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Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Young professionals network for a cure

Tags: Health
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Leah Carr and Kyle Lichtman were co-chairs of Revolving Tables, the Israel Cancer Research Fund’s Next Generation fundraiser. [Mosoff Photography photo]

The Israel Cancer Research Fund’s (ICRF) Next Generation Division raised $75,000 Feb. 7 to establish two grants for Israeli scientists to do a year of cancer research.

At the third annual Revolving Tables –networking for a cure event at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon of the Toronto Reference Library, some of the country’s leading CEOs, executives and business leaders shared their advice and personal stories with more than 250 of Toronto’s young professionals.

The event was held to raise awareness and funds for ICRF. From the pre-dinner cocktail hour on, guests could seek out any of the 32 notable professionals in fields including law, entertainment, consulting, real estate, sports, media and writing, participate in a silent auction, and purchase raffle tickets for prizes such as time with top CEOs.

Revolving Tables participants were asked to list their preferred areas of interest prior to the evening so that they could be placed at dinner tables with moderators they wanted to know more about. Enjoying a three-course dinner with mentors including, among others, Paul Beeston, president of the Toronto Blue Jays; Michael Bryant, politician and former attorney general of Ontario; Paul Godfrey, president and CEO of Postmedia Inc.; Michele Maheux, executive director and COO of the Toronto International Film Festival; Dr. Marla Shapiro, author and medical expert on CTV; John Tory, activist, former leader of the Progressive Conservative party of Ontario and current radio host.

After each course, all participants moved to new tables to sit with a different mentor and get the opportunity to form new relationships and receive career advice.

Event co-chairs were Leah Carr and Kyle Lichtman, both Toronto young professionals. Revolving Tables is based on the idea that engagement by younger individuals now will result in greater awareness and interest in giving back later.

 “ICRF is truly a cause worth rallying behind,” Lichtman said. “The special ingredient in Revolving Tables’ success is that it provides participants with something they truly value – face-to-face interaction and career tips from renowned executives.”

Carr added that the evening is popular because it offers “great food, professional growth and social exchange.”

Corey Mandell, CEO of Mandell Entertainment Group, also spoke of the evening’s benefits for the participants. “Having been a mentor at Revolving Tables for the past two years, and now having the opportunity to host this year, I can truly say this is a unique event that is so beneficial to our young professional community. I have produced thousands of events over my 22 years in the business and never have I seen an event that gives so much back while raising awareness and money for such an important cause,” he said.

ICRF was founded in 1975 by a group of American and Canadian medical researchers, oncologists and others committed to the growth and development of Israel and the fight against cancer. Since its inception, ICRF has provided more than 1,900 grants and $45 million to support innovative studies by Israeli scientists.

“Israel has one of the most sophisticated nation-wide electronic medical records in the world,” said Dr. Fei-Fei Liu, clinician-scientist radiation oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto and a senior scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute. “[Israel] has more than its share of Nobel laureates, and its ability to commercialize discoveries is next to none. Supporting cancer research in Israel is inspiring, because discoveries made in Israel will ultimately benefit everyone in the world.”

Participants and mentors see the advantages of the Revolving Tables evening. “For a young professional, networking is such an important skill to practice,” said participant Susanna Dawson, senior manager for corporate initiatives at EF Educational Tours. “I really enjoyed hearing about… the mentors’ passions that have continued to inspire them throughout their careers.”

Asked where passion fits into the business equation, Brent Belzberg, founder and senior managing partner of Torquest Partners, said, “If you love what you do, no matter what it is, and you strive to be the best at it, you will succeed. Wealth is merely a measurement of success. It is not an end in itself.”

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