John P. Morgridge joined Cisco Systems as President and CEO in 1998. Two years later he took the company public, transforming it into a tech powerhouse; he became chairman emeritus in 2006. Tashia Morgridge studied education at the University of Wisconsin before becoming a special education teacher. In their married life, they developed a passion for charitable giving.
“Jim Morgan is a good friend and we have the highest respect for his family because of the scope of their generosity, so it’s more than just an award for us,” said John Morgridge.
The goal of the couple’s philanthropy has been to improve education worldwide, and they have done much of that giving through the TOSA Foundation, named after the high school where they met. The Morgridges have supported the University of Wisconsin’s research facilities, special education programs and scholarships, founding the Morgridge Center for Public Service and establishing the Morgridge Institute for Research, a biomedical institute. They are also generous supporters of literacy programs in East Palo Alto, Calif.; Tashia has long devoted herself to improving educational opportunities in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Internationally they donate principally through CARE, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty, and The Nature Conservancy.
“Education is a powerful tool for improving lives around the globe,” said Gary Dickerson, president and CEO of Applied Materials. “The Morgridges’ passion and influence to expand educational opportunities in underserved communities is helping to increase living standards and combat poverty.”
Said Tim Ritchie, President and CEO of The Tech: “John and Tashia Morgridge’s decision to commit their lives and fortune to philanthropy is already having a profound impact on both the causes they support and the people they influence. If the world wonders whether Silicon Valley cares about creating a better future for others, it can look to John and Tashia Morgridge and know that a tide of philanthropic support is rising. Others will contribute to that rising tide because of them.”
In 2010, The Morgridges took the Giving Pledge, joining philanthropists like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg in a promise to give away the majority of their wealth in their lifetime.