Patricia “Pat” Stryker (1956–) is a Colorado-based businesswoman and philanthropist. With an estimated net worth of $2.6 billion, Stryker has donated more than $195 million to charity in her lifetime, mostly through the Bohemian Foundation, her Fort Collins–based nonprofit. In addition to charity, Stryker is known for her large donations to liberal political candidates and causes. Along with fellow Colorado billionaires Jared Polis, Tim Gills, and Rutt Bridges, Stryker’s outsized political influence has made her one of the so-called Gang of Four—a coalition of influential political donors in Colorado. In 2019 Forbes ranked Pat Stryker number 264 on its list of the nation’s wealthiest women.
Patricia A. Stryker was born on April 6, 1956, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Lee and Betty Stryker. Along with her two siblings—younger brother Jon and older sister Ronda—Pat is an heir to the family fortune amassed by her paternal grandfather, Homer Stryker. In the mid-twentieth century, Homer, an orthopedic surgeon, patented several medical devices and launched Stryker Corporation, now a multibillion-dollar medical-supply company.
Pat Stryker has credited her philanthropic spirit to her grandfather, who made his fortune inventing devices that helped other people and who gave millions to charitable causes throughout his life, especially in Michigan. Stryker’s maternal grandparents, meanwhile, were educational missionaries in China, providing her with another example of a life dedicated to service.
Stryker attended the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley but did not graduate. In 1976, when she was twenty, her father, Lee, was killed in an airplane crash in Wyoming. In 1980 Stryker moved to Fort Collins, a city she had known from summer camps as a girl.
Bohemian Foundation and Charity
In 2001 Stryker established the nonprofit Bohemian Foundation in Fort Collins. The group funds a large variety of programs, the most famous being the Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, a three-day music festival in downtown Fort Collins held each August.
In addition to music programs, the Bohemian Foundation supplies grants for community, civic, and global programs. Its grantees have included media groups such as Chalkbeat, the Colorado Independent, and Democracy Now! as well as other charities and groups in Fort Collins, including the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Food Bank for Larimer County, and the Poudre School District.
Beyond its many grants and initiatives, the Bohemian Foundation also serves as Stryker’s conduit for her other charitable contributions, including a 2017 pledge to match up to $2 million in donations from northern Coloradans to help victims of Hurricane Harvey along the Gulf of Mexico.
For her contributions to the Fort Collins community, Stryker has received numerous awards, including an honorary doctorate in 2011 from Colorado State University, to which she has given more than $30 million. She received the Fort Collins Rotary Club’s Service Above Self award in 2015.
In 2016 Stryker joined her brother Jon in giving a combined $10 million toward the construction of a national memorial to the victims of lynching and racial terror located in Montgomery, Alabama.
Stryker is a frequent donor to Democratic politicians and causes, both within and outside of Colorado. Ballotpedia, a nonprofit website that tracks the nation’s political activity, has identified Stryker as a “top influencer” within Colorado. During the 2016 election, USA Today ranked Stryker among the top 107 “mega-donors.”
Stryker has frequently put money into referenda and ballot initiative campaigns. In 2005 she gave $280,000 to the successful Referendum C campaign, which boosted funding for transportation, education, and health care in the state. In 2006 she gave $250,000 to the successful campaign opposing Amendment 43, which would have defined marriage in Colorado as only between one man and one woman. In 2008 she gave $350,000 in opposition of Amendment 47, a so-called right-to-work law that would allow employers to avoid negotiating with labor unions. Amendment 47 was defeated by about 200,000 votes.
The outsized political donations of Stryker and Colorado’s other ultrawealthy progressives—the above-mentioned “gang of four”—in the early aughts led many observers to credit these donors with helping turn the state “purple,” that is, a state where Democrats and Republicans have similar levels of support among voters.
Stryker has also supported progressive causes and candidates outside of Colorado. In 2006, while helping to defeat Amendment 43 in Colorado, she gave $1 million in support of Proposition 82, a California ballot initiative that would have raised taxes on the state’s wealthiest residents to fund half-day preschool for all Californians. The measure was defeated.
In 2012 Stryker gave more than $2 million to Priorities USA, the Political Action Committee (PAC) working to reelect President Barack Obama. Over the next several years, Stryker gave millions to Democratic PACs and candidates. During the 2016 elections, she was Colorado’s largest single donor, giving more than $3 million toward the election of Democrats.
In addition to her charitable and political donations, Stryker operates Bohemian Companies, a real estate firm that owns property in Fort Collins. Stryker also owned Stryker Sonoma Winery in Alexander Valley, California, until she sold it to another winemaker in 2016.