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Saturday, August 23, 2014

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Young professionals mingle with mentors

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This year’s Revolving Tables co-chairs are Jeff Kimel & Laura Licht. [Cara Edell photo]

Philanthropy and networking were again the focus of the fourth annual Revolving Tables, which this year raised $130,000 for the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF).

More than 250 young professionals, along with almost 40 high-profile executives and community leaders, gathered Feb. 19 at the Four Seasons Hotel for an interactive and informative three-course dinner.

The executives in attendance included Jordan Banks, managing director of Facebook Canada; Len Cochrane, president of Teletoon; Paul Godfrey, president and CEO of Postmedia Network Inc.; and Janice Fukakusa, chief administrative officer and chief financial officer of RBC.

Organized by a committee of people who are mostly under the age of 30, the event demonstrated how young professionals can get involved in fundraising while creating a productive and valuable experience for their peers.

During the meal, the young adults had a unique opportunity to rotate from table to table and speak with professional mentors, trendsetters and leaders in their fields.

“I think [Revolving Tables] is so important because it allows young professionals to build their skill sets and network with other like-minded individuals,” said Laura Licht, event co-chair with Jeff Kimel. “This event is particularly rewarding for them, as they are very selective of where they spend their dollars and they want to give back in a way that’s meaningful to them.

“This event really helps them build their visibility and get connected with some of the most high-profile executives in Canada, while, at the same time, giving back to their community.”

Licht, who also volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, said she first got involved with Revolving Tables two years ago. “I attended the event as a participant and was on the organizing committee last year. I loved the event and was ecstatic when I was asked to chair it.”

She said she originally got involved when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. “The more I shared my experience, the more I realized cancer really touches everyone and I wanted to be a part of helping to find a cure. I also believe in the importance of getting young professionals involved in not-for-profit work and in fostering young leadership.”

Kimel said he thinks Revolving Tables is a particularly important event because the ICRF accomplishes two goals in one night: mentorship and networking, as well as fundraising. He encourages other young professionals to get involved with similar community initiatives, as “it’s one of the greatest decisions anyone can make.”

Kimel said he was fortunate to grow up in a household where his parents led by example and demonstrated the importance of becoming involved in the community.

“Everyone I have spoken with who has taken on significant leadership roles within the community has told me that you get way more out of giving and getting involved in the community than anything else,” he said. “I would suggest starting anywhere – reach out to any philanthropic organization you feel a connection with and join a committee or help brainstorm new ideas. The opportunities in the community are really endless.”

ICRF executive director Joy Wagner Arbus said Revolving Tables has been “an overwhelming success” with young adults. “The volunteers and participants are contributing toward supporting critical cancer research in Israel. The ‘next generation’ continues to be an inspiration. Their keen interest in giving back to Israel and to such an important cancer cause is truly amazing. We look forward to watching them grow into their professional careers while supporting superior research that is extending lives of cancer patients, both now and in the future.”

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