Dianne M. Swinemar

Dianne M. Swinemar, M.M., DCnL, D.C.L, retired from the position of Executive Director of FEED NOVA SCOTIA. Between July 2014 and May 1991 when she joined the organization, she provided strong leadership in overseeing the organization’s growth from the Metro Food Bank Society, serving residents of the Halifax, to a vital provincial organization serving all of Nova Scotia, rebranding to FEED NOVA SCOTIA.

Under Dr. Swinemar’s vision and leadership, and in response to the growing need for food programs and food banks in Nova Scotia, the volume of food distributed by FEED NOVA SCOTIA increased from approximately 100,000 kg in 1991 to 2.5 million kg in 2014 valued at $11.8 million; the number of Member Agencies served expanded from 12 to over 150 across Nova Scotia. Active volunteers grew from 15 to over 1000 individuals plus 200 corporate and community groups who logged in over 48,000 hours in the fiscal year ending March 31st, 2014. During her tenure, the staff component grew from 3 to 38 full-time, plus 6 part- time team members. In addition, during her tenure, the annual budget had grown from $90,000 to just over $3.5 million. Programs developed under her leadership included perishable food rescue, a province wide Helpline, a Learning Kitchen (a culinary and life skills employment training program for adults), Kidz Magic Cupboard (Training children to prepare food) and other client support programs.

Between 1991 and 2014, Dr. Swinemar also held many leadership roles with Food Banks Canada, the national organization representing the provincial food bank associations. Dr. Swinemar served as Chairperson of Food Banks Canada’s Board of Directors, as well as chairperson of their Member Council. She served on and chaired numerous national committees. She led research into the causes, conditions and consequences of hunger and poverty particularly as they appeared locally, provincially and nationally.

Dr. Swinemar has received many awards as recognition of her work including:

  • In December 2013, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition for her work in food banking in Nova Scotia and on a national level with Food Banks Canada.

  • In June 2013, Food Banks Canada Ed Bloos Memorial Award honouring her achievements and impact on food banking beyond her local community, particularly on a national level.

  • In May 2009, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, awarded her with an Honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.

  • Dianne was awarded the Elizabeth Ann Seton awards by the Sisters of Charity in 2008.

  • In 2007, she was awarded the WAY TO BE NOVA SCOTIAN award.

  • In 2006, the City of Halifax 250th Anniversary Gold Medal.

  • In 2003, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal

  • The Association of Fundraising Executives AFP) – Nova Scotia, recognized Ms. Swinemar’s outstanding fundraising expertise. (2003)

  • In May 2002, the University of Kings College (Dalhousie University) Halifax, awarded an Honorary Degree in Canon Law

  • In 2002 Progress Women of Excellence award for Communications and Public Affairs.

Dr. Swinemar was granted a full scholarship to attend McGill University and graduated in 2003 with a Master of Management degree. This program, sponsored by the McConnell Foundation, focussed on management in National Voluntary Sector Leadership. In the 1970s she studied at Saint Marys University as a Mature Student and took English and Psychology. Also as a Mature Student in the 1980s she studied at Mount Saint Vincent University focussing on The Old Testament, the New Testament, The History of the Sacraments and Womens Study.

Employment History prior to Food banking: From 1966 to 1975, Dianne was an employee of Maritime Medical Care Incorporated (MMC). She started as a File Clerk and was promoted to the Department Leader of the Payment & Enquiry Department, supervising a team of 19 staff. The Department handled all phone and written enquiries on both individual health claims, as well as all enquiries, including from physicians, on all things relating to the MMC and the Nova Scotia Medical Services Insurance (MSI) program as MMC, was the administrator of the provincial Medicare program.

In 1975, Dianne, her husband his brother started a business, Sure Courier Services, serving companies shipping between Halifax/Dartmouth and Yarmouth, NS. Dianne did the dispatching and bookwork for the company until they sold their share of the business in 1990.

In 1982 1991, the Halifax/Dartmouth Bedford District School Board employed Dianne as a program coordinator. Her role was to work with the teaching staff in the Elementary Schools to bring community and curriculum together. One example was the introduction of a 6-week program on different aspects of Babysitting for all Grade 6 students in the district as part of the Heath Class. Each week there was a different topic, and a different facilitator, including Daycare workers, Health Nurses, Fire Department staff and members of the RCMP, to name a few, who participated. At the end of the program, the students received a Certificate noting they were trained as a Babysitter.

During Diannes working career, she has taken numerous courses, including a Non-profit Certificate program and Fund Raising Certificate program at Henson College, governance training, Food Handling training, Bookkeeping, Leadership training, Supervising training and etc. She was part of a committee that developed a Food Handling Training Course for those working in Canadas Food banking industry. While employed at Maritime Medical Care, Dianne was invited to participate in a committee that was determining the topics/subjects that should be included in the Community College Secretarial programs.

Since retiring from FEED NOVA SCOTIA in 2014, Dianne has been volunteering with several organizations. She has served on the Board of Directors of Northwood Group of Companies (Senior Long Term Care Facilities), served as Chairperson of BFM (Halifax) Enterprises Society, operating under the banner of Mission Thrift Store Halifax, and served on the Board of Governors of Halifax Christian Academy. She is currently serving on the Board of Director of the Youth For Christ Nova Scotia (Youth Unlimited) Nova Scotia Chapter and is serving a second three-year term on the Board of Directors of Bibles For Mission (BFM) Foundation Canada, where she has served as Chair of the Governance Committee, Vice-Chairperson of the Board and holding the office of Chairperson. This term ends in June 2023.


In her spare time, Dianne loves to spend time with her three grandchildren, is an avid reader, continues her ongoing education by attending weekly online training sessions focusing on all things relating to Non-Profit management & Governance, knit hats for premature babies to be donated to the IWK Hospital, plus knits hats, scarves and blankets for family and friends.

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