2018 40 Under 40 Winners

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Darina Landa

Office of Advancement, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
Toronto, ON

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

  1. She leads the largest advancement team at the University of Toronto. Her team is recognized across U of T as a destination for excellence and employee satisfaction.
  2. Darina and her team successfully surpassed the Faculty of Medicine’s $500 million campaign goal, and are on track to achieve an expanded $600 million goal.
  3. She is a board member of the Daughters for Life Foundation, which empowers girls and young women in the Middle East through education.
  4. She is a member of the Dean's Executive, working with the dean and senior academic leaders to provide governance and leadership for the faculty of medicine. 

Q & A

  1. How did you get into health care philanthropy?

    My first experience in health care philanthropy was at the MS Society of Canada. I started as a coordinator for the MS Walk. This often included travelling across the province in a cube truck, and wearing steel-toe shoes at the local warehouse as we packed trucks with event supplies like A-frames, garbage bins, boxes of t-shirts, and food to feed hundreds. It involved very long weekends and very early mornings (often with a breakfast hot-dog as we prepared the BBQs for lunch). While not particularly glamorous, it was one of the best and most formative experiences of my life. I made life-long friendships and learned about the impact philanthropy — at any level — can have on individuals, families, and the health care system.   

  2. Why did you choose to make health care philanthropy your career?

    I’m not sure I did, to be honest. I feel more like it chose me. It was when I began meeting people living with MS and their families and feeling I could make a positive impact on their lives — even in some very small way — I knew that this is what I wanted to do. Whether it was by offering hope for the future by funding research, increasing access to community services, or simply making connections to a community of like-minded individuals — being able to make a difference for people in such a personal way made it clear that this was the career I should pursue.

  3. What has been the #1 factor in your career success so far?

    The people around me —without a doubt. Throughout my life, I have been tremendously privileged to learn from and work with smart, kind, thoughtful and motivated people — in health care philanthropy, and beyond. This includes my parents, who gave me their trust and the independence to chart my own path. Managers and mentors who have supported me, advocated for me, challenged me and empowered me. Donors who never cease to inspire with their hopes and motivate with their vision. And colleagues who come together to support one another and do superb work.  These people have been, and continue to be, the most important — to me, to my career, and to the impact we’ve been able to make together.

  4. What is your greatest passion and why?

    In addition to health care philanthropy (of course): travel. Anywhere and everywhere. I love to see, eat, hear, feel and experience new things — whether it’s a weekend in Nashville or an adventure across the globe to India. There are also a few places I can return to an infinite number of times — places that hold precious memories with cherished people, and always feel like coming home.  

  5. What are your future aspirations?
  6. My biggest aspiration is to build on the success and impact we’ve been able to make as part of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine — and to continue to grow personally, professionally, as a team, as a program and as an institution. I feel I’m exactly where I need to be — working with visionary academic leaders, researchers and clinicians, committed donors, passionate alumni, and exceptional colleagues — and there is still so much to do. At the risk of sounding unambitious, I’ve never been one to have a fully thought-out life plan or specific milestones I felt I needed to hit in my career. Instead, I tend to focus on how to make a difference and how to recognize the potential right in front of me. We have opportunities before us we have not yet imagined.

Darina Landa

Fun Fact:

I re-read The Little Prince at least once a year. Each time, I somehow uncover something new, something I hadn’t quite noticed or felt before. To me, it is unique in all the world.