CONANT FAMILY FOUNDATION
Doris and Howard Conant Sr. believed in the ideals of freedom and equality. Throughout their lives, they worked in and supported movements for peace, gender equity and racial justice.
In 2015, the year Doris celebrated her 90th birthday, she transitioned the Conant Family Foundation to include all three generations of the Conant family.
Today, the Foundation strives to be a leader in family philanthropy, inviting others to experiment with new models to shift power dynamics in grantmaking.
Board of Directors 2023
The names of board members used to be listed here. They have been removed for their personal safety and security, because the Conant Family Foundation has and will continue to fund abortion access. A list of board members is available upon request.
Leslie Ramyk, Executive Director
Doris K. Conant, 1925 - 2017
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1925, Doris was a feminist, a sculptor, a civic worker, a real estate developer, a philanthropist, and a mother and grandmother. She was the recipient of the Glenview Brotherhood Award in 1965 and named an Outstanding Woman by P.U.S.H. in 1975. The Chicago Foundation for Women presented Doris with the Founders Impact Award in 2016. Doris became Chicago Public Media’s first Life Trustee in 2017.
The Chicago Foundation for Women, in bestowing the Founders Impact Award, said of Doris: "She leads by example, dedicating her life to inspiring women to get involved in the issues affecting women and girls and to give boldly." She served on several boards and gave to countless organizations in Chicago, with an eye towards increasing the limited funds directed specifically to women’s issues.
A civil rights organizer in Chicago in the 1960’s, Doris worked with women and families in public housing. She took her son, Howard Jr., to the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, and marched with Martin Luther King in Chicago.
Doris started Urban Innovations in 1979. She concentrated on affordable housing for seniors; however, her reason for starting the real estate business was a desire to preserve the low-rise buildings in the Near North/River North area, some of which were in danger of being torn down as blighted buildings or to make way for high-rise construction.
Doris was included in the book, “Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975” Barbara J. Love, editor, University of Illinois Press, 2006.
Doris Conant passed away in June 2017.
Howard R. Conant, Sr. 1924 - 2011
Born and raised in Chicago, Howard was a graduate of Von Steuben High School. Howard joined the Army during World War II; after taking courses in Japanese, he served as an interpreter for Japanese prisoners of war in California until his military discharge in 1946.
He attended the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and founded Interstate Steel Co. while finishing his bachelor’s degree. As a returning serviceman, Howard began buying post-war surplus steel from the government and reselling it. After graduating, Howard moved the business to Chicago. While running Interstate Steel, Howard also took over for his father as president of Elliot Paint Company in Chicago.
In the late 1960’s, Howard joined with nearly a thousand businessmen around the nation as a founding member of Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace. The Chicago chapter reportedly landed on President Richard
Nixon’s enemies list after giving singer and peace activist Joan Baez an award in 1971.
Mr. Conant sold Elliott Paint to Valspar in 1976 and joined that company’s board of directors. Interstate Steel relocated to Evanston, then Des Plaines. Howard sold it in 1990 to French company Usinor Sacilor.
For more than 30 years, Howard served as a director of Facets Multimedia, a Chicago nonprofit. An avid tennis player, Howard played in singles and doubles tournaments; he was ranked # 1 in singles the over-80 division by the Chicago District Tennis Association.
Howard Conant Sr. passed away in May 2011.