Private Sector Northeast
When the dignitaries cut the ribbon on the new North Bay Regional Health Centre in the fall of 2009, Lois Krause will be able to take some satisfaction in a job well done.
But any awards or personal accolades that have come her way Krause would rather deflect to the credit of the people she works with.
"I'm a very ordinary person, but what I've done is bring really extraordinary people together to do magnificent things for the community," she says matter-of-factly. "It was just the company I kept."
The mother of two university-aged daughters has been a dynamic force since arriving in the Gateway City in 2001 as executive director of the North Bay and District Hospital Foundation.
Krause's career path has evolved from a health care worker intent on working with disabled athletes to being fundraiser extraordinaire.
Her efforts in shepherding the Caring for Generations campaign, the largest single fundraiser in the city's history, won a prestigious Association of Healthcare Philanthrophy's award in 2005 for best practices in a capital campaign.
Krause was able to galvanize support from donors large and small within the hospital's 500-square-kilometre service area, including 125 corporate donations from industry heavyweights like Quebec-based Tembec, Grant Forest Products and a slew of volunteer and service groups including the Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs.
The campaign not only met but surpassed its $15-million target by more than $3 million.
Volunteering and involvement in community projects comes as second nature to Krause. In fact, it's in the bloodlines for the transplanted native of Sault Ste. Marie.
By the time the 18-month campaign officially kicked off in the fall of 2001, they had already raised $11.2 million as part of a silent campaign where they developed their plans and received major corporate donations.
"Even though I work in the public sector, I treat this as my own business."
She draws a great deal of inspiration from her parents, Cyril and Dorothy Lemay, who stressed to their four children the importance and responsibility of volunteering and being active participants in the community.
Cyril was a well-respected and self-made businessman who started Lemay Tiles, a flooring and decor company on Wellington Street East in the Sault, where Krause grew up the second-oldest of four children.
A strong-willed individual and successful entrepreneur, her father had a great deal of compassion for the less fortunate, Krause says.
"He always hired people in his business who couldn't get a job somewhere else.
He had a tender spot for the underdog and those who were struggling," says Krause.
Armed with a bachelor of science (B.Sc.) degree in special education from the University of Minnesota, her intention was to work with disabled athletes. She began her career working at the YMCA in Sault Ste. Marie, before moving across town to the Plummer Memorial Hospital as an occupational therapist, where she moved in to a public relations and fundraising position. Over the years, she has accumulated a trophy case worth of awards for volunteerism, community involvement, public relations and achievement.
The plan to build a new North Bay hospital had been on the books for years. A fundraising effort in the late 1980s called Partners for Life succeeded in raising $7 million for a CT scanner and the hospital before Queen's Park canceled the project in 1992.
When a health service restructuring commission resurrected the hospital project, Krause was handed the opportunity that "every fund raiser longs for:" a major capital campaign.
The Caring for Generations campaign was considered one of the region's most daunting challenges.
Many skeptics felt it couldn't be done and that the $15-million target (part of the overall community's share of the project) was too rich for the district to raise.
There were obstacles to overcome and relationships had to be built with the community.
Prior to Krause's arrival, the foundation had no track record of attracting major gifts and only a small base of donors to begin with.
She admits the cancellation of the first hospital project left a "gaping wound" in the community and caused some concern if the people would be reluctant to be as generous.
Donors were able to make pledges based on the fact that the first payment would be due when the first pylons for the new hospital were driven into the ground.
In the end, it wasn't much of a hard sales pitch. Health care and a new hospital were long-standing issues that resonate with everyone, even corporate donors like Tembec.
The campaign was able to recruit some high profile industry and community leaders, including then-Tembec CEO Frank Dottori and Barbara Minogue as campaign co-chairs which lent credibility and allow the campaign to gain some traction.
Former Ontario Premier Mike Harris was named honorary chairman and North Bay cartoonist Lynn Johnston designed the campaign graphic.
With the help of an army of about 50 regular volunteers, they ran an efficient capital campaign at five cents for every dollar raised.
Krause is now turning the foundation's focus toward outfitting the hospital with advanced surgical equipment to deal with the high rates of colorectal cancer in northeastern Ontario. "Going out as a volunteer and raising funds is a pretty tough job. You have to remain upbeat and positive because people say no to you. If you visit three people, only one will say yes, but you have to remain positive to accept the no from the other two."
The opportunity to move to North Bay, she says, was a perfect opportunity to remain in Northern Ontario and enjoy its unique lifestyle.
Her husband Bruce Krause, a former radio programmer and broadcaster, is a master social worker at the North Bay Psychiatric Hospital, which will be amalgamated into the new hospital.
When not raising massive amounts of money, Krause dedicates her time to staying fit. This spring she was preparing for her first-ever mini-triathlon in June. With her kids in university, the active empty nester says her next cause will be to encourage others to get active.
- Ian Ross