Dr. Sanford L. Ziff – Optometrist; contact lens researcher; founder, chairman and CEO of Sunglass Hut of America; humanitarian; philanthropist.
For more than 50 years, Sanford L. Ziff has served the Miami community —financially embracing the homeless, education, the arts and religious projects —with results that signify a soaring spirit of excellence.
In the 1980s, a dream was conceived by leaders in the Greater Miami area to bring all the important resident music, opera and ballet groups together for the new millennium by building two world-class ballet and opera and concert halls to be called The Miami Performing Arts Center. Ziff, with his love for the arts, music, ballet and opera, pledged and paid a major gift of $10 million for the Performing Art Center fundraising campaign. To honor him for the unprecedented gift, the largest hall was named the “Ziff Ballet Opera House."
Scientist, entrepreneur, humanitarian and philanthropist, Ziff is a man of action, dedicated to every aspect of our community and a tireless seeker of worthy and needy causes.
Whether it’s Infants in Need, Vizcaya, Camillus House, Florida International University or the Beethoven Society of Miami, each of these organizations enjoys the benefit of his participation as a member of their boards of directors or as a trustee, where he contributes his vast business expertise, creative thinking and generous philanthropy.
In October 2010 Ziff was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award on National Philanthropy Day, and in November 2010 he was honored with The Shining Star Award at the Miami Art and Business celebration.
Founder of Sunglass Hut of America, Ziff opened his first kiosk boutique in Dadeland Mall in 1971. For the next 20 years he expanded to be the major retailer of quality, health, fashion and sport sunglasses throughout the United States and Canada. After Ziff sold his privately held company of 550 sunglass kiosks and boutiques, he devoted himself and his financial resources to the public good on virtually a full-time basis. In addition to the above listed affiliations, this former clinical researcher, inventor and international lecturer on optometry has funded the University of Miami’s Business School’s Career Center and has made major financial commitments to both public television (WPBT), public radio (WLRN) and Classical Music Radio (89.7 FM) with the weekly Ziff Showcase paying tribute to and honoring other charitable organizations.
In August 1991, as a participant of Operation Exodus of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Ziff chartered a plane that brought 250 Soviet Jews from Moscow through Prague (historically for the first time), and then to Tel Aviv, Israel. With U.S Congressman Dante Fascell and state Rep. Elaine Bloom, he accompanied the flight to Israel, ensuring that the immigrants would start a new life in a new home.
In Miami, Ziff has endowed the Florida International University Foundation for scholarships for deserving students at FIU. Additionally, in recognition of Ziff’s recent $2.5 million gift to FIU, the new Education Building was named the Ziff Family Education Building. Most recently, Ziff has committed financially to Nova Southeastern University, which has named the Sanford L. Ziff Health Centers in his honor.
Just before the onset of the new millennium, The Miami Herald selected 50 People Who Changed South Florida Business, saying, “Sanford Ziff – From a simple kiosk in the Dadeland Mall, Ziff built Sunglass Hut into an international chain amassing a fortune that has largely been donated to local charities.”
Beginning with the 2011-2012 season, Dr. and Mrs. Ziff were honored with the naming of the Sanford and Beatrice Ziff Classical Music and Dance Series at the Arsht Center.