The spirit of philanthropy comes at different times in peoples lives, for Ryan it was early middle school.

At age 9, Ryan Fisher asked his aunt and uncle if he could join the family's philanthropic foundation. "I understood the importance of the work they supported and wanted to be a part of it," he recalls. Fisher became a board member of the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation 23 years later.

A native New Yorker, Fisher enjoyed success as an actor, producer and businessperson in California. He co-founded a public-relations company, Rousso Fisher Public Relations Inc. – "out of a bedroom in my home, with a three-legged desk and a phone" – landing Levi's as his first major client. He moved on to housing projects, then, most recently, to rebuilding companies that had been hurt by the recession.

It may sound like an eclectic career path, but Fisher finds a common thread: "They all revolve around some sort of problem solving." And that, he says is his passion: "solving problems and bringing the biggest benefit to the greatest number of people."

It's that passion the 36-year-old hopes to bring to the table as the newest member of The Discovery Eye Foundation board of directors. He's known DEF Medical Director Dr. Anthony Nesburn, well, "I can't think of a time when I didn't know the Nesburns," he says with a laugh. Fisher also remembers how much his Uncle Bernie suffered with diabetic retinopathy, going blind by the end of his life.

"If my uncle were here today, he'd probably be able to see, thanks to the work of DEF that was sponsored by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation," Fisher says. "Things have progressed so much in the time since he developed diabetic retinopathy, because of DEF. And I believe DEF is on the verge of some major breakthroughs. I'm just excited I get to be a part of it."

Posted September 2011