Fresh Challenges Ahead for New Foundation Leadership

September 2011

Jim Orban
Jim Orban

Jim Orban, the new President and CEO of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation, is ready for his next significant milestone – a major construction project that will add a five-storey extension along with badly needed renovations to the existing 35-year-old facility.

The Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Heart Institute, will be planning campaign strategies with the goal of raising close to $60 million as part of the Heart Institute’s cost share for the 185,540 sq. ft. in extended space and renovations.

The Ontario government announcement on August 24 came less than 60 days after Orban took over his new appointment, which has a significant mandate owing to the complexity of the Heart Institute.

His new position, after a lifetime of experience in newspapers, may seem to take on a new twist. But Orban, who held a previous position as publisher of the Ottawa Citizen, has served the community in a wide range of volunteer leadership roles. In 2010, he was presented the Community Builder award from the United Way of Ottawa for helping to build a stronger, healthier, more caring community. His most recent recognition, the Partners in Research Biomedical award, was given for his work as an effective and altruistic ambassador for Canadian health research.

“I believe in my soul that we are catalysts for change in our community, enabling us to help create a better place to live, work and play.” – Jim Orban, President and CEO, UOHI Foundation

The Heart Institute, however, is no ordinary medical environment. It has evolved into a major training centre for cardiac care, a renowned research institute and one of North America’s best regarded treatment facilities. In addition, the makeup of the Heart Institute’s 1,200 staff is highly diverse and dynamic. “One of the strengths I’ve detected in the Heart Institute is its people, particularly those who perform miracles with their hands,” said Orban. “That is very compelling for donors, many of whom stand in awe of the dedication and quality of work performed in all quarters at the Heart Institute.”

So philanthropy vis-à-vis the Heart Institute is not merely about looking for money to support institutional pursuits, Orban said. “I believe in my soul that we are catalysts for change in our community, enabling us to help create a better place to live, work and play.”

The building extension will very quickly form the centrepiece of the Foundation’s fundraising activities. But other important endeavours need continued support, such as research and treatment into issues related to women’s heart health.

In addition, the Foundation is dedicated to building a $100-million endowment for cardiovascular research, one of the largest of its kind anywhere. Already, the Foundation has established eight endowed chairs valued at $2.1 million each, seven research fellowships at $1.1 million each and nine endowed lectureships valued at $260,000 each.

“The Heart Institute is moving to a new level with a rapidly growing research base and great potential for continued discoveries,” said Orban. “So many other changes are ahead and the Foundation has to prepare to move to the next level, too. We’re trying to make a difference. That is a very lofty calling.”


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