April 2010: Jonathan S. Canno '66
by Erin Reid, Associate Director of Stewardship and Special Projects
Jonathan S. Canno ’66 is a philanthropist and a founding director of The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), giving his time and support to this international organization dedicated to ending the global AIDS epidemic through innovative research. Approximately 33 million people worldwide are now living with HIV/AIDS.
Canno joined the board of the New York-based AIDS Medical Foundation (AMF) in 1983, serving as its vice chairman. Researchers and scientists established this organization in the early 1980s at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 1985 Canno was pivotal in combining the nascent Los Angeles-based National AIDS Research Foundation and AMF, forming The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).
Today, amfAR is the world’s leading private not-for-profit organization dedicated to the support of innovative AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested more than $300 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide. With the freedom and flexibility to respond quickly to emerging areas of scientific promise, amfAR plays a catalytic role in accelerating the pace of HIV/AIDS research, achieving real breakthroughs, and increasing our understanding of HIV. Canno served as the board’s fund development chairman from its establishment until 1995 and as a founding board member since then.
In 2004, Canno received amfAR’s Award of Courage. He was instrumental in having amfAR named as the beneficiary of Art Against AIDS, an international effort of hundreds of artists and galleries that support amfAR. In celebration of Canno’s 50th Birthday, amfAR, along with 300 of Canno’s friends, established the Jonathan S. Canno Research Fund at amfAR to support innovative AIDS vaccine research. For the past three years, Canno and his partner of six years, Pierce Canno Roberts, served as vice chairs of amfAR’s February 2010 New York Gala, one of New York City’s most successful, high-profile AIDS benefits. This year, Yves Carcelle, Sir Elton John, and David Furnish each received amfAR’s Award of Courage for outstanding leadership and distinguished service in furthering amfAR’s mission. To date, the amfAR New York Gala has raised more than $10 million for essential AIDS research, prevention, and education.
Canno serves on the boards of several other organizations about which he feels passionate, including Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital (a subsidiary of Lenox Hill), and the Hamptons International Film Festival. He has found his 12 years on the Lenox Hill Hospital board to be very rewarding and proudly notes, “We are the only independent hospital of its type left in New York City. Because it is independent, the hospital has very high standards of patient care.”
A graduate of Boston University in 1970, Canno began his business career at the Equitable Bag Company, a family business started by his grandfather in 1919, the largest retail and flexible packaging company in the country. The company was headquartered in New York with paper mills and manufacturing plants in Texas, Kentucky, and New York. Canno went on to become chief operating officer and president, and later chief executive officer and chairman of the board. Reflecting on his Hotchkiss experience, Canno credits faculty members Allan Hoey, Robert Hawkins, David Demaray, and Richard Gurney as strong influences. All four were exceptionally significant in his academic development, making him a more creative and intuitive person and businessman.
Canno and Roberts currently reside in East Hampton, New York City, and Miami Beach, and travel elsewhere whenever possible.