Jan Owen - People Profile
25 November 2009 at 12:00 am
Jan Owen AM, Executive Director of Social Ventures Australia
Jan has been an executive director of Social Ventures Australia (SVA) since 2002. Prior to this, Jan was founder and inaugural chief executive of the CREATE Foundation. She has more than 25 years experience in the non-profit sector, including establishing and operating numerous organisations and cross-sectoral partnerships.
Jan serves on the boards of Social Firms Australia, the CREATE Foundation, the International Women’s Development Agency, Inspire Foundation and the International Board of Advisors of the Medical Knowledge Foundation. She is the author of ‘Every Childhood Lasts a Lifetime’ (1996).
What drew you to the third sector?
My parents – they helped start Lifeline in Australia and our house was always open to people in crisis or who had noone in their lives. It sounds cheesy, but as a very young child I had strong views about injustice in our society and a real sense of responsibility about making the world a better place for everyone.
How long have you been working in the third sector?
Either 35 years or 25 years depending whether you count voluntary or paid work!
What is the best thing about working in the third sector?
Individual passion and belief combined with collective action;
Sometimes, just sometimes, making a difference …. seeing someone disempowered find their voice; someone lost find their path; someone with a compelling idea bring it to reality.
I consider my greatest achievement to be……
My extreme bias toward my extraordinary, gorgeous, funny, thoughtfilled and happy children. As a life legacy, you can’t really beat it!
Favourite saying ….
It’s all good :-))
What are you reading/watching/listening to at the moment?
Reading: Superfreakonomics; Collaboration and Pontoon.
Watching: Mad Men
If you could be or do anything else, what would it be?
I Always wanted to be an astronaut or a helicopter pilot but now I would love to be a midwife.
If you could have dinner with 2 people from history, who would they be?
It would be interesting to analyse Hitler, Jesus Christ and Virginia Wolf….. but I would love to dine with Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parkes, Emmeline Pankhurst and Aung San Suu Kyi.
What is one thing about you that few people know?
I established (and failed) the first car mechanics course for schoolgirls in Australia.
What inspires you? Who inspires you?
HOPE and personal COURAGE in whatever form or scale …. along with my family & friends, the people I work with, and young people generally … they all make me feel so blessed and genuinely happy to be alive.