Dr. Kanner graduated from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. The National Institute of Mental Health honored her with a full scholarship for her graduate education in psychology. She earned her Master's in clinical psychology in 1974 from Fordham University in Bronx, New York.
Her clinical psychology doctorate was received in 1980 from Fordham University, as well. The National Institute of
Mental Health also funded her internship at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, in 1975 and 1976.
Beginning in 1980, Dr. Kanner worked as a staff psychologist in the admissions unit of New York State's Kings Park Psychiatric Center in Kings Park, Long Island. She was appointed team leader of the facility's 14-member outpatient staff, and ran the hospital's community outpatient clinic, serving 250 patients in Huntington.