Oprah Winfrey was born in Mississippi to a single mother who was suffering through poverty. At a young age, she and her mother moved to Milwaukee where things began to get a bit better. Eventually, she was sent to live with a barber in Tennessee, a barber that was supposedly her father. It was at this time that her future began to take shape. While in high school, Oprah landed a radio job and even began to co-anchor the local evening news.
It was through these experiences that led Oprah to talk show. She was moved from the news to a talk show spot where she took a program that previously ranked 3rd locally to 1st. Oprah knew she was onto something here and quickly launched her own production company and is became internationally syndicated.
Today, Oprah Winfrey is one of the most influential people ever. It’s believed that her support of Barack Obama from 2006-2008 drove over a million votes for Obama during the 2008 Democratic primary race. Oprah serves as Chairwoman and CEO of Harpo Productions and Chairwoman, CEO and CCO of the Oprah Winfrey Network. She has also acted, most recently in the film Selma and authored many books like, “What I Know For Sure.”
Through all of her success, Oprah always made time for philanthropy. In 2004, Oprah became the first African American to rank in the top 50 most generous Americans. By 2012 it was estimated she had donated about $400 million for educational causes. Oprah’s contributions to education don’t end there. She has also supplied over 400 scholarships to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2013, Winfrey donated $12 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History of Culture and was later recognized by President Obama for her contributions with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 1998, Oprah created her own charitable organization, Oprah’s Angel Network. The organization was put in place to help charitable projects and provide grants to nonprofit organizations globally. Oprah made it her mission to have 100% of all funds go straight to charity programs so she personally covered all administrative costs in order for Oprah’s Angel Network to operate. The organization raised over $80 million by 2010 before they stopped taking donations and eventually dissolved. However, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Oprah created the Oprah Angel Network Katrina Registry. The relief efforts raised $11 million and had homes built in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama prior to the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and Rita.