Madison, WI

This Madison billionaire is giving it all away

Ash Jurberg
Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

I have been writing a series of articles on billionaires and entrepreneurs giving back to the community. The feedback from readers has been positive, so today, I wanted to shine the spotlight on someone the people of Madison can be proud of.

Judy Faulkner is the richest person in Madison, with a net worth of $6.8 billion. And she has promised to give 99% of this fortune away.

Let's take a quick look at her story.

The richest person in Madison is giving her billions

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.

In 1979 after completing her Master's, Faulkner co-founded Human Services Computing (now called Epic Systems) with Dr. John Greist in the basement of 2020 University Avenue in Madison. Epic Systems 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. Last year Epic had $3.5 billion in sales.

This has made Faulkner a very wealthy person. And also led her to commit to gifting 99% of her assets while she was still alive.


In 2015, Faulker signed the Giving Pledge, in which she promised to gift 99% of her assets to a private charitable foundation.

Many years ago I asked my young children what two things they needed from their parents. They said ‘food and money’. I told them ‘roots and wings’. My goal in pledging 99% of my assets to philanthropy is to help others with roots - food, warmth, shelter, healthcare, education - so they too can have wings.”

In 2019, Faulkner created Roots & Wings, a foundation that makes grants nationally while focusing on Wisconsin. The foundation "funds nonprofit organizations that help low-income children and families reach their full potential through prevention, early intervention, and in-depth programming that changes lives."

In its first year, the Foundation donated $15 million in grants to 120 different organizations specializing in basic needs, early childhood, healthcare, and human rights.

My estate plan has the money from my Epic shares going into a foundation. The foundation will give money to healthcare and do other things as well—reduce the disparity of care, improve education, especially for those who don't have equal opportunities, and if possible, help create a more peaceful world.

Readers, what do you think of Judy Faulkner's story? What organizations in Madison do you think she should support?

Please leave your comments below.

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