Tony Kiser (born December 30, 1948, Chicago, Illinois) has been a book editor, publisher, marketing executive, television producer, theater producer and philanthropist.
Kiser is the second son of John William Kiser, Jr. and Anne Milholland Kiser. In 1952, he enrolled at The Buckley School in New York City, then at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH, where he was a student from 1962 to 1967. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1967 to 1971, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature.
From 1974 to 1980 Kiser worked at Universal Television as the producer’s assistant on the ABC mini-series Rich Man, Poor Man. He was later the associate producer of two NBC Sunday Night Mystery Movies: “Macmillan and Wife” and “Columbo.” He was also a producer of the mini-series “The Contender,” starring Mark Singer.
Since 1974, Kiser has served as President of the William and Mary Greve Foundation, a family foundation that supports environmental programs, public education, performing arts (including the Second Stage Theatre), urban planning, and interfaith organizations that promote religious tolerance between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The Greve Foundation was established by Kiser’s grandmother, Mary P. Greve, and was funded upon her death in 1974.
Kiser has been a trustee of New York City’s Second Stage Theatre since 1981. He has served at different times as Chairman and Co-chairman of its Board of Directors. In 1999, Kiser led the Second Stage’s move into a former bank building on West 43rd Street to create a three hundred-seat theater. The space was designed by the architect Rem Koolhaas. In 2011, the theater was named the Tony Kiser Theatre.
Kiser has for many years supported Nature Conservancy projects, as a trustee of its Long Island and Montana Chapters. Of special interest to Kiser was the TNC’s initiative to protect Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front, near Choteau. The Conservancy collaborated with local ranchers to preserve the Front’s biological richness and open space by preventing subdivision and development of ranch lands by real estate interests and oil and gas companies.
Kiser was a trustee of New York City’s Municipal Art Society from 1990-2010, serving as both chairman of the nominating committee and chairman of its Executive Committee. He was involved in the formation of many urban policy issues, including zoning restrictions to prevent the construction of high-rise buildings in East-West mid-block locations.
Kiser and the Greve Foundation were instrumental in supporting the Land Trust Alliance’s 2010 Accreditation Program, designed to professionalize the LTA’s operating standards for compliance with Internal Revenue Service regulations.
In 2000, Kiser, with the former Chairman of New York City’s Urban Development Corporation Richard Kahan and Bob Tisch, the co-owner of the New York Giants football team, created a public-private partnership Take the Field. Take the Field went on to rebuild 43 public high school athletic fields in the five boroughs of New York City. They raised $133 million from the private and public sectors to achieve their capital budget goal, leveraging private sector funding with a three-to-one match from the City of New York. Annually these fields provide sports and recreation space for hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren and local citizens.
Kiser serves on the President’s Council of the Peconic Land Trust in Southampton, NY, and he currently serves on the board of the Urban Assembly, which manages a network of 21 public schools in all five boroughs of New York City.
From 1987 to 1994, Kiser worked for Tennessee-based Whittle Communications. As an executive vice president for the company, he developed an innovative book-publishing program for “targeted” audiences: physicians, CEOs, and policy makers. The books were distributed by “controlled circulation” and were supported by advertising pages inside the book. FedEx was the first sponsor, paying for the distribution of books to more than 300,000 readers. Many titles were subsequently licensed and reissued by W.W. Norton. These include: Life After Television by George Gilder; A Short History of Financial Euphoria by John Kenneth Galbraith; and The Disuniting of America by Arthur Schlesinger. Other Whittle authors included David Halberstam, James Atlas, Michael Lewis, and George Plimpton.
After leaving Whittle, Kiser worked for Philips Electronics to develop a “closed network” (pre Internet) computer desk-top system called the Supermarket Trade Network (STN), a platform for the buying and selling of products (SKUs) between supermarket retailers and grocery manufacturers.
Kiser has one daughter, Maisie Kiser. He is married to Lisa Atkin.