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Stanford Gets Penny Pritzker For Commencement

Penny Pritzker, former Secretary of Commerce under President Obama

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who received her MBA and law degrees from Stanford in 1985, will return to campus to deliver the 2017 graduation address at Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) on June 17, the school announced today (Feb. 23).

Pritzker served as the 38th U.S. Secretary of Commerce from June 2013 to January 2017. As Secretary, Pritzker was as a key member of President Obama’s economic team and in this role worked closely with the business community. 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 GSB graduation speech,” said Dean Jonathan Levin, in a statement “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.”


In February, Secretary Pritzker returned as chairman to PSP Capital Partners, a private investment firm with interests in real estate and other ventures. 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.

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 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, the GSB developed the alumni speaker program with past graduates delivering the commencement speech as a means to inspire graduates in their future careers.


About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.