Jane Hungerford, 2006 Recipient of the CHS Alumnae Association Achievement Award
"I didn’t set out to build a resume; I set out to live a life."
When you meet Jane Hungerford, winner of the 2006 CHS Alumnae Association Achievement Award, prepare to be impressed. Soft-spoken, well-educated, and thoroughly composed, do not let her polished demeanor mislead you. While she is a woman who possesses all of these positive characteristics in spades, there is more to Jane Hungerford than first impressions reveal.
A Class of ’62 alum, Jane (Knott) Hungerford has spent the greater part of her life in the service of others. Born in New York City and raised in Vancouver, Jane hails from a family who, for generations, has focused on giving back. For Jane, the community she serves includes her family, her friends, Crofton House School, and the world around us. With a resume that reads like a how-to manual for even the most seasoned professional volunteer-including a Special Honours section that highlights a litany of prestigious recognition awards-the CHS Alumnae Association Award holds special significance for Jane. Visibly moved when asked what this award means to her, she explains that "the fact that I was nominated by my CHS peers, that ALL of my classmates signed the letter in support of my nomination, was very special and very humbling." It is not often that you meet someone so accomplished who stills maintains the capacity to feel so touched by the admiration of friends and peers.
Sheer determination is another characteristic of Jane that rests quietly just below the surface. Although it is reasonable to assume that someone with so many accomplishments would be focused, possessing a strong sense of purpose, it is the strength of her resolve that is unique. Jane learned early the value of setting goals, aiming high, and persevering. Faced with the obstacle of a learning disability at a young age, she graduated from Crofton House School and pressed on to pursue post-secondary education at the University of British Columbia. She studied Fine Arts and American History for a short while, ultimately completing a Bachelor of Education. Early in her career she taught grade 1, grade 2, and English as a Second Language. After marrying George Hungerford and starting a family (today she is the mother of four adult children, Geordie, Michael, Drew, and Janie, CHS class of ‘99), Jane left the teaching profession in favour of family commitments and volunteer endeavours.
The Alumnae Achievement Award was introduced by CHS to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Alumnae Association, in an effort to recognize, celebrate, and honour the achievements of CHS alumnae. Each year, the award is presented to an alumna or Old Girl in recognition of her outstanding dedication and accomplishments in either professional or volunteer work. It is awarded to individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others or who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, artistic, or athletic accomplishments. Jane Hungerford exemplifies these qualities.
In recent years, most of Jane’s community service has been dedicated to the British Columbia Cancer Foundation. She laughs while admitting that the majority of her earlier volunteer efforts were deliberately focused away from medical issues-she was raised in a family of medical professionals and wanted to explore other areas-in favour of the arts, education, and charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army. She was an active member of the Junior League of Vancouver, which was responsible for launching community projects such as Science World and Arts Umbrella. She is currently the immediate past chair of the University of British Columbia’s Alumni Association. However, her sense of purpose for non-medical causes was redirected when, like many of us, her life was tragically touched by the effects of cancer.
Jane Hungerford has worked tirelessly to support the research efforts of the British Columbia Cancer Foundation, as a member of the board of directors since 1993 and, from 1997 to 2002, as chairman of the board. She has spent countless hours working on behalf of the foundation, raising awareness and managing capital campaigns in amounts exceeding $120 million. In 2003, she was awarded the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal, a national award received for outstanding community service.
She attributes her success to many factors, but the two she considers most important are her support network, including her family and friends, and her passion for her work. Her family has always been of the utmost importance to her. Over the years she has chosen to forego lucrative professional opportunities in favour of the flexibility of volunteer work and the time that it afforded her to spend with her husband and children. Jane refers to George as "the best husband," her "biggest supporter," and her "greatest source of encouragement." In fact, equally active in community service, Jane and George work together on many causes. One of her greatest sources of pride, her children have all become community-minded as well, and donate their time in support of a wide variety of issues.
In her own estimation, good friends are another critical link to her success. With great sincerity she will recount many examples of the value that her friendships have added to her life, and how the support of her friends has helped her through some of life’s most challenging times. She is very thankful for the friendships she has, and believes she would not have lived the same life without them.
Passion is a word often misunderstood in our society. It is more than just a passing excitement, but rather an intense enthusiasm and keen interest in a subject or activity. It is passion in this sense that Jane deems essential to success. In her case, passion is manifest in her love of people, in her love of her work, in her unwavering determination to help, and in her clear sense of purpose.
When Jane Hungerford began her career in community service she had no idea what accomplishments would lie ahead of her. While reviewing her own credentials she shakes her head. "I didn’t set out to build a resume; I set out to live a life." And, in simply living her life-with her unique blend of humility, determination, and passion-she has undoubtedly affected the lives of thousands of others for the better. When asked what is next for her, she responds (without missing a beat), "I’d like to help find cures for cancer, so that my children and my grandchildren can live in a world without the fear of cancer." If anyone can see this through, it is Jane Hungerford.