Leonard L. Abess
Leonard Abess (born 1949) is an American banker and businessman. He sold his own company, City National Bank of Florida, for $945 million and gave his staff a bonus. He shared $60 million between them.
Early life and education
Abess' father, Leonard Abess Sr., was the son of Romanian Jewish parents who moved from his home in Providence, Rhode Island, to Miami to work as an independent auditor at First National Bank of Florida. In 1946, Abess Sr. founded City National Bank with Baron de Hirsch Meyer. City National was one of the first postwar banks in the region. In 1949, Leonard Sr. and other Jewish residents of South Florida, after local hospitals refused to hire Jewish doctors, pooled their resources and founded the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach. Abess Jr. graduated from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He started his career at the bank in its print shop.
Abess became majority owner and chairman of the City National Bank in 1984. The bank had $400 million in assets when he purchased it, which had grown to $2.75 billion at the time of its sale in 2008.
In November 2008, Abess sold his 83 percent share of the bank to the Caja Madrid banking group for $927 million and shared $60 million of the proceeds with 399 current staff members and 72 former employees. On February 24, 2009, President Barack Obama praised Abess in his State of the Union Address and invited Abess and another bank employee to be his guest at the speech.
Leonard Abess is currently a Director of the Miami Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Abess and his wife not only funded UM's environmental policy center, but they also founded a Floating Research Station in the Brazilian Amazon and the Abess Center for Environmental Studies at Miami Country Day School.
In 2007, the Miami Chamber of Commerce honored Abess and his wife Jayne with their "Sand in My Shoes Award." In 2006, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce gave him its "Doc Baker Lifetime Achievement Award."
Since April 29, 2011 Abess has been Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Miami.
- Vos Iz Neias: "Miami, FL - Jewish Philanthropist Shares His Wealth Of $60 Million With All Of His Employess" February 16, 2009
- Memmott, A. James (February 26, 2009). "Leonard Abess - a banker who gave away millions.". Muckety. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
- Bryher, Monique. "Leonard Abess Jr. – the role model for corporate responsibility". Norfolk Examiner.
- "Banker hands out $60M to workers". UPI. February 15, 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
- Jewish Telegraph agency: "Jewish banker sets heartfelt tone for Obama speech" By Ron Kampeas February 25, 2009
- Brannigan, Martha. "Miami banker praised by Obama wasn't seeking limelight". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2010-02-04.[dead link]
- "Leonard and Jayne Abess endow Ecosystem Science and Policy Center with a $5 million gift". October 26, 2006. Retrieved 2009-10-09.[dead link]
- "In the News - October 26/2006". University of Miami. Retrieved 2010-02-17.
- "Chamber chooses Abesses for Sand in My Shoes award". South Florida Business Journal. August 16, 2006. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- "U of M; Board of Trustees". Retrieved November 3, 2012.
- "Miami banker gives $60m of his own money to workers". The Guardian. February 17, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2012.