Louise Riggio, a native New Yorker, is married to Len Riggio, founder and Chairman of Barnes and Noble Booksellers. Pursuing various philanthropic endeavors, they established The Riggio Foundation. Working closely with the Children’s Defense Fund, they built both the library, dedicated to Maya Angelou and John Hope Franklin, and the Riggio Chapel at the Haley Farm Freedom School in Tennessee. Both designed by longtime friend, Maya Lin, the two structures speak to the study of social justice and equality.
A patron of the arts, they built Dia Beacon creating The Riggio Galleries, the premier center for arts of the 60’s and 70’s. The force behind arts education at Dia Beacon, Louise established and built the Learning Lab. Louise also served on the board of The Dia Art Foundation.
After Katrina devastated New Orleans, the Riggio’s created Project Home Again. Using local architects, builders and tradesmen, they built and gave away 101 homes to families who lost their homes in the storm’s fury.
Louise is an advocate for the care and protection of animals. A member of the board of Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center, she has been influential in the protection and retraining of off-the-track thoroughbreds. She was instrumental in establishing the Omega Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, saving many horses from the threat of slaughter. Louise is currently serving on the board of The Equestrian Aid Foundation and previously the Equine Advocates.
Additionally, Louise has served on the boards of other New York based non-profits, including The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, The Advisory Board for St. Vincent’s Hospital, as well as the board of The Auxiliary of St. Vincent’s Hospital where she was president for two years.
Trips to Africa ignited her drive to protect its wildlife, as well as through education to better the lives of the people who inhabit the land.