Skip Oppenheimer is known throughout Idaho for his commitment to building thriving downtowns and his generosity with time, money and talents.
He has lived most of his adult life in the public eye and has earned respect far and wide, but it is in his private life that his exemplary character truly shines.
Back when his wife Esther was earning an art therapy certification in the early ‘90s, he attended classes alongside her to learn more about her work. To this day, he is still the primary chef when the couple is home together, and he has remained close with his own two boys and his grandchildren.
Oppenheimer’s life and legacy has its roots in family as well. He and his brother Doug are the grandsons of Leo J. Falk, who is known for having built the historic Egyptian theater and the Owyhee Hotel in Boise’s downtown decades ago.
The brothers’ father went on to create the Oppenheimer Company, and they worked together to develop One Capital Center and the Wells Fargo Building in Boise, The Broadway in Idaho Falls, projects in downtown Caldwell and more. Skip now serves as the corporation’s chairman and CEO, and Doug as its president.
They continue looking forward to the state’s future with extreme optimism, especially its capital city.
“I think Boise right now, I’ve never seen it more vibrant, more energized, more interesting people, more interesting companies, than right now,” Skip Oppenheimer says. “It’s just fun, and people are enjoying it. There was a tipping point, and it’s kind of going to some next level.”
Today, the Oppenheimer Companies includes food services products and distribution; retail food products; logistics throughout North America; commercial real estate investment; and, development and property management.
Oppenheimer has also been involved in education, health care, economic development and national politics for decades, in roles such as chairman of the Greater Boise Area Chamber of Commerce, the board of directors of the American Business Conference and national vice chairman of Business Leaders for Gore/Lieberman in the 2000 U.S. presidential election.
“You like to hope you give something back through all those involvements,” he says, when asked about his commitment to public service. “I find it personally an opportunity to grow and also to try to contribute back for the good fortune we’ve had.”
He also sits on the board of directors of the Idaho Business for Education (IBE), for which he was founding chairman. The nonprofit brings together 219 businesses throughout Idaho to help close the “skills gap” between the workforce and the needs of local employers.
Its current president and CEO is former journalist Rod Gramer.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever met anybody more generous with their time and their treasure to give back to their community than Skip does,” says Gramer, adding that Oppenheimer is highly regarded among people of all political philosophies and is widely sought out for his advice and wisdom. “He’s just a remarkable, remarkable person.”
Skip Oppenheimer earned an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1972, following his completion of a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Idaho. Under his leadership, the One Capital Center building was erected by the Oppenheimer Companies in 1975, kicking off a full-scale renaissance of downtown Boise. This project was followed by major projects in other downtowns throughout Idaho. In 2019, he was appointed as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
He was founding chairman of Idaho Business for Education (IBE) and played a leading role as the co-chairman of the Community College “Yes” Campaign, which led to the creation of the College of Western Idaho.
Supporting health care
He served as chairman of St. Luke’s Health System Board Development Committee, chairman of the Idaho Governors Council on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and was on the the Governor’s Coordinating Council for Families and Children, among many other roles in support of community-wide health.
Volunteering with the BSA
He is on the National Executive Board and National Executive Committee of The Boy Scouts of America, and is chairman of The BSA Human Resources Committee.m