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Hunt for New Philanthropy Australia CEO

18 November 2014 at 10:52 am
Xavier Smerdon
The hunt is on for a new CEO of Philanthropy Australia following the resignation of Louise Walsh last week after only two years in the top job.

Xavier Smerdon | 18 November 2014 at 10:52 am


Hunt for New Philanthropy Australia CEO
18 November 2014 at 10:52 am

The hunt is on for a new CEO of Philanthropy Australia following the resignation of Louise Walsh last week after only two years in the top job.

The President of the peak philanthropic body, Alan Schwartz, said that Walsh had taken the decision for both professional and personal reasons.

Schwartz said that as part of its discussions about the role of CEO and in light of funding restraints and Philanthropy Australia’s future operating requirements, the Council had decided to restructure the executive of Philanthropy Australia.

“This will mean that there will no longer be a Deputy CEO role and as a result of these changes Anna Draffin our Deputy CEO will be leaving the organisation,” Schwartz said in a statement to members.

Schwartz told Pro Bono Australia News a number of factors came into play that led to the announcement to the organisation’s large philanthropic membership.

“In discussions with Louise, the Board explained that despite a healthy profit last year there was an unsustainable cost structure around the deputy position,” he said.

He said this had nothing to do with the valuable contribution of Anna Draffin but more about the structure of the position.

“Louise has been a superb CEO but there were problems with the structure that didn’t support her and we asked her to consider how this might be resolved.

“Louise came back to the Board, after much consideration, recommending the deputy role be made redundant and how the work might be taken up by the existing staff.”

Schwartz said that Walsh had also decided that it was time to move on for both professional and family reasons.

“Louise is a change agent and she had indicated previously to me that she may not stay much longer. She reflected on the three-year plan that needed to be re-done and put the pieces together,” he said.

“She has enabled us to take a stocktake and develop a strategic plan and recalibrate. What she has done is very hard to do and she has created that change that often comes at a price.

“Louise has led Philanthropy Australia through a series of successful and very significant changes with enormous energy and enthusiasm.

“These include the expansion of the Sydney office and the opening of offices in South Australia and Queensland; the launch of the New Generation of Giving program for young donors between the ages of 20 and 40; increased focus on policy and research; a redesigned website and increased media profile for PA; a sharp growth in membership of PA; and a very successful conference in September this year with over 700 delegates.

“The Council of Philanthropy Australia has appointed search firm Egon Zehnder to assist with the recruitment of a new CEO. We are pleased that Louise has agreed to remain in her role until Council has appointed a new CEO and to work with Council to ensure a smooth transition.

“The Development of the 2016–?2018 Strategic Plan will be the focus for Council and staff in the first half of 2015 and we will begin our consultations with members early next year.”

In a statement Louise Walsh said “I have loved my time at Philanthropy Australia. I think we have proved to be a new catalyst for ongoing change in Australia’s landscape in philanthropy and the way we think about supporting and partnering with remarkable causes”.

“I leave the organisation in good shape, having put in place all the objectives I set out to achieve when I took the role. It’s time for me to take a break and consider where next to apply my energies.”


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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