Hospital foundation president to be awarded honorary degree by KPU

Thu, Sep 11, 2014

Surrey, B.C. – Jane Adams is all about, well, everyone else.

Secretary, president and CEO of the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation, Adams will be recognized with an honorary degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) this fall for her longtime and outstanding contributions to building a healthy society.

“Jane touches lives every day,” notes KPU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Alan Davis. “When people receive high-quality care at Surrey Memorial Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital or a number of other publicly funded health facilities, there is a significant likelihood that Jane had something big to do with it.”

Adams demonstrated care and empathy for others from an early age. She was only four years old when she started “The Kindness Club” in her hometown of Halifax, raising money to help rescue the homeless and orphaned animals that wound up at the local no-kill shelter.

Of course, there are few opportunities for a four-year-old to earn money, and a lemonade stand doesn’t draw much of a crowd in a city with only two warm months a year. Adams had to be creative, so she started a library in her parents’ basement, using their books. The books were borrowed by donation, but when many didn’t come back, Adams’ parents put an end to the library.

Next, Adams tried her hand at yard sales and was much more successful at assisting the St. Francis of Assisi animal shelter.

“We all have gifts that benefit and advance society,” said Adams. “I can’t hold the scalpel like a surgeon can, but I can find people who can find people who know how to put people into faster care, more effective care and more innovative care.”

With the Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation (SMHF) since 2007, Adams has a long and distinguished history of successful hospital fundraising campaigns. These include the SMHF Tulips for Tomorrow campaign, which raised $15 million for the hospital’s new emergency centre, and the 100 Days to Give campaign, which generated $10 million for the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre.

Prior to joining SMHF, Adams was executive director of the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation for nine years. Under her leadership, St. Paul’s Hospital grew its receipted revenue from $2 million to $10 million, and developed a number of marquis campaigns, most notably the annual Lights of Hope, which raises about $2.3 million every year for the hospital.

Adams also directed a $15-million capital campaign for Kingston Hospital and directed the University of Victoria’s $25-million expansion campaign.

In the field of fundraising, those are big numbers – a far cry from the change and single bills Adams generated at her yard sales as a child. But they all had to start from the same place.

“In a world where we talk about such big numbers, we lose sight of the fact that even a modest amount of money has the potential to make a dramatic impact on a vast number of lives.”

Adams points to the expression, “early money is like yeast – it rises,” which is the acronym for the U.S. lobby group EMILY. Even more, says Adams, early money also allows ideas to grow.

“Without early money from generous people, ideas would simply languish.”

Surrey, in particular, is a place where ideas grow, says Adams, who lauds colleagues at Surrey Memorial Hospital and in the health care field for their willingness to collaborate and see things differently. “You don’t see this level of co-operation anywhere else.”

In her spare time, Adams returns to her roots, rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned and homeless sporting dogs from the U.S., which has been dealing with a surge in the population of homeless animals since the 2009 recession. Families who lost their homes found alternative housing, but many of their pets ended up at already overburdened shelters. Adams picks up dogs at the border, shuttles them to veterinary appointments and fosters them in her home until permanent homes can be found for them.

Honorary degrees are awarded to those honoris causa in recognition of dignified achievements or outstanding service to the public. Nominees are exceptionally distinguished: scholars, creative artists, public servants, persons prominent in the community and the professions, and others who have made significant contributions locally, nationally or globally. Members of the community-at-large are invited to nominate honorary degree candidates.

Adams is one of several outstanding individuals who will be recognized with an honorary degree by KPU at fall convocation. Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, former superintendent of the Surrey School District Mike McKay and KPU chancellor Arvinder Bubber will all receive honorary degrees this October.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 124 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at


Media contact:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist, KPU
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

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