2022 Lorna Somers Legacy Giving Award of Excellence

With great pleasure, the Niagara Golden Horseshoe Chapter and Awards Selection Committee celebrate Jessica Durka as recipient of the 2022 Lorna Somers Legacy Giving Award of Excellence. Congratulations, Jessica!


Jessica M. Durka

Associate Investment Advisor at BMO Nesbitt Burns.



Jessica Durka was born and raised in Simcoe Ontario, bringing over 15 years of experience working with clients in Wealth Management and Estate Planning. Jessica Graduated from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Business- Financial Planning and is licensed as a Life Insurance Advisor with BMO Estate Insurance Advisory Services. Working with Clients allows Jessica to create efficient

Wealth Plans and assist clients in making informed decisions for retirement and transitioning their wealth.


CAGP: Can you tell us a bit about your philanthropic journey?

After receiving life saving cancer treatment at the Juravinski Cancer Centre my cancer went into remission. I wanted to give back immediately. What started out as a small fundraiser at our JCC Pumpkin Patch Market soon grew into a full time annual fundraiser during the Fall. Along the way I have built many relations within the Hamilton Health Science Foundation which has given me much insight into the projects planned for the hospitals. More up to date equipment and continued research is always needed. I am currently the Chair of the Gift Planning Service Committee and recently joined the Board of Directors of the Hamilton Health Science Foundation. My husband and I have personally committed a legacy gift in our wills. We are very proud to know we can make a better tomorrow for the Juravinski Cancer Centre even when we are gone. This has also advanced my career in wanting to learn and grow in this area of wealth planning.

CAGP: What does this award mean to you?

When I learned that people nominated me for this award I was humbled. It tells me that educating people in philanthropic giving is working and I have been able to connect with many people. I am honoured to receive this award.


CAGP: In your career, what has been a highlight for you when working with clients on their future gifts to charity?

I feel the highlight is the new direction my area of expertise is heading. The client’s desire to gift plan is something many advisors may avoid or overlook when creating and discussing client’s goals. My Professional career is advancing in an area I have so much passion for it feels effortless and comfortable to learn and grow.

CAGP: What inspires you to help people with their philanthropic planning?

Helping people with any financial goal is very rewarding to me. Everyone has their own unique goals. Philanthropic giving can be fulfilling within the heart and with good financial planning can be good from the financial aspect of one’s life as well.


CAGP: You have been a mentor to others who work in the field of gift planning. Have you had a mentor yourself along the way?

I feel my life journey helped me stumble across this path however there have been many incredible people I have met along the way that inspire me. I had the opportunity in 2021 to be on the panel for the International Women’s Day – Women in Philanthropy. The moderator was Pearl Veenema, CEO of the Hamilton Health Science Foundation. Pearl’s wealth of knowledge is incredible and she has shared so much with me. However, it was her grace and passion to connect our team of women on the panel that spoke most to me. I have since joined Pearl in many endeavors and I look forward to the many years of partnership ahead.


CAGP: What piece of advice do you have for professionals working with clients or donors who want to make an impact on the future through a cause near and dear? My one piece of advice would be to ask questions. Learn about what is important to them. If you don’t ask they may not know you are the person that can help them. Don’t be shy to start that conversation.

We look forward to celebrating in person with Jessica at a later date.


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