Amy Phillips never had children of her own, but she made sure to look after kids long after she died. A shrewd business woman and property owner, Phillips reserved her softer side for those whom she cared most about: children.
The Amy Phillips Charitable Foundation has given City of Hope $645,000 over more than eight straight years to fund promising pediatric cancer research, such as work by Michael C. Jensen, M.D. Jensen, associate chair of the Division of Cancer Immunotherapeutics & Tumor Immunology and director of the Pediatric Neuro-oncology Program, seeks to harness the power of the immune system to extinguish cancer cells — especially in children.
Phillips’ compassionate nature led her to create a foundation — as stipulated in her will — dedicated to supporting underprivileged children and seniors. The Amy Phillips Charitable Foundation was established in 1994. A native of Chicago, Phillips had headed west to Los Angeles, where she created her own valet service. Over time, she amassed a small fortune, retaining her goal of helping children.
Phillips championed several charities, including City of Hope. Foundation trustee Robert Zapel, whose own mother died of breast cancer when he was 5, shares the same vision for helping children as Phillips did. “I have strong feelings about cancer research, as I do about the needs of children,” said Zapel. “I’ve experienced the loss of my mother and an orphan-like existence following her passing, so I know firsthand how devastating cancer is.”
Zapel added: “The foundation decided to support Jensen’s work because it upholds the foundation’s child-centered mission.”
Jensen aims to fight pediatric cancer using genetically modified T-cells that boost the immune system against the disease. The investigative immunotherapeutic approach exclusively targets cancer and spares healthy tissue — making it ideal for young patients whose bodies are still growing.
Zapel also credited City of Hope’s strong management team for the foundation’s ongoing support to the organization. “The leadership at City of Hope is stable and devoted,” he said.
The foundation maintains regular contact with City of Hope staff members and keeps apprised of ongoing research efforts and progress, fostering confidence and trust. “This extends to its faculty,” Zapel added. “Dr. Jensen’s enthusiasm is infectious. He’s so excited about what he can achieve through his work that you can’t help but want to be a part of it.”