Laurene Powell Jobs is an American businesswoman, founder and chair of Emerson Collective, which advocates on immigration and environmental issues, and co-founder and chair of College Track, which prepares disadvantaged high school students for college. She is the widow of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc. She controls the Laurene Powell Jobs Trust, the largest Walt Disney Company shareholder.
Jobs became known nationally in January 2012 when she sat next to First Lady Michelle Obama during the president’s State of the Union address. She supports Obama policies and donates generously to campaigns to elect Democratic candidates. In California she supported Democrats Kamala Harris for attorney general and Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor. She has given to Democratic campaign committees and candidates nationally, to Newark Mayor Cory Booker running for Senator from New Jersey and to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada. She supports and raises funds for Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun-control group.
Jobs worked in investment banking before earning a master’s degree in business administration from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. She has been an education reformer for years helping minority and low-income children prepare for college. Her Emerson Collective promotes entrepreneurship for social reforms. Her work with College Track kids led her to support and campaign for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, first introduced in 2001 by United States Senators Durbin and Hatch as a proposed process for naturalization of undocumented aliens.
“I started getting more and more active around immigration reform because this was 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,” said Jobs in an April 2013 TV interview with journalist Brian Williams. Jobs aims to leave her own mark on the immigration debate. She and filmmaker Davis Guggenheim promote immigration reform through their film The Dream Is Now. They went to Capitol Hill together to present the film to members of Congress.
The film story line features a central character named José, who excels in mathematics and dreams of becoming an engineer. He gets an academic scholarship grant to Arizona State University and graduates with a degree in mechanical engineering in a state that needs more engineers, but his alien status makes him ineligible for engineering jobs, so he works as a construction laborer with his father and brother.
Guggenheim commented: “When he was a kid and he pledged allegiance to the flag and his teacher said, ‘You know, Jose, if you work hard in this country you can do anything,’ he bought into that and he believed it, and then he got to a certain point and the rules changed.”
“We have educated individuals and individuals who want to further their education, passionately, deeply, right here in our country who we are not enabling,” Jobs added. She and Guggenheim believe that the political parties have resolved most contentious immigration issues. “I think there’s been a great realization over the last several years that in fact we do not wish to punish the children because of any actions of their parents.”
Jobs and Guggenheim hope immigration laws will change in the near future for José and the other characters of The Dream is Now.