Biographies

MacKenzie Scott: Biography, Success Story, Philanthropy

MacKenzie Scott biography
MacKenzie Scott

MacKenzie Scott’s biography reads like a success story that transcends the boundaries of literature, philanthropy, and personal growth. Her journey from an early passion for writing to becoming Forbes‘s most powerful woman in 2021 is a testament to her resilience, intelligence, and generous spirit. Enjoy reading the captivating life story of MacKenzie Scott.

Introduction

MacKenzie Scott, born April 7, 1970, is an accomplished American novelist and a generous philanthropist. As of January 2024, her fortune is estimated at $40.6 billion, thanks to a 4% share in Amazon, a company started by her former husband, Jeff Bezos. This makes Scott the third-richest woman in the United States and ranks her as the 47th wealthiest person globally. In 2021, Forbes recognized her as the world’s most powerful woman, and in 2020, Time magazine listed her among the 100 most influential people.

Scott’s literary career kicked off with a bang when her first novel, The Testing of Luther Albright, won an American Book Award in 2006, a year after its release. She followed up with another novel, Traps, in 2013. Beyond her writing, she has made significant contributions to social causes. In 2014, she launched Bystander Revolution, an organization dedicated to combating bullying, serving as its executive director.

Demonstrating a profound commitment to philanthropy, Scott has pledged to donate at least half of her wealth to charitable causes throughout her lifetime. She made headlines with her philanthropy in 2020 by donating $5.8 billion to various charities, marking one of an individual’s most significant single-year contributions. She continued her generous streak by giving away an additional $2.7 billion in 2021. By mid-December 2022, she had donated a staggering $14 billion to more than 1600 charitable organizations, showcasing her unwavering dedication to positively impacting the world.

Early Life and Education

MacKenzie Scott Tuttle entered the world on April 7, 1970, in San Francisco, California. Her mother, Holiday Robin Cuming, dedicated her time to family care, while her father, Jason Baker Tuttle, worked as a financial planner. Growing up with two brothers, Scott was inspired by her maternal grandfather, G. Scott Cuming, a notable figure in the business world as an executive and general counsel at El Paso Natural Gas. Scott’s passion for writing sparked early; by six, she had penned a 142-page manuscript titled The Book Worm, which unfortunately was lost to a flood.

After completing her education at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut, in 1988, Scott pursued higher education at Princeton University. There, she graduated in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in English. At Princeton, she was fortunate enough to study under the tutelage of Toni Morrison, a Nobel Laureate in Literature. Morrison remembered Scott as exceptionally talented, ranking her among the finest in her creative writing classes.

Career

After completing her college education, MacKenzie Scott Tuttle embarked on her professional journey by working as a research assistant for Toni Morrison on the 1992 novel Jazz. She also held an administrative position at the New York City hedge fund D. E. Shaw, where she met Jeff Bezos.

In 1993, Scott and Bezos tied the knot. The following year marked a significant turn in their lives as they left their jobs at D. E. Shaw, relocated to Seattle, and laid the foundation for Amazon, with Scott playing a pivotal role in its early development. She was instrumental in various aspects of the company’s formation, including brainstorming the name Amazon, crafting the business plan, managing accounts, and even shipping the first orders. Additionally, she was responsible for securing Amazon’s initial freight contract. By 1996, Scott shifted her focus towards her family and burgeoning writing career, stepping back from her active involvement in Amazon.

To me, watching your spouse, somebody that you love, have an adventure - what is better than that? – MacKenzie Scott Click To Tweet

Her debut novel marked Scott’s foray into the literary world, The Testing of Luther Albright, published in 2005 and awarded an American Book Award the following year. The creation of this novel spanned a decade, a period during which she was also devoted to helping Bezos with Amazon and raising their family. Toni Morrison, her mentor and former professor, praised the novel as a profound work that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally resonant. Scott’s literary journey continued with the release of her second novel, Traps, in 2013. Despite her accomplishments, the sales figures for her novels, as reported by NPD BookScan, remained modest.

Philanthropy

MacKenzie Scott marked her philanthropic journey in May 2019 by signing the Giving Pledge, committing to donate most of her wealth to charitable causes during her lifetime or through her will. While not legally binding, this pledge signifies a strong commitment to philanthropy.

In July 2020, Scott shared via a Medium post that she had contributed $1.7 billion to 116 nonprofit organizations, focusing on racial equality, LGBTQ+ equality, democracy, and climate change. Her contributions included over $800 million to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions, tribal colleges and universities, and other educational institutions. By December 2020, she had further donated $4.15 billion to 384 organizations, aiming to alleviate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and tackle systemic inequities. Scott’s donations in 2020 amounted to $5.8 billion, making it one of the most significant annual private donations to charity.

Continuing her philanthropic efforts, on June 15, 2021, Scott announced donations totaling $2.7 billion to 286 organizations. From July 2020 to July 2021, she donated $8.5 billion to 780 organizations, as reported by Forbes. In June 2021, Scott and Melinda French Gates initiated the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge to advance gender equality in the U.S. by 2030. The challenge awarded $10 million to each of its four winners, with an additional $8 million split between two finalists.

Cocktail parties for me can be nerve-racking. The brevity of conversations, the number of them - it's not my sweet spot. – MacKenzie Scott Click To Tweet

In 2022, Scott’s generosity included significant donations to various organizations, including $436 million to Habitat for Humanity and $275 million to Planned Parenthood. In total, she has given away more than $12 billion since 2019, including donating two Beverly Hills homes valued at $55 million to the California Community Foundation in September 2022 and making the largest individual donation in the history of the Girl Scouts of the USA with an $84.5 million contribution in October 2022.

Scott announced an “open call” for community-focused nonprofits to receive funding in March 2023. By March 19, 2024, $640 million had been donated to 361 small nonprofits, surpassing the initial plan significantly. Her total donations in 2023 amounted to nearly $2.2 billion, supporting causes like early learning, affordable housing, and health equity. By December 2023, Scott had donated over $16 billion; by March 2024, her contributions had reached $17.2 billion.

Scott’s philanthropic approach has been praised for its unrestricted and trust-based nature, focusing on empowering the recipient organizations. Despite some criticism for her initial lack of transparency, she has made efforts to increase openness about her donations, including launching a Yield Giving website to share details of her philanthropy. This platform underscores her philosophy of enhancing value through relinquishing control.

Personal Life

MacKenzie Scott, formerly known as MacKenzie Bezos, experienced significant changes in her personal life over the years. She initially met Jeff Bezos in 1992 while working at D.E. Shaw, a hedge fund where she was an administrative assistant. Their relationship quickly blossomed, and after dating for three months, they married and relocated from Manhattan to Seattle, Washington, in 1994. Together, they have four children: three sons and an adopted daughter from China.

In 2019, Scott and Bezos finalized their divorce, which was settled as a community property divorce. As a result, Scott received $35.6 billion in Amazon stock, making her the third-wealthiest woman in the world at that time and one of the wealthiest people globally as of April 2019. By July 2020, Forbes ranked her as the 22nd-richest person in the world, with a net worth of $36 billion. Her financial status continued to ascend, and by September 2020, she was declared the world’s richest woman. By December of the same year, her net worth had surged to $62 billion.

My characters are based on people I know, but not in a direct way. – MacKenzie Scott Click To Tweet

Following her divorce from Jeff Bezos, she changed her surname to Scott and adopted her middle name as her new last name.

In 2021, Scott began a new chapter of her life by marrying Dan Jewett, a science teacher from Lakeside School. Their marriage came to public attention through Jewett’s Giving Pledge letter, which was posted on March 6, 2021. However, their union was short-lived, as Scott filed for divorce in September 2022. The divorce was finalized in January 2023.

Epilogue

Throughout her life, MacKenzie Scott has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to making a significant impact through her philanthropic efforts and literary achievements. From her early days at Amazon to her donation of over $17.2 billion to various charities, her story is one of profound influence and kindness. As she continues to write her biography through acts of generosity and creativity, Scott’s legacy is an inspiring narrative of how vision, dedication, and empathy can shape the world for the better.

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