Henry P. van Ameringen is a retired American businessman, real estate developer, philanthropist and advocate for gay rights and marijuana legalization. Van Ameringen worked for the International Flavor and Fragrance company, founded by his father, Arnold Louis van Ameringen.
He is a board member of the family’s van Ameringen Foundation and president of his personal foundation, the H. van Ameringen Foundation.
Van Ameringen, who is gay, began funding gay rights and HIV/AIDS organizations in 1987 following the beginning of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. He is also known as a major donor to Democratic and marijuana legalization causes.
Personal Life and Education
Henry P. van Ameringen was born in 1931. He was the youngest of the three children born to Hedwig Adele (Pfaltz) and Arnold Louis van Ameringen. He had two sisters.Henry attended the Pingry School, a private day school located in New Jersey, and was a member of the class of 1948. He earned an undergraduate degree from the George Washington University School of Foreign Service.
After college, van Ameringen worked for the company founded by his father, International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) as European vice president in charge of fragrance marketing. He is now retired.
Van Ameringen and business partner T. Eric Galloway have created the Lantern Organization, the Galvan Group, and the Galvan Initiatives Foundation which have purchased properties in Hudson, New York, where Galloway owns a part-time residence. As of 2015, the Galvan Initiatives Foundation owned 60 parcels of land in the city with an assessed value of more than $12 million.
Van Ameringen is the president of the van Ameringen Foundation, a family foundation that deals with mental health and mental illness in New York and Philadelphia. He is also president of the H. van Ameringen Foundation, a personal foundation that concentrates on HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues.
He also serves as co-chairman of the board of directors of In the Life Media and is on the board of Fountain House, an organization in New York for people with mental illness.
Van Ameringen is listed among a group of wealthy donors known as “the Cabinet,” who began targeting socially conservative politicians nationwide in the mid-2000s and pledged to support candidates who support their positions on gay rights.
Other members of the Cabinet include Geo-Cities founder David Bohnett, Stryker Corp. heir Jon Stryker, meat company heir James Hormel, tech entrepreneur Tim Gill, Jonathan Lewis (grandson of Progressive Insurance co-founder Joseph) and Food Lion heiress Linda Ketner.
Van Ameringen has also backed marijuana legalization efforts in several states through a PAC called New Approach that helped fund legalization ballot measures in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Maine.
The Center for Responsive Politics listed van Ameringen as the top individual contributor to federal 527 groups in 2016, with $2,342,000 in contributions. He was 15th on the list in 2014 ($525,000) and 21st in 2012 ($210,000). In 2015, van Ameringen gave $100,000 to the Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century.
Van Ameringen’s primary personal philanthropic vehicle is the H. van Ameringen Foundation, a non-profit charity with $23,503,668 in assets according to the foundation’s 2015 tax filing. The foundation is funded primarily by van Ameringen and proceeds from his holdings in IFF. The foundation gives money to many programs for HIV/AIDS, gay and lesbian issues, prison sentencing reform, and museums.
Tax documents show millions of dollars from the H. van Ameringen Foundation went to real estate development organizations created by Eric Galloway and van Amerigen including $2,075,000 from 2008 to 2010 Galloway’s Lantern Group.
A 2008 investigation by CBS News found the Lantern Group took millions of dollars from the city to provide safe and affordable housing for the mentally ill, recording drug addicts and others in need, but instead allegedly put them in deplorable conditions.
From 2013 to 2015, the H. van Ameringen Foundation gave more than $18 million to the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, jointly operated by Galloway and van Ameringen.
Politically linked recipients of van Ameringen Foundation money include Media Matters, Planned Parenthood, Drug Policy Alliance, Center for American Progress, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Tides Foundation.