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Described as a legend in the world of Canadian fundraising, UHN Foundation CEO Tennys Hanson is winding down a 48-year career devoted to transforming health care and education in Canada through the power of philanthropy.
"Over the last 23 years, our Foundation has raised over $3 billion. This is no easy feat," says UHN Foundation Board Chair Raj Kothari. "The foundation that Tennys has built continues to fuel new standards of care and better patient outcomes across Canada and the world."
During her tenure, Tennys was the key architect of several comprehensive fundraising campaigns, including the completion of a $550-million effort for UHN in 2006 — the largest hospital campaign in Canada at that time.
In 2018, she concluded the Foundation's first billion dollar campaign after raising $1.2 billion.
Last month, UHN Foundation reached and surpassed its second billion dollar campaign goal – raising $1.02 billion – and almost one year ahead of schedule.
"I have never heard Tennys say no to raising funds for our urgent needs," says Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO. "She understands the science and the care, so she always finds a way to make these projects compelling to our donors."
Building a team
In April 2000, Tennys joined what was then Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation – (TGWHF), now UHN Foundation – with a dual appointment as Vice President and Chief Development Officer of UHN. She had a staff of 20 full-time employees who raised $15 million in annual revenue.
Over the years, with Tennys' superb talent in donor relations, board and volunteer management, and organizational leadership, UHN Foundation now has a team of more than 120 employees who raised $166 million last year.
"Tennys had a vision and a direction of what she wanted to achieve," says Bryce Douglas, who was Board Chair when he recruited her to TGWHF. “She had a plan, put the plan in place and built the Foundation to what it is today.
"She is good at building a vision of what she wants to do, why she wants to do it, and why it's necessary to do it to achieve success."
She has served as an icon for women forging careers in the not-for-profit sector, as she as mentored many young fundraising leaders who have modelled her success.
"Tennys is an absolute role model and ahead of her time," says Dr. Gelareh Zadeh, Medical Director of UHN's Krembil Brain Institute and Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
"She is one of the first and few female leaders who has really shaped and changed the impact of philanthropy for the largest academic health institution in Canada."