40 Under 40

Daina Porter

Lakeridge Health Foundation
Oshawa, ON

Why is a 40 under 40 winner

1. In 2017 Daina became the brainchild, co-founder and official pun-creator of NightShift - North America's first and only medical simulation challenge for the public. After three years, the event has raised $68,000 and engaged over 350 community members and medical staff from the hospital.

2. In October 2018 Daina and her team completed a 3-year project to transform recognition at her foundation. A unique donor wall was built to take over one entire wall of the hospital lobby - $645,000 in donations can be directly attributed to building of the wall and the stewardship plan.

3. Daina’s integrated approach to fundraising, stewardship and communications was instrumental in helping her team bring in $6 million in donations last year. 

4. She regularly leads education sessions at both the national and local levels, including regular presentations at AHP's Convene Canada conference.



Q & A

1. How did you get into health care philanthropy?

I was always interested in health care and after watching far too many episodes of ER and Grey’s Anatomy, I felt I was on my way to being a doctor! Truthfully, I struggled with some health challenges as a late teen and those experiences made me want to improve the health care system. It wasn’t until university that philanthropy became my passion. I started volunteering with a therapeutic horseback riding centre and I loved how giving back made me feel. When I finished my undergraduate, I had to choose between journalism school and a post-graduate program in not-for-profit management. I put my dreams of being the Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan on hold and I’ve never looked back. 


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

My first big gig in non-profit was at Women’s College Hospital (WCH) Foundation in Toronto. WCH is an incredible institution with a rich history and is home to a number of brilliant researchers and physicians. Being a part of something that was truly changing the way health care is delivered in our country was inspiring and I knew I found my calling. 

Building relationships with medical professionals, becoming a subject-matter expert on hospital programs, and translating that information for donors is so interesting. Not all heroes wear capes – some of them wear scrubs – and we get to share those stories with the world!  

You just know you’ve found your calling when you jump out of bed every day excited to get to work and to truly make a difference – with no coffee needed. The work we do in health care philanthropy is totally life changing, both personally, and for all the families we support every day. It fuels a great passion in me and I feel so lucky to be in this industry.  


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

There are so many! The time a manager told me I was too cheesy, but, fast forward ten years and my love for alliteration and puns has inspired some of my best copywriting! 

Or, the day I was offered a job to work in politics, and minutes later received a call from a woman who saw an ad for one of our upcoming events with a physician.  She told me that the physician from our event saved her life. When she coded minutes after giving birth to her son and flat-lined for a long time, he brought her back. She came to the event and surprised everyone - there wasn’t a dry eye in the room! I’m a storyteller, it’s my favourite thing because it can spark so much emotion and action in people – there’s just no leaving that behind.

More recently, I was able to grow a crazy idea I had into a highly successful, one-of-a-kind fundraiser because my CEO let me take a huge risk. Nightshift is North America’s first and only medical simulation event for the general public and combines the best in experiential fundraising with physician engagement. Creating the event and evolving it has been the highlight of my career so far.


4. What was your first job, and what is something it taught you?

Most of my teenage years were spent working on a farm while riding and showing horses. I learned that not every important task is glamourous, that success is earned through A LOT of hard work, that what scares you can also be the most rewarding, and that sometimes you have to fail, or fall off, before you can truly be great at something. 


5. What are your future aspirations?

“Same thing we do every day, Pinky, try to take over the world.” In the meantime, continuing to learn every day, to never run out of ideas, and to keep striving to be the best leader I can be.
Daina Porter

Fun Fact:

I have the same birthday as both my brother and my grandfather – and I’m really good at roller-skating.