May 10 2023

CEO Update May 2023

By The Ian Potter Foundation

Parents and pre-school children holding a colourful parachute taut
Paul Conroy,CEO, visiting the PEEP program in Benalla, one of Tomorrow Today Foundation's place-based programs supported by The Ian Potter Foundation.

I am delighted to write my first update as the Chief Executive Officer of The Ian Potter Foundation.

I joined the Foundation in March and have spent time getting to know the wonderful team here, including meeting and interacting with members of the Board of Governors. I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit several of our grantees and learn about their great work in the community, and have also valued my meetings with a number of other philanthropic foundations.

I still have many more organisations to meet in the coming months, but I do want to thank everyone for making me feel so welcome. I would particularly like to thank outgoing CEO, Craig Connelly, for spending time with me before his departure and assisting in a smooth handover. 

Coming from the not-for-profit sector, and before that, the commercial world, I have been immersing myself in learning about the unique requirements of managing a philanthropic foundation. I am also conscious of the responsibility that comes with the role – there are so many organisations and individuals doing incredible work in the community and it is incumbent on the Foundation and its staff to identify, and support, a diverse range of opportunities that will make a meaningful impact to the lives of current and future Australians.

I am particularly excited by yesterday's Budget announcement from the Australian Government supporting the Investment Dialogue for Australia's Children (IDAC): a cross-sector collaboration to improve the wellbeing of children, young people and their families by working with Australian communities to reduce intergenerational disadvantage.

Importantly, the Investment Dialogue will support systemic changes, helping create a more integrated approach to supporting families. This is not just about aligning and maximising our investment into programs and projects; it's about working in place in genuine partnership with communities to build on their strengths and leverage their insights to inform policy and system-level changes.  

The latest round of major grants awarded by the Foundation reinforces our commitment to investing in large-scale initiatives. Details of these grants can be found on our website. One worth highlighting is the $5 million grant towards establishing The Cumming Global Centre for Pandemic Therapeutics to be housed at the Doherty Institute at the University of Melbourne.

This important new centre has been made possible by a gift of $250 million from philanthropist Geoff Cummings. This cornerstone gift seeks 5:1 leverage from other funders and matched funding from visionary partners will be essential to the success of the new centre. The Ian Potter Foundation is proud to support the Doherty Institute in achieving its mission and encourage further philanthropic donations with this major grant.

Another development at the Foundation is the roll out of our new grant management system: GivingData. The decision to move to GivingData resulted from an exhaustive process of reviewing available systems that would meet our needs and also improve and simplify processes for our grant partners. GivingData has a strong track record, supporting many international foundations. We are confident this is the right move for us, and system implementation has already begun ahead of it going ‘live’ at the start of July. Further details on this transition are given here.

I would like to thank everyone for the generous gift of their time and advice since commencing in the role, and I am excited by the opportunities both the Foundation and the philanthropic sector have to support the community in the future.