Jerry and Liz Canada

A driving force for Niagara County

Let us take you back to Niagara Falls in 1981. The Turtle, a landmark that celebrated Native American culture, opened to the public. The holidays brought the inaugural year of the world-famous Festival of Lights that quickly became one of the most popular seasonal attractions in North America. And an inspired love story that has spanned more than four decades began.

Liz and Jerry Canada both grew up in the LaSalle neighborhood of Niagara Falls, although they didn’t meet until high school. “We met through track and started dating when we were 16 and 17,” Liz said. “We signed each other’s yearbooks and the rest is history!”

After high school, Jerry attended Canisius, majoring in computer science, and Liz attended Buffalo State, where she majored in education. In 1986, they married and started a family.

Liz went on to spend 33 years teaching in the City of Niagara Falls, retiring in 2020. Meanwhile, Jerry co-started a successful software company that he and his partners sold in the early 2000s, staying on to work under the new management.

As Liz and Jerry’s love for one another continued to grow, so did their love of the county that they still call home today. They knew they wanted to continue to support the region forever. The Canadas were introduced to the Community Foundation by their tax advisor and were happy to learn more about the Niagara Area Foundation, a division of the Community Foundation focused on strengthening Niagara County.

“One of the values we saw right away from working with the Community Foundation is that it is a good source of coordinating things to connect us to opportunities that will have the impact we want to achieve,” Jerry said.

In 2015, Liz and Jerry established a fund to support causes that were meaningful to them, including cultural events, education and minority entrepreneurship. To date, their fund has supported numerous organizations in Niagara County that align with those causes.

Looking ahead, they hope to get their two grown sons involved to carry on their legacy of giving. “We rely on the Foundation to educate us a little more as to where the needs are and where we can be supportive so we can truly make a difference in Niagara County and beyond,” said Liz.

This story is featured in our 2023 Annual Report.