Who's Who of Professional Women


Patricia D. Klingenstein was inspired early on by her parents, Harry and Sadie Davis, who taught her to give back as much as she could. Her father was a pediatrician who regularly donated his services to those in need and even bought medication for his patients during the Great Depression, and her mother established the Sadie & Harry Davis Foundation, which promotes children’s health in Maine through providing small grants ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. Today, the Sadie & Harry Davis Foundation is part of Klingenstein Philanthropies, where Ms. Klingenstein has been active since her marriage to her late husband, John Klingenstein, in the 1950s. In addition to the Sadie & Harry Davis Foundation, Klingenstein Philanthropies also encompasses the Esther A. & Joseph Klingenstein Fund, which promotes neuroscience research pertaining to early childhood education, and the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation, whose goal is to improve the understanding and treatment of mental disorders such as ADHD and depression.

Following her graduation Smith College in 1951, Ms. Klingenstein began her work in philanthropy. Previously, she served on the boards of the Hastings Group and Teatro Bon Novo. Since the 1980s, she has served on the board of trustees of the New-York Historical Society, making her the longest serving member to date. For her decades of excellence, the New-York Historical Society named the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library in her honor. She is also a long-time trustee of the New York Public Library Astor Lenox & Tilden Foundations and volunteers with the Junior League. A patron of the arts, she currently donates her time to a local opera company as well. Looking toward the future, Ms. Klingenstein hopes to build off her current work in education and branch out into organizations and causes in support of literacy, which she has begun learning about through reading and attending lectures.

Having accomplished much over the course of her career, Ms. Klingenstein is particularly proud of the time when a grant she helped provide to a lobbying group led to the changing of a law that required toy manufacturers to label what their product was made with, something that helped to bring an end to toxic materials being used in children’s toys. This is exemplary of what she finds so rewarding about being a philanthropist. Namely, the ability to bring experts together to address a pressing concern and then go on to find a solution. Right now, Ms. Klingenstein finds that pressing concern to be the state of education in the United States, which is what has prompted her turn to literacy.

A primary focus of Ms. Klingenstein’s efforts with Klingenstein Philanthropies is to provide no-strings attached scholarship and fellowships, and she finds great joy in making site visits and getting to see the people that they support working in their fields. Above everything, she hopes to leave a legacy as someone who enabled others to excel and make a difference in the world. She notes that if her work has made any small contribution or impact to the state of education and how the country functions, she will be happy. For her excellence, Ms. Klingenstein has been honored by the New York Landmarks Conservancy as well as with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and the Marquis Who’s Who Humanitarian Award.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Ms. Klingenstein considers the highlight of her life to be her four wonderful children, all of whom have been involved with Klingenstein Philanthropies in one way or another. Tom, Nancy and Sally have all served on the board of trustees and Andrew is currently the chair of the board of trustees and the chief executive officer. In addition to her children, Ms. Klingenstein’s family has grown to include nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys reading nonfiction and Jane Austen novels. To those interested in becoming involved in philanthropy, Ms. Klingenstein would simply advise them to find a cause they want to support and go for it, since everyone’s circumstances are different, which means the way they approach philanthropy will be different too.


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