Grandparent Profile: Tom Perkins

Watching our grandchildren grow up has been a great joy for my wife, JaMel, and me. We are especially lucky to be living across the street from Julia (’22) and Will (Town ’20). We have been greatly impressed with the education that Julia and Will have been getting and how much they love their schools.

I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and was the beneficiary of a good public school system. But the major ancillary benefit of my high school was that it was where I met JaMel. I played basketball and football and she was a cheerleader with many of the attributes of a Burke’s girl. It was the beginning of an amazing, wonderful life together.

I went to Harvard and pursued my interest in history. After graduating in 1967, JaMel and I were married in Chicago. It was the height of the Vietnam War so I went to the Navy Officers Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. Subsequently we were fortunate to be stationed in Alameda from 1969 - 1971.

We loved our first exposure to the Bay area, but my best job opportunity was in Chicago. I worked in the investment management business in Chicago until 1986 when I returned to San Francisco to manage the west coast office for Alliance Capital. In 1998 I joined one of my older brothers who had started an equity mutual fund. We subsequently sold the firm to Janus Capital in Denver and I retired last October.

Education has been part of my family’s history. My mother grew up in Hyde Park on the campus of the University of Chicago. Her father taught music and her two sisters were teachers. One of my brothers and our son, Alec, started out as high school teachers (Alec was at Thurgood Marshall in Hunters Point for five years) as did some of my nieces and nephews. JaMel is a past president of the San Francisco Education Fund and I was on the Board of Thacher school in Ojai.

JaMel and I are strong believers in empowering women and we love the Burke’s approach to education. Over the past 30 years JaMel has been in leadership positions in several organizations working on domestic violence issues. Two years ago she co-founded Freedom Forward which addresses trafficking of adolescents in San Francisco. For over a decade I was on the board of EngenderHealth, which provides training and reproductive health services in underdeveloped countries. Currently I am on the board of Population Media Center, which delivers social messaging on gender issues through serial dramas in underdeveloped countries and in the U.S.

The Burke’s Grandparents' Council has provided me the opportunity to get to know more about Julia’s beloved school, to participate and support many of its activities, and to meet many engaging, like-minded grandparents. I would encourage every grandparent to avail him/herself of the joyous opportunity to join the committee and get more involved with their granddaughter's great school. The school really can use some extra help and volunteering here is a rewarding experience. Mary Robinson, Barbara Sklar, and Christina Norman have done a terrific job in launching the Council and I look forward to helping continue their good work.
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.


An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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