5] to Robert Pritzker and Audrey (née Gilbert) Pritzker in Chicago, Illinois.[6] She grew up as a member of the Jewish Pritzker family as the granddaughter of family patriarch A.N. Pritzker.[6] She has two siblings, Linda Pritzker (b. 1953) and Karen Pritzker Vlock (b. 1958).[7] Her parents divorced in 1979, and she has two half-siblings, Matthew Pritzker and Liesel Pritzker Simmons, from the remarriage of her father, Robert, to Irene Dryburgh in 1980.[8] (Her mother also remarried, to Albert B. Ratner in 1981).[9]

College and enlisted service (1974–1979)[edit]

Pritzker says her most memorable experiences in life were in Israel in October 1973 when she witnessed events of the Yom Kippur War.[5] Pritzker enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 8, 1974, and served with the HQ Troop, and with the B Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, both in the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, rising to the rank of Sergeant.[5] Pritzker's roles while enlisted included aviation repair parts clerk, rifleman, and fire team leader.

After completing military service in February 1977,[5] Pritzker enrolled at Loyola University of Chicago, majoring in history, and entered its Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps program.[5] Pritzker graduated with a BA in History in May 1979, and received commission as an Army officer that same month.[5]


Pritzker first served with the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with duty assignments that included leading rifle and TOW platoons, and time in the Commandant Division, and the Anti-Armor School.[5] Pritzker served as a staff officer with the VII Corps at Kelley Barracks,[citation needed] in Germany, from 1984–1985.[5] Her active duty ended in 1985.[10][verification needed] After 16 years in the Army Reserves and Illinois Army National Guard,[11] Pritzker retired from the United States Army as a lieutenant colonel, in 2001.[12] After retiring, Pritzker was promoted to the honorary rank of Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.[10][better source needed]

While serving,[where?] Pritzker was awarded[when?] the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Good Conduct Medal, the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, the National Defense Service Medal with Star, the Antarctic Service Medal, the Outstanding Military Volunteer Service Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with 20 year Device, the NCO Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, the State of Louisiana Legion of Merit, the State of Illinois Long and Honorable Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the State of Illinois Military Attendance Ribbon with Numeral 7, the U.S. Army Parachute Badge and the Air Assault Badge.[10][verification needed]

Pritzker earned airborne badges from Israel, Russia, Canada, the Netherlands, and Great Britain,[5][10][verification needed] as well as from Poland;[10][verification needed] according to Steven Mrozek, "Most memorable of these was a parachute jump at the North Pole with the Russians in 1993."[5]

Pritzker has founded or served with a number of business and philanthropic organizations. In 1996, she incorporated Tawani Enterprises, where she served as President and CEO,[5] a business entity with current stated purpose as a "private wealth management company established to manage the personal wealth, philanthropic endeavors, and military interests of Colonel (IL) J.N. Pritzker."[13][14][better source needed] Interests of the company include significant Chicago real estate holdings.[15][better source needed] In 1995, Pritzker created the Tawani Foundation, and in 2003, she founded the Pritzker Military Library, both dedicated to the understanding and support of the "citizen soldier."[10][11] In addition, Pritzker serves as Chairwoman of the Board of the Connecticut-based private equity firm Squadron Capital LLC, in which she has been identified a principle investor.[11][when?][10][better source needed][16][better source needed] Finally, Pritzker has served as Special Projects Director for the National Strategy Forum,[when?][17] as Chairman of the Board and co-owner of National Security Ltd. (1988–1995),[verification needed][18][better source needed][5] and is active in number of further philanthropic enterprises.[clarification needed][5]

In 2016, Jennifer Pritzker was presented the Bonham Centre Award from The Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto, for her contributions to the advancement and education of issues around sexual identification.[19]

Family businesses[edit]

Jennifer Pritzker's father Robert, and his brothers Jay and Donald, built and diversified a Chicago-based family business, the Marmon Group, into a holding company of more than 60 diverse industrial corporations;[citation needed] they also created the Hyatt Hotel chain in 1957, and owned Braniff Airlines from 1983–1988.[1] The family later began divesting of many of these assets. In 2006, the family sold Conwood, a smokeless tobacco company, for $3.5 billion to cigarette company Reynolds American Inc.[20] In 2007, the family sold a 60% stake, and sold control of the Marmon Group to Berkshire Hathaway for $4.5 billion,[1] a sale that it completed in 2013.[21][better source needed] In 2010, the family sold its majority stake in Transunion, the Chicago-based credit reporting company, to Chicago-based private-equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners for an undisclosed amount.[20] As a member of the Robert's line of the Pritzker family, Jennifer Prizker has inherited and accumulated wealth that is estimated at US$1.7 billion.[1]


Pritzker created the Tawani Foundation in 1995,[22] which aims "to enhance the awareness and understanding of the importance of the Citizen Soldier; to preserve unique sites of significance to American and military history; to foster health and wellness projects for improved quality of life; and to honor the service of military personnel, past, present and future."[22][23] In 2003, the Tawani Foundation made a $1.35 million donation to the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to study the feasibility of transgender people serving in the military and in the ranks of police and fire departments.[11] In 2013, the Foundation donated $25 million to Norwich University, in Northfield, Vermont, the school credited with developing and establishing the first Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program in the country.[24] So closely tied is this founder to the Foundation, that news reports of the Foundation's gifts refer to Jennifer Pritzker and the Foundation, interchangeably, as being the donor (e.g., in the Norwich gift).[24] In 2016, through her Foundation, Pritzker gave a $2 million donation to create the world's first endowed academic chair of transgender studies, at the University of Victoria in British Columbia; Aaron Devor was chosen as the inaugural chair.[25]

Political causes[edit]

Pritzker is a lifelong Republican,[2] and major donor to candidates and organizations such as the NRA, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.[3][4] Although she is reevaluating her support after the Trump Administration's attacks on LGBTQ rights, specifically the transgender military ban.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Pritzker has a daughter from a first marriage, Tal Hava Pritzker, and two sons, Andrew (b. 1991) and William, from her marriage to Lisa I. Goren.[5][10][27] As of 2014 she was divorced.[28][1]

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;[29] the announcement read:

As of August 16, 2013, J. N. Pritzker will undergo an official legal name change, 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.[30]


  1. ^ a b c d e Forbes Staff (2017). "Jennifer Pritzker" (online). Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Mrozek, Steven J. (2000). "James Nicholas Pritzker". 82nd Airborne Division. Nashville, TN, USA: Turner Publishing. pp. 168f. ISBN 1563113643. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b Worthy, Ford S. (1988). "The Pritzkers Unveiling a Private Family" (online). CNN Money (April 25).
  7. ^ Wall Street Journal: "Caught a Good Break" November 26, 2013
  8. ^ CNN Money: "THE PRITZKERS UNVEILING A PRIVATE FAMILY Can you believe it? These billionaires actually like each other. But as Pritzkers proliferate, a worry arises: Can they maintain their striking success – and keep everyone happy?" By Ford S. Worthy April 25, 1988
  9. ^ "Finding aid for the Ratner Family Papers". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Pritzker, Jennifer (2016). "Board of Directors: Colonel (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Founder & Chair". Chicago, IL, USA: Retrieved 20 January 2016. [Extensive list of self-published biographical information.]
  11. ^ a b c d Kapos, Shia (2013). "James Pritzker Opens New Chapter in His Life" (online, print). Crain's Chicago Business (August 23).
  12. ^ Harris, Melissa; McCoppin, Robert; Goldsborough, Bob (2013). "The World of Jennifer Pritzker" (online, print). Chicago Tribune (September 22). Retrieved 20 January 2016. Subtitle: An heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune who changed his identity from male to female has a far-reaching impact on Illinois real estate, business and philanthropy.
  13. ^ "About Tawani Enterprises, Inc". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  14. ^ [Ill. Secretary of State] (20 January 2016). "Corp/LLC Certificate of Good Standing: Search, Name = Tawani Enterprises or File number = 58832855". Retrieved 20 January 2016. Incorporation Date (Domestic), 04/23/1996.
  15. ^ "Tawani Enterprises". Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  16. ^ Pace, Richard D. (2015). "Chromogenex – Owned By Squadron Capital – Sued Again" (online). Everything-PR (November 21). Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  17. ^ "About NSF". National Strategy Forum Blog. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  18. ^ [Ill. Secretary of State] (20 January 2016). "Corp/LLC Certificate of Good Standing: Search, Name = National Security, Ltd or File number = 54981066". Retrieved 20 January 2016. Incorporation Date (Domestic), 02/25/1988 ... VOLUNTARY DISSOLUTION 12 26 95.
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b Wernau, Julie (2011). "Pritzker Family Could Soon Own Less Than Half of Hyatt" (online, print). Chicago Tribune (April 19).
  21. ^ Buffett, Warren E. (2013). "Letter from Warren E. Buffett, Chairman of the Board, "To the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.," dated February 28, 2014" (PDF). Omaha, NE: Berkshire Hathaway. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  22. ^ a b Williams, Bailey (2014). "Evanston Billionaire, Philanthropist Named One of the Most Influential LGBT Voices" (online, print). The Daily Northwestern (April 16). Retrieved 20 January 2016. In 1995, Pritzker founded the Tawani Foundation, which works to preserve military history and historical sites. The foundation's mission is to emphasize the importance of the 'citizen soldier' ...
  23. ^ "Board of Directors". Tawani Foundation. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  24. ^ a b Kapos, Shia (2013). "James Pritzker Donates $25 Million to Norwich U." (online, print). Crain's Chicago Business (April 29). Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  25. ^ "Jennifer Pritzker's Foundation Gives $2 Million for Transgender Studies at Canadian University". Tablet Magazine.
  26. ^
  27. ^ Chicago Tribune: "Herbert L. Goren, 82, Former plastics company executive" By Susan Kuczka September 17, 2004
  28. ^ Eby, Margaret (November 11, 2014). "How Colonel Jennifer Pritzker Pushes for Transgender Rights in Military". The Forward. Retrieved December 6, 2017.
  29. ^ Solomon, Brian (2013). "Jennifer Pritzker Becomes First Transgender Billionaire" (online). Forbes (September 16). Retrieved 2016-01-20.
  30. ^ Fisher, Alexandria (September 16, 2013). "Jennifer Pritzker Becomes First Transgender Billionaire" (online). Forbes. Retrieved December 6, 2017.

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