Jeffrey and Mary Zients

NET WORTH: Unknown

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Portfolio Logic

FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth, Global Development,

OVERVIEW: Jeff Zients and his wife Mary give through the Zients Family Foundation. They support their schools and other select educational institutions, and work on the global stage, particularly in southern Africa (Mary was born in South Africa.)

BACKGROUND: Jeffrey Zients graduated from Duke University. He founded and managed private equity firm Portfolio Logic. Zients went into government as President Obama’s principal economic policy advisor as director of the National Economic Council. Zients also served in the Office of Management and Budget as Acting Director, and Deputy Director, Management and Federal Chief Performance Officer. He helped spearhead the turnaround of the website launch.


EDUCATION & YOUTH: Zients supports his alma mater Duke University and the couple has supported Harvard, Mary's school. The couple cofounded Urban Alliance (UA), an inner city high school jobs and mentoring program serving young people in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Chicago. The organization says it has worked "with over 500 businesses to put some 3,000 young people on a path to economic success." Mary chairs the board of UA and is a founding board member of City Year South Africa, a youth service community program in Johannesburg.

Other grantees have included City Year Washington, DC, Teach for America, Maret School (Mary is president), St. Albans School, Phillips Exeter, Posse Foundation, and College Track.

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT: Mary was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the couple were friends with the late Nelson Mandela, who attended their wedding. Mary is a director of Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund-USA, which supports NGOs in South Africa who provide services to children and youth. Grantees include Bantwana Initiative, which deals with "improving the wellbeing of vulnerable children and their caregivers and families affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty"; African Leadership Foundation; Doctors Without Borders; Ubuntu Education Fund; and Women for Women International, where Mary sits on the board.

OTHER: Support goes to assorted organizations in health, the arts, the Jewish community, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Washington Hebrew Congregation, and National Jazz Museum in Harlem. At least $1 million has gone to the Obama Foundation.

LOOKING FORWARD: Expect the couple's work in education and Africa to continue. Given Zients' work in government perhaps the couple will eventually engage in more local and national policy work.


The Zients Family Foundation
4500 Garfield St., NW
Washington D.C., 20007
(202) 266-6519