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Every Little Bit Counts

Profile of Philanthropy: Phyllis Ambrose ‘61

January 27, 2021

When Mount Saint Mary’s faculty and staff say that they appreciate every donation, no matter the size, that sentiment is true. Phyllis (Lieb) Ambrose ’61 is a perfect example of how the accumulation of smaller donations, every year, adds up. That has been her approach to helping the Mount, and while she was surprised to be profiled for her financial support, her total giving over three decades undoubtedly has helped a number of students.

Ambrose is not the first in her family with a Mount connection. Her late mother, Bernice (Carls) Lieb ’37, sister Anne (Lieb) Collins ’71 and daughter Janis Ambrose-Shard ’02 are all graduates. For Ambrose, it was a given that she’d go to college. The women from both her mother’s and father’s families were college graduates. However, she was acutely aware that the same wasn’t true for many young women. “I want to keep—or start—that tradition of going to college for others,” she said in explaining why she donates to the University. 

From left: Phyllis (Lieb) Ambrose ‘61 with her daughter Janis Ambrose-Shard ’02 and her late mother Bernice (Carls) Lieb ’37.
From left: Phyllis (Lieb) Ambrose ‘61 with her daughter Janis Ambrose-Shard ’02 and her late mother Bernice (Carls) Lieb ’37.

After graduation, she married Robert, and they ultimately settled in Playa del Rey to raise their four daughters and son, all college graduates. Janis, the middle child, initially took some courses at a junior college, then married and had two children. 

Ultimately, Janis got a job with Toyota when it was headquartered in Torrance. “Somehow it came up that she was good at what she was doing, but she could go further if she had a four-year degree,” says Ambrose. “The Mount had recently started its weekend college, she was able to enroll and she graduated in 2002.”

Ambrose is grateful for her time at the Mount and for the professional trajectory it provided her daughter. She enjoys keeping up with what’s going on at the University and is an active member of the Heritage Society, made up of alumnae and friends who have included the Mount in their wills. But Ambrose is happy that her many donations over the years have made a difference in the meantime. “I will continue to support the students who are at the Mount today and those who will come in the future. It’s a wonderful place to go to school.”