Madison, WI

The 2 richest women in Madison, WI

Ash Jurberg
Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

Recently Forbes released their annual Top 100 list of the richest self-made women. The list consists of the 100 most successful women entrepreneurs and executives in the United States.

To make the list in 2021, a net worth of $225 million was required, which was a big jump from the $150 million net worth needed last year.

Many famous names are on the list, such as Rihanna, Oprah Winfrey, and Dolly Parton, but today I thought we would take a quick look at the two women who live in Madison who made this year's list.

The richest woman in Madison

Coming in at second place on the Top 100 list and number one in Madison is Judy Faulkner. Faulkner has a net worth of $6.1 billion.

Faulkner was born in 1943 in New Jersey and first came to Madison when she earned her master's degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Shortly after completing her Masters's in 1979, Faulkner co-founded Human Services Computing (now called Epic Systems) with Dr. John Greist in the basement of 2020 University Avenue in Madison. The business develops, manufactures, and sells a proprietary electronic medical record software application known in whole as 'Epic.'

Hospitals that use its software hold medical records of 54% of patients in the United States and approximately 2.5% of patients worldwide. John Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic both use the software, and in 2020 Epic had $3.3 billion in sales.

While it is impressive what Faulkner has built, she should also be recognized for signing the Giving Pledge - a commitment to philanthropy started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Faulkner agreed to eventually gift 99% of her assets to a private charitable foundation in her pledge.

The American Girl

The other Madison resident to make this list is Pleasant Rowland. She placed 84th with a net worth of $355 million.

Rowlan is testimony to the fact it is never too late to start a business.

In 1986, at the age of 45, she was searching for dolls to buy for her nieces but was frustrated at the lack of options. Rowland had worked as an elementary school teacher, TV reporter, magazine publisher, and textbook author but decided to become an entrepreneur by launching her own business- the Pleasant Company.

If that name sounds unfamiliar, you may recognize their products- the American Girl dolls, books, and accessories. Rowland loved history and designed each doll with a story that placed it in a specific historical time period.

The business, based in Madison, was a huge success, and in 1998 Rowland sold it to Mattel for $700 million. In 2003 she founded the non-profit Rowland Reading Foundation, which provides curriculum materials and helps train teachers.

Rowland was inducted into the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame in 2010 and has also received the Wisconsin Governor's Award.

Rowland is also known for her philanthropy in the Madison area. Together with her husband donated a $250 million gift to build the Overture Center for the Arts, a performing arts center and museum that opened in Madison in 2004.

Both these women have founded hugely successful businesses, which have contributed significantly to Madison and throughout the United States.

Readers, have any of you worked for and met either Faulkner or Rowland? What was the experience like? As always, please leave your comments in the section below.

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