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Historic Gift Establishes the Donald Family Institute for Healthtech Innovation

Feb 24, 2024
Members of the Donald Family, RDP, and government stand next to a commemorative photo.

(left to right): Amanda Jackson (Practical Nurse Diploma student), Guy Pelletier (Chair, Board of Governors, Red Deer Polytechnic), The Honourable Adriana LaGrange (Minister of Health & MLA for Red Deer-North, Government of Alberta), Kathy Lacey, Joan Donald, Heather Donald, John Donald, Stuart Cullum (President, Red Deer Polytechnic) and Peter Lacey   

Long-time friend and supporter of Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP), the Donald Family, has given a record-breaking $20 million gift, the largest ever received by RDP, in support of healthcare and healthtech programming and applied research. 

“We are immensely grateful for the Donald Family's transformational gift,” comments Stuart Cullum, President, RDP. 

“With this gift, we will establish the Donald Family Institute for Healthtech Innovation where we will bring together diverse teams of experts, practitioners, and interdisciplinary researchers, to develop and deliver innovative healthcare education, training and applied research in Alberta.” 

Two students in purple scrub shirts and black pants sit on an exam bed with a laptop.

Cullum continues, “By supporting the health industry as it evolves beyond the status quo, RDP is contributing to the region’s economic diversification and providing the innovative solutions, education and training that will benefit generations of residents here in central Alberta and across the province. On behalf of all of RDP’s students, staff and faculty, I would like to thank the Donald Family for their incredible generosity and support in helping us bring this important healthtech concept to life.”  

One of central Alberta’s most well-known community leaders and philanthropists, Joan Donald, along with her late husband Jack Donald, and their children John Donald and Kathy Lacey, have been supporters of education and healthcare for many decades. 

“As a family we believe in supporting our community, and one of the best ways to enrich your community is to support education and healthcare,” comments Joan Donald. “I have always felt it was very important to ensure that post-secondary education is accessible to the greater community.”  

Jack and Joan Donald
Jack and Joan Donald

Joan was a member of the Board of Governors of Red Deer College (now Red Deer Polytechnic), and honorary Chair of the Red Deer College Library fundraising campaign that raised more than $7.3 million for the construction of a new library on campus. She was also instrumental in raising money for the local Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre Foundation, including chairing the committee that helped raise funds to bring the first Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine to the Red Deer Hospital. She has also been a long-time supporter of STARS as a board member and campaign leader. 

The second youngest of 11 children who grew up on a family farm near Millet, Alberta, Joan credits her strong work ethic and desire to support her community to her rural roots. Joan and Jack Donald moved to Red Deer in 1964. Together they co-founded Parkland Oil Products Ltd, and later Parkland Industries Ltd. (renamed Parkland Fuel Corp. and now called Parkland Corp.), the corporation behind the well-known Fas Gas service stations. Upon her retirement in 2001, Joan has stayed incredibly active as a community volunteer and philanthropist, receiving several prestigious awards including Red Deer Citizen of the Year in 2004, being made a Member of the Order of Canada for her lifetime of distinguished community service in 2011 and receiving the Alberta Order of Excellence Award in 2021. 

The Donald Family has been long-time friends and supporters of Red Deer Polytechnic. The Donald Family Institute for Healthtech Innovation joins the already established Donald School of Business, Science and Computing, and the Donald Health and Wellness Centre on the Polytechnic’s campus. In recognition of the Donald Family’s longstanding partnership with the Polytechnic over several decades, College Boulevard (the main road on campus) will be renamed Donald Boulevard later this year.

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