Why the Yankana Family Is Giving Back

SONHSNews, 01-27-2022

For this ’Canes family, health care innovation is a philanthropic priority


On a recent sunny day in December, the Yankanas gathered at the Watsco Center to celebrate the graduation of their older son, David, one of four ’Canes in the family. “The impact that this community has had on each of us has been a life-changing experience,” explain David’s parents, Christopher, B.B.A. ’85, and Annette, M.B.A. ’13. “We feel a true sense of belonging to the University of Miami community.”

That sense of belonging goes back 40 years. After earning his business degree at the U in the ’80s, Christopher Yankana went on to found the Miami-based health care business Amatheon Pharmaceuticals and Amatheon Animal Health, where son David, B.G.S.C. ’17, M.H.A. ’20, M.B.A. ’21, now a triple ’Cane, works as director of operations. Annette, a senior portfolio analyst, has worked at the University since 2014, and younger son Christopher Joseph (“CJ”) is on track to earn his bachelor’s degree from the U in May.

Because UM has inspired some of this quartet’s “happiest and most cherished memories,” not to mention lifelong friendships, the Yankanas recently made a generous contribution to name the Yankana Family Office at S.H.A.R.E.™ (Simulation Hospital Advancing Research and Education) as part of Ever Brighter: The University of Miami's Campaign for Our Next Century. “The developments that S.H.A.R.E.™ showcases from a clinical standpoint are essential to continuing innovative therapies and life-giving measures. These developments have been the impetus for our desire to pursue philanthropy related to nursing studies,” say the Yankanas. “We wanted to find a project we would all be passionate about not just for today but for years to come. We cannot think of a better way to help move the School of Nursing and Health Studies forward.”

The following Q&A with the family was edited for brevity.


What prompted this level of gift now?

This will be our first time donating to the University of Miami in this capacity. It is both an honor and privilege for us to have been given the opportunity to join the University “Ever Brighter” efforts with the entire Alumni family. The past two years have been some of the most challenging of our entire lives. We have all faced our moments of sadness, despair, and it’s at times difficult to find a silver lining to every negative situation that comes up in this day and age. Our gift is a way to showcase the impact the University of Miami has had on our lives. It takes a certain type of resiliency to be a part of the Miami Hurricanes family, and whether it’s as a student, philanthropist, faculty member, or fan, we all have to show resolve and find ways to be problem solvers. Being the change you want to see in the world should be taken to heart. It’s up to each of us to find our own respective light at the end of our personal tunnels. 


Why did you choose to support the School of Nursing and Health Studies and S.H.A.R.E. ™ in particular?

While we considered many opportunities to support with our familial award, the developments that the School of Nursing and Health Studies have demonstrated from a curriculum standpoint have been immense. In alignment with the University mission, the School of Nursing has tremendous responsibility for developing future health care delivery leaders. David had the pleasure to tour the simulation hospital shortly after the new construction efforts had taken place. Both of our sons have passions that delve into health care, business, and other pursuits. David currently works in the family health care business, while CJ is pursuing a pre-health track and a public health minor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies. The entire family has been beyond impressed with the simulation hospital’s updated connectivity, from its NICU unit to the dispensing units. This will have a great impact on teaching future caregivers during an extremely sensitive time that needs more people dedicated to health care delivery on the front lines.


Why is innovation in the health care industry important? 

Our commitment to health care innovation and movement forward is not a new initiative for our family. Chris has been in the pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. He has worked as both a pharmaceutical executive and then an entrepreneur developing revolutionary animal health distribution models and products for both human and veterinary health care markets. This kind of disruption has always just been a part of the family business model. CJ has always had a passion for health care. Focusing on targeted pandemic protection efforts in low-income communities is just one of many ideas CJ has tried to research as possible solutions for our current health care landscape. Both of our sons understand and appreciate that living through unprecedented times, we have faced numerous shortages and constraints that even the best health care managers can’t solve. From vaccinations to clean air and water, to the research of present-day social determinants of health, to the celebration of faith and renewed hope, David and CJ are true examples of what it means to be a University of Miami pioneer, and they have done so through public health. We feel a personal connection to these initiatives.