Cliff Viner, at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, is a
partner/majority owner of the Florida Panthers. He
will be honored by Florence Fuller Child Development Centers. Photo by Tim Stepien
By Linda Haase
When Cliff Viner interviews job applicants, he’s seeking three things: “Character, character and character.”
That trait, contends the 62-year-old Boca Raton resident, is paramount.
“That is what counts, what defines us, what holds you in good stead in the long run,” said Viner, co-founder of Boca Raton-based AVM, L.P., a fixed-income broker/dealer and III Associates, a fixed income derivatives money management firm and general partner/majority owner of the Florida Panthers hockey franchise.
Viner’s character will be lauded on April 28 when he is honored as this year’s “Biggest Heart” at the 10th Annual Men with Caring Hearts awards luncheon, sponsored by Florence Fuller Child Development Centers.
Viner is modest about the tribute, which is given to a philanthropic leader whose dedication has made life better for others.
He plans to make a pointed, short speech and get out of the limelight as quickly as possible. He isn’t shy, however, about extolling the virtues of helping Florence Fuller Child Development Centers. He and his daughters, Elyse, 27, and Amanda, 23, spent many hours there when the girls were younger.
“We would read to the kids, play games with them, take them to the playground and push them on the swings. I thought it was good for my girls to see kids who weren’t as fortunate as they are. I think my kids are nicely grounded because of experiences like that. They saw how appreciative the kids were when they were spending time with them. … It opened their eyes seeing something out of their own environment.”
Viner and his wife, Jill, have been active in the community since moving here from Chicago in 1984. They are involved with many organizations, including Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service, where they established the Compassionate Care Program, which provides financial aid and social services to families undergoing crisis.
Jill Viner is a longtime member of Ruth Rales’ executive board, an executive board member of Kids Hear Now, which funds cochlear implants for young children who are born deaf, and has been active in juvenile diabetes organizations for more than 30 years.
Viner is active in B’nai Torah Congregation and has served as board member, chair of budget and finance, president of the B’nai Torah Foundation and president of B’nai Torah Congregation. He also is involved with the Florida Panthers Foundation, which focuses on pediatric oncology causes, but also offers many other community outreach programs, including food and toy drives.
Boca Raton has been a dream destination, says Viner, who was born in Brooklyn and has a bachelor’s in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s from the university’s Wharton School. “I like Boca because it is a true community in the deepest sense. People here care about the institutions and are dedicated and loyal and very community oriented. It has heart and soul,” he said.
A longtime sports fan who swims for 35 to 50 minutes five or six days a week, Viner is thrilled to be part of the Panthers organization. “We have changed the culture to a true professional, well-run organization that will bear fruit over time,” he said.
And, he maintains, it’s brimming with character.