Iris Cantor is Chairman and President of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation and CEO and President of Amethyst, Inc., a financial holding company. She and her husband B. Gerald Cantor (1916-1996) established the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation in 1978 to fund the visual arts and medical, educational, and cultural institutions and programs in the United States and abroad. Her passion for advancing women's health care has shaped her innovative philanthropic goals and has made her an admired figure among her peers.
Mrs. Cantor's commitment to women's health began when her beloved sister died from breast cancer. She founded the Iris Cantor Center for Breast Imaging at UCLA, which offers state-of-the-art subsidized and regular mammography screenings. In July 1995 UCLA opened the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women's Health Center, recognized internationally as a center of excellence that integrates research and education with high-quality primary care. Mrs. Cantor has been involved in The UCLA Foundation since 1989. She was on the Board of Trustees from 1989-1997, Board of Governors from 1997-2000, and Board of Councillors from 2000-2006 and has been a UCLA Foundation Governor from 2005-present.
In April 2002, Iris Cantor created the Iris Cantor Women's Health Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. The Center operates according to her vision of providing "one-stop shopping" for women's health care, fitness, and nutrition. The Center has been a huge success and its philosophy has been emulated world-wide.
In New York Mrs. Cantor serves on the Board of Governors of New York-Presbyterian Hospital and as Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Lying-In Hospital, where earlier the Cantors had provided funds to create the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Ambulatory Surgery Center for outpatient care and the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Laboratory for Immunological Research in Diabetes. In 1996, Mrs. Cantor donated funds to the Hospital's OB/GYN Department to provide eleven birthing rooms, two operating rooms, and a new waiting room.
Mrs. Cantor and the Cantor Foundation have also funded research, facilities and services at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, at Manhattan Institute for Cancer Research, at the Rogosin Institute, and at Discovery Eye Foundation. In each of these important institutions she has had a leadership role in providing funds for research and patient services.
A partner with her husband in amassing the largest collection of Auguste Rodin sculpture in private hands, Iris Cantor continues to carry out Mr. Cantor's legacy of sharing Rodin's achievements with a world-wide audience. At one time she and her husband owned more than 750 large- and small-scale Rodin sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, and memorabilia. During the last two decades the Cantors and their Foundation have donated more than 450 Rodin sculptures and ephemera to at least 70 institutions around the world. Nearly ten million people have seen the traveling exhibitions of Rodin sculptures organized by the Cantor Foundation. They endowed numerous galleries, sculpture gardens, and scholarly chairs at major museums and universities. Mrs. Cantor has also provided leadership and vision as a trustee of major museums, among them the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Most recently Iris Cantor also has championed the education of future artists. Currently she sits on the Board of Exploring the Arts, Inc., the support organization for the new Frank Sinatra School for the Arts in Queens; she is also a member of the Dean's Committee of Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is the recipient of many awards, among them the National Medal of Arts (from President and Mrs. Clinton), the Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Award from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Award for Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts from ArtTable, and the UCLA Medal (the University's highest honor). She is a Chevalier in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor and holds an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from College of the Holy Cross. She recently received a second such degree from Laguna College of Art + Design.
On September 27, 2018, Iris Cantor, a longtime UCLA donor and a champion of women’s health, has made a $10-million commitment to the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Of the visionary gift, $2 million will establish the Iris Cantor Endowed Chair in Women’s Health, and $8 million will advance the training and education of generations of clinicians and scientists in women’s healthcare. In recognition of Cantor’s philanthropy, UCLA named the Iris Cantor Auditorium, located on Level 1 of Geffen Hall, and unveiled the signage commemorating the newly named auditorium.
For more information about Iris Cantor or the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation, please visit the Foundation's website at: www.cantorfoundation.org