2021 40 Under 40 Winners

2019 40 Under 40 Logo

Elissa Ming Morrissette

BC Cancer Foundation
Vancouver, British Columbia

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

  • Under Elissa’s leadership, BC Cancer Foundation’s Leadership Giving program has grown from $6.2 million to $13.5 million annually
  • She has also overseen significant growth in the mid-level (275%) and monthly giving (85%) programs
  • Elissa served on the board of directors of the Charlford House Society for Women, a supportive recovery home

Q & A

1. How did you get into healthcare philanthropy?

I collaborated on a project focused on a healthcare charity while studying commerce at university in Canada. A few years later, I found myself in the UK, and after gaining some valuable experience in the corporate sector, I remembered being energized by the impact one could have on improving health outcomes for those around us. Experiences in my own family solidified my desire to help create change in healthcare and fund new solutions. I was selective in interviewing with healthcare charities and learned the sector firstly with Diabetes UK before taking on a more senior role with Cancer Research UK. Being mindful and targeted helped me focus on aligning my skills and professional experience with my values and enabled me to forge a career path that would remain satisfying for years to come.

2. Tell us about a pivot point or crucial step in your career journey.

While on vacation in Vancouver, BC, I was introduced to senior leaders at the BC Cancer Foundation. I was impressed by the impact their organization was making in funding world-leading research and innovations to care. I took a leap of faith and relocated from the UK to take on a new position at the foundation. My manager empowered me and gave me a wide berth to determine both areas to collaborate and improve on. Throughout my years at the BC Cancer Foundation, I have consistently been supported and challenged to expand my areas of interest and expertise. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to help shape the growth and trajectory of the organization alongside talented colleagues, leaders and subject-matter experts. 

3. What piece of advice would you give aspiring 40 Under 40 recipients?

Take risks and walk through the doors that open for you. I started in contract roles at the last three organizations I worked for, ranging from 6-month to 12-month terms. I worked hard and was quickly offered permanent opportunities in each institution. Going above and beyond to build relationships with your colleagues and stakeholders to understand the gaps that exist and start filling them (or propose, well-thought-out plans on how to do so) can help set you apart and demonstrate the added value you can bring to an organization. I would also proactively ask for feedback from someone you admire and trust on how you are doing and how you can improve. Taking the time to reflect on areas that can be sharpened, or further developed, should be an ongoing exercise and is how you can expand and take on more fulfilling responsibility.

Fun Fact:

The number of holidays and celebrations I observe is high! My mother’s family immigrated to Canada from Taiwan when she was 13, and so I celebrate Chinese holidays with that part of the family. I also observe Christian holidays with my father’s French-Canadian family, rooted in beautiful Quebec. And my stepfather has been a big influence in my life since the age of seven, welcoming me into Jewish traditions. I consider myself extremely lucky to have been exposed to and embraced by so many different cultures.

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