Cherna and Dr. Gary Gitnick are co-founders of the Fulfillment Fund, an organization that works to make college a reality for under-served students. It began forty years ago after Dr. Gitnick’s UCLA holiday party, where he was inspired to create a small mentoring organization for children with disabilities. Soon after, the Gitnicks’ witnessed the growing educational needs of all students and expanded to bring mentorship and college readiness services to youth of all abilities, making the Fulfillment Fund one of the first programs of its kind. Now with programs in Las Vegas and Vail, Colorado, the Fulfillment Fund empowers thousands of students each year.
In 1991, Cherna Gitnick founded the Friends of the Fulfillment Fund, a women's auxiliary group that raises crucial funds. Cherna put together a tea at her home to inspire guests to get involved with something fulfilling. Soon, the Friends began hosting annual fundraising luncheons which went on for more than ten years, and later transformed these events into new and creative initiatives such as "Songs of Our Lives" and the Fulfillment Fund Author and Artist Series. The group also connects with students, and mails Starbucks coffee cards to recently graduated Fulfillment Fund scholars. Since its inception, the Friends of the Fulfillment Fund has raised more than $3 million.
Dr. Gitnick currently serves as the Chief of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, heading up one of the largest gastroenterology divisions in the world. He joined the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles in 1969. Dr. Gitnick is former president of the Medical Board of California, former chief of staff of the UCLA Medical Center and was medical director of the UCLA Health Care Programs. Dr. Gitnick has produced over 300 publications and is the author or editor of 65 books.
Cherna and Dr. Gitnick live in Los Angeles and have been married for 53 years. They have four wonderful children, seven grandchildren, and are avid collectors of contemporary glass art.