"The medical breakthroughs that are happening here at UHN have an impact on the entire world," says Julie Quenneville, the new CEO of UHN Foundation. "And that's incredibly meaningful." (Photo: UHN Foundation)

Julie Quenneville took the reins as CEO of UHN Foundation last week. She sat down to talk about what attracted her to UHN, the important role philanthropy plays in health care, her life outside of work and moving to Toronto from Montreal.

What about UHN stood out for you when you were considering this opportunity, and what were you surprised to learn through this process?

What attracted me to UHN is that we are home to the number one research hospital in this country. Each and every day, miracles are happening in this institution. I'm so honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to the level of excellence in care at UHN.

What surprised me the most is that many people seem unaware of the incredible impact that UHN is having on the global stage. It is home to one of the top five hospitals in the world. It is an important player on the world stage, and we should all be extremely proud that it is here in Toronto.

Tell us a little bit about your career journey.

I started off my career in journalism. I did TV, radio, print, and then I realized something really important about my personality: I just could not sit back and just observe the world. I needed to get in there, make changes and have impact on my community.

And so, I got involved in politics and then in government, and finally took on leadership of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation.

I've seen health care from all of its facets. I've seen it from the political side, the government side, from the administration side, and also through patients, families and philanthropy. And what I have learned that is most important is when you bring absolutely everybody together towards the same common goal, you actually do advance medicine.

Why is health care important to you?

Health care is important to absolutely everyone. We are all affected.

And that's why I have dedicated my career to getting involved in health care, because it has an impact on each and every one of our neighbours, our family, our friends and on the world. The medical breakthroughs that are happening here at UHN have an impact on the entire world. And that's incredibly meaningful.

Why is fundraising critical at UHN?

There's a big question! In health care, philanthropy makes the difference between quality and excellence. And we all deserve to have excellence in health care. We all want to see that for our loved ones.

Philanthropy is absolutely essential in advancing research in health care. It is the only source of funding that we have for proof of concept in research to be able to then go and secure additional research grants.

UHN has the ability to recruit some of the most brilliant minds from all around the world. And that's really important because TeamUHN never stops at status quo. They are always pushing the boundaries of medicine, discovering new treatments and cures, and improving prevention. Most health care teams across the country do an extraordinary job in applying our medical books. But TeamUHN is constantly rewriting the medical books.

In addition to advancing research, recruiting talent and ensuring excellence in patient care, UHN is also an incredible training ground for future health care leaders. Donor support plays a huge role in supporting education.

There are some exciting projects underway at UHN that would not be possible without donor support. One that comes to mind is the construction of a new tower at Toronto Western – to ensure patients undergoing surgery have the best possible care and outcome, and to ensure that TeamUHN can continue to push for progress in surgical techniques. Philanthropy helps us see these types of major capital projects through to completion.

Read the full story on UHN Foundation's website or watch the video on YouTube.

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