ON-Lion Letter

The Philanthropy Roundtable in Washington, D.C., has announced the selection of Jon Huntsman, Sr., as the 2014 recipient of the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.  The Simon Prize honors the ideals and principles that guided Simon’s giving, including personal responsibility, resourcefulness, volunteerism, scholarship, individual freedom, faith in God, and helping people to help themselves.

Huntsman will be honored on in October in Salt Lake City, Utah, during a special lunch at the 2014 Annual Meeting of The Philanthropy Roundtable, which is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

After serving as a gunnery officer in the U.S. Navy and earning degrees at Wharton and the University of Southern California, Huntsman got his start in business with a food company that later merged with Dow Chemical.  Huntsman became its president at age 30.  He soon struck out on his own, founding the Huntsman Container Company in 1970, which took off with the invention of the Styrofoam clamshell container for McDonald's hamburgers and later led to Huntsman Chemical Corporation and the global enterprise known today as the Huntsman Corporation.

Huntsman and his wife, Karen, have been committed to charitable giving throughout their 55-year marriage, having contributed generously to causes meeting the criterion of “relief of human suffering.”  Their lifetime giving is estimated to exceed $1.4 billion.

After his first bout with cancer -- which he has now survived four times -- he focused his attention on founding a major cancer center at the University of Utah.  The state-of-the-art Huntsman Cancer Institute combines research with patient care, much of it informed by his own experience with cancer treatment.  Huntsman’s commitment to the institute, which now exceeds $450 million, plus more than $1 billion he has raised from other sources, has remained steady even while his business was in crisis, even when a key funding partner backed out, even when it was necessary to borrow against his own house to make sure his humanitarian commitments were met.  His hope is that the institute’s top-flight researchers, one of whom recently won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, will ultimately develop genetics-based preventive treatments for the disease.  Meanwhile, the institute serves a large regional population that was previously without a cancer center.

The Huntsmans’ other philanthropic gifts include $53 million to Wharton, $35 million to Utah State University's Huntsman School of Business, $55 million to rebuild Armenia after the 1988 earthquake, and hundreds of millions to organizations that serve the homeless, the elderly, victims of domestic violence, and more.

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