YPDaily: Paula Whitmore

Paula Whitmore manages the Patrons Circle membership program at TIFF, building lasting relationships between the festival, TIFF Bell Lightbox and its donors. What’s the most challenging part about her job? Find out in today’s YPDaily…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I manage the Patrons Circle membership program at TIFF and steward our major annual donors. Since TIFF Bell Lightbox opened in 2010 we’ve expanded to offer world class film experiences, interactive education programs and community outreach initiatives 365 days a year. As such, we now have the opportunity to build a stronger relationship with our annual donors and members through special events and intimate behind-the-scenes access. We organize a variety of events through the year including preview screenings, discussions with filmmakers, industry experts and programmers, tours, receptions and workshops.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is strengthening the relationship between donor and organization. When a donor sees the direct impact of their contribution, feels they are a valuable part of the organization and becomes involved in a community of like-minded individuals, I really feel like I’ve made a difference. The most challenging part has been keeping the interest of our donors throughout the year, beyond those 11 glorious days in September. There is so much being offered at TIFF Bell Lightbox each day that so many people aren’t aware of.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I don’t want to say “wherever the wind blows me,” but I do feel that my career will follow the path of my experiences and the opportunity that presents itself when I am ready for a change. I am definitely passionate about philanthropy and drive my career in the direction of my interests, but if you had asked me 5 years ago about where I would be today my answer would have been very different. However, this is exactly where I want to be and I am so excited about what lies ahead for me in the year to come.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
My mother has been such an incredible influence in many ways, especially when it comes to giving of one’s time, energy and even money. Through her I have supported the Alzheimer’s Society, Doctors Without Borders and some other smaller community charities near our hometown in New Brunswick. I also support other cultural institutions in Toronto such as the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Power Plant, The National Ballet and, of course, TIFF.

What to you is notable?
Wit and tenacity

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Describe your ideal retirement: how old will you be and how do you plan on spending your retirement years? (Sponsored by the TD Redefine Retirement Contest)
I don’t plan on being retired for a very long time. But, there will be a point when a full year of work turns into equal amounts of work and travel time and then paid work turns into volunteer. My husband and I know that there is a beach house on the north shore of Oahu with our name on it and spending a few months there each year by the time we’re 50 would be pretty great.