$1 Million Gift from Booth Alumnus Leon Wagner, MBA ’77


Leon Wagner

Leon Wagner, MBA ’77

The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago and the Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business announced today a $1 million gift from Chicago Booth alumnus Leon Wagner, MBA ’77. This gift will be used to establish a new Alumni Venture Support Fund at the Polsky Center, which will provide support for a broad range of alumni entrepreneurship programs that help alumni entrepreneurs at all stages of growth.

In recent years, the Polsky Center has expanded its support for University of Chicago alumni entrepreneurs. Back in 2015, Wagner provided an initial $500,000 gift to enable the Polsky Center to launch the Alumni Entrepreneurs Growth Forum, an initiative aimed at helping alumni of growth-stage startups reach their next level of success. In the past five years, the Polsky Center has held five Alumni Entrepreneurs Growth Forum events in Chicago, the Bay Area, and New York City—drawing over 130 alumni participants from 10 U.S. cities, as well as Japan and India. Through Wagner’s generosity, these Forums have strengthened Polsky’s relationship with alumni entrepreneurs across the globe and provided valuable resources and training for founders of growth-stage companies.

In addition to providing continued support for the Alumni Entrepreneurs Growth Forum, Wagner’s new $1 million gift will support a broad range of alumni entrepreneurship programs offered by the Polsky Center. These programs include the Alumni New Venture Challenge, which is the alumni track of Polsky’s nationally-ranked accelerator program; the Polsky Global Forums; which are a series of events aimed at supporting alumni at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey; and the UChicago Global Entrepreneurs Network, a virtual network and community that connects alumni entrepreneurs and investors around the world.

Wagner is currently the principle of his family office, LWPartners, LLC. Prior to establishing that company, Wagner was a founding partner and chairman of GoldenTree Asset Management, an alternative asset management firm. At the time of his retirement, GoldenTree managed in excess of $12 billion dollars in capital. Throughout his career in asset management, Wagner also worked for the Argosy Group/CIBC World Markets, Dabney/Resnick and Wagner, Drexel Burnham Lambert. He started his career at Shearson Lehman Brothers in fixed income sales helping to finance growth companies in cable, gaming, and cellular telephone operations including several deals for MCI Communications.

“I’ve found that the most satisfaction I’ve gotten in my career is being an entrepreneur and building businesses,” Wagner said. “You help create jobs, you help support families, you help people achieve their goals in life. That’s something that’s very near and dear to my heart.”

To learn more about Wagner’s gift, please read the story here.


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