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

Letter writers weigh in on the City of Nanaimo adopting ‘doughnut’ economics as a guiding principle for decision-making.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: City of Nanaimo’s ‘doughnut’ has to be more than empty calories

Letter writers react to city council’s recent decision to adopt ‘doughnut’ economic model

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a car and a minivan Saturday afternoon at the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
One person taken to hospital after crash in north Nanaimo

Car and minivan collided Saturday at the intersection of the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive

Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization, a non-profit, seeks to raise $8,000 for a play structure to help children remain active during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Unique Kids Organization asking for help fundraising for play structure

Physical activities have been limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, says non-profit

Police in Nanaimo hope to find the owner of a Giant Reign mountain bike that was seized after a man was spotted riding it without a helmet on the wrong side of the road on Christmas Eve. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP suspicious to find expensive bike covered in layer of duct tape

Police looking for owner of Giant Reign mountain bike that they believe was stolen

A still from surveillance footage showing a confrontation in the entranceway at Dolly’s Gym on Nicol Street on Friday morning. (Image submitted)
Troublemaker causes pain and damage at downtown Nanaimo gym

VIDEO: Suspect breaks fire alarm, slams door on business owner’s foot after attempting to defraud her

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a car and a minivan Saturday afternoon at the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
One person taken to hospital after crash in north Nanaimo

Car and minivan collided Saturday at the intersection of the old Island Highway and Mary Ellen Drive

Cyclists pick up swag and cycling trail maps at city Bike to Work Week ‘celebration station’ a few years ago. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo’s active transportation plan will be about more than infrastructure

City working on goals to double walking trips and quintuple cycling and busing trips

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam at a press conference last year. (Canadian Press photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Better federal vaccine planning badly needed

Why hasn’t Parliament done more to protect seniors and care homes, asks letter writer

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Kinsmen Participark in Beban Park will be closed next week so city workers can remove dangerous trees and invasive plant species. The work is the start of an improvement project that includes replacing signs and fitness stations in the spring. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo fitness park to close for removal of hazard trees and invasive plants

Tree cutting to start in Beban Park’s Kinsmen Participark as part of improvement project

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Most Read