I had known Diana Bilyk for about 4 minutes before I knew she was full of integrity. Bilyk has designed her career to help Canadian veterans, a wholly honourable choice, and credits the women mentors in her life for her success. Bilyk is the quintessence of a humble humanitarian with a career in full-bloom, a sunny personality and a love for sports — she’s the personification of Millennial #goals.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am a member of a dynamic development team at True Patriot Love Foundation. I am responsible for revenue generation through third party events and grassroot initiatives. My current partners are ambitious business and community leaders with the goal to raise funds and awareness for military families. Acting as their point of contact, together we develop strategies to execute successful events to support our mandate.
Do you know where you got your drive from?
Knowing I’m a small part in a bigger purpose.
How do you stay self-motivated?
My drive to succeed is constantly fuelled by the positive impact that I see our work having on the lives of serving members, veterans and their families. It is a humbling experience to share in the personal stories of military families as they transition. It really keeps things in perspective and pushes me to be better with each passing day.
What would you say is your preferred way to network?
I enjoy meeting people at both work and social events. You never know who you will meet and that is exciting to me. I’ve met some amazing and inspiring individuals in the most unexpected situations. Through these situations, I’ve made lasting relationships that have guided me to my current role.
How would you describe your process for deepening relationships?
Being open, honest, and genuinely interested in what other people feel, think, and find important. Relationships are a two-way street, and I always make an effort to offer my best self for support and go out of my way to meet in person when possible. Face to face interactions develop relationships better and faster than electronic methods.
What are your preferred tools for keeping organized?
Checklists and sticky notes. My desk is often covered in an array of colours that have my thoughts scribbled on them.
What is your favourite way to market your product or services?
Conversations allow me to fully describe the work that TPL is engaged in for the benefit of military families.
Who has been your mentor in helping you find success?
My two older sisters and parents have always demonstrated amazing work ethic and have been a large part in building the ground work for my success from an early age. In recent years, I met my friend Jennifer Bowser, who co-founded Dancers for Cancer, and has recently reached her goal of raising $1 million dollars for SickKids Hospital. From the moment I met her, she’s believed in my dreams, shared my passion, and helped me gain the confidence to believe nothing is impossible. She always makes time for me and will introduce me to other influential individuals that she believes I can benefit learning from.
One of those introductions led me to my current full-time position under Jaime Wilson. Jaime is a powerhouse in the fundraising world and has supported me in every aspect of personal and career growth from the get-go. I can always turn to her for advice, guidance, and encouragement. She constantly pushes me beyond what I think I can accomplish and has played a major role in my growth.
What social issue does your organization raise funds and/or awareness for?
True Patriot Love Foundation (TPL) is a national charity with the mission to inspire every Canadian to contribute to the resilience and wellbeing of our military and Veteran families. Since 2009, TPL has provided more than $18 million to support military families, including supporting more than 100 community-based programs across the country that address the unique challenges resulting from service including mental health, physical rehabilitation, transitioning to civilian life, and the special needs of children. In addition, TPL contributes to advancements in research and technology through our $5 million commitment to the Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research (Queen’s University).
How and where do you continue to learn?
Specific to our organization, I work with some extremely intelligent individuals and I frequently pick their brains. I try to absorb their knowledge in each department to in turn, become more well-rounded myself. In the philanthropy sector, I do my best to attend and support as many different events and causes that both time and passion allow.
Do you have a fitness ritual that you live by?
I’m a very competitive person and love team sports. I grew up playing everything you could think in my neighbourhood. Street hockey, lacrosse, basketball, soccer – you name it, I probably tried it. I continue to fuel this passion for sport by playing soccer, softball, and working out with a personal trainer weekly.
How do you feed your soul?
The reason I was drawn to the philanthropic sector was the innocence and potential of children. There is a certain point in time where creativity seems to diminish as adults without the encouragement to dream. I feel content knowing I have an opportunity to play an impactful role, even in a small way, to help to build their self-esteem and confidence for greatness. I can confidently say I love what I do.
How would you describe the eating ritual that makes you feel most powerful?
Ideally, I prefer 3-5 snack/meals throughout the day. I’m running around a lot so my body needs fuel. I love cooking so I make as many of my meals that I can.
What type of content do you find most compelling on Instagram?
I find inspiration from others’ resiliency. I learned of an account through a blog I follow – Self Actual. Jessica Quinn survived cancer but lost her leg at the age of 9. Through her Limbitless campaign, she is inspiring people to overcome their insecurities – so important for young men and women.
What lifestyle brand would you say shares your values most?
I’m a big fan of the recent Adidas Here to Create campaign. It highlights women and how they push themselves both mentally and physically, and make a difference by unleashing their creativity.
Who is your favourite artist?
I listen to a variety of different artists and genres depending on my mood. Some of my recently played includes Kaytranada, Rudimental, 6LACK and Maggie Rogers.
What is your favourite meal?
I could never pick just one.
What is your favourite sport to watch?
Baseball and hockey.
Where is your favourite place to unwind?
Outdoors. I love to surround myself in the simplicity of nature’s beauty.