In 2001, Walter and Leonore Annenberg established The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands to "address serious issues facing the nation and the world community." They envisioned Sunnylands as a place where intimate and solution-driven meetings could take place as they had while the couple were alive.

 In the years after it was established, the Trust developed programs focusing on improving civics education, developed and disseminated information on the treatment of adolescent mental disorders, increased communication among and impact of Annenberg-funded organizations, and held retreats to improve the functioning of democratic institutions. It is this history that forms the bedrock of the current retreat programming.   Prior to her death in 2009, Leonore Annenberg began to build a spectacular new 17,000-square-foot building and nine-acre garden that would provide additional space for retreats and meetings as well as a place for the public to learn of the historic significance of Sunnylands.   Today, The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit operating entity governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees composed of the children and grandchildren of Leonore and Walter Annenberg. The Trustees and staff, led by President Geoffrey Cowan, are working together to create what the Annenbergs envisioned: a 200-acre estate and historic residence that provides a place of tranquility and hospitality where national and international leaders from a range of fields–beginning with the President of the United States–may convene to "promote world peace and facilitate international agreement."