Meet Dana Bookman, founder and CEO of Toronto Girls Baseball
Dana Bookman is the founder and CEO of Toronto Girls Baseball and the Canadian Women’s Baseball Association. She started Toronto Girls Baseball for her six year old daughter, who loves the game but wanted to quit after a season of being the only female player in a league made up of 400 boys. Today, Toronto Girls Baseball is the only all girls baseball league in Canada for girls ages 4-16. It grew 840% in the first year alone and has served almost 550 girls so far. In spring 2018 league is expanding to three locations in the GTA and also to Nova Scotia and Manitoba.
My first job ever was… Working at my dad’s store. I wrapped gifts, stocked shelves, and I was paid in stuffed animals.
I chose my career path because… I would say my career path chose me. I started Toronto Girls Baseball to fill a need for my daughter. I couldn’t find a place for her to play a sport she loved in a place she felt comfortable doing it. What I did not know was how many other girls were looking for the same thing. And now that we’re expanding to two more provinces I see how far there is to go.
My proudest accomplishment is… My children. They are amazing, inspirational people who make me want to do more and be more. I am so proud of the people they’re becoming and I hope to be a role model for them.
My boldest move to date was… Starting Toronto Girls Baseball when so many people thought I was crazy. I don’t have a business background or a baseball background but I believed in what I was doing, I trusted my instincts and I’ve asked for help when I need it.
I surprise people when I tell them… I’m a licensed pilot and a SCUBA Divemaster. By earning both of those certifications I showed myself what I could achieve when I set my mind to it.
My best advice to people starting their career is… Take some time to figure out what you really are passionate about. It’s easy to get stuck in a job you don’t love and 15 years later look back and wonder how you got there.
My best advice from a mentor was… Be resilient. Success comes from your accomplishments and your failures. You have to go through both. That’s what I hope TGB is teaching — how to win and lose and still want to stay in the game.
I would tell my 20-year old self… I would tell myself what I tell my daughter often: being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared. Being brave means you’re scared but you do it anyway. So whatever it is, go for it. Don’t have any regrets
“Be resilient. Success comes from your accomplishments and your failures. You have to go through both.”
My biggest setback was… I injured my right hand and wrist in 2014 and it has never healed properly. I felt very lost without the use of my dominant hand. I still can’t do everything I was able to do before.
I overcame it by… By staying positive and looking for ways to succeed despite my injury. It took me a couple of years to find the right space to devote my energy but I now think of my accident as an opportunity to have started TGB.
Work/life balance is… Not possible! As a mother to two young kids I really try to do everything (sometimes at the same time). Luckily I have a wonderful husband and a supportive family and I can ask for help when I need it.
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry is… Better than I expected. I have been heartened to see how many men really want to support girls playing baseball. There are some people who laugh me off when I talk about girls baseball and that can be discouraging, but the majority of men I reach out to are more than willing to help in any way they can.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I bungee jumped off the Victoria Falls bridge in Zimbabwe. I’ve always been a risk taker. I think it’s a trait that helps in developing a business.
I stay inspired by… Knowing that Toronto Girls Baseball, Nova Scotia Girls Baseball and Manitoba Girls Baseball are creating future leaders. That we’re giving girls the skills they need to become confident adults who believe in themselves. That inspires me every day.
The future excites me because… I see real change happening now when it comes to women and girls and I am thrilled to be a part of it. I am excited to see how that may pay off for my daughter, and all the girls who play baseball with us.
My next step is… Continuing to grow my organization until there’s a place in every province, and hopefully every city, for girls to play baseball.