Connie and Thomas Duckworth

NET WORTH: Unknown


FUNDING AREAS: Global Development & Gender Equity, Health, Education & Youth

OVERVIEW: After retiring from Goldman Sachs, Connie Duckworth has turned to social entrepreneurship and venture philanthropy. She founded Arzu Studio Hope, which empowers destitute women weavers in rural Afghanistan. Staring with 30 weavers, the outfit now employs hundreds of women. Duckworth and her husband, Thomas, who also worked at Goldman Sachs, move their philanthropy through the Kadrovach/Duckworth Family Foundation. The foundation's recent grantmaking has involved schools with personal connections to the family; it also funds outfits in the Chicago area, including those that deal with health and human services. The foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals and seeks out organizations to fund.

BACKGROUND: Connie K. Duckworth received a B.A. from University of Texas, and an MBA from Wharton. In 1979, straight out of business school, Duckworth joined energy giant Arco in Los Angeles. She then moved to Goldman Sachs, handling institutional fixed-income accounts at the firm’s Los Angeles office. Duckworth later moved to New York, where she helped build Goldman’s bond department. Duckworth made partner at Goldman Sachs and was the first woman sales and trading partner in the firm’s history. Duckworth retired from Goldman in 2001. She and her husband Thomas are based in the Chicago area. 


GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT & GENDER EQUITY: In the wake of 9/11, Duckworth accepted an invitation to join the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council. Her first trip to the region in 2003 moved her. Of the experience, she said, "That's when I met dozens of widows and children trying to survive frigid winter weather by squatting in the ruins of a bombed-out building. I was confronted with the reality that, but for the accident of birth, this could be me and mine. Afghanistan is one of the world's most tragic and seemingly inhospitable countries, particularly for women."

This background informs ARZU, which means "hope," an organization that Duckworth founded in 2004. The goal of ARZU is to empower destitute women weavers in rural Afghanistan. Staring with 30 weavers, the outfit now employs hundreds of women, providing access to education and basic healthcare, "seeding multiple micro-business start-ups, building community centers, pre-schools and parks, and creating award-winning, fair-labor rugs."

Duckworth and Thomas, through their Kadrovach/Duckworth Family Foundation, have also recently funded America India Foundation, whose mission is to accelerate social and economic change in India.

HEALTH: The couple supports the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation; Thomas Duckworth serves as vice president of that group, and is a trustee of the University of Chicago Medical Center. The story here is personal, as family members have been affected by the disease. The Duckworths, through their foundation, have also supported places like Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Steadman Philippon Research Institute, which deals with sports medicine, and the Northshore University Healthsystem. The couple also established a chair at NorthShore University HealthSystem. 

EDUCATION & YOUTH: Recent grantees have included Lake Forest Academy, Trustees of University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Austin, Academy for Urban School Leadership, Claremont McKenna College, and Investment for Kids. Several of these outfits have personal connections to the family. Apart from Duckworth's schools, two of the couple's kids went to Claremont McKenna College outside of Los Angeles.

LOOKING FORWARD: Expect Duckworth to stay laser-focused on ARZU in the coming years. A TEDx Talk Duckworth gave a few years ago is worth watching, particularly the idea that international development work should involve both the private and NGO sectors working together, rather than each operating in a silo.


Kadrovach/Duckworth Family Foundation does not provide a clear avenue of contact, but below is an address:

Kadrovach/Duckworth Family Foundation
77 Water St., 9th Fl.
New York City, NY 10005


Connie Duckworth Linkedin Profile