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Koenig ’78 gift names Brooks School Center on Global Democracy Directorship

Peggy Koenig
April 19, 2024

Cornell University Board of Trustees Co-Vice Chair Peggy Koenig ’78 recently pledged $5 million to endow a named directorship for the Brooks School’s Center on Global Democracy at Cornell. Her gift has made it possible for Brooks School Dean Colleen Barry to name Professor Rachel Beatty Riedl the first Peggy J. Koenig ’78 Director prior to the Center’s launch on July 1, 2024.

“I am grateful to Peggy for so many reasons. As inaugural chair of the Brooks School Dean’s Advisory Council, her leadership has been instrumental in creating the foundation for a world class public policy school at Cornell,” Barry said.

Koenig, a third-term Cornell trustee who is also chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees Executive Committee and co-chair of Cornell’s “To Do the Greatest Good” campaign, said the gift was an opportunity to fund a project that was meaningful to her personally and served the university’s broader goals.

“Democracy is on the decline and autocracy is on the rise throughout the world,” Koenig said. “Cornell and the Brooks School are uniquely positioned to tackle this incredible challenge. With Professor Riedl’s leadership, Cornell will be a hub for building democratic resilience and encouraging our students to be active and engaged global citizens.”

Koenig, who lives in Boston, served as co-chief executive officer and managing partner of Abry Partners, directing the private equity firm with a focus on investments in media, communications information, and business services. After moving to an emeritus role at Abry Partners, she received a fellowship to participate in Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative, an experience which pulled her more deeply into social impact work and public policy.

“I am deeply honored to serve as the inaugural chair of the Brooks School Dean’s Advisory Council,” Koenig said. “As a trustee, I watched the University envision and launch this new School. Now, as a volunteer leader, I see first-hand the ways in which Cornell is meeting the moment we are in as a society – by bringing together brilliant minds to solve the pressing challenges we face through high-impact policy change.”

In addition to her three terms of service as a Trustee and her role with the Brooks School, Koenig’s contributions to Cornell have included membership on Cornell Tech’s Council, where she contributed to the launch of the Digital Life Initiative, endowing a fellowship in technology law and policy. Her philanthropic interests also include investing in the ways that higher education can alleviate inequality, with a particular focus on first generation graduate outcomes, through campaign gifts that established the Peggy J. Koenig ’78 Associate Dean for Student Empowerment, Director First-Generation & Low-Income Students. Koenig has also supported research innovation with the launch of Ignite Cornell Research to support lab to market gap funding managed by the Center for Technology Licensing and cross-campus collaboration by endowing the Geri Gay Professorship in Communication to bridge the Ithaca and Tech campuses.

“This is a tumultuous time for Cornell and for all of higher education,” Koenig said. “I am investing in this incredible institution with an additional gift during this campaign, because I believe in the University’s leadership and what is possible here.”