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Kathryn Tremblay, CEO and co-founder of Altis Recruitment and excelHR, is not one to mince words. Ask her what she thinks of The Ottawa Civic Hospital, and she’ll tell you: “It’s 100 years old this year, it's ancient! Come on – it’s gotta go.”
Deciding to take matters into her own hands, earlier this year Tremblay launched an art auction through Altis’s charitable arm, The Tremblay Guimaraes Family Foundation, with all funds raised going toward developing the new campus.
“I relied a lot on the hospital when my husband was terminally ill with cancer,” Tremblay says. “The urology department, the chemotherapy group – I needed everybody. The inspiration to give back really does stem from a place of personally wanting to make a difference.”
The auction, called Art For Impact, featured the work of 21 local artists. To find the artists, Tremblay partnered with Carrie Colton of Studio Sixty Six art gallery, who rallied local curators from Wall Space and Galerie St. Laurent + Hill. Each artist was paid full market price and galleries discounted their own commission.
When Tremblay asked Colton if she’d be open to a partnership, Colton immediately agreed.
“She was like, ‘Oh, my God, hands down. My time is free to you. What do you need?’” Tremblay recalls.
When it came to selecting the artists, both Tremblay and Colton wanted to put a focus on diversity.
“We want to make sure that we celebrate all of Canada,” Tremblay says.
In total, 18 pieces of art were sold, for a total of $26,275. “You're putting something beautiful in your home and you know that you made a difference,” Tremblay adds.
The idea for an auction came to Tremblay when she saw local artist Christopher Griffin raising money for the Ottawa Food Bank by selling a piece of his art every week.
“I really appreciate what Christopher (did),” Tremblay notes. “I told him, ‘I’m piggybacking on your great idea.’”
From concept to launch, Art for Impact took several months to complete. Tremblay admits it wasn’t a small undertaking, especially for a busy CEO, who also has four daughters and a grandchild on the way.
While Colton took the lead in finding the artists, there were other logistical pieces to take care of, such as working with the hospital to get the auction up online.
“But now that they've done it, they can do it many times again and add on all sorts of other things (that) you could bid for,” she explains.
Before the auction took place, Tremblay admits she didn’t have a financial goal in mind.
“I want to lift these artists up. I believe in the hospital, and I'm going to be there for the hospital in the long term. This is one way to participate.”
That said, Tremblay is eager to get the new campus development rolling. “Let's get the shovels in the ground ASAP. I'm really pumped about that.”
The Bright Side of Business is an editorial feature focused on sharing positive stories of business success.
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