Kenneth Fisher – Blending Good Business and Good Medicine

The Victor crew wanted to find out more about the Fisher House Foundation and Kenneth Fisher. Here is what we found:

Kenneth Fisher is the current Chairman of the Fisher House Foundation, a unique private-public partnership that supports America’s military. Fisher was named by US News and World Report magazine in 2007 as one of America’s Best Leaders. Fisher is also a senior partner at Fisher Brothers, a Manhattan real-estate firm. His colleagues have described him as a man of unflagging drive. “His energy is one of the first things you notice,” says the foundation’s President. “He just operates one step ahead of everybody else.” He lets everyone in the organization come up with several different ideas and then he says, “This is the one we want.” Fisher’s judgment has served the foundation well. More than 95 percent of the company’s annual expenses go directly to Fisher House programs.

Kenneth Fisher’s aunt and uncle started the Fisher House Foundation in 1990 when Pauline Trost, wife of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Carlisle Trost, presented to them the need for temporary lodging facilities for families at major military medical centers. President H. W. Bush dedicated the first Fisher House at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland on June 24, 1991. A month later the second Fisher House opened at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. In the past two decades Fisher House has built more than three-dozen homes-away-from-home for the relatives of soldiers and veterans receiving treatment at military hospitals. In 2005, more than 8,500 families stayed at Fisher Houses. All are free of charge.

Kenneth Fisher became involved in the family foundation in 2002. While visiting Walter Reed Kenneth met a serviceman who had injured his right arm in battle. The soldier had recently returned from Afghanistan and his arm was pinned to his side. With great difficulty, the soldier did his best to shake Kenneth’s hand. “Thank you”, he said. Kenneth Fisher was touched by the soldier’s gratitude saying, “I’m here to thank you.” Kenneth Fisher has been largely responsible for the expansion of the foundation. He is motivated by what he says is a desire to “give back” to US servicemen.

When Kenneth Fisher took over the organization in 2003, the war in Iraq was young, but the number of injured soldiers was high. Fisher said he knew the foundation had to respond. “People can be proactive.” he says. “You can ask, “Why is the government not doing this or that?” But while you’re wasting your time, the need grows and grows.” Fisher responded by bringing a private-sector mind-set to the running of the foundation. He stresses safe, smart investing and frugal spending. He views his donors as shareholders and welcomes criticism and free debate.

The Fisher House Foundation plans to build 20 more houses in the next four years. Fisher House has expanded its services to military families by offering more than 3,000 college scholarships to the children of service members. It has also started a program with major airlines through which the public can donate their unused frequent-flier miles. So far the foundation has bought 11,000 airline tickets for military families to be close to their injured loved ones. One military wife has stayed at three Fisher Houses in Germany, Florida and Maryland to be with her husband who had been shot by a sniper in Iraq, requiring reconstructive skull surgery. “This place makes all the difference in the world,” she says. “Your experience can go from completely horrible to tolerable.” The more than 100,000 military families served by Fisher House agree.

Fisher House Slogan: Fisher House, because a family’s love is good medicine.