Remembering Danielle Wainer (1983-2019)

Without a doubt, Danielle is a star that went out too soon

by Johanna Posada

Danielle joined the Elevar family in early 2016.  What most impressed me when I first met her was her sense of purpose, tenacity, and the clarity of her goals.  Her education, professional career and personal focus were all geared towards the impact investing space; it married her drive to make a difference in the world with her love of numbers and finance.  It was her purpose.  She understood the path to get there and sought the appropriate experience from spending time in Peru with a non-profit, to working at an international governmental organization and joining the fast paced world of investment banking in New York.  She could excel in any environment.  In fact, we used to have an inside Elevar joke that Danielle was our secret global citizen – she could work in any location, on a broad range of projects, and would figure out the resources she needed to get it done.

Danielle would easily roll up her sleeves, work hard and deliver long powerpoint memos.  She was always detailed oriented and one knew that anything that she wrote or said could be taken at face value. With her very detailed investment memos, we learned that she was more of a “word than ppt” kinda gal and she would immerse herself on field visits.  And yes, whether it was a business meeting or exploring the streets of a low-income community she always kept her sense of fashion.  I still remember her jumping over puddles in high heels in a dusty unpaved road!  In fact, one of my favorite stories of Danielle is from one of the first trips we took together.  We had taken a red eye and, after passing immigration, I was hastily walking towards the exit with my carry-on with the goal of getting to the hotel early, when Danielle informed me that we had to wait at baggage claim for her two suitcases because, of course, she was spending a couple of extra days in Buenos Aires and needed to have a wide variety of choices!  Post that episode, she made it a point to travel light and would turn to me and point to her one bag saying, “Aren’t you proud of me?” 

And I was and am very proud of her.  I am proud of how she always followed her sense of purpose.  How she cared about her family and friends, and touched so many people.  I am proud and in awe of her courage and strength and how hard she fought the cancer.  The tenacity that I saw in her on day one, was there in her amazing fight.  I am humbled that even in her most frail moments, she was calm, thoughtful and kept her sense of humor.

We have seen more than our fair share of death and pain when it comes to the Elevar entrepreneurial journey.  Danielle is the second member of the Elevar team that has passed, and we also lost one of our entrepreneurs.  One tends to ask the “why” question.  The only rationalization that perhaps exists is that we tend to go when our purpose on this Earth is fulfilled.  And so, today, as I remember and honor Danielle, what stays with me the most, after working with her and knowing her for over four years, is her kindness, quirky sense of humor and human quality, and that perhaps she did achieve her purpose to make the world a better place.  She had a fresh, and almost naive, sweetness to her that I will forever cherish.