Joseph H. Kanter, Founder and Chairman (In Memoriam)

Joe Kanter is the Founder and Chairman of the Kanter Family Foundation.  A WWII veteran, on May 7th, 2014 he was awarded the Knight of the French Foreign Legion Award at an annual event held in Washington at the Capitol for the Jewish American Heritage Month Ceremony. That day he was additionally honored with the first and continuing Lifetime Achievement Award which will be held in his name for future honorees. At 90 years of age, Joe has been a three time cancer survivor and has since dedicated all of his time to KFF (Kanter Family Foundation) where he was the innovator among his peers in the health care field by starting a patient activist movement to build a Learning Health System. His mission is to create a global LHS (Learning Health System) in order to find what works best in every disease for each individual patient. He and his wife Nancy Reed Kanter have four children Harry, Hillary, John and Mary.

“I believe that every citizen of this great Republic has the inalienable right to know what medicine knows or doesn’t know about his or her disease and to have access to detailed data on what works in treating it.”

A successful businessman and leader of philanthropic efforts throughout the United States, Joseph H. Kanter is a longtime supporter of efforts to improve public health. In 1964, he established the Joseph H. Kanter Foundation, which has backed health care research, educational institutions and a variety of other charitable endeavors. In 1986, the Kanter Foundation established the National Fitness and Jogging Center, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In 1998, Kanter created the Health Legacy Partnership, a private-public partnership between The Joseph H. Kanter Family Foundation and the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, to develop a national database of medical treatment information. To be available on the Web, the database will give patients and doctors statistically reliable information to consider when they weigh options for treating diagnosed illnesses.

“I believe that every citizen of this great Republic has the inalienable right to know what medicine knows or doesn’t know about his or her disease and to have access to detailed data on what works in treating it,” Kanter says. Building a national outcomes database is a big job, Kanter acknowledges, but he sees great need for a source of hard data about what works in medicine, and he doesn’t shy from a task. “I guess I was born asking questions, seeking challenges, and never, never, never giving up,” he says.

Mr. Kanter was born Nov. 15, 1923, in Tarrant, Alabama. He attended the University of Alabama and Georgetown University. During World War II, he was in the infantry, landed on Omaha Beach and fought through France, Holland, and Germany. After his father’s death, while Kanter was overseas, he returned to his native Alabama, ran the family general store, and began buying land for apartment developments. He went on to build one of the nation’s largest apartment construction and community development companies, with projects in Alabama, Ohio, Indiana, New York, Florida and other states. Real Estate Research considered him the largest viable new town developer in the country. His “new town” developments included Greenbelt, MD, the first large-scale planned community in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, and Forest Park, Ohio and Lauderhill, Florida.

Kanter became a major landholder in Southeast Florida and ultimately settled in Miami. He was Chairman and owner of National Bank of Florida and is currently Chairman of the Kanter Companies whose multiple interests include banking and real estate. Kanter also is Chairman of Kanter Productions and was the producer of the movie “Ironweed,” starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. The film received two Academy Award nominations and was recognized as one of the 10 Best Pictures of 1988. Kanter bought the movie rights to the book just before it won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Throughout his adult life, Kanter’s entrepreneurial savvy and civic voluntarism have earned him special recognition. In 1958, Esquire Magazine named him one of 54: “Bright Young Men Science, Politics, Arts, and Business.” In 1962, he won the State of Israel Award for Leadership in United Jewish Appeal. In 1975, he received the B’nai B’rith Humanitarian Award. In 1984, he was awarded an honorary master’s degree from The George Washington University.

Mr. Kanter has been involved in the work of the United Jewish Appeal for many years, serving formerly as its national Chairman and on its executive committee. Also, he was President and Chairman of the National Conference on Citizenship, a non-partisan public foundation chartered by Congress that promotes civic participation and civil dialogue. Mr. Kanter married Nancy Reed in 1953. They have four children: Harry, Hillary, Mary Ellen and John.
The Kanters live in Los Angeles, CA and Miami, FL.