Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania
Howard Lorber, Jorge M. Pérez, R Donahue Peebles
Leonard Abess (born 1948) is an American banker and businessman. He sold his own company, City National Bank of Florida, for $1.2 billion 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. Abess was later recognized as one of Time Magazine's Time 100 in 2009.
Leonard Abess is a former Director of the Miami Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Abess serves as a Trustee of the University of Miami and in 2006 donated $5 million to establish the Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy.
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."
On April 29, 2011 Abess became Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Miami. He served in this position until May 16, 2014.