Penny Pritzker served as the 38th U.S. Secretary of Commerce from June 2013 to January 2017. As Secretary of Commerce, Ms. Pritzker served as a key member of President Obama’s economic team and in this role worked closely with the business community to advance the President’s priorities of expanding growth and opportunity for all Americans. As the country’s chief commercial advocate, Secretary Pritzker led the Administration’s trade and investment promotion efforts.
“We are honored to have Secretary Pritzker deliver this year’s Stanford GSB graduation speech,” said Jonathan Levin, the Philip H. Knight Professor and Dean, Stanford GSB. “Her robust experience in both the private and public sector, and her deep commitment to entrepreneurship will undoubtedly provide unique and inspiring insights to the graduates.”
As Secretary of Commerce, she was focused on providing American businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow and hire. Guided by conversations with more than 2,100 CEOs and business leaders, Secretary Pritzker developed a strategic plan and policy blueprint for the Commerce Department comprised of five pillars: trade and investment, innovation, environment, data, and operational excellence. This work led to a revitalized agency as she expanded and institutionalized the SelectUSA initiative, the first federal program focused on attracting foreign direct investment to the United States, which to date facilitated more than $22.5 billion in inbound investment.
Secretary Pritzker also created the Department’s first ever comprehensive digital and data agenda, which had broad impact including the development of the first ever cyber security framework now used by a wide range of businesses and the completion of the E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield, which helps facilitate more than $290 billion in trans-Atlantic commerce.
Secretary Pritzker also served as the chair of the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) program, an initiative that deployed 21 of America’s most successful entrepreneurs to inspire and cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs around the world. Improving skilled workforce training in our country has been a longtime passion of Secretary Pritzker; during her tenure, she worked with Vice President Biden and Labor Secretary Tom Perez to use job training funds and programs more effectively. As such, she responded to the concerns of the business community and expanded the Department’s priorities to include for the first time skills development, assuring federal training expenditures are job driven, strengthening regional workforce development efforts, and facilitating new research on the value of apprenticeships to employers.
In February, Secretary Pritzker returned to PSP Capital Partners as Chairman. Before joining the Obama Administration, she started five companies and led dozens of businesses in diverse sectors such as Vi, a premier housing offering for older adults, The Parking Spot, an off-site airport parking provider, and Trans Union, a financial information services provider. She has also served on the boards of a number of major corporations, such as Hyatt Hotels, LaSalle National Bank, the William Wrigley Company, and non-executive Chairman of TransUnion.
In 2015, Secretary Pritzker became the inaugural recipient of the “Commercial Diplomat of the Year Award” by Foreign Policy Magazine. Secretary Pritzker also received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, an honor given to individuals who have served with distinction in public life.
Secretary Pritzker earned J.D. and M.B.A. degrees from Stanford University, and her bachelor's degree in economics from Harvard University. She and her husband Dr. Bryan Traubert have two children and reside in Chicago.
In 2010, Stanford GSB developed the alumni speaker program with past graduates delivering the commencement speech as a means to inspire graduates in their future careers.