Who We Are
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is a global philanthropy committed to helping people live better lives today and creating stronger, healthier futures for individuals and communities. We partner with people and organizations to invest in new ideas or research across six program areas: Crohn’s Disease, Israel, Rural Healthcare, Type 1 Diabetes, Vulnerable Children in Sub-Saharan Africa, and New York City.
The Helmsley real estate empire began in the 1930s and made an indelible mark on the New York City skyline.
During their lifetimes, Harry and Leona Helmsley donated many millions of dollars to a wide range of causes, focusing primarily on health-related institutions and efforts. They left a tremendous philanthropic legacy, which paved the way for the Helmsley Charitable Trust today.
In 2008, The Helmsley Charitable Trust began its active grantmaking after the passing of Leona Helmsley, who left nearly all of the Helmsleys’ estate to the Trust, giving its Trustees the responsibility to decide which charitable purposes to support.
Since then, Helmsley has grown from a start-up to a global philanthropy with an $8 billion endowment that works in partnership with organizations across the U.S. and select parts of the world.
Sandor Frankel is a lawyer in New York City and a graduate of NYU (Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard Law School. He has served as a staff member of the White House Task Force on Crime, as Temporary Counsel to the National Commission for Reform of Federal Criminal Laws, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, and received the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Beyond A Reasonable Doubt. Leona Helmsley and the Helmsley organization were clients of his for many years.
David Panzirer is a grandson of Leona Helmsley and was appointed as a Trustee upon her passing in 2007. A former real estate executive, David’s personal passion – improving the lives of those with type 1 diabetes – has led Helmsley to become a leading funder in the battle against the disease. As a parent of two children with type 1 diabetes, he has driven the creation of a robust and highly targeted grantmaking program that takes on long-term, high-risk projects to ease the burden of managing the disease while continuing to search for the elusive cure.
Walter Panzirer, is a grandson of Leona Helmsley. Raised in California, he adopted South Dakota as his home. Having worked as a first responder in both states, Walter witnessed personally the significant disparities in quality health care available close to home – disparities that demanded attention. Serving as a paramedic, firefighter, and police officer also made him acutely aware of the range of situations encountered by these professionals – from cardiac and stroke events, to individuals facing a mental health crisis.
The team at Helmsley is reflective of the work we do. We are a diverse group of people who have expertise and often very personal experience that propels our mission forward. Our team includes innovators, engineers, scientists, social workers, public health experts, mental health experts, educators, philanthropists, and people whose lives are touched by Crohn’s or Type 1 Diabetes.
The charts below reflect our asset base and charitable activities dating back to Fiscal Year 2016. Our latest balance sheet and 990-PF are posted here as they become available.
The Helmsley team boasts a wealth of experience and expertise from across the philanthropic and private sectors. Our colleagues are nimble, and forward-thinking problem solvers who are passionate about their work and dedicated to working with one another and with our grantees. If you are interested in joining the Helmsley team, please click here to learn more.