|38th United States Secretary of Commerce|
June 26, 2013 – January 20, 2017
|Deputy||Patrick Gallagher (Acting)|
|Preceded by||Rebecca Blank|
|Succeeded by||Wilbur Ross|
|Born||Penny Sue Pritzker|
May 2, 1959
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Relatives||Donald Pritzker (father)|
J. B. Pritzker (brother)
Anthony Pritzker (brother)
|Education||Harvard University (BA)|
Stanford University (JD, MBA)
Penny Sue Pritzker (born May 2, 1959) is an American billionaire businesswoman, entrepreneur, and civic leader. President Barack Obama nominated Pritzker as United States Secretary of Commerce. After being confirmed by a Senate vote of 97–1, she became the 38th person to hold that position.
Pritzker spent her early career in business. She worked her way up through the Pritzker family business, eventually being appointed as one of three successors to her uncle, Jay Pritzker. She is the founder of PSP Capital Partners and Pritzker Realty Group. She is also co-founder of Artemis Real Estate Partners. As of October 2015, Forbes estimated her net worth at $2.4 billion. In 2009, Forbes named Pritzker one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.
Before entering government service, Pritzker had been involved in many Chicago organizations, including the Chicago Board of Education, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and her own foundation, the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation. Pritzker was an early supporter of Obama's presidential candidacy, having been a friend of the Obama family since their time in Chicago.
Early life and education
Penny Pritzker was born in Chicago in 1959, the daughter of Sue (née Sandel) and Donald N. Pritzker. She is a member of the Pritzker family of Chicago, a wealthy and influential business family. Donald Pritzker was one of the co-founders of Hyatt Hotels. He moved the family to Palo Alto where business for the Hyatt Hotels began to grow. Penny has two younger brothers, Tony (b. 1961) and J. B. (b. 1965).
Young Penny would accompany her father to the hotels and check the cleanliness of the ladies restrooms. In 1972, Don died suddenly of a heart attack when Penny was 13 years old. Following Don's death, Sue began battling depression, requiring Penny to at times care for her mother and her younger brothers. At age 16, Penny wrote a letter to her grandfather, and head of the family business empire, A. N. Pritzker, in which she asked why he talked business with the men in the family and not with her. Finally realizing Penny's interest in business, A. N. provided her with a summer course in accounting.
Penny attended Castilleja School until 1977. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Harvard College in 1981. The following year, Penny's mother died after falling out of the passenger side of a tow truck. Penny returned to school, earning both a Juris Doctor and a Masters of Business Administration from Stanford University in 1985.
Pritzker family businesses
After she earned her degrees, Pritzker joined the Pritzker organization encouraged by her cousin Nick Pritzker. In 1987, she founded Classic Residence by Hyatt, later renamed Vi, upscale housing for seniors as an alternative to nursing homes. The project struggled at first, losing $40 million in the first 18 months, but turned around after changes in marketing and management. In 1991, Jay Pritzker, Penny's uncle and head of the Pritzker family businesses, named Penny as the director of the Pritzkers' non-hotel landholdings. With that appointment, Penny created the Pritzker Realty Group, which developed apartment buildings, shopping centers, and the Baldwin Park neighborhood in Orlando, Florida.
From 1991–1994, Penny Pritzker was chairperson of the Hinsdale, Illinois-based Superior Bank of Chicago, in which Jay Pritzker had purchased a 50% stake from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, who had taken over the bank when it failed. In 1993 the bank "embarked on a business strategy of significant growth into subprime home mortgages", according to a report by the United States Treasury Department. In 2000 it became clear the bank was faltering. In the months leading up to 2001, the Pritzkers tried to work out a recapitalization plan. In July 2001, the FDIC seized the bank after the recapitalization could not be resolved. Subsequently, the Pritzker family reached an agreement with regulators to pay $460 million.
According to the FDIC, by 2011 the uninsured depositors of Superior had each received 81% of their uninsured monies, in addition to the $100,000 each previously received of their insured amount. Industry experts have criticized the Pritzkers in regard to Superior. Consumer advocates and government investigators asserted Superior "engaged in unsound financial activities and predatory lending practices". Responding to the Wall Street Journal, Pritzker noted she had no ownership in the bank, either direct or indirect, and that the bank's reasons for failure "were complex, including changes in accounting practices, auditing failures, reversals in regulatory positions and general economic conditions". She said the bank complied with "fair lending laws" and ethical business practices. A 2001 Business Week article described the bank's other owner, Alvin Dworman, as the more dominant partner in its operation as a result of agreements made by Jay Pritzker. Quoted in the New York Times, a Pritzker family friend observed Pritzker was trapped in a deal of her uncle's making: "Penny got sucked into this…this was really the legacy of Jay."
Leadership and dissolution
In 1995, Penny was named as one of three successors to the retiring Jay Pritzker besides his son Tom and his cousin Nick. Tom was named the official head of the businesses, Nick and Penny each named vice-chairman. Together, the three were to oversee the Pritzker family assets. Jay intended to keep the family business together, devising a system of trusts that would allow individual family members to receive money from the trusts to meet their needs; however, the family's wealth was to be primarily maintained in the trusts to grow the businesses and fund philanthropic endeavors. The Pritzker business empire contained over 200 businesses and was valued at $15 billion.
After Jay Pritzker's death in 1999, other Pritzker family members challenged Tom, Nick, and Penny's control of the businesses in multiple lawsuits. Penny's brothers joined in one of the lawsuits. In 2001 Tom, Nick, and Penny decided to sell family assets to allow eleven cousins to receive a share, dissolving the family's business ties. Disentangling the family's business interests took nearly a decade. The family sold its controlling stake in the Marmon Group to Berkshire Hathaway for $4.5 billion in 2008. The Pritzker Realty Group sold Parking Spot, an airport parking management business Penny co-founded in 1998, to Green Courte Partners LLC for $360 million in 2011.
Starting in 2005, she served as non-executive chairman of TransUnion. In 2009, she co-founded Artemis Real Estate Partners LLC, a real estate investment management company, with Deborah Harmon. In 2011, she founded an investment office, PSP Capital Partners. Altogether, Pritzker started five companies before joining the federal government.
Government and political involvement
Pritzker's friendship with Barack Obama and his family dates back to the 1990s when he was a professor at the University of Chicago. Pritzker met Obama at a Chicago YMCA where her son participated in a basketball program coached by Obama's brother-in-law Craig Robinson. Obama and his family were frequent guests at Pritzker's Lake Michigan vacation home.
Pritzker was an early supporter of Obama's political career, helping to finance his 2004 Senate campaign. Early in the Democratic presidential primary, Pritzker's financing helped Obama's candidacy survive when Obama was trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls. Pritzker remained a major fundraiser for Obama during the 2008 Democratic primary and raised millions overall for his White House bid. She served as the national finance chair of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Under her direction, the campaign reached out to small donors. Pritzker also hosted more lavish fundraisers as part of her effort to raise money.
Following Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election, CNN reported that Pritzker was president-elect Obama's top choice for Commerce Secretary. However, Pritzker took herself out of the running. According to the Chicago Tribune, she withdrew her name from consideration "due to obligations to her family, for whom she was still overseeing billions in assets, and the financial crisis, which was putting some of those assets at risk". As a result of her public support for President Obama, Pritzker found herself the target of labor groups for Hyatt Hotels' practices. The president of Unite Here cited her connection to Obama as a reason why the group expected her to use better labor practices as the group staged demonstrations against Pritzker.
Pritzker was a member of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. She also served on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Although she was less active in the 2012 Obama campaign than she had been four years prior, she served as national co-chair of Obama for America 2012. She was also on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan think tank focused on world affairs and U.S. foreign policy.
Secretary of Commerce
Pritzker was nominated as United States Secretary of Commerce by President Barack Obama on May 2, 2013. To avoid conflicts of interest, Pritzker agreed to sell her interest in at least 221 companies and resign from 158 entities, including the Hyatt Board of Directors and the Chicago Board of Education.[a] Later that month, on May 23, the Senate held its confirmation hearing, which covered a variety of topics. Although Pritzker's family business dealings had been a target of Republican criticism when Obama announced her nomination, only three questions at the hearing related to her family. Pritzker was confirmed by the full Senate on June 25, by a vote of 97 to 1.[b] Pritzker was sworn in as Secretary on June 26, 2013.
Among Pritzker's priorities was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed trade agreement that would have been the "largest regional trade agreement in history". Pritzker supported the TPP as a way to provide market access to U.S. businesses and as a way for the U.S. to set the standards for trade. Leading up the 2016 presidential election, in which both major party candidates openly opposed the TPP, Pritzker and other Obama officials continued to push for the TPP's passage in Congress. Ultimately, Congress failed to pass the TPP bill.
Pritzker named a Digital Economy Board of Advisors, which included tech industry CEOs and academics, to advise on policy. Pritzker also expanded the IP attache program, which helps the tech industry protect their intellectual property abroad. As secretary, Pritzker also created the Commerce Data Advisory Council to identify priorities for the Department of Commerce, a prolific publisher of data intended to allow businesses to plan and innovate. Pritzker served as the lead negotiator for the United States in the E.U.–U.S. Privacy Shield, an agreement governing how companies transfer digital data from Europe to the United States.
Following President Obama's announcement that the United States would move towards normalizing relations with Cuba, Pritzker traveled to Cuba. Although Obama's change in policy did not end the U.S. trade embargo, since ending the embargo required an act of Congress, Pritzker met with Cuban trade ministers and other officials to discuss the changing relationship between the two countries and to lay the groundwork for more economic involvement.
Following her tenure as Secretary, Pritzker returned to PSP and the private sector.
Civic and philanthropic activities
Pritzker is involved in public education. She was a member of the Chicago Board of Education and is past chair of the Chicago Public Education Fund. Pritzker was elected to a six-year term on the Harvard Board of Overseers in 2002. In 2018, she was elected a Fellow of the Harvard Corporation, which oversees Harvard College. Pritzker was Advisory Board Chair of Skills for America's Future (SAF), a policy initiative of the Aspen Institute. Pritzker is a former chair of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
Pritzker and her husband, Brian Traubert, have their own foundation called the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation. The foundation focuses on physical activity for young people. Among their initiatives were a $5 million donation to converting grass soccer fields to easier-to-maintain turf and a $1 million donation to repair tennis courts around Chicago. The Pritzkers also established ChicagoRun, a program that prepares Chicago-area children to run their first 5k race.
In 2012 Chicago magazine named her one of the 100 most powerful Chicagoans. On March 26, 2014, Elle honored Pritzker, with others, at the Italian Embassy in the United States during its annual "Women in Washington Power List".
In the 1980s, Pritzker completed her first Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. Pritzker trained for six months and ultimately finished the race in 12 hours. In addition to competing in triathlons, Pritzker has also run marathons. Pritzker is married to ophthalmologist Bryan Traubert, with whom she has two children. Although her relationship with her brothers became strained following the family business restructuring, they eventually reconciled, and Penny expressed support for the idea of younger brother J. B. running for office in 2017.
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- List of female United States Cabinet Secretaries
- List of people and organisations named in the Paradise Papers
- Office of Thrift Supervision
- In November 2017, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism released the "Paradise Papers," documents related to offshore services and tax havens, and alleged that Pritzker transferred her shares of two of her holdings to her children rather than selling them, as she had indicated on ethics forms. Pritzker responded with a statement saying that she had complied with the rules and regulations of the Office of Government Ethics regarding her holdings and divestitures.
- Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent caucusing with the Democrats, was the lone vote against Pritzker's confirmation.
- Easton, Nina (June 2, 2014). "The fascinating life of Penny Pritzker (so far)". Fortune. Archived from the original on December 8, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
- "Penny Prtizker". Forbes. Archived from the original on December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- "Mishap kills Sue Pritzker, widow of Hyatt Hotel founder, at age 49". Chicago Tribune. May 8, 1982.
- "Penny Pritzker, Jewish Hotel Heiress, Tapped for Commerce Job". The Forward. May 2, 2013. Archived from the original on March 10, 2017. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
- Davis, Julie Hirschfeld (October 8, 2015). "Penny Pritzker Tackles Tough Assignments as Commerce Secretary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 16, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
- DeBare, Ilana. "Prominent Alumnae of Girls' Schools". Where Girls Come First. Archived from the original on July 10, 2007. Retrieved November 27, 2007.
- "Around Town". Palo Alto Weekly. November 9, 2005. Archived from the original on February 12, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- Madeline W., Lissner (June 5, 2006). "Penny Pritzker". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
- Tritsch, Shane (June 1, 2007). "Tremors in the Empire". Chicago. Archived from the original on September 21, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
- Andrews, Suzanna (May 2003). "Shattered Dynasty". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on February 22, 2017. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
- Harris, Melissa; MarksJarvis, Gail (May 19, 2013). "Inside Penny Pritzker's portfolio: How a billionaire invests". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on April 19, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- Emshwiller, John R. (July 21, 2008). "A Top Obama Fund-Raiser Had Ties to Failed Bank". The Wall Street Journal. pp. A10. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
- Weber, Joseph; Woellert, Lorraine (September 10, 2001). "The Pritzkers' Empire Trembles: Can a new generation halt the slide in the family's fortunes?". Business Week. BusinessWeek. Archived from the original on February 22, 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
- Barboza, David (August 7, 2001). "A Partnership Frays After An S.& L. Fails; In Laying Blame, Trying to Sort Out One Deal Maker's Complicated Legacy". The New York Times. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
- Allison, Melissa; Neikirk, William (July 27, 2001). "Regulators close Chicago-area bank". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
- "Judge rules family, others cannot be sued concerning Superior Bank's collapse". Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. September 28, 2004.
- David Mobert, Breaking the Bank Archived July 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., In These Times November 8, 2002
- John W. Courtney et al. v. Neal T. Halleren et al. (485 F.3d 942) Archived May 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.. Bulk.resource.org. Retrieved on December 4, 2011.
- "Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation". Failed Bank Information. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012.
- Pallasch, Abdon M. (April 28, 2008). "Obama's subprime pal". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on November 2, 2008. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
- Sachdev, Ameet; Harris, Melissa (December 9, 2011). "Pritzker Realty sells parking lot chain to private equity firm". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
- The Economist: "Jay Pritzker, pioneer of the modern hotel chain, died on January 23rd, aged 76" Archived July 3, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. January 28, 1999.
- Staff (2008). "Penny S. Pritzker – Biography". Penny Pritzker – Official website. Archived from the original on October 22, 2008. Retrieved November 19, 2008.
- Prospectus Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.. Sec.gov. Retrieved on August 12, 2013.
- Gallun, Alby (January 11, 2012). "Penny Pritzker's Artemis raises $736 million for real estate investments". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
- "PSP Capital Partners, LLC". Archived from the original on April 29, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
- Vasilogambros, Matt (May 2, 2013). "Obama's New Commerce Secretary: A Billionaire Chicago Hotel Magnate". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on April 17, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
- Kantor, Jodi; Confessore, Nicholas (July 15, 2012). "Penny Pritzker Had Big Role in Obama '08 but Is Backstage in '12". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 31, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- Anne E. Kornblut & Matthew Mosk (April 5, 2008). "Obama's Campaign Takes In $25 Million,He Nearly Matches Clinton, With Twice as Many Donors" (printable). Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2008.
- Michael Luo & Christopher Drew (July 3, 2008). "Obama Picks Up Fund-Raising Pace". Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 1, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
- "Sources: Pritzker, Napolitano being vetted for Cabinet". CNN. November 20, 2008. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2008.
- Allen, Mike (November 20, 2008). "Pritzker turns down Commerce". Politico. Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
- Gloria Borger, Jason Carrol, Ed Henry, Jamie McIntyre, John King, Ed Hornick, Don Lemon, Jessica Yellin (November 20, 2008). "Pritzker not a candidate for commerce secretary" (printable). CNN. Archived from the original on March 7, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
- Knowlton, Brian (November 20, 2008). "Pritzker Withdraws From Cabinet Consideration". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 15, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- Harris, Melissa (March 3, 2013). "Penny Pritzker U.S. commerce secretary". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on December 2, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- "Penny S. Pritzker - Biography". www.penny-pritzker.com. October 31, 2011. Archived from the original on October 31, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- "Nomination of Penny Pritzker To Be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce". United States Government Publishing Office. May 23, 2013. Archived from the original on April 19, 2017. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
- Sweet, Lynn (May 2, 2013) "Obama nominates Chicago exec Penny Pritzker as commerce secretary" Archived June 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- Calmes, Jackie (May 2, 2013). "Obama Picks Nominees for Commerce Dept. and Trade Representative". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 24, 2017. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
- "Explore The Politicians in the Paradise Papers - ICIJ". ICIJ. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
- Au-Yeung, Angel (November 5, 2017). "Former Secretary of Commerce And Hyatt Hotels Heir Penny Pritzker Identified In Paradise Papers". Forbs. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
- Venook, Jeremy (January 18, 2017). "The Trump Administration's Conflicts of Interest: A Crib Sheet". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on April 15, 2017. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
- Parsons, Christi; Harris, Melissa; Skiba, Katherine (May 2, 2013). "Penny Pritzker to be nominated for Commerce secretary". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on April 15, 2017. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
- Litvan, Laura (May 20, 2013). "Pritzker Yields Party Role Reversal on Offshore Trusts". Bloomberg.com. Archived from the original on April 16, 2017. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
- Parti, Tarini (May 23, 2013). "Pritzker likely on confirmation path". Politico. Archived from the original on December 2, 2016. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- Penny Pritzker confirmed as Commerce secretary – Dan Berman Archived June 28, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.. Politico (June 26, 2013). Retrieved on August 12, 2013.
- "Pritzker Takes Oath as Commerce Secretary". NBC Chicago. June 26, 2013. Archived from the original on April 2, 2017. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
- Davis, Julie Hirschfeld (October 8, 2015). "Penny Pritzker Tackles Tough Assignments as Commerce Secretary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 16, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
- Needham, Vicki (September 29, 2016). "Obama administration officials ramp up push for Pacific pact". TheHill. Archived from the original on October 2, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
- Primack, Dan (May 26, 2017). "Penny Pritzker talks post-government life, AI and Airbnb". Axios. Archived from the original on May 26, 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
- "Tech Frets About Trump Commerce Department's Digital Stance". Bloomberg BNA. Archived from the original on April 19, 2017. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
- Collins, Shelly Kapoor (March 2, 2016). "Talking innovation in a data-enabled economy with Secretary Penny Pritzker | TechCrunch". Tech Crunch. Archived from the original on June 7, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
- Scott, Mark (March 8, 2016). "Penny Pritzker on the Privacy Shield Pact With Europe". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on July 22, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
- Oppmann, Patrick (October 7, 2015). "Penny Pritzker, secretary of commerce, wraps Cuba trip". CNN. Archived from the original on April 23, 2017. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
- "US Commerce Secretary Pritzker in Cuba for embargo talks". BBC News. October 16, 2015. Archived from the original on April 23, 2017. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
- "The Chicago Public Education Fund Announces new Chairman, transition plan - Chicago Public Education Fund". Chicago Public Education Fund. May 25, 2011. Archived from the original on April 23, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- "Harvard's Governing Boards Refreshed". Harvard Magazine. May 23, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
- "The Aspen Institute". Archived from the original on March 25, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2016.
- "Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert". ARTnews. Archived from the original on December 31, 2016. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- Goffredo, Kendra (March 26, 2015). "U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzker's Passion For Triathlon". Triathlete.com. Archived from the original on April 24, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- "Kapos: Tennis courts get $1M in Pritzker love". Chicago Sun-Times. January 22, 2017. Archived from the original on February 5, 2017. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
- Bailey, Berstein, Burke, Colburn; et al. (March 2012). "100 Most Powerful Chicagoans". Chicago Magazine. Archived from the original on April 27, 2012. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
- Watters, Susan (March 26, 2014). "Gucci and Elle Honor Women in Washington Power List". WWD. Archived from the original on April 11, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- "Penny Pritzker Elected Chairman of the Board for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. February 22, 2018. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
- "Sweet: Commerce Secretary Pritzker ponders next move". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on April 1, 2017. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Penny Pritzker.|
- About Secretary Penny Pritzker at the United States Department of Commerce
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Money Maven
- Penny Pritzker at NNDB
- The Forbes 400 – #135 Penny Pritzker 2007 profile
- The Harvard Crimson – Penny Pritzker Madeline W. Lissner, June 5, 2006
- SEC filings
- Personal website
| United States Secretary of Commerce