Klingenstein Family Legacy


For more than 70 years, the Klingenstein family has made meaningful philanthropic contributions in the fields of neuroscience, education, mental health, and medicine.

The family’s formal philanthropy began with the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund (EAJK Fund) established in 1945 by Esther and Joseph Klingenstein as a way to express their personal philanthropic interests. Joe Klingenstein was co-founder of the investment firm Wertheim & Company.

The couple’s concern for individual human welfare was reflected in contributions primarily to institutions they were personally involved with, mainly in the New York City area. Many of these were Jewish causes, such as the Jewish Home for the Aged (where Esther was very active), and hospitals, especially Mount Sinai.

When their son John took the reins of the family’s philanthropy in the early 1970s, he applied his considerable business experience and engineering training toward bringing a more business-like and disciplined approach to philanthropy. Along with his brother Fred, John established the Fund’s interest in neuroscience research, which created the seeds of what has become the Klingenstein-Simons Fellowship. 

John also led the effort to establish the Klingenstein Center at Columbia Teachers College in 1977, which offers leadership programs and degrees for independent schoolteachers and administrators. After John passed away in August 2018, his bequest to Teachers College permanently endowed the Klingenstein Center.

Andy Klingenstein, a member of the third generation, has led the EAJK Fund since 2013. Trained as a lawyer, he has helped manage other family foundations for many years. Andy, his three siblings and their spouses, and their mother Patricia Klingenstein serve as trustees of the Fund. In 2018, the family welcomed to the Fund’s Board two members of the fourth generation plus an outside trustee.

The family pursues its philanthropic work through two other family philanthropies, the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation (KTGF) and the Sadie and Harry Davis Foundation (SHDF). Since the inception of the KTGF in 1993, Sally Klingenstein Martell has been its Executive Director while Andy has served as its Chairman and CEO. In addition to her work with the KTGF, Sally has been active in a number of nonprofits over many years, mainly in education and the arts.

The year 2019 brought dynamic change to the family’s philanthropy. Eliot Brenner, Ph.D., joined us as our first outside Executive Director. Eliot will create synergies among several philanthropies and help us make even better use of deep relationships built over many years. The new name “Klingenstein Philanthropies”—which encapsulates but doesn’t replace the other foundation names—reflects this more unified vision. Lastly, we’ve moved into a new office located on the lower west side of Manhattan which is entirely dedicated to our philanthropies.