Regional Director, Philanthropy, Prairies Region, Canadian Cancer Society

Jessica Dirom is the Regional Director, Fund Development, Philanthropy with the Canadian Cancer Society. Originally from Ontario, she moved to Alberta in 2000 and is currently pursuing a degree in Business. Jessica is a fundraising professional with over 15 years of experience. As an accomplished fundraiser she has raised more than ten million dollars towards improving Calgary healthcare. She excels at managing projects and building community relationships. Jessica has partnered with multiple companies, sponsors and individual event organizers to aid in the execution of hundreds of annual fundraising events.

Jessica grew up in a small town in Northern Ontario. Her parents had great success with clothing store and fashion enterprises until the recession in the 80s. The family then moved to a farm on the outskirts of the city.

When she was sixteen, her father gave her a choice, work two jobs, or work on the farm for the summer. Jessica chose the former, obtaining a job at Forestry Canada during the day and serving at night. She graduated high school with honours and received a scholarship in Sociology at Guelph University. After three years at Guelph University, Jessica’s brother gave her the opportunity to come live with him in Calgary, which she accepted, and switched to the University of Calgary to continue her studies. Unfortunately, attempting to stumble through multiple hurdles in the quest to academically transfer provinces, she realized she was tired of struggling for a degree she had no interest in, and decided it was not the right time to continue with university.

After working various serving jobs, becoming more and more unsatisfied with her life path, she began doing data entry at the Calgary Health Trust. She was determined to learn more than data entry and took on additional projects as well as volunteering for tasks to better understand the basis of fundraising. Through networking, Jessica was offered a full time position as a fundraiser at the Foothills Medical Centre.

After years of working with a variety of donors and stakeholders she found a niche in community events and partnerships. She asked the Trust to award her a position that she had created for herself, and they agreed. She continued to take on additional tasks, like managing AGLC and the internal lottery. She built relationships, provide new services, and created a portfolio which raised one million dollars each year.

Jessica was encouraged by a former boss to apply for a management position at the Alberta Cancer Foundation. She was hired, soon managing her own team and overseeing over 200 events in Southern Alberta.

Jessica reminisces that she had to figure out how to be a leader, as she had no prior management experience. She did a lot of research on her own, but during this time in her life realized that this was the time she did need a degree. She was accepted into the Business Administration program at Yorkville.

Her next career step was to accept a Senior Director’s position at the Canadian Cancer Society, and she took on this challenge. She is so happy that her career has allowed her to make others feel “great” about what they do to support their communities. She aspires to emulate kindness in others, and ensure it is paid forward. She claims her “greatest” achievements are not her own, but of those provided to her by the inspirational people she has the pleasure of working with each day.