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Canadian Fundraiser Takes International Prize
Canadian Fundraiser Takes International Prize

Teresa Vasilopoulos, EMBA, CFRE, executive director of The WoodGreen Foundation in Toronto, Ontario, was selected as the 2022 Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Global (AFP).

The Outstanding Fundraising Professional award is the highest honor that AFP bestows upon one of its members, recognizing effective, creative and stimulating fundraising, as well as the practice and promotion of the highest ethical standards and best practices within the industry.

Vasilopoulos is received the award on Tuesday, May 2, during AFP ICON 2022, the international conference of professional fundraisers, held this year in Las Vegas. It was the first in-person event since 2019 when the COVID pandemic shutdown most in-person events.

“I am humbled and overwhelmed to have been awarded,” said Vasilopoulous. “As fundraising professionals, we are fortunate to be members of AFP and benefit greatly from their education and resources and through their work as advocates for ethical leadership for our industry. However, I feel the true accolades belong to the philanthropists, for the incredible impact they create through their generosity. We as fundraisers have the honor to join them on their journey of giving as they make dreams come true and the impossible, possible.” 

Vasilopoulos has 25 years’ experience as a fundraising executive with a proven track record of performance in planning and executing highly successful, multi-million-dollar campaigns. Her fundraising career has spanned multiple sectors, including health, international development, urban poverty reduction, housing, immigration, employment, senior care, food insecurity and youth mental health. Vasilopoulos has raised close to $200 million in support of these local and international priorities during her career.

As executive director of The WoodGreen Foundation, she established a first-of-its-kind board in the social service sector, attracting some of the country’s community leaders, philanthropists and business professionals to help shine a spotlight on urban poverty and housing. She was able to elevate the annual fundraising by more than 500% from $800,000 to over $4.5 million annually and completed the organization’s most ambitious fundraising campaign in their 85-year history, raising an unprecedented $20 million. 

During her time as president of the Toronto East General Hospital Foundation (now Michael Garron Hospital), Vasilopoulos, with her board and staff team, successfully completed numerous multi-million-dollar initiatives, including a $60 million campaign. She followed this accomplishment with the facilitation of a transformational gift from Myron and Berna Garron, in honor of their son, Michael, a ground-breaking single gift of $50 million. This leadership investment was a landmark donation, as the largest gift in Canada to a community hospital, at its time.

She was one of the first Canadian fundraisers to accomplish a physician campaign securing 100% participation. She is also well known for developing unique special events, such as the Laughter is the Best Medicine comedy gala originally headlined by Jerry Seinfeld and emceed by Will Arnett. The event continues to this day and has grossed tens of millions of dollars in support of the Michael Garron Hospital. 

“With a remarkable career and personal dedication to the fundraising profession, Teresa Vasilopoulos is AFP’s standout honoree this year,” AFP President and CEO Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, said. “Her body of work and continued commitment to foster the next generation of fundraising professionals creates a legacy that will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on everyone and every organization she touches. She’s the epitome of what the Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award is all about, and we’re thrilled to recognize her next month at AFP ICON.”

Vasilopoulos is also long-time member and leader of and presenter at AFP. She currently serves on the boards of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada and the AFP Greater Toronto Chapter.