Sidney Kimmel was born and raised in Philadelphia, and the philanthropic footprint he has created here evidences an unparalleled devotion to his hometown. From humble roots, first in South then West Philadelphia, Mr. Kimmel went on to found the Jones Apparel Group, developing it into a New York Stock Exchange company and one of the world’s leading designers and marketers of branded apparel, footwear and accessories. His first job in the garment industry was as an inventory clerk and later a traveling salesman for a women’s-wear manufacturer. From there, he joined the iconic clothing company Villager, rising through the ranks to become its president and CEO. In 1970, Mr. Kimmel established his own clothing line, Jones New York, targeting young career women and in so doing became one of the major players in the women’s apparel industry in the 70s and 80s. Jones went public in 1991, adding many notable brands to its line, including Anne Klein, Nine West, Gloria Vanderbilt and Stuart Weitzman, among others; Jones also owned Barneys New York. In April 2014, The Jones Group was sold for $2.2 billion.
As early as 2002, Business Week recognized Mr. Kimmel as a distinguished philanthropist who was leading his peers by his generous example: He had already given more than half of his fortune to philanthropic works and had committed to giving the balance to continue those efforts. As further evidence of his commitment, in 2010 Mr. Kimmel readily signed the Giving Pledge, the Warren Buffett and Bill Gates initiative encouraging America’s billionaires to contribute half of their wealth to charitable endeavors.
Of the $850 million-plus that Mr. Kimmel has given away, more than $550 million has gone to cancer research. In 1997 he established the Kimmel Scholars Program, funding young, innovative cancer scientists with their earliest grants to stimulate their research and advance their careers. With more than 260 award recipients to date, the Kimmel Scholars are the new generation of the nation’s leading cancer researchers. Major gifts have also subsidized cancer research and care at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University, the Sidney Kimmel Center for Prostate and Urologic Cancers at Memorial Sloan Kettering, research programs championed by the Stand Up To Cancer effort, and much more.
As the earliest and largest donor to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Mr. Kimmel’s contributions totaling nearly $64 million have financed construction, eliminated debt, advanced the endowment, and, in keeping with his interest in making the arts accessible to all, paid for free performances, education programs for children, and community outreach.
In addition to his exceptional contributions to the Kimmel Center, Mr. Kimmel has been a generous benefactor to organizations throughout the Philadelphia region. He has made transformational gifts to Thomas Jefferson University, establishing the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, supporting research into the prevention of cardiovascular disease, and advancing forward-thinking medical education through his naming gift to the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. In addition he has provided endowment gifts to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School. The Kimmel Theater in the National Constitution Center is named in his honor, and he is also lead donor to the National Museum of American Jewish History.
Beginning in the 1980s Mr. Kimmel became involved in the film industry, serving as producer of several memorable movies including Blame It on Rio and Nine 1/2 Weeks. He now operates a Los Angeles-based production company, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, that has backed over 40 feature films, including United 93, The Kite Runner, Moneyball, The Lincoln Lawyer, and The Age of Adaline.
Among many awards, Mr. Kimmel has received the first-ever Medal of Honor for Cancer Philanthropy from the American Cancer Society, the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery’s Visionary Award, the Americanism Award from the Anti-Defamation League, and the Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership from Temple University.
Mr. Kimmel and his wife, Caroline, reside in California and New York.