Dr. Paula Polito
paula polito

I will listen to your concerns and work with you to move our community forward.

About Paula Polito

Paula Polito, a lifelong resident of Jefferson Parish, has dedicated her life to serving the community through her work in early childhood education and advocacy. As the owner and director of Beary Cherry Tree Child Development Center since 1999, Paula’s business acumen and profound dedication to nurturing young minds have transformed the center into a national example of high-quality early care and education for a diverse group of children and families.

Under Paula’s leadership, Beary Cherry Tree has blossomed into a home away from home for over 200 families, renowned for its low child-to-teacher ratios and dedicated staff. Her commitment to creating an environment where children and educators flourish has been instrumental in shaping the center’s reputation and success.

What truly sets Paula apart is her relentless advocacy for early education. Her voice has been instrumental in highlighting the critical need for access to quality care across Louisiana, championing the cause for families in Jefferson Parish and beyond. She does not merely operate a business; she fosters a community where every child is poised to be a future leader.

Paula’s pursuit of knowledge is unending. While working full-time and advocating for children in her personal time, she earned her Ph.D. in Urban Studies, focusing on workplace inequities for women in education. This underscores her role as a leader and an inspiration for professional women everywhere.

Paula’s influence extends far beyond the walls of her center. As a passionate advocate for the early childhood education sector, she serves in pivotal roles, including as an Advisory Council Member for the Jefferson Ready Start Network, Early Childhood Advisory Board Chair for the Louisiana Department of Education, and as a member of the Louisiana Early Childhood Care and Education Commission. Her guidance has been critical in shaping policies that benefit the community’s most vulnerable members.

A lifelong Republican, Paula believes in responsible government that champions small businesses and families. Her firsthand experience as a childcare business owner gives her unique insights into the challenges facing working parents and employers. As Secretary on the Executive Board of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, she has helped other local entrepreneurs succeed, while also serving on the Chamber’s Government and Education committees.

Paula’s dedication has been recognized with honors such as the Jefferson First Philanthropy Award, Biz New Orleans 500, and CityBusiness’ Women to Watch. Yet, her humility remains as she continues to serve on various boards and councils, reflecting her commitment to educating about the workforce and economic impact of early care and education, and the overall quality of life for Jefferson Parish.

Paula is a proud wife of 20 years to her husband Darrin Polito, and mother to three children. She attended Archbishop Chapelle High School and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Masters in Business (MBA) and a Ph. D in Urban Studies from the University of New Orleans. Paula’s deep roots in the community and experience raising a family here give her a firsthand understanding of the issues and aspirations of Jefferson Parish residents.