Laura Lauder is a native of Canton, Ohio and journeyed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Seville, Spain for her undergraduate education. In 1992, she joined her husband Gary in their venture capital partnership, Lauder Partners, specializing in Internet and media investments.
Laura now primarily focuses her efforts on strategic grantmaking through the Laura and Gary Lauder Family Venture Philanthropy Fund and in numerous leadership capacities at local and national nonprofit organizations.
Laura is a social entrepreneur and venture philanthropist. Laura focuses on Signature Initiatives that she has designed and launched with experts and other philanthropists. For example, she co-founded the Center for Media and Democracy in Israel in 2019, a nonprofit and non-partisan independent news organization that promotes democratic discourse through investigative journalism, like an Israeli ProPublica. She founded DeLeT: Day School Teaching through Leadership in 2000, a national Jewish Teach for America type program. And, she co-founded the Jewish Teen Funders Network’s Foundation Board Incubator in 2012 that develops community-based teen philanthropy programs throughout North America, Australia, and Israel. Laura and her daughter, Eliana, created the Gap Year program at Duke University in 2018, during Eliana’s senior year at Duke, that seeks to encourage young people to take a gap year between high school and college to grow, explore, and serve. Together, Laura and Gary co-founded the Socrates Program of the Aspen Institute in 1996, which has convened over 7,000 young leaders worldwide to Aspen to participate in seminars and salons on the most difficult issues of the day.
Laura also serves on numerous nonprofit boards. She is chair of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of San Francisco, with over $2 billion in assets, under the auspices of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco. Laura serves on the Advisory Board of Service Year Alliance that creates opportunities for young adults to serve their country through a year of full-time community service. She is on the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Institute and chairs the Board’s Socrates Sub-Committee. She is on the National Constitution Center Board of Directors and chairs the Education Committee to expand and distribute the NCC’s Interactive Constitution to schools and the public. She serves on the Social Finance Board in Boston, which facilitates impact investing. She has previously served on the boards of the National Public Radio Foundation and Spark Networks — a NYSE Amex Company and parent of JDate.
Laura is active with the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO/WPO), a global leadership network and is a fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was named one of “10 Women to Watch” by Jewish Woman magazine in 2004. She has won numerous awards, including Volunteer of the Year from the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation in 2011, the Jim Brooks Achievement Award in 2004, and the San Francisco Bay Area Dinkelspiel Young Leadership Award in 1999.
Laura is an avid cyclist and won a bronze medal in the Maccabi Games in Israel in cycling time trial in 2009. While she is a political junkie, she hopes to never run for political office, but is willing to climb any mountain on a bike. She and Gary live in Silicon Valley and have two children who are young adults.
Nonprofit Boards and Committees on which Laura currently serves:
- Center for Media and Democracy in Israel – Co-Founder (Tel Aviv)
- Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund of San Francisco – Chair, Endowment Committee
- Foundation Board Incubator (through Jewish Teen Funders Network) – Co-Founder (NYC)
- Jim Joseph Foundation – Board of Directors (San Francisco)
- The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation – Board of Directors (NYC)
- DeLeT Alumni Network (through Hebrew Union College) – Founder (Los Angeles)
- AIPAC – NW Regional Board (San Francisco)
- National Constitution Center – Board of Directors; Chair, Education Committee (Philadelphia)
- Aspen Institute – Board of Trustees; Chair, Socrates Program Sub-Committee (Washington, DC)
- Social Finance – Board of Directors (Boston)
- Service Year Exchange, Inc (DBA: Service Year Alliance) – Co-chair; Serve America Together (Washington, DC)
- Bernard Osher Foundation – Board of Directors (San Francisco)