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Southlake Snapshot

Tuesday January 19, 2021

  • Blog
  • Foundation

Joining an extraordinary community, continuing remarkable work.

Jennifer Klotz-Ritter is President and CEO of Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation


The past year has redefined what community means to many of us. It reminded us how closely we’re connected, as we were forced to be physically apart. It revealed vulnerabilities in our society and pushed us to innovate to find new solutions. Hospitals like Southlake aren’t just on the front lines of this terrible pandemic – they’ve become focal points for other challenges within our communities, including mental health and eldercare. At the same time, they have also become shining examples of what’s possible when we face these challenges together.

At the start of the new year, I joined Southlake Foundation as President and CEO. This new role is giving me a first-hand education in the staggering efforts of the staff, physicians and volunteers at our hospital. Despite confronting this global health crisis, they continue to offer compassionate and leading-edge care to every patient, every day. They’re still pushing the boundaries of medicine with innovative technology, techniques and spaces to help patients and families begin the road to recovery. I am humbled and inspired, as I learn about the scope of their work.

The work doesn’t just happen behind hospital doors, rather, as the African proverb says, “it takes a village.” In 2020, our communities came together to raise more than $2.6 million for Southlake’s COVID-19 response. That support funded critical ventilators, rapid testing equipment, and PPE, rising to meet an unprecedented need at unprecedented speed. And yet, there is more for us to do.

Ahead of us is growth. In the short term, it is in COVID-19 case numbers, in urgency, and in demand. In the longer term, it will be in changing demographics and population – this is, after all, one of the fastest-growing and fastest-ageing communities in Canada. Southlake will grow to respond to each challenge. In fact, it’s already happening. As the pandemic strains our mental health like never before, with your support, we’ve opened a new Emergent Mental Health Assessment Unit and are dramatically expanding Southlake’s inpatient facilities to provide healing care for more people in our communities.

Donors and supporters continue to rally around the Foundation’s ongoing campaigns to continue this important work. Without our communities, growing challenges like mental illness would simply outpace our response. But as 2020 showed us, we are more than up to the task.

People are my passion.  In my previous position as the CEO of Make-A-Wish Canada, I helped build resilience in children with life-threatening illnesses, and their families, through the granting of life-affirming wishes.  Now, I am thrilled to take on a role where I can more directly support improving health outcomes for children, families, communities and beyond. I am truly honoured to take on the role of leading the Southlake Foundation, working in partnership with our hospital, and our communities, to address the needs of today, solve complex problems of tomorrow and shape the future of health care.

I speak from experience when I say passion is what drives success. Passion in the work, the cause, and the people you touch along the way. In my short time at Southlake Foundation, I’ve already seen the “power of many,” one of the key values of our hospital. The dedication of the Foundation donors, team, board members and volunteers, and the tireless work of the hospital staff and physicians is incredibly inspiring and humbling for me. Having experienced this passion in my early days with the Foundation, I look forward, with great excitement, to what we will achieve in the months and years ahead.  It will be my goal and pleasure to meet with and learn from members of our communities, so I invite you to reach out to me at the Foundation.

On behalf of the Southlake Foundation, I want to thank you for the remarkable support you’re offering in difficult times. The work ahead may be urgent, and it may be challenging, but I’m looking forward to facing it together!

As we greet this new year, please consider donating to our Mental Health Campaign or other urgent priorities at It makes such a difference.