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Harlan Kirschner

“National Professional Salon Industry support of City of Hope is a 30-year tradition. I’m proud to be part of an industry that has given so much to so many,” says Harlan Kirschner, explaining why he participates in the Industry Challenge to benefit City of Hope.

While it’s true that Kirschner’s father was diagnosed at City of Hope when Harlan was just a boy, his passion for City of Hope has deepened for other reasons. “I remember going out to Duarte when City of Hope was one building, not the comprehensive campus it is today,” he says. “It seemed like a long way out because at that time there was nothing but desert surrounding it. Now when I take the annual Salon industry tour of the campus — which I do each year — I’m continually amazed at what I see and learn. I’ve gotten to know many of the doctors and researchers, including some of the younger doctors. Everyone at City of Hope is so smart and motivated. And they’re making incredible progress. That’s why [it’s] so important to me to support them.”

Kirschner followed a somewhat circuitous route into the salon industry. He went to college to become a doctor, but became a respiratory therapist instead. Then he realized he was better at sales. He worked first for a medical supply company, then a steel supply company, before going into the beauty business. Today, The Kirschner Group is the world’s largest sales organization in the professional beauty industry.

Kirschner’s participation in the National Professional Salon Industry spans more than half of that group’s 30-year history with City of Hope. Six years ago he was asked to chair the group, which he continues to do today.

City of Hope has been the industry’s charity of choice for each of those 30 years. “It’s part of our industry tradition, and I want to honor that tradition,” Kirschner says, acknowledging that support for City of Hope is “a bit self-serving, too.” Noting that one in three men and two in three women will suffer from cancer, he says, “That means my employees, customers, neighbors, friends and family are at risk. That’s what motivates me to support City of Hope. Plus, I learned during my last tour that City of Hope is pioneering techniques that would program the immune system to attack the cancer, so ultimately patients could avoid chemo. It confirmed for me that our donations to City of Hope create leverage that accelerates the pace of research.”

In addition to making annual gifts to City of Hope, Kirschner and his wife have made City of Hope a beneficiary of a percentage of their estate. “For me, giving back is part of living a balanced life,” he says. “When you’re blessed and have been given much, it’s important to give back. City of Hope will receive the largest share of our estate designated for charity.”

Kirschner has also agreed to lead the Industry Challenge — the industry-wide campaign to secure City of Hope’s next 100 years through estate giving — on behalf of the National Professional Salon Industry. “If I’m at a dinner or have the opportunity to speak with someone, I remind them, ‘There is a good chance that someone you care deeply about is going to be affected by cancer. The gift you leave may help that person or generations of your family down the line. Your gift can quite possibly save your own life or the life of someone you love.’”