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Partner Q + A: getting to know Cathy Brown

Posted by SVP Vancouver

SVP Partner since 2002, Cathy Brown seems to have access to more minutes in a day than most people. When she’s not chasing balls on the courts, walking her dog, or working CRM magic at Traction on Demand, Cathy volunteers her time with SVP sitting on the Board, chairing the SVP Opportunities Committee and acting as Lead Partner with one of SVP’s newest Investees, Red Fox Healthy Living Society.

As the Chair of the Opportunities Committee (OC), Cathy plays an integral role in determining SVP Vancouver’s incoming Investees. With the help of OC members, each potential non-profit goes through a rigorous exploration process to determine its potential to strengthen, scale and become sustainable. Cathy was on the Lead Partner team carrying out due diligence for Red Fox. She felt a strong connection to Red Fox’s mission and is now, along with fellow Partner Nicole Geyer, their Lead Partner.

This feisty philanthropist is passionate about creating change in our community. Cathy believes that children and youth should not be hungry, cold, frightened or bullied; instead, young people should have the opportunity to learn, be safe, and discover activities that they are passionate about.

Find out how Cathy does it all, and why…

What is your favourite place in Vancouver?

I’ve lived in Vancouver all my life, except for five years in Silicon Valley. I love everything about this city but my favourite place is probably the West End and English Bay. Where else in the world can you sit on a sandy beach, look out at snow-capped mountains and sailboats, and then walk into a laid back neighbourhood for a lunch of sushi, kebob, falafel, noodles, Panini or biryani?

Where can we find you when you’re not working? What’s your favourite way to spend a weekend or a Sunday afternoon?

On some sort of court holding a racquet and hitting balls. In the winter it would be a squash court and in the summer, a tennis court. Both provide great exercise, competition and are infinitely more fun than going to a gym.

How were you introduced to SVP?

I was introduced to SVP by one of the founding Vancouver Partners, Norm Francis, back in 2002. I had worked with Norm for many years before that. Norm’s enthusiasm and passion for SVP and the organizations that SVP was helping was extremely contagious. My husband George and I jumped in with both feet. The neat thing is that some of the organizations that Norm was most passionate about at that time – KidSafe and Take a Hike – are still helping children and youth in Vancouver today.

How are you currently involved with SVP?

I am currently on the Board and Chair the Opportunities Committee. The Opportunities Committee is a tremendous place to learn about all of the amazing organizations that are giving BC youth a “hand up”.  Every organization we discover is making a real difference to the lives of children and youth in BC. Our challenge is to select those organizations that can most leverage the time and money resources that SVP offers.

What is your favourite part about being involved in SVP?

SVP provides an avenue to make a difference. Our dollars make a difference. The organizations we invest in can leverage these dollars in extraordinary ways. SVP Partner time and expertise also helps our Investees – though I personally think it helps us SVP Partners more by providing an awareness and an education that we would not get in any other way.

I also enjoy really meeting and working with other SVP Partners. SVP has provided me with opportunities to meet many interesting and like-minded people that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to know.

What social issue are you most passionate about?

I am most concerned that there are children in Vancouver that are hungry, cold and afraid every day.

Which non-profit organization do you wish everyone knew about?

I’m passionate about many of SVP’s Investees. I’m currently involved with Red Fox Healthy Living Society, which offers after school play and cultural programs in communities in the Lower Mainland. They promote healthy, active living styles for children and also the teenage youth that they engage as youth leaders. But I’m equally as passionate about all the organizations that give children the opportunity to do what they love – whether it be music (St. James Music Academy), writing (Writers’ Exchange), martial arts (Yo Bro Youth Initiative) or organized sports (Athletic for Kids).

What is the most memorable experience you’ve had with SVP so far?

It came from a speech from a woman who had been the beneficiary of a job creation program that SVP had supported. Because of this job the woman was able to take her son to Bowen Island for the first time. This speech has stuck in my mind for more than 10 years as a reminder that there are people so much less fortunate than I am, and that seemingly small positive experiences can have a lot of impact.