A native Montrealer and graduate of McGill University in English and Fine Arts, Gail moved to Calgary with her husband David and 3 children in 1978. Her career in fashion spanned the next 30 years including the last 10 as General Manager of Holt Renfrew, Calgary.
Beginning in the mid-90’s, Gail began her deep commitment to community involvement, supporting and serving on the boards of Not-for-Profit Organizations with a particular focus on Women, Children’s Health and well being, Academic Medicine and the Arts across Canada.
Gail’s broad commitment to the NFP Sector has and continues to include many Board Governance Roles. Currently, Gail serves as Chair, Children First Canada, Director of SickKids Foundation and cross appointment to SickKids Hospital as a Trustee. As well she is a Director of Business/Arts in Canada and the Council of Canadian American Relations in New York. Gail is Chair of the Advisory Boards of the CSM, the O’Brien Institute of Public Health, and the Arni Charbonneau Cancer Institute as well as a member of the Advisory Board of the Bachelor of Health Sciences at the CSM – all at the University of Calgary.
Past Governance roles include: Chair, the National Arts Centre Foundation; Trustee, the National Arts Centre, Trustee of the Ontario Science Centre; Trustee of SickKids; Vice Chair of Glenbow; Director of the Prairie Action Foundation and Director of the Y.W.C.A. of Calgary.
Gail received the Women of Distinction Award in Calgary for Business and Entrepreneurs in 2000, an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Calgary in 2010 as well as the Eric Harvey Award recognizing her contribution to the Arts from the Glenbow Museum. In September 2011, Gail received the Alberta Medical Association Award of Honour (for a non medical person) for her contribution to Health Quality in Alberta. In 2018, Gail received the Arnie Vered Award for Volunteerism.
Ms O’Brien is married to David O’Brien OC. They have 3 children and 10 grandchildren all residing in Toronto.