Part of Ownr’s entrepreneurial community, BoardWalk Group was founded in Toronto during 2020 by Jennifer Wilkie and her business partner, Kasia Bruski. Together with their team, they offer consulting services to healthcare organisations, helping them discover growth opportunities, workshop solutions, develop strategies, and more importantly, deliver better and more accessible healthcare to the community.
In business, success stories seem to be a dime a dozen—there’s an article or case study, but once you hear about the extraordinary growth and culture behind BoardWalk and its founders, you’ll quickly realise how rare of a story Jennifer and Kasia have made.
Ownr had the great opportunity to sit down with Jennifer Wilkie, BoardWalk’s Principal Consultant and Co-Founder. But, as we soon found out, that’s only two of her many titles. She is also a busy mom with a Master’s degree in Health Administration—which she applied to no earlier than six weeks after the birth of her son. So to say she embodies the drive of an entrepreneur is an understatement.
“Foolishly, I had one good night of sleep and thought ‘I think I should apply for my Masters’”, she reminisced during our chat, and it seems that’s all it takes with Jennifer: a set goal and then the surge of confidence to take the first step. Within minutes of speaking with her, you realise that if uncertainty and self-doubt were ever even factors of her decisions, her determination quickly outpaces it.
The Birth of BoardWalk
BoardWalk’s mission and focus on improving healthcare within Canada was no accident. Wilkie had been in the industry for over 15 years. While she started her career in marketing and public relations, she soon found herself pursuing work in healthcare: moving from Government Agency to Community Health and finally working as a Director of Continuous Improvement at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), where she was responsible for the implementation of Integrated Care Pathways and measurement-based care. And it was during this time, she witnessed what truly fueled the healthcare system in Canada: community.
“What was really interesting was getting to see these small community-driven organisations across Ontario, and seeing the diversity in the way healthcare was being delivered across Ontario.” She also explains how her previous work in the mental health industry gave her a good understanding of just how grassroots activities can make a difference in healthcare.
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“What I saw was how these community organisations can run very entrepreneurial. They’re small, grass roots, but they really drive transformation, and I saw the amount of passion and change they can lead.”
In 2019, she met her soon-to-be business partner, Kasia Bruski, in a collaborative meeting. Both were pregnant at the same time, Jennifer with her daughter, and they soon began taking walks together on a boardwalk of a local beach, discussing work, life and