Charitable Choices: Julie Quenneville of UHN Foundation

The UHN Foundation stands as a pillar of support for the University Health Network (UHN), an institution that proudly holds the title of the nation’s premier research hospital and is counted among the top five hospitals globally. UHN has consistently attracted some of the brightest minds in the medical field, who dedicate themselves to advancing patient care and revolutionizing the healthcare landscape. The UHN Foundation plays a vital role in this mission by channelling efforts towards raising funds for the Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto Rehab, and the Michener Institute of Education at UHN. We had the opportunity to discuss this charitable institution with CEO Julie Quenneville and to ask a few more questions about what needs to be done and what the future holds.

UHN Foundation

Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.

UHN is the top research hospital in the country and home to one of the top five hospitals in the world. Our hospital has recruited some of the world’s most brilliant minds to care for our community and help transform health care. UHN Foundation raises money for Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto Rehab and the Michener Institute of Education at UHN. Philanthropy makes the difference between quality health care for our loved ones and excellence in care. UHN Foundation is one of the very few funding sources for innovation at UHN, and discoveries being made here in Toronto are helping people worldwide.

What problem does it aim to solve?

The government funds quality care across the province, and philanthropy brings excellence and innovation, which includes supporting the recruitment of top talent from all around the world. Thanks to supporters of UHN Foundation, our community has access to the very best care right here in Toronto.

Our population is ageing rapidly, while at the same time growing exponentially in Toronto. Both of these result in more visits to the hospital. It’s never been more important to innovate to find new treatments for disease and better ways to care for patients to get them home and healed faster.

With UHN being Canada’s top research hospital, we are uniquely positioned to find solutions for some of the world’s biggest healthcare challenges. Why the world? Because discoveries made in our own backyard are quite literally changing health care globally. None of that would be possible without our donors, who are one of the very few sources of innovation funding for hospitals.

When did you start/join it?

I am a very recent member of the team, having joined UHN Foundation just this past August.

What made you want to get involved?

I’ve dedicated most of my career to public service. I began my career in journalism and at one point decided that I couldn’t just observe the world. I had to find a way to make change. And so after serving on the political side of health care for a number of years, I moved to the hospital side, and then the hospital foundation side. That was all in Montreal, which is home to the number-two research hospital in the country. And then the opportunity came to work for number one in Toronto, at UHN. It is an honour to be here and begin to make an even bigger difference for people in my new community and around the world. It’s also an honour to serve such an incredible team, who are also driven to make a difference.

I would never have left Montreal for any institution other than UHN, Canada’s leading hospital. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to serve in a truly global institution that is saving lives, advancing science and making Canada proud.

What was the situation like when you started?

I was surprised to learn how so few people in the GTA know that they have the top hospital in Canada in their community. UHN has some of the top doctors in the world caring for our families and helping to transform health care. They need our support now more than ever. We are at a really critical point in health care, where hospitals are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic while trying to advance medical innovation.

UHN’s goals to transform health care are probably some of the most ambitious in the country, all in an effort to better serve patients today and tomorrow. The only way we can get there is with donor support. And so UHN Foundation’s goals are ambitious as a result, too. We want every member of our community to consider a small donation. Together, we will make a big difference.

What more needs to be done?

UHN’s impact needs to be better known by the community at large. You might know Toronto General or Toronto Western, or even Toronto Rehab, but you may not know they are part of UHN. There is power in being part of UHN because of the size and scope of the organization, and how teams from across all medical specialties come together to change health care. At the heart of this vast organization, there are brilliant, driven individuals who will stop at nothing to defy the status quo in health care. There is an opportunity to educate people in our great city about the role that UHN has in transforming lives every single day. And, more importantly, to help people understand that this impact would not be possible without support from the community. We need to inspire the community to get involved and help to transform health care. Philanthropy is very empowering because we are standing together united to improve health care for everyone.

How can our readers help?

Community support is not only essential for the best possible patient care but to help push medical discovery further. It is likely that you or someone you know has been impacted by a health condition, and maybe you or your loved one needed treatment at UHN. I urge you to consider getting involved in your community by making a donation to UHN Foundation. If 1,000 people donate just $100 each, we can recruit a young star to help us develop better diagnostics in cardiology or rethink prevention, as an example. Your donations have a powerful impact. Every dollar makes a difference.

There are also many ways to get involved. For example, you can donate monthly, organize your own fundraising event or ask for donations to UHN instead of that item on your personal wish list.

Donate to the UHN Foundation

Do you have any events coming up?

We had a very busy events season this fall, which included our Grand Cru Culinary Wine Festival and Diwali Gala annual signature events, as well as a very successful Rally for Rehab walk in the Leaside community, and even a royal visit. We are currently in the final stretch of our year-end fundraising campaign, where we call on the community for their support as 2023 comes to a close. We are always grateful for the generosity of the Toronto
community at this time of year.

I am so excited for the future at UHN Foundation and at UHN. There are some really exciting projects on the go including building a brand-new surgical tower at Toronto Western Hospital, which will be a total game-changer for patients and their families. At the Foundation, we are doing some very exciting planning for the future. We will be launching a new campaign next year, so you can expect to see more from us soon.

Where can we follow you?

To learn more about UHN Foundation or to make a donation, you can visit our website. You can also follow us on social media: Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?

I have been involved with the YMCA for decades now. It is a wonderful organization that provides essential services to local communities across the country. On a national level, I am Chair of the Banff Forum, a public policy community for young Canadians seeking to expand our knowledge and understanding of the most urgent issues confronting Canada. I am also a member of the 2024 President’s Cup, an important global golf tournament that will be played in Montreal with more than $100M in anticipated economic impact for our country.


About Emilea Semancik 107 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to freelance her own pieces and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. She is also a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of recipe books. You can find her recipes on Instagram. @ancestral.foods