Founder's Story

Howard Schiffer founded Vitamin Angels in 1994, drawing on his experience as a midwife, and his success in the natural products industry.  Today as the leader of Vitamin Angels, he's helping us reach millions of women and save newborn lives on a global scale.

Two Threads Come Together

In his early twenties, Howard focused his energies on childbirth education and midwifery. As part of the home birth movement, he attended over 55 births. His interest in mothers and children grew only deeper as he realized that the health and well-being of young families was central to building a healthier world — and future.

Inspired by his experiences, Howard began a career in the natural products industry, ultimately launching a number of nationally recognized brands. However, his passion for making the world a healthier place remained close to his heart. Maternal and child health, he knew, was the foundation. All that was missing was a catalyst to get him started.

Inspired by new attitudes toward health and wellness in the 1970’s, Howard became a midwife.

Howard has traveled the globe many times over to meet the children and moms we serve. Each time, he returns even more committed to the cause.

As his family grew, so did Howard’s commitment to ensuring every child had the chance to lead a healthy and productive life.

In 1994, Howard had no idea that vitamins could help children and women so immensely. Now, vitamins are commonly considered a centerpiece for global health.

A Game-Changing Moment

The Northridge Earthquake in January 1994 brought it all together for Howard. A relief agency contacted him requesting a donation of vitamins for families in Southern California. Howard was struck by how happy the natural products industry was to give, and how grateful they were to have an opportunity to make a difference.

His “a-ha!” moment came soon after. He learned of the dramatic impact that vitamin A has on a child’s development, and how despite vitamin A supplementation being simple and inexpensive, very few of the children who needed it had access to it. That was everything he needed to know, and he founded Vitamin Angels.

This understanding remains at the heart of Vitamin Angels’ approach. It’s not necessary to fix everything to make a difference. It’s enough to find a way to make an impact in one specific area. Not only does it effect change, it also inspires and encourages others to join in.

That first year, Vitamin Angels gave over 100,000 vitamins to families in need. As the organization grew, Howard took out a third mortgage on his home to keep his family and the all-volunteer operation going. Along the way, they found more people who wanted to help, together they were able to give more and more children a chance at a healthy start in life.

“I truly believe Vitamin Angels came into being to give children and mothers the chance to lead meaningful, healthy, and productive lives.” Howard Schiffer, President & Founder, Vitamin Angels

Always Pressing Forward

Challenging though it was to run the organization on a shoestring, seeing the dramatic difference that vitamins made in the lives of mothers and children only inspired Howard to work harder, and to aim higher. Nothing could slow him down. Not even the loss of his home in 2009 to the Jesusita fire in Santa Barbara, California, where Vitamin Angels established its headquarters, could throw him off-course. With the same determination, and help from the growing Vitamin Angels community, Howard continued to press on towards his vision of a healthier world for everyone, everywhere.

A Continuing Legacy

Over 25 years later, fueled by love, care, and the certainty that it is possible to make an important and lasting impact, Vitamin Angels continues to grow and to expand its activities. The organization has come a long way, and yet Howard is more focused than ever on helping mothers and children, leading the Vitamin Angels’ community with the same passion and optimism that were there at the start.