CEO Report, September 2021

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Image by Maria Tyutina, Pexels (CC0)

Despite the continuing challenges thrown at us all during 2021, the management team at the Foundation continues to focus on how it can best support the not-for-profit organisations that are largely bearing the brunt of our community’s needs because of the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.

To better respond to grantseekers and grantees alike, we have changed staffing in two program areas. Responsibility for Medical Research, previously managed by Alberto Furlan, has been handed to Lauren Monaghan.  Lauren was already responsible for Health Research projects, meaning she will assume responsibility for all aspects of the Foundation’s grantmaking in the Healthy funding pillar.  As a result of this change, Louise Arkles will now take responsibility for both the on-the-ground and research-based environmental grantmaking, the latter previously managed by Lauren, with Louise assuming responsibility for all aspects of the Foundation’s grantmaking in the Sustainable pillar.

Lauren has a Master of Public Health (Global Health) from the University of Melbourne and is passionate about engaging with the health sector.  Lauren’s background in health will significantly assist her in deepening her understanding and knowledge of and connections across the healthcare sector and working with members of the Healthy Committee to amplify the Foundation’s impact in this critical area. 

Lauren assumes responsibility for the Healthy funding pillar at an exciting time, with two new Governors with expertise in the health sector joining the Board in 2021.  Sir Edward Byrne AC, a respected neuroscientist and clinician, and Professor Karen Day AM, a respected infectious disease epidemiologist, join Professor Richard Larkins AC and Professor Fiona Stanley AC on the Health Committee guiding the Foundation’s deliberations in this area of funding.

For Louise Arkles, the move to assume full responsibility for the Sustainable funding pillar is particularly exciting, as her expanded and focused role coincides with the appointment of Professor Emma Johnston AO to the Board (also in September 2021), and who is now the Chair of the Sustainable Committee.  Louise is enthusiastic about taking on full responsibility for the Sustainable pillar as she is personally passionate about protecting and conserving our environment. Likewise, she is excited to work alongside a new Board member with significant skills and experience in environmental science to benefit the Foundation’s capability as a funder supporting a sustainable environment.

Alberto Furlan will retain his role as Senior Program Manager responsible for Community Wellbeing. However, he will also be assuming a new, multi-dimensional role to develop large collaborative opportunities at the Foundation and support existing grantees to navigate opportunities to scale their impact sustainably.  This natural evolution of Alberto’s role allows him to extend his considerable skills and experience gained working at the Foundation to amplify our impact in support of our grantees.

Recently, we have also reached out to our partners/grantees in NSW and Victoria to let them know that the Foundation continues to adapt its processes to meet the needs of grantees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program management team and I are always open to discussing the needs of any grantee that is currently the recipient of project-based funding from the Foundation.  Those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic who wish to divert funding to more critical areas of its operations have been encouraged to contact the relevant program manager to discuss this option.  Similarly, we have advised grantees that extensions to project timelines, deliverables, and reporting will readily be approved to not place any further demands on our grantees during these challenging times.

Lastly, and as already alluded to earlier in this report, I am pleased to share with you the exciting news of the formal commencement of three new Board members at The Ian Potter Foundation since 30 June 2021.  Mr Craig Drummond, an experienced businessman and accomplished financial services executive, joined the Board in July 2021 and has been appointed Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee and will work as a member of the Community Wellbeing and Finance Committees. As already noted, Professor Emma Johnston AO and Professor Karen Day AM also recently joined the Board of The Ian Potter Foundation.  In addition to her role as Chair of the Sustainable Committee, Professor Johnston joins the Foundation’s Early Childhood Development Committee. Professor Day also joins the Sustainable Committee and will support Mrs Susan Crennan AC QC in taking responsibility for The George Alexander Foundation.

The appointments of Sir Edward Byrne AC Kt (April 2021), Mr Craig Drummond (July 2021), Professor Emma Johnston AO (September 2021) and Professor Karen Day AM (September 2021) represents the largest number of new Board appointments in a single year, since the establishment of the Foundation in 1964.

I am sure you will join me in welcoming these new Board members to the Foundation.  I am excited to work alongside experienced and generous people whose skills and expertise will add further dimensions to our continued efforts to assist existing and prospective grantees in creating a fair, healthy, sustainable and vibrant Australia.  Details of each new Board member’s background and areas of expertise can be found on our website under People.

As 2021 draws to a close, I am personally invested in our race to vaccinate our nation.  I know we all crave a return to our own version of normal, whatever that means for each of us.  For me, that will represent the opportunity to gather with my wife and three children and our new daughter-in-law, for the first time as a family, in the same place, somewhere and sometime in 2022.  Please stay safe, hug those you love, if you can, and look forward to a brighter future as the pandemic of 2020 and 2021 starts to fade.

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