Avery Brohman, Executive Director of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. Lia Crowe photograph

Tea with Avery Brohman

Executive Director of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation talks about healthcare and philanthropy

  • Jan. 8, 2021 9:35 a.m.

– Interview by Susan Lundy Photography by Lia Crowe

Nice to meet you, Avery. Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, where I spent 20 years before moving to Toronto to pursue a career in public relations and philanthropy.

How did you get to Oak Bay?

I found Oak Bay from Toronto via Whitehorse, if you can believe it! I spent two-and-a-half years in the Great White North before finally landing on Vancouver Island to join an organization now so dear to my heart: the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. After renting for a few years in the Rockland and Fernwood areas, we found the perfect house in Oak Bay last November: a place to call home in this community we love to call ours.

How did your career path lead you to the role of executive director for the Victoria Hospitals Foundation?

I feel immense gratitude and great privilege to have made fundraising a passion so early on in my career. It has been an honour to grow in this profession; from fundraising for Big Brothers Big Sisters, to supporting the development of provincial non-profits like the John Howard Society of Ontario, and finally working for national organizations such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Ovarian Cancer Canada. The time I spent in the Yukon found me travelling the northern territories for Shaw Communications, where I spearheaded sales and promoted corporate social responsibility efforts. Each role has been unique and excellent preparation for what would come next. I am proud of the career path I have taken, which now leads me here, with one of the Island’s largest and most impactful charities.

Hospital philanthropy became personal when I suddenly lost my father in a hospital setting. Being able to foster giving in his honour, and in honour of the dedicated care teams and everyday heroes behind the masks, became a priority, and a necessity. I truly love what I do—it fuels my fire to inspire giving, and to give back myself.

What does the Victoria Hospitals Foundation do?

As a team, we inspire community giving to transform healthcare in our local hospitals. Many people are not aware that 40 per cent of the equipment our care teams use at Royal Jubilee and Victoria General hospitals exist because of the generosity of our donors. As Island Health’s charitable partner, we raise donations for medical equipment, special projects, education and research.

Annually, the foundation stewards millions of dollars for our hospitals, and last year we purchased over 100 pieces of priority equipment. Our close partnership with Island Health ensures every gift is directed to where it is needed most to support the 850,000 residents who live and access care here on Vancouver Island. It’s vital for everyone’s health that our hospitals have the best and brightest tools and technology, and we are grateful to those who help make our centres as excellent as they can be.

What challenges/rewards does the foundation face?

I feel our biggest challenge is differentiating ourselves and conveying why we still need our community to give when access to our hospitals is, in simplified terms, free. All hospital foundations face this universal dilemma in our country. The simple answer? If we relied on government alone, we would be waiting much longer for the latest and greatest tools, equipment and research.

A community united for healthcare can do so much. Our team understands the profound privilege we have as prudent stewards to our donors. Experiencing first-hand how transformative and life-saving one single gift can be is not something everyone experiences, and we have the great honour to witness these everyday miracles. The relationships we have with our donors are never taken for granted; they are a treasure to us all.

How do you inspire philanthropy?

I inspire by teaching. When individuals understand the impact they can make, it makes a world of difference. At the foundation, transparency is a large component of every initiative we undertake. We pride ourselves on creativity and knowing our community, so we offer experiences, events and exclusive opportunities to our donors.

Our partnership with Island Health strengthens our work. We collaborate often, and at any given time, physicians, nurses, care team members, educators and researchers, to name a few, are willing to share authentic stories with our community and give us personal access into an environment many of us know little about. They always go the extra mile, whether at the bedside or to share our message with those in our community.

What brings you joy?

I am most fulfilled when the people I care most about are happy. I smile when my grandmother starts singing when she cooks. I laugh instantly when my dog Grace starts smiling. And, when my colleagues and I are celebrating a recent success…well, that’s hard to beat.

Anything else you’d like us to know?

I’d like to say thank you! Our foundation continues to be inspired by the generosity and support for our hospitals’ front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. We recently launched our largest campaign in over a decade, It’s Critical, to expand critical care capacity at Royal Jubilee Hospital and give Vancouver Island our first permanent High Acuity Unit which will treat critical care patients, including those with severe COVID-19 symptoms. To learn more, I invite you to visit victoriahf.ca/critical. And while we cannot meet in person at this time, my colleagues and I are always delighted to have virtual coffee meet-ups with our donors—past, present and prospective. I look forward to getting to know one another.

avery.brohman@viha.ca or 250-519-1750.

This story originally ran in Oak Bay’s Winter 2020/2021 issue of Tweed magazine

HealthHealthcareoak bay

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Through his lens, Doug Cook captured this picture of the Fraser River, Mount Baker, an eagle, and even the Golden Ears Bridge on a sunny fall afternoon. The photo was taken from the wooden walkway leading down to the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport float plane dock. (Contributed photo)
Friends of Semiahmoo Bay to host virtual World Wetland Day event

Webinar event to feature six speakers, to be held Feb. 2

White Rock Evergreen Baptist Society had 46 COVID-19 cases as of Jan. 13, according to a recent report released by the province. (Peace Arch News photo)
White Rock care home’s COVID-19 cases jump 50 per cent in a week: report

Three White Rock/South Surrey care facilities among B.C. sites with active outbreaks

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

One of the Choices Lottery grand prize packages includes a home located at 16730 19 Ave., Surrey. (Contributed photo)
Two South Surrey homes featured in Choices Lottery

Tickets on sale now for BC Children’s Hospital lottery

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

RCMP were called to the 5600 block of 201A Street just after midnight on Monday were they found a 27-year-old man in an underground parking garage who had sustained multiple shot wounds. (Lisa Farquharson/Langley Advance Times)
27-year-old taken to hospital after overnight targeted shooting in Langley

RCMP have not confirmed the incident is link to the Lower Mainland gang conflict

U.S. military units march in front of the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, as they rehearse for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, which will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden aims for unifying speech at daunting moment for U.S.

President Donald Trump won’t be there to hear it

Williams Lake physician Dr. Ivan Scrooby and medical graduate student Vionarica Gusti hold up the COSMIC Bubble Helmet. Both are part of the non-profit organization COSMIC Medical which has come together to develop devices for treating patients with COVID-19. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Group of B.C. doctors, engineers developing ‘bubble helmet’ for COVID-19 patients

The helmet could support several patients at once, says the group

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

Most Read