Our founders

In 2006, Barbara Jonas, a respected psychiatric social worker, and Donald Jonas, a leading retail executive, brought together their professional expertise and personal passions to address a growing crisis in our nation’s healthcare system — the shortage of professional nurses.

Today, their legacy continues. With the support of the extended Jonas family, and a team of leading advisors and healthcare experts, Jonas Philanthropies is growing its commitment to address high-need audiences and issues with high-impact solutions — expanding beyond nursing and veterans healthcare to include investments in low vision and blindness, as well as children’s environmental health.

Barbara Jonas, MSW, FAAN(h), FAANP(h)

Founder and Advisor to Jonas Philanthropies

Barbara Jonas is a member of the Columbia Presbyterian Health Sciences Advisory Council, and was previously Vice Chairman of the Community Services Board of the New York City Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services. From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Jonas was a Member of the Institutional Review Board of New York University Medical Center. In 1992, she established the Barbara Jonas Centers for the Study and Treatment of Children at Risk at the Departments of Psychiatry at New York University and Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centers.

Ms. Jonas is a Trustee Emeritus of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and is a current member of the Guggenheim’s Art and Museum Committee. She is also a former board member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Foundation.

Ms. Jonas graduated from the High School of Performing Arts and Sarah Lawrence College, earned her MSW from Yeshiva University, and was a practicing psychotherapist. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Frontier Nursing University.

Donald Jonas, FAAN(h), FAANP(h)

Founder and Advisor to Jonas Philanthropies

Donald Jonas is an Honorary Trustee of the Horace Mann School and a former board member of Cancer Care, Inc.; the American Jewish Congress; the Guggenheim Museum Business Board; and the KIPP Academy Charter School in the Bronx, New York.

Mr. Jonas was Founder and Chairman of the Barbara Lynn retail stores and its successor company, Belscott Retailers. He was a co-founder of the Lechters Housewares retail chain, serving as its chairman

from 1973 until he retired in 2001, and was a board member of the apparel retail chain Dress Barn.

Mr. Jonas was born in New York City, attended the Horace Mann School and subsequently served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Frontier Nursing University. Mr. Jonas and his wife Barbara have two children, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.