Interview: Judene Stewart, Associate Director of Corporate Engagement
Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Judene Stewart and I’m the Associate Director of Corporate Engagement at Humber River Hospital Foundation. I joined the Foundation team in April 2022.
Is there a Program of Care at Humber that you are particularly passionate about?
For me it is the Family Medicine Teaching Unit (or FMTU), which Humber is opening this year. The FMTU will train medical residents in family medicine and help them build and establish practices within our community, while also providing a place for the people in our community to access family medicine in the meantime.
The need the FMTU is answering is immeasurable! Residents in our community are HALF as likely to be enrolled in a Family Health Team than the Toronto average.
There’s a lot of talk in the news lately about doctors retiring and people stuck on waitlists for family physicians. Couple this with the unique needs of our community, and I’m so excited to see this initiative take off.
In your opinion, what is the most interesting way Humber River Hospital uses technology?
I LOVE OUR PHARMACY, and the amazing work that is done there.
I have to be honest; before working in a hospital, I never would have thought much about pharmacies and the role that they play in our health. But seeing our closed-loop system in action and the technologies (like the PillPick robot) that they use to ensure that we have such low rates of errors is incredible.
Do you have a favourite fundraising initiative?
Ohhh, I love events so all of our events have been amazing to experience!
I am really looking forward to the Women in Kindness (WINK) Den happening just in time for International Women’s Day. Every year, these amazing women vote to decide where their pooled funds will make the biggest impact at Humber River Hospital, and this year we have some truly remarkable programs pitching for their support at the WINK Den including:
- Innovations in gynaecological health
- Specialized nursing training in palliative care for seniors at home
- And a new home dialysis training facility for families
What could be better than that?
What’s something awesome you have coming up in 2023?
I have completed the couch to 5K program twice and have run two 5K’s. I had never thought of myself as a runner and didn’t think that I could do it, but I DID! I’m excited to have a few more races are on the horizon for me in 2023.
Why is it important to have Black representation in fundraising?
It is invaluable for donors and for the people benefiting from fundraising to see themselves reflected in fundraising teams. We are asking people to part with their resources, and representation builds trust. Representation reassures our community that we as fundraisers understand their values and their perspective. Representation means that diverse perspectives have a seat at the table.
Fundraising in BIPOC communities has always existed, but it has been more grassroots at the community level. The space we traditionally think of as “Philanthropy” wasn’t necessarily built with inclusivity in mind, but I think it’s important that different voices get heard and that we begin to step away from what we’ve done traditionally.
What advice do you have for young Black people interested in getting into philanthropy?
Know that it isn’t always an easy realm to work in. You need have thick skin because for every “yes” you get you may have to hear ten “no”s – but it will be so rewarding. You will have to make yourself be known in the space. Know that you have something unique to offer. Don’t be afraid to let your voice and story be heard. Yours is an important one to share.
Why is acknowledging Black History Month important from a Foundation perspective?
BHM is important to acknowledge in all areas of life (and foundations are no exception) because how we approach people and situations depends entirely on our understanding of them.
In fundraising, the pursuit of continuous learning helps us as we do our work in an ever-evolving landscape. It’s actually essential to the work we do.
What inspires you?
I love rooting for the underdog, I love to see people persevere and overcome obstacles. I am a sucker for sports films where the underdogs win.
I think that’s why I continue to work in the not-for-profit realm; It is an opportunity to help people – who may need a little support – overcome.