|38th United States Secretary of Commerce|
June 26, 2013
|Deputy||Patrick Gallagher (acting)
|Preceded by||Cameron Kerry (acting)|
|Born||Penny Sue Pritzker
May 2, 1959
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Alma mater||Harvard University (BA)
Stanford University (MBA JD)
Penny Sue Pritzker (born May 2, 1959) is an American billionaire businesswoman, entrepreneur, civic leader, and philanthropist who is currently serving as the 38th United States Secretary of Commerce. She is the founder of PSP Capital Partners and Pritzker Realty Group. She is also co-founder of Artemis Real Estate Partners. She is a member of the Pritzker family.
In 2012, Chicago magazine named her one of the 100 most powerful Chicagoans. In October 2015, Forbes estimated her net worth at US $2.4 billion. In 2009, Forbes named Pritzker one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.
Pritzker was born in Chicago to a Jewish family in 1959, the daughter of Sue (née Sandel) and Donald N. Pritzker (1932–1972), one of the co-founders of Hyatt hotels, which grew dramatically under his leadership as President from 1959 until his death in 1972. Pritzker is a member of the Pritzker family of Chicago, an influential business family. She attended Castilleja School until 1977. She earned an BA in Economics from Harvard College in 1981 and both a JD and an MBA from Stanford University in 1984. She has two brothers: Anthony Pritzker and Jay Robert Pritzker.
In 1987, she founded Classic Residence by Hyatt, now called Vi. In 1991, she created Pritzker Realty Group, and served as chairperson of Superior Bank of Chicago (until 1994). In 1998, she co-founded The Parking Spot, an off-site airport parking management, with CEO Martin Nesbitt. In 2005, she served as non-exuctive chairman of TransUnion (until 2012) In 2010, she co-founded Artemis Real Estate Partners, a real estate investment management company, with CEO Deborah Harmon. In 2012, she founded PSP Capital Partners.
In 1989, Pritzker's late uncle, Jay Pritzker, purchased a 50% stake in Hinsdale, Illinois-based Superior Bank of Chicago from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which had taken over the bank when it failed. Penny Pritzker was Superior's chairperson from 1991–1994. 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, 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" Jay Pritzker died in 1999.
Government and political involvement
Pritzker was a member of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. She also served on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
She was national co-chair of Obama for America 2012 and was the national finance chair of President Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. A campaign under her direction reached out to small donors. On November 20, 2008, CNN reported that Pritzker was Barack Obama's top choice for Commerce Secretary, quoting "multiple" unnamed sources. However, it was later reported that 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."
Pritzker has contributed to numerous campaigns. Among the recipients have been the presidential campaigns and exploratory committees, including those of George W. Bush, Joe Lieberman, Bill Bradley, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain (2000), Al Gore, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. On July 2, 2008, Pritzker and her husband hosted a $28,500 per plate fundraiser for Obama's campaign in Chicago with Warren Buffett and his wife, and Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett.
Secretary of Commerce
Pritzker was nominated as United States Secretary of Commerce by President Barack Obama on May 2, 2013. After an uneventful confirmation hearing on May 23, 2013, Pritzker was confirmed by the full Senate on June 25, by a vote of 97 to 1. Pritzker was sworn in as Secretary on June 26, 2013.
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.
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- The Economist: "Jay Pritzker, pioneer of the modern hotel chain, died on January 23rd, aged 76" January 28, 1999.
- Anne E. Kornblut and Matthew Mosk (April 5, 2008). "Obama's Campaign Takes In $25 Million,He Nearly Matches Clinton, With Twice as Many Donors" (printable). Washington Post. Retrieved September 24, 2008.
- "Sources: Pritzker, Napolitano being vetted for Cabinet". CNN. November 20, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2008.
- Allen, Mike (November 20, 2008). "Pritzker turns down Commerce". Politico. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
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- Knowlton, Brian (November 20, 2008). "Pritzker Withdraws From Cabinet Consideration". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
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- Penny S. Pritzker – Biography. Penny-pritzker.com. Retrieved on December 4, 2011.
- Sweet, Lynn (May 2, 2013) "Obama nominates Chicago exec Penny Pritzker as commerce secretary", Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- Shear, Michael D. (May 2, 2013) "Obama Nominates Pritzker for Commerce Post", The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- Penny Pritzker looks to be on path to confirmation – Tarini Parti. Politico.Com (May 23, 2013). Retrieved on August 12, 2013.
- Penny Pritzker confirmed as Commerce secretary – Dan Berman. Politico.Com (June 26, 2013). Retrieved on August 12, 2013.
- people "The Aspen Institute" Check
|url=scheme (help). Retrieved October 10, 2012.
- Watters, Susan (March 26, 2014). "Gucci and Elle Honor Women in Washington Power List". WWD. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- About Secretary Penny Pritzker at the United States Department of Commerce
- Shattered Dynasty, Vanity Fair (magazine)
- Money Maven
- Penny Pritzker at NNDB
- 2002 article on Superior Bank failure, In These Times
- 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
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Secretary of Agriculture
|Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Commerce
as Secretary of Labor
|United States presidential line of succession|
as Secretary of Agriculture
|9th in line
as Secretary of Commerce
as Secretary of Labor