We lead with courage, curiosity and humility, believing that breakthrough impact stems from authentic listening and a different kind of collaboration.
We are steadfast and committed, prioritizing opportunities for long-term enduring impact, and are resilient in the face of challenges.
We invite insight from experts, including those with lived experience, and boldly advocate for the disability community to be visible, valued and engaged in decision-making.
We are possibility thinkers who aren’t afraid to fail and learn in the process.
We are person-centered with a theory of change rooted in connection and collaboration.
We believe in the power of people to generate ideas, propel change and help communities flourish.
Wayne and Joan Kuni were known for their quiet yet profound commitment to community service. Their philanthropy touched countless individuals throughout the Pacific Northwest and included financial support and hands-on volunteer efforts to support medical, educational and human services organizations. Both had their own unique approach to service and a commitment to long-term impact that resonates today through the work of the Kuni Foundation.
Throughout her life, Joan Kuni was a pioneer and advocate, shifting the tide of inclusion for individuals with intellectual disabilities. After Joan married Wayne and had their first two sons―Stephen and Michael—her tenacity and tremendous heart shifted to their care, potential and growth. Both boys were born with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and the Kunis were strongly advised by doctors to institutionalize their sons. In fact, the pressure was so intense during that era that most families simply gave up their children. Doctors claimed the two boys would never have any kind of meaningful life; yet true to her nature, Joan forged a different path for Stephen and Michael.
Joan embarked on a lifelong journey of advocacy to ensure that her children―and later other individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities—had a wide range of inclusive, person-focused opportunities. Her approach and determination continues to have a profound, lasting impact on the intellectually disabled community, inspiring continuous positive change.
During this time, Wayne founded Kuni Automotive, and over the years, the Vancouver, Washington-based company grew into a network of 15 automobile dealerships in Oregon, Washington, California, Colorado and Kansas. Wayne was known for his entrepreneurial and personal approach to the business. He thoroughly enjoyed mentoring other individuals and took delight in their growth and success. It was one of the many ways he paid forward his own success, continually investing in the potential of people and community.
After Wayne was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2005, he and Joan established the Kuni Foundation and focused the funding on two areas that significantly impacted the family: medical research, especially for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer; and housing and initiatives that support and enhance the lives of individuals who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Wayne chose to donate most of Kuni Auto’s business proceeds to the Foundation, while keeping the dealerships intact. In its first year, the Kuni Foundation’s grants totaled more than $1.3 million. Wayne continued to build the business and the Foundation through two more bouts with cancer, and before his death, designated the Foundation as the largest shareholder in his company. Prior to the dealership group’s 2015 sale to Holman Auto, the company reached $1.5 billion in sales, employed 1,500 team members, and had a reputation for service excellence and a commitment to strengthening local communities.
Wayne and Joan’s belief in the power of potential is reflected in the Foundation’s support of emerging, entrepreneurial cancer researchers and initiatives that advance vibrant, inclusive lives for people who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their legacy of compassion, inclusion and advocacy lives on through the mission and work of the Kuni Foundation.