Adrian Fenty and his ‘budding romance’ with Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs

August 8, 2013

Looks as if Adrian Fenty took the phrase “Go West, young man” to heart — and has done very well for himself.

Last year, the former D.C. mayor scored a plum job with Andreessen Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s hottest venture capital firms. Now we’ve learned that Fenty is dating Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

The two met at a Houston education conference in 2011 and bonded over a shared passion for school reform. In February 2012, Fenty joined the board of College Track, a non-profit college prep program for underserved students co-founded by Powell Jobs.

“Adrian Fenty is one of our country’s great advocates for education reform,” she said in a statement when he joined the board. “His sense of urgency and record of accomplishment is unparalleled.”

The College Track  board position led to his job as a special adviser at Andreessen Horowitz. He met co-founder Marc Andreessen at a College Track event; Andreessen’s wife is a close personal friend of Powell Jobs.

Sources tell us the relationship began as a friendship and blossomed into a “budding romance” around the time Fenty and his wife, Michelle, formally announced their separation in January. The Fenty marriage had been rumored to be on the rocks for months; there’s no indication that Powell Jobs had any role in the split. (The divorce is close to completion but not yet finalized.)

If you don’t know much about Powell Jobs, 49, you’re not alone. While the world obsessed about all things Apple and Steve Jobs, his wife of 20 years deliberately maintained a very low profile. When Jobs died in October 2011, the businesswoman and mother of three inherited an estate of about $10 billion — mostly Apple and Disney stock — making her one of the richest women in America.

Things to know: She’s very smart (degrees from Wharton and Stanford, where she met Jobs), a very serious philanthropist, and very private. She’s the founder of the Emerson Collective, a nonprofit for entrepreneurship and social reform, and sits on the boards of several other education and progressive charities. In 2010, she was named by President Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions.

She typically stays out of the spotlight, but in April she gave a rare public interview to Brian Williams to promote a new film on immigration reform. During their conversation, she spoke briefly about her late husband. “His private legacy with me and the kids is that of husband and father,” she said. “And we miss him every day.”

Fenty, 42, has been as public as Powell Jobs has been private. He burst onto the national scene after his election as D.C. mayor in 2006 and made school reform a marquee project. He and wife Michelle were a young, stylish couple and popular guests at Washington’s A-list parties.

After his defeat in the 2010 Democratic primary election, Fenty returned to private life and began consulting with education tech companies like Rosetta Stone, speaking around the country, and teaching at his alma mater, Oberlin College. Last year, he was hired at Andreessen Horowitz to advise on working with local, state and the federal governments and said he would begin splitting his time between Washington and Silicon Valley.


Fenty, daughter Aerin, soon-to-be ex-wife Michelle, and son Matthew on primary election day in September 2010. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

His new job sparked even more speculation about the Fentys’ marriage of 15 years. In January 2012, Michelle Fenty left D.C. for a  job with the Inter-American Development Bank in Trinidad and Tobago. The couple officially separated in the beginning of this year; they have three children.

We asked Fenty and Powell Jobs about their new romance; both declined our requests for comment.

 

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