About Dana and David Dornsife
David and Dana Dornsife are international philanthropists committed to using their time, talent, and resources to help address a wide range of societal problems. They believe in hands-on service and are deeply involved in their philanthropic work. They are also devoted and generous supporters of academic institutions and research, environmentalism, and sustainability.
The Dornsife’s steadfast focus on improving the quality of life for all people through their leadership and support of innovative research and programs reflects the core values of the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
David Dornsife is Chairman of the Board of the Herrick Corporation, a California based steel fabrication company, and its subsidiaries. A 1965 graduate of the USC Marshall School of Business, he was a shot-putter on the University’s track team that won two national championships. David is a USC trustee; Vice President of the HEDCO Foundation, a Dornsife Family foundation whose mission is health and educational improvement; and a board member of the Yosemite Conservancy.
Dana Dornsife is Founder and Chief Mission and Strategy Officer for Lazarex Cancer Foundation, a nationwide non-profit organization that seeks to improve cancer health outcomes for advanced stage cancer patients and the medically underserved. She serves as Chair of the UCSF Cancer Leadership Council and is also Vice Chair of the governing board of the Yosemite Conservancy in addition to being a council member. Dana previously co-founded Axiom Design, Inc., an architectural electronic and lighting design firm established in 1991, and Adorn, a lighting and interior design company for the custom spec home market in 2002.
In 2011, the Dornsifes made a major naming gift to USC. As a result, the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences was named in their honor. Together, the Dornsifes served as members of the Steering Committee for the Tradition & Innovation fundraising initiative in the College. In 2009, their lead gift to USC and the Dornsife College neuroscience program provided support for the construction of a new Brain and Creativity Institute and building. Through the HEDCO Foundation, they helped fund the HEDCO Neurosciences Building, the HEDCO Auditorium, and the HEDCO Petroleum and Chemical Molecular Biology Laboratories.
David Dornsife’s parents, Harold and Ester, were USC alumni and longtime supporters of their alma mater. The elder Dornsifes gave the lead gift for the HEDCO Neuroscience Building, which helped establish USC’s position as a pioneering and important leader in the emerging field of neuroscience. Dornsife’s mother, Ester, a pre-med major in the College, maintained a lifelong interest in the medical field, and in particular its neuroscience program. David and his wife Dana, along with his sister, Dody Jernstedt, endowed the Ester Dornsife Chair in Biological Sciences (1998) and the Harold Dornsife Neurosciences Chair (2000), as well as the Harold Dornsife Section in USC’s Galen Center (2005). Dana and David endowed chairs and funded an imaging center that were instrumental in recruiting two distinguished neuroscientists to Dornsife College, Antonio Damasio and Hanna Damasio. They funded two additional chairs, the Dornsife Chair in Chemistry, held by Arieh Warshall, Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry; and the endowed Dornsife Chair in Psychology, held by Joe Arvai.
On March 23, 2011, USC President C. L. Max Nikias bestowed University Medallions upon the Dornsifes, an honor presented to only two other people in USC’s 131-year-history. The couple also received the USC College Dean’s Medallion for their commitment to innovation in 2005, and they are members of the USC Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
As major donors to World Vision, an international humanitarian agency providing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) to 24 African countries, they continue their philanthropy internationally. The program has reached 25.5 million people with WASH and is the largest water project in the history of the world. Their current business plan projects bringing WASH to an additional 15 million people by 2030. As an example of being directly involved in their philanthropic work, through 2020, David has made 36 trips to Africa and Dana 17 in connection with their WASH activities.
The Dornsifes reside in Danville, California, and together have six children from their first marriages.