Vera Guerin is the daughter of Holocaust survivors who were able to pick themselves up, start and again, and succeed phenomenally. Her mother was Lily Schreiber, who had been interned in Auschwitz during WW II, and her father was Nathan Shapell, a survivor of Buchenwald and Auschwitz, but was able to escape. He served as an interpreter/translator at a few of the war crimes trials that took place after the war.
The couple moved to California when Vera was five years old in 1952. Along with his brother David and brother-in-law Max Webb, Nathan founded Shapell Industries, which eventually built a total of 65,000 houses.
When Nathan passed away in 2007, Vera inherited her father’s 43 percent stake in the company.
Since that time, Vera, who married Paul Guerin, has been an active philanthropist and community leader. In 2008 she gave $5 million to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles to support the research division of the Women’s Guild Lung Institute. She also gave $10 million to two other programs at Cedars-Sinai. She established the Vera and Paul Guerin Family Congenital Heart Program and two academic chairs in the pulmonary medicine and pediatric neurosurgery divisions; and she also supports the new outpatient services building.
Other institutions she supports generously are the Harvard-Westlake School; the Stephen S. Wise Temple; the Skirball Cultural Center; and her husband, Paul is the president and board chairman of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.