Susan Alice Buffett
Early Life and Family Background
Susan Alice Buffett was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1964 as the youngest child of billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Her mother was Susan Buffett, Warren’s first wife. Though her parents divorced in the 1970s, she remained close to her father, who went on to become one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Growing up with privilege but without ostentation, Susan stayed grounded and developed an early passion for education. She graduated from Central High School in Omaha and went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. After working briefly as a teacher, Susan discovered her true calling in philanthropy.
Establishing the Sherwood Foundation
In her mid-30s, Susan established the Sherwood Foundation, a nonprofit focused on improving lives in Nebraska. The organization was initially funded by Susan’s own assets. But in 2005, Warren Buffett demonstrated his confidence in his daughter’s philanthropy by donating $1 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the foundation.
Philanthropic Work through Sherwood Foundation
Initial Focus on Nebraska
Susan kept the Sherwood Foundation’s work hyperlocal in the first few years, directing grants only to organizations in Nebraska. This allowed her to leverage grassroots relationships and see the direct community impact of the foundation’s investments.
Expanding Scope and Warren Buffett’s Donation
The injection of funds from Warren Buffett in 2005 allowed Susan to expand the geographic scope of Sherwood’s giving. With an amply stocked war chest, she was able to take on more ambitious, large-scale causes like early childhood education.
Priorities – Early Childhood Education
Early childhood education soon became Susan’s passion. She recognized that investing in the first five years of a child’s cognitive and emotional development could have huge payoffs down the road. Through Sherwood, she funded quality improvement initiatives for Nebraska preschools and childcare centers.
Susan also founded the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. These partnerships extended her impact across the country by funding cutting-edge research on early learning.
Other Initiatives and Partnerships
In addition to the focus on early education, the Sherwood Foundation supports a range of social justice, community development, and human services causes. Susan is hands-on in vetting potential grantees and evaluating the impact of funded programs.
Political Donations and Influence
Support for Democratic Candidates and Organizations
Susan has chosen to exert influence not just through philanthropy but also political donations. She consistently directs money to Democratic candidates and progressive organizations ranging from the DCCC to Emily’s List. Some of her largest donations have gone to President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Named Top Political Influencer
In 2013, Susan was named one of the top 500 influencers in national politics based on her campaign contributions and networking. She has embraced her role as a progressive political voice alongside her philanthropic work.
Marriage and Family
Susan married Allen Greenberg, a businessman and longtime friend, in 2006. The couple has raised three children together in Omaha: Hannah, Emily, and Samuel. Friends describe Susan as a devoted mother when she is not occupied with her foundation’s activities.
Residence and Lifestyle
The Buffetts have lived modestly, residing in a middle-class Dundee neighborhood rather than a lavish estate. This down-to-earth lifestyle reflects Susan’s Midwestern sensibilities and civic-minded values. Though she sits on several corporate boards, her focus remains on philanthropy rather than business.
Net Worth and Inheritance Speculation
Berkshire Hathaway Holdings
As one of Warren Buffett’s three children, Susan is in line to inherit a significant stake in her father’s company Berkshire Hathaway. Her exact net worth remains private, but estimates put her Berkshire holdings at several billion dollars.
Potential Philanthropic Impact
Once Susan gains access to her inheritance, she is expected to direct those funds into her foundation’s endowment. With billions more to grant out, the Sherwood Foundation could expand its reach exponentially. Susan has been reticent to discuss specifics, keeping the focus on her current initiatives.
Susan Alice Buffett’s Legacy and Continued Influence
Reflections on Her Career and Goals
Now entering her 60s, Susan can look back proudly on how far she’s come since starting the Sherwood Foundation in her 30s. Rather than simply relying on her family wealth, she carved out her own identity through meaningful work to create opportunity for others. Friends say that what drives Susan is leaving the world a little better.
The Future of Sherwood Foundation
With Susan’s steady guidance, the Sherwood Foundation seems poised for greater growth and impact. Her laser focus on early childhood intervention will continue opening doors for generations of kids. Regardless of how much the endowment expands, Susan emphasizes that Sherwood will stay responsive to the community.
Remaining Challenges and Opportunities
Susan has accomplished so much, but also recognizes how much work remains. Too many children still lack access to quality education and resources. And Nebraska’s nonprofit community has heavy demands with limited funding. As long as such needs exist, Susan will keep listening, learning and directing resources to make meaningful change through Sherwood.
- What was Susan Alice Buffett’s main motivation for starting the Sherwood Foundation?Susan was driven by a passion for philanthropy from early on in her career. Having seen her father’s success, she wanted to give back on her own terms by funding causes that could empower vulnerable communities in Nebraska.
- How did Warren Buffett’s donation change the scale of Sherwood’s work? The $1 billion influx of funds from Warren in 2005 allowed Susan to vastly expand the foundation’s geographic scope and take on more ambitious large-scale causes like early childhood education reform.
- Where does Susan Alice Buffett sit on political issues? Susan consistently donates to and endorses Democratic candidates and progressive organizations. She uses her philanthropy and campaign contributions to advance equity, opportunity, and social justice.
- What is Susan’s relationship like with her father Warren Buffett? They have remained close despite Warren and Susan’s mother divorcing when she was young. Warren trusts Susan’s philanthropic vision, as seen by his readiness to donate billions to her foundation.
- How does Susan Alice Buffett’s life reflect her values? Rather than splurging on a lavish lifestyle, Susan lives modestly with her family in Nebraska and remains focused on civic-minded pursuits. Even her philanthropy stays locally rooted.