HomeCity Government NewsPollitts Make $3 Million Gift To Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Pollitts Make $3 Million Gift To Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Former San Marino Residents Endow Chair for Fetal and Neonatal Medicine

Inspired by a family mantra and a longstanding relationship with both Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and the University of Southern California, philanthropists and former San Marino residents Teri and Byron Pollitt have pledged $3 million to help create an endowed chair position for the director of the CHLA Fetal and Neonatal Institute.
The Pollitts’ charitable investment completes a $5 million endowment, to be named the Teresa and Byron Pollitt Family Chair in Fetal and Neonatal Medicine in their honor.
The inaugural holder of the chair will be Dr. Philippe Friedlich, chief of CHLA’s Division of Neonatology, professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Surgery at Keck School of Medicine of USC and the co-director of Fetal and Neonatal Medicine. Dr. Friedlich is also a former resident of San Marino.
The endowment will support research priorities to improve outcomes and clinical care for more than 2,000 infants and high-risk pregnant women who depend on CHLA each year.
Another San Marino family has played an important role in the Pollitts’ support of CHLA.
Vera Nelson and Teri Pollitt met when their oldest children, Justin and Emily, were in kindergarten at Carver Elementary.
Years later, Justin’s daughter, Moriah, was born with a collection of complex medical issues affecting her heart, breathing, hearing and other vital functions. Despite several surgeries and spending her first year of life hospitalized in multiple locations, including the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit (NICCU) at CHLA, Moriah eventually was able to go home. Teri had served as a president of Children’s Chain – one of CHLA’s oldest associate groups – in 1999, and had been involved with the hospital for many years. It was Vera Nelson, however, who introduced the Pollitts to Moriah’s neonatologist, Dr. Friedlich.
“We were impressed with his approach to treating those young ones who have multiple issues, which makes it much more complex to deal with,” Byron Pollitt told The Tribune. “What also impressed us was that he was very focused on how to help the parents care for the child once the child went home. So much of what we were exposed to from a research and clinical standpoint is what happens in the hospital. Through Vera, we learned more about how his team approached care of the infants, not just in the hospital but once they went home. His focus is what differentiated him to us, and as parents, you can totally empathize with what that means.”
After multiple visits to the hospital and NICCU – a year the Pollitts spent becoming much more knowledgeable about how an investment in research could make an important life-changing difference in these young lives – they decided to make the gift.
The Pollitts moved to San Marino in 1979 before relocating to Tiburon in 2003. Both Byron and Teri were active at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church, serving on the Vestry and the Nursery School Board.
Teri was also involved in National Charity League, San Marino Area Chapter and Junior League of Pasadena. She also served on the Carver, Huntington Middle School and San Marino High School PTAs and the San Marino Schools Foundation, where she served six years as an active trustee, including a term as President and Vice President of annual campaign. Teri Pollitt was also a key component in the district’s school bond construction project, serving as Chairman of the Citizen’s Oversight Committee.
Byron Pollitt was executive vice president and CFO of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts from 1990 to 2003, when he accepted the position of executive vice president and CFO of Gap Inc., where he worked until 2007. He served as CFO of Visa Inc. from 2007 until he retired in 2015. He currently serves on three boards: Voya Financial, an NYSE retirement company; the Finance Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies based in Geneva; and the Board of Councilors for the School of Dramatic Arts at USC.
The Pollitts have three daughters. Emily Pollitt Borrmann is senior manager of strategy and analytics, private brands at 7-Eleven and lives in Dallas, with her husband, Bobby, daughter Claire and second child due this Fall. Emily attended Carver, HMS and graduated from San Marino High School in 2002. Emily was one of the founding members of Tyler’s Team, a CHLA fundraising group at San Marino High School created in honor of Tyler George, a classmate who was treated at CHLA.
Mary Ellen Pollitt is a CPA and assurance manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers and lives in Irvine. Mary attended Carver, Huntington and her first two years of high school at SMHS.
Alice Pollitt is an Actors’ Equity Stage Manager living in New York and working on Broadway theatrical productions. Alice attended Carver Elementary through fourth grade.
“We are honored by the generosity of the Pollitt family, which will permit expert clinicians at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to save the lives and improve the health of more premature infants and neonates,” said CHLA President and CEO Paul S. Viviano. “We are gratified that our mission has inspired them to help us provide brilliant futures for our patients, for generations to come.”
“This gift will give the Fetal and Neonatal Institute more opportunity to care for and improve the health of our youngest, most vulnerable patients,” Dr. Friedlich said. “With this new support, the Institute will hire an epidemiologist, provide greater support for families and engage government agencies to improve the care provided for patients treated through the Fetal and Neonatal Institute.”
The Pollitts often quote the proverb, ‘To whom much is given, much is required, ” and the family is living up to that pledge.
“It was hard to keep a dry eye during our personal visits with Paul, Philippe and the research clinicians, all of whom revealed an extraordinary passion and determination to find better treatments for those who start life under the most challenging of circumstances,” said Byron. “It is an indescribable feeling to know that every single day from this day forward, our gift has the potential to make a life-changing difference for these tiny infants and their caring families.”


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