Former chair of the board, Dr. Verna Skanes, has passed

Canadian Blood Services is saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Verna Skanes. Verna was a founding member of our board of directors and was the chair of our board from 2003-2009.

The majority of Verna’s career was spent at Memorial University where she taught and led research. As Associate Dean of Medicine for Research and Graduate Studies, Verna was appointed to Acting Dean of Medicine in 1995. Though this was a temporary position, it was a ground-breaking one. She was the first female to hold this role and she was the first person to take on the position without a medical degree.

This is just one example of Verna’s leadership, intelligence, fortitude and vision. She brought these same attributes to what she described as the “highlight of her professional career,” serving as a Canadian Blood Services founding board member.

In 1998, Canada’s blood system was in a state of crisis when Canadian Blood Services was created. The urgency with which the organization had to establish safety and also rebuild trust across the country was immense. Strong leadership, hard work and a vision to improve were essential qualities that Verna brought to her role as a founding board member. As board chair, she led the organization through some of the most tumultuous times and did so with strength, certainty, compassion, creativity and a truly collaborative approach.

“Verna became Chair of the Board of Canadian Blood Services in my early years as CEO, and she was hugely influential in guiding, supporting and enabling my leadership, and in turn the organization’s early successes and transformation,” says CEO, Dr. Graham D. Sher. “Our working relationship was filled with learning, collaboration, challenges and huge leaps forward for transfusion medicine in Canada. She was an invaluable contributor to advancing Canada’s blood system and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner during that time of my career and that time in Canadian Blood Services organizational growth.”

Verna contributed greatly to this country in many ways. Canadian Blood Services extends an enormous thanks and acknowledgement for her years of service. Our sincere condolences to her husband, children, grandchildren and all other friends and family who are mourning her loss.