The prognosis is in and, based on unscientific observations of a lovely and elegant reception held at the Embassy of France on Thursday night, The Ottawa Hospital's signature gala should continue to thrive as one of the most anticipated nights on the social calendar.
The gathering, co-sponsored by Telesat and RBC, brought together supporters and corporate sponsors of The Ottawa Hospital Gala.
The black-tie, sold-out gala returns to The Westin hotel on Oct. 26th. The evening features dinner and dancing but, more importantly, shines a light on the trailblazing researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and the work that they're doing to find new life-saving treatments and to change the way that doctors practice medicine.
Whitney Fox is back to co-chair the gala, joined this year by Kevin Ford, president and CEO of Ottawa-based tech and services company Calian. They’re both on the board of The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. “When Whitney asked me to be co-chair, it took me literally, like, three seconds to say ‘Yes’,” Ford told the room. “The opportunity to work with the amazing Whitney Fox and the work that she’s done for the hospital, how could you not want to be part of this?”
Ford also recognized that he has big shoes to fill in taking over his leadership role from Dentons lawyer Greg Kane, who decided it was time to pass the torch as gala co-chair.
The room heard from RBC regional president Marjolaine Hudon and Telesat president and CEO Dan Goldberg. He was introduced to the room by Fox. “Thank you, sweetheart,” he told her once he was behind the podium. No need to raise one’s eyebrows; Fox is his loving wife.
You'd have to be hiding out under a desk in your office not to know by now that Goldberg has been named the OBJ CEO of the Year for his leadership of Telesat, one of the world's pre-eminent satellite firms. Coincidentally, Ford won the same award in 2017. “I have a lot of CEOs in my life right now but, fortunately, they’re really good guys," Fox joked. It seems she has room for even one more: Tim Kluke, president and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.
The crowd was a mix of professionals from medicine, law, accounting, real estate, banking and finance. Deloitte LLP vice chair Mike Runia, chair of The Ottawa Hospital Foundation board, was there. So were Kash Pashootan and Nicholas Allaham from the gala's title sponsor,First Avenue Investment Counsel, and Lynn Harnden, co-founding law partner of platinum sponsor Emond Harnden.
Dr. Duncan Stewart, executive vice-president of research at The Ottawa Hospital, announced the names of the medical researchers being honoured with awards at this year’s dinner. He also thanked the crowd for its philanthropic contributions. “These amazing scientists couldn’t perform their transformational work without the support of a generous community, like you," said Stewart.
The Ottawa Hospital — which has been doing a better job in recent years of tooting its own horn — outcompetes researchers from nearly every major research hospital in Canada in terms of competitive federal grants, the room heard.
On hand to welcome guests was Ambassador Kareen Rispal. In high school, she was interested in studying medicine and becoming a doctor but was told it would take too long, would prove too difficult, and that she’d be better to find a husband. "That's why I think I became a feminist," she added.
Over the past few years, the Embassy of France has been particularly generous toward the community with the number of times that it has opened its doors for fundraising gatherings. They’re not parties just for the sake of parties, said Rispal.
“It’s truly my way of saying thank you to all of you because you’re amazing and you make me feel like I’m at home here.”
She spoke of how impressed she is by the level of research being conducted at The Ottawa Hospital, and shared with the room how cancer has personally touched her life. Her step-son was diagnosed with leukemia at age 10. “He was lucky and is still alive,” said Rispal, adding that her brother-in-law, more recently, was not so fortunate.