Outstanding Woman – Polly Youngstein

Polly Youngstein was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease called Sjögren’s (Show-grins) Syndrome in 2001. Sjögren’s is a disease that attacks the moisture producing glands throughout the body. As many as 4,000,000 Americans live with this serious disease which represents a major women’s health problem (nine out of ten sufferers are female).

Most people first notice dry eyes and mouth.  Polly knew something was wrong when she had 30 cavities in 18 months as well as other hallmark symptoms. To cope, Polly joined the local Sjögren’s support group and immediately became very active in it.

In 2003, Polly was nominated Vice President of the Philadelphia/Tri-State Sjögren’s Support Group Chapter. Her first project was creating an email (and snail mail) distribution list for newsletters and other communications. She has also served as Chair for the annual SS Awareness Luncheon, Newsletter editor, Advocate, Walkabout committee member, and Health Fair contact. She was elected President of the Support Group Chapter in 2006 and continues in that position. As President, she has helped to expand the Chapter to include meetings in various areas around Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, and has orchestrated a “share the mileage” program to help people attend the meetings. Polly received national recognition for her work with the Chapter in 2008, as Volunteer Leader of the Year.

“My message is that you don’t have to speak loudly to be heard,” says Polly. “You just have to make sure that people are listening.”

Currently a Sales Coordinator at Universal Pictures, Polly grew up in Arizona and attended the University of Arizona (UA).

A National Honor Society student, Polly was listed in Who’s Who in American Students. She was the first woman to receive the Golden Plate scholarship at UA. Her most prized award however, is the President’s Badge for Physical Fitness, which she won in middle school. Polly lives in South Jersey with her husband, David and their son, Nick.


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