Akron Community Foundation recently announced that Joe Kanfer will be the 48th recipient of the community foundation’s Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award. Kanfer will receive the award at the annual Polsky Humanitarian Award Dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 7, at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn.
Kanfer is the chairman and CEO of Akron-based, privately held GOJO Industries Inc., the inventor of PURELL® Hand Sanitizer and the leading global producer and marketer of skin health and hygiene solutions. In addition to his role at GOJO, he is the chairman of Startvest Partners, which develops biotech startups in Israel; Everett Partners, a venture investment firm; and several medical device companies.
Kanfer is known both locally and nationally for his dedication to strengthening the Jewish community and focusing on social justice issues, including education, health care, poverty and hunger. This work is accomplished personally – in collaboration with his wife, Pam, his four children and their spouses through the Lippman Kanfer Family Philanthropies, where he is a founder – and through GOJO.
Kanfer is also involved in numerous organizations throughout the Greater Akron area. He is chairman of Akron Tomorrow, serves on the Greater Akron Chamber Executive Committee, and chairs the advisory board of the new Bits and Atoms Innovation Center incubator, which will help bring innovation to the region. He is a trustee of the Jewish Community Board of Akron and the Lippman School, and is past chair of both. He recently served as honorary chairman of Akron Children’s Hospital’s Building on the Promise campaign. He is past vice chair of the University of Akron Board of Trustees and is a former trustee of the Shaw Jewish Community Center and the Akron Roundtable.
Nationally, Kanfer served a three-year term as the chair of the Jewish Federations of North America, the coordinating organization of the North American Jewish community, and he has chaired the Jewish Education Service of North America. He has also served on the board of the Jewish Agency for Israel in Jerusalem. He currently serves as chair of the Honeymoon Israel Foundation.
His numerous accolades include an honorary doctorate from the University of Akron and the 2011 H. Peter Burg Award from the Greater Akron Chamber. Kanfer is an alumnus of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan Law School. He is married with four children and 12 grandchildren.
Kanfer was selected for the award by a committee of past Polsky Humanitarian Award honorees. Recent recipients include RDA Hotel Management Company President Rennick Andreoli; former FirstEnergy CEO H. Peter Burg and his wife, Eileen; retired cardiologist and author Terry Gordon; and Akron Children’s Hospital President and CEO William Considine.
The Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award is named for the former president of Polsky’s Department Store and founding trustee of Akron Community Foundation. The community foundation presents the award each year to the individual or couple who best exemplifies Bert Polsky’s selfless dedication to humanitarian causes in Akron. The community foundation is currently seeking sponsors for the Oct. 7 award event. Opportunities start at $2,500 and go up to an exclusive $25,000 Event Sponsor. For more information about availability and benefits, call Laura Fink, Akron Community Foundation’s director of development, at (330) 436-5611 or, to receive an invitation to the event, call (330) 376-8522.
Celebrating 60 years of building community philanthropy, Akron Community Foundation embraces and enhances the work of charitable people who make a permanent commitment to the good of the community. In 1955, a $1 million bequest from the estate of Edwin Shaw established the community foundation. Today, it is a philanthropic endowment of more than $191 million with a growing family of nearly 500 funds established by charitable people and organizations from all walks of life. The community foundation and its funds welcome gifts of all kinds, including cash, bequests, stock, real estate, life insurance and retirement assets, just to name a few. To date, the community foundation’s funds have awarded more than $124 million in grants to qualified nonprofit organizations. For more information about Akron Community Foundation or to learn more about creating your own charitable fund, call (330) 376-8522 or visit www.akroncf.org.