When it comes to philanthropy, Shari Redstone, chair of Paramount Global and president of National Amusements, looks for opportunities to have a real-life impact in the fight against racism and intolerance. It is a commitment that mirrors that of her late father, media mogul Sumner Redstone.
“My father believed in supporting organizations that would fight for equality,” said Ms. Redstone at a recent event celebrating the establishment of the Sumner M. Redstone Endowed Chair in Health Equity. “Mass General has always made addressing inequities in health care a priority — and that is why my family and I are so honored to support this vital institution.” The chair — made possible by a gift from Ms. Redstone — is thought to be the first of its kind at an academic medical center devoted to addressing disparities in health care.
We asked Ms. Redstone about her family’s deep connection to Mass General, her decision to create an endowed chair and her hopes for the impact it will have.
What was your first experience with Mass General?
In 1979, the incredible doctors and nurses at Mass General saved my father’s life after he had been badly burned in a fire. He was only 56 years old and was told he might never walk or use his arms again. But, after months of surgery, rehabilitation and extraordinary care, he not only survived — he went on to thrive. He lived another 40 productive years, becoming a leader in the media industry, a competitive tennis player and a proud grandfather and great-grandfather. None of that would have been possible without Mass General.
How did the care your father received shape your view of Mass General?
Since that time, Mass General has always been there for my family — helping to guide health care decisions for my father to the very end of his life, and Mass General is still providing care for my mother, who is in her late 90s. I could not be more grateful to the amazing caregivers and researchers at Mass General.
What led to your decision to support health equity, and why was Mass General a good fit?
When I think about my family’s experience, I know how lucky we have been. The reality, however, is that for far too many people, access to high-quality, comprehensive care remains out of reach. And that is a detriment to society as a whole. That is why Mass General’s efforts to eliminate health inequities are so exceptional.
Mass General’s incredible response during COVID-19 is one standout example. Mass General saw how the most vulnerable communities were being disproportionately impacted and they took immediate action. They sent teams into those communities to provide health education and culturally sensitive vaccine information. They made sure they had bilingual physicians to support patients on COVID floors. And more. In short, they delivered compassionate care when it was needed most to those who needed it most.
What do you hope the Redstone Chair will accomplish?
I hope that the Redstone Chair will help further the incredible impact Mass General is making in ensuring that underserved patients across the Boston community are provided with comprehensive, high-quality care — now and for generations to come.
It means the world to my family and me to establish this Chair in honor of my father’s legacy and be part of a community of donors who are championing Mass General’s commitment to reaching its bold goals to transform patient care, break new ground in research, trailblaze in medical education and build healthier communities.