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Stephen Bittel: The Self-made Businessman and Philanthropist

Stephen Bittel, the self-made businessman and philanthropist with an MBA from Harvard, has been a major figure in Florida politics for decades. He started his career in finance but left Wall Street to create a company supplying aluminium products to Coca-Cola through his company Business Resources International. Following a buyout of BII by another firm that would have put 400 people out of work, he made his retirement from the business world permanent.


In 1979 he founded the University of South Florida, where he still sits on the board as chairman. He’s donated to hundreds of charities, including $100 million to Yale University, $100 million to the University of Miami Business School, and $25 million to Harvard University. He has also donated large sums to fund cancer research at the Mayo Clinic.

Stephen Bittell is also an active participant in Republican politics, having given hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years not only to Republicans but also to members of both parties in the Florida government. He was instrumental in helping candidate Jeb Bush win the governorship, and they remain, friends today. Bittel has given roughly $100,000 to Marco Rubio, whom he learned through his work in the Republican Party. He also gave $250,000 to the Romney campaign.

Recently Stephen Bittel has become a major figure in Florida politics, serving as Chairman of the Florida Democratic Party for four years before stepping down in February 2017. As chairman of the party, he helped register over 200,000 voters, recruit candidates, and promote Democrats. In January 2017, he was elected National Finance Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) after having already donated $300,000 to their effort. He became the third highest-ranking member at the DNC, assisting chairman Tom Perez as he assembled a new leadership team.

Bittel was instrumental in bringing Al Gore to Florida to campaign for Hillary Clinton. Gore and Bittel took an interest in the Everglades. They created The Everglades Foundation, which has successfully worked with local environmental groups, state governments, and corporations such as Disney and the oil industry. Bittel also encourages companies to focus on developing clean energy and renewable power sources. Through his work with the Democratic party, he has advocated for universal health care, clean energy, and gun control.

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