The Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health has hired seasoned professional fundraiser Mitchell Bellman as its new president and chief executive officer.
Mr. Bellman, who starts this week, comes to the position with 15 years’ experience as a former CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa. He had joined the JFO just as its capital campaign was being launched to raise money to build a new campus, now home to the Soloway Jewish Community Centre and Hillel Lodge. He also oversaw major growth in the federation’s annual campaign, which raises about $4 million each year.
Most recently, Mr. Bellman was working in the private sector as managing director of the Nylene Canada manufacturing plant in Arnprior.
“My passion has been to get back to the charitable sector in Ottawa,” Mr. Bellman told OBJ. “When this opportunity became available, I was incredibly excited because I think it’s a great institution, and I think what the Royal has done to change the discourse around mental health in this city has been phenomenal.”
Ernie Laporte, chairman of the board for the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, said the hiring process involved “a fairly extensive executive search” resulting in Mr. Bellman being the right person for the job.
“He ticked off all the boxes and then some,” said Mr. Laporte of Mr. Bellman’s skill set and ability to lead the foundation in its next multimillion-dollar campaign. “We were delighted the first time we met him, in terms of his background, his experience, his maturity and his knowledge of the community.
“Ottawa is a big city, but it’s a small community at the same time.”
The Royal Ottawa Foundation is a charitable foundation that raises funds to support patient care and research provided by the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, the Brockville Mental Health Centre and the Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, affiliated with the University of Ottawa. The health centres treat people with complex and serious mental illness.
The foundation raises about $5 million annually and last year successfully wrapped up its five-year, $25-million campaign to bring brain imaging to Ottawa and to support its priorities of research, care, education and advocacy.
“The Royal has come a long way,” said Mr. Bellman, who credits its heightened profile in the community to prominent supporters such as Daniel Alfredsson, the public face of the “You Know Who I Am” campaign; Luke and Stephanie Richardson, who spearheaded Do It For Daron youth mental health awareness; and the Bell Let’s Talk campaign.
Mr. Bellman told the OBJ that he saw firsthand the quality of care provided by the Royal after one of his close friends was treated there for a serious mental illness.
“He’s now leading a full and active life, and I credit that to the great care that he received.”
Looking ahead, the foundation plans to build on the care and cutting-edge research provided at the Royal by launching an ambitious new campaign.
“What I try my best to do is to build a great team of professionals who then work together with dedicated volunteers to inspire and motivate philanthropists from the community and to engage the people who benefit,” said Mr. Bellman.
The new chief executive has big shoes to fill, taking over for the late Andrée Steel, who died last year from cancer. Ms. Steel was honoured before her death with a Fundraising Executive of the Year Award by the Ottawa chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She had replaced Tim Kluke after he left to head up The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.
“The organization has really been led by some great people; it’s really transformed itself,” said Mr. Bellman. “The foundation now wants to take it even further.”