Meet Joanne Shum: Highly involved and breathing it in

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by Sheila Reynolds

Being a core committee member of SheTalks is just one way Joanne Shum follows her passions and fosters her quest for community. A leader in healthcare, an active volunteer and an avid traveller, she's always seeking meaningful connections in an effort to make the world a brighter place – for both herself and others. To her, SheTalks is another way to shine a light, let women into the conversation and "co-create greatness."

Sheila Reynolds: What's your educational background and what do you do for work?

Joanne Shum: I have a Change Leadership certificate from Cornell University, a Master of Health Administration degree from University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Kinesiology from Simon Fraser University. I am currently working as the Director of Pediatrics for Fraser Health, leading and directing the clinical and operational plans for Child & Youth programs across the 12 hospitals and communities from Burnaby to Boston Bar. It’s exciting to have a hand in so many quality improvement projects that affect more than 40 per cent of the pediatric population in B.C.  

SR: You are an active volunteer. What is your favourite charitable connection?

JS: I’ve been an active volunteer since I was a child. It brings me joy and grounds me to my community. I generally have two to three volunteer charities that I’m involved with at a time. At the moment, my favourite is being a wish granter with Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that grants wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions, with the goal of enriching the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Being a wish granter is like being a fairy godmother – it allows me to sprinkle some magic in a child’s journey. 

SR: What does community mean to you and how do you see yourself contributing to that sense of community?

JS: Community is a place that you can create in, experience a deep sense of intimacy and meaning, and discover fellowship by sharing vulnerable moments with each other. I’ve been part of many communities – locally, internationally and online. My favourite communities are the ones that entice me to discover each members light and sincere generosity. When I travel, I make it a point to observe community connections. It’s the highest honour to be welcomed into someone’s home for dinner or to be able to laugh with them in their garden.  

SR: Why did you get involved with SheTalks? 

JS: It is a beautiful thing when you see women shining light on to each other, lifting them up and providing them space in this world to be brilliant. For me this is what SheTalks is about – creating brilliant spaces for women. Some people think that by focusing the light on other women, the less you have for yourself. But the opposite is true. When you create space for them to shine that light and gratitude is often reflected back on to you.

SR: Why do you feel it's important that the female voice, in particular, be heard?

JS: Women everywhere should be celebrated. Even in a female-dominated healthcare industry, I find that the female voice is dimmed when a man walks into the room. I have noticed that it’s starting to change. I believe we are on the cusp of ushering in a new community where more women will be in leadership positions with significant influence. I don’t believe that the female voice needs to be louder than a man’s…just that we need to be included in the conversation. So the next time that you see a women gazing into a conversation – invite her in and let’s co-create greatness! 

SR: How do you achieve work/life balance? Or is it something your struggle with?

JS: What is work-life balance? Do what you love every moment of every day and that’s all the balance that you’ll need. I try to find space in the day to breathe it in. I’m filled with gratitude to be living such a blessed life. 

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