In conversation with Candice Jay, UHN Impact Collective’s trailblazing volunteer and events lead
“Being a part of [this] feels so rewarding because you have so many young professionals who share the same gratitude for our health care professionals”
Candice Jay is a founding member of the UHN Impact Collective (UIC), a group of philanthropic, forward-thinking leaders working to support University Health Network (UHN) through UHN Foundation. Their goal is to advance the future of healthcare and improve awareness for where—and how—philanthropic support matters most. The UIC has been a crucial and steadfast pillar in the healthcare community, supporting frontline workers and the future of the industry.
We spoke to Candice on what volunteering and philanthropy mean to her, what inspired her to work with the UIC and how she advocates for women and ethnic groups.
How did you become involved with the UIC?
I was looking for ways to give back to communities beyond monetary means. It’s more than just donating money to charities or organizations. With UHN, we were so thankful for their support over the years, especially at Toronto General Hospital. They’ve been responsible for so many life-changing operations for my family over the past few years; my mother was a patient there over five years ago with a vascular disease that she’s lived with for a long time. When they needed to operate to save her life, I didn’t realize how scary it would be, or how much impact these surgeries would have on our lives. I’m grateful that she came out mentally and physically stronger. She pushed through like a champion, and we’re so thankful to all the doctors involved.
Being a part of the UIC feels so rewarding because you have so many young professionals who share the same gratitude for our health care industry. We’re always finding new ways to give back through fundraising, raising awareness and creating engagement opportunities where communities can interact with some of the amazing medical minds at UHN, like at the Serving Knowledge Supper Club with TL Insider. You can’t get that level of exposure anywhere else. It’s been amazing to be surrounded by individuals who share the same eagerness and passion about supporting health care, and I’m excited to continue this journey with the UIC.
For our next Serving Knowledge event, we’re happy to get creative and engage children in STEM learning with our partner InkSmith. Join us virtually on Friday, February 25 at 6 p.m. for “Are You Smarter Than Your 5th Grader?” presented by InkSmith.
You seem incredibly passionate about volunteering. Tell us why.
My family raised me with a philanthropic eye—there was an emphasis on what we wanted to accomplish in our communities and how we wanted to give back. Volunteering has always been a huge part of that conversation growing up and I spent a lot of time with my parents volunteering my time with the Chinese community. It’s a small community where we all know each other, and those who grow up in this environment tend to give back. I’ve carried that philanthropic bone in my body since: whether it’s been my work at the U of T Alumni Association or my work with my firm, Connor, Clark & Lunn Private Capital, I’ve always focused on where individuals and groups can give back. Right now, there’s a huge demand for advancement in diversity and inclusion practices, and there’s so much I can help catalyze. If I’m in a position where I can meaningfully contribute—whether it’s through my skills or my background—that’s where I want to help.
Tell us about the moments you’re most proud of with the UIC in 2021.
In the face of many new and unique challenges these past two years, we were so proud to pivot early in the pandemic and continue hosting successful Serving Knowledge Supper Club sessions virtually after our in person kick off event in 2020. It felt so good to bring it back in-person in 2021 with our last two events; it’s hard to understate the monumental impact of seeing everyone back together. We were able to reconnect with our TL Insider members who have been such staunch supporters of UHN over the years, and it was amazing to see the effect it had on our members who love these events and the medical knowledge that UHN physicians share. Beyond that, we’ve created so many unique ways for our audience to interact with us virtually. Our social media ambassadors, working through the UHN Impact Xchange, kept our audience engaged, and grew our reach in ways that have really impressed me. We were able to surpass our fundraising goals early in the year thanks to our events team and our generous donors. One of our most successful events of the year, Riders for Frontliners—a virtual marathon—created a lot of buzz and brought so many donations to causes and charities close to people’s hearts. People wanted to be more generous in 2021. They wanted to support each other and contribute. In the world of Covid, that meant everything.
What are you looking forward to accomplishing in 2022?
While our next event on February 25 will be held virtually, we’re planning to bring back more in person events this year. There are a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. One thing I’m really excited about is co-chairing the UHN Women in Philanthropy Initiative. We’re hoping to host a big event in the fall. This has been an increasingly popular theme over the past few years, and helping the UHN Foundation tap into that network will be exciting. I’m also working on building conversations around ethnic philanthropy. I’m excited to assemble a panel of members from many ethnic backgrounds to help start the conversation around what philanthropy means in our communities. I want to redefine how we can give back through strategic philanthropy in a tax-efficient manner, where the simple concept behind it is to redirect our taxes to charities that support causes close to our hearts. That’s a long-term goal that I’m hoping will have a huge impact here in Canada over the next four or five years.
For people looking to give back to their communities—whether it’s through volunteering, charity work or involvement with the UIC—what advice do you have to give them?
Follow your passions—the causes you feel closest to—and start from there. Try different things. See what sticks and feel for what you really enjoy. Make an honest effort and commit to it, and give it time and patience. If you discover the right project for you, you’ll find fulfillment just from doing the things you love. You’ll meet fantastic people along the way, helping you not only further your goals and develop your passions, but also providing you with potential lifelong friendships. It’s a wonderful benefit that people don’t really talk about, but it trumps everything else.
If you want to get involved with the UIC and our work, get in touch with UHN Foundation’s Anna Hubert, or any of the members listed on our website. It’s not about slotting people in where it’s needed, but where you want to contribute meaningfully. I encourage people to talk to us so we can have a conversation and hear about your passions—we’d love to help people get to the next level.
For tickets to our virtual “Are You Smarter Than Your 5th Grader” event on February 25, presented by InkSmith, click here.