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Impact 25 Revealed - The Not for Profit Sector’s Most Influential People in 2014

16 December 2014 at 11:51 am
Xavier Smerdon
The Not for Profit community has spoken, delivering Australia’s first Impact 25 - an honour roll of the country’s most influential people, working in and around the social economy.

Xavier Smerdon | 16 December 2014 at 11:51 am


Impact 25 Revealed - The Not for Profit Sector’s Most Influential People in 2014
16 December 2014 at 11:51 am

The Not for Profit community has spoken, delivering Australia’s first Impact 25 – an honour roll of the country’s most influential people, working in and around the social economy.

More than 3,600 readers voted in Pro Bono Australia’s inaugural online poll to choose the most influential people in the sector.

CEO of World Vision Australia, Tim Costello, was voted to have had the most impact on the Not for Profit sector during 2014 – clearly taking the top polling position.

Costello was chosen from an impressive list of almost 200 people who were nominated for Impact 25 by Pro Bono Australia readers.

Readers who voted for Tim Costello described him as a leader, and a visionary who “walks the walk”.

Costello said he was honoured to be seen as a force of positive influence by his peers

“It’s always nice to win something, in fact my son said said to me the other day ‘Dad, is there any cause you’ve ever backed that’s actually won?’” Costello said.

“I think our sector’s the glue for Australia particularly as people are feeling hopeless and grumpy and let down by political leaders. I think our whole sector is really the hope-giver so to be honoured in that way is fantastic.

“Look it is daunting. I certainly know I’m not the messiah, more a naughty boy, but the fact that people hold you up, is touching.”

Costello said the Not for Profit sector faced great challenges this year.

“The sector has been knocked about. When business and consumer confidence is low people stop giving, so it’s really hard to raise the funds to achieve the purposes that we all believe in. It’s been tough,” he said.

“The repeal of the ACNC has really been a bit of nonsense. The sector has welcomed it, it wants transparency and we simply cannot understand why this Government doesn’t want transparency and financial accountability, which the ACNC is providing.

“It beggars belief. It can only, in our minds, be because it was a Labor idea and therefore by definition it must be bad.”

He is joined in the Impact 25 by people from across the sector including CEOs from major charities, tireless advocates, fundraisers and campaigners.


Making the list is University student Tim Matthews, the National President of UN Youth Australia and a Director of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition.

ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe AM also made the Impact 25 list along with the CEO of Community Council for Australia, David Crosbie, and the CEO of the Australian Council for Social Service, ACOSS, Cassandra Goldie.

Leaders in the Muslim community were also recognised as having made an impact during 2014 when the debate around religious face coverings dominated the headlines.

CEO of the Muslim Women’s Association, Maha Abdo, and CEO of the Arab Council Australia, Randa Kattan, both made it into Impact 25.

Publicly unknown 12 months ago, domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty whose 11-year-old son, Luke, was killed by his father at cricket practice in Victoria in February, has also been recognised for the impact she has had on Australians generally and on policy makers.

Editor of Pro Bono Australia News, Lina Caneva, said the people that make up this inaugural Impact 25 show how diverse and strong the Not for Profit sector is.

“Some of these people may not make headline news every day but it is clear they are having a significant impact in the communities in which they work and lead,” Caneva said.

“It’s been a transformative year in the Not for Profit community and these people of influence, as chosen by the sector, show how broad and complex the work that they do is.

“While a number of past and present political leaders including former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and current Federal Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews were nominated in the list of influencers, they failed to make the final Impact 25 list.”

Pro Bono Australia founder and CEO Karen Mahlab said: “The business world regularly profiles its most influential people via awards and rankings and this is the first time we can highlight the social economy and the amazing work done by the leaders in it.

“The NFP sector accounts for 4.3 per cent of Australia’s GDP and employs over one million people. It provides the building blocks for a resilient community and its champions should be celebrated.

“We have also seen the impact of social media in our Impact 25 list. While many of these influencers are operating in mainstream media there are certainly the new influencers who are using their social media networks to get their messages out..”

Below is the full list of the inaugural Impact 25 members (in alphabetical order after Tim Costello) and what the people that nominated them said.

Tim Costello

As the CEO of World Vision Australia for the last 10 years, Tim Costello is often chosen as a spokesperson for the Not for Profit sector. 2014 saw him Chair the C20, bringing community issues to the world leaders at the G20 Conference in Brisbane. He frequently speaks on issues of social justice, gender equality, the treatment of asylum seekers and disaster relief. Costello is also Chair of Community Council for Australia.

“An amazing leader, philanthropist, speaker. Walks the walk.”

Alastair Lucas

Lucas is the Chairman of Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs Australia. He has dedicated much of his time to Not for Profit work as the Chair of the Burnet Institute, a board member of Research Australia, the founding Chair of the Medical Research Future Fund Action Group, the founding Director of Australia for Dolphins and a board member of Flora and Fauna International.

“His passionate and selfless contributions to these areas have been long-standing and have made a real impact in reducing the suffering of some of the world’s most marginalised people, as well as that of animals.”

Anita Tang

Tang is the Manager of Policy and Advocacy at the Cancer Council NSW. She and her team work to improve the way Governments deal with cancer, including policy and legislation changes in tobacco control and equitable access to cancer treatment and support. Tang has also been an active voice in the medical marijuana debate.

“Anita is not only brilliant and accomplished at her very important role advocating to help fight cancer, she also devotes many more hours outside her work commitments to other NFPs and worthwhile projects. She's an amazing presenter and has a wicked sense of humour.”

Andrew Young

Young is the CEO of the Centre for Social Impact. He was appointed Chief Executive Officer of youth cancer charity CanTeen in 2004, winning the Equity Trustees’ Not-for-Profit CEO First Year Achiever Award in 2005. During his time at CanTeen, Young developed and delivered a five year strategic plan to greatly enhance the organisation’s recognition and influence. He grew the organisation from 30 staff to nearly 100 and lifted turnover from $4.5 million to over $22 million. Young was also a founding member of Emerging Leaders for Social Change (ELSC).

“Andrew has such a wealth of knowledge that you just can’t help but listen to what he has to say, especially if you are trying to run an NFP.”

Audette Exel

Exel is the Founder and CEO of the Adara Group (formerly ISIS). She is a lawyer, specialising in international finance. Formerly Managing Director of Bermuda Commercial Bank and Chair of the Bermuda Stock Exchange, She is currently Vice Chair of the Board of Steamship Mutual and a Non-Executive Director of Suncorp Group. Exel was the NSW Telstra Businesswoman of the Year in 2012 and was one of The Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence the same year. In 2013, Audette was awarded an honorary Order of Australia for service to humanity and in 2014 was recognised by Forbes as a "Hero of Philanthropy".

“She is a tireless worker for the Not for Profit sector. It is hard to think of another person who does so much without every blowing her own horn.”

Cassandra Goldie

Goldie is the CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS). She joined ACOSS as CEO in July 2010. Previously, she was Director of the Sex and Age Discrimination Unit at the Australian Human Rights Commission. Goldie has worked globally as a human rights advocate, including through the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and UN Habitat. In 2012, Cassandra was recognised as one of the Inaugural Westpac/Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence.

“She is a fabulous advocate for people experiencing poverty and inequality in Australia, always speaking from a strong and respectful values base.”

Chris Hall

Hall is the CEO of Mercycare, a leading Catholic provider of aged care, family, health and community services. He has worked in the community services, health, mental health, disability and aged care sectors. Among his current appointments, he is Co-Chair of Community Employers WA and a member of the State Training Board of WA, WA Partnership Forum and the WA Advisory Council for the Centre for Social Impact.  

“(He has been a) key influencer in the WA Social Services Sector for over 40 years.”

Claire Mallinson

Mallinson is the Director of Amnesty International Australia. She has 29 years of experience in rights-based work and the Not for Profit sector and a degree in Economics, Politics and Sociology. She began her work in the sector at the UK's biggest not for profit disability organisation, Scope. Mallinson moved to Australia in 2003 to become Director of Fundraising and Marketing for Greenpeace Australia/Pacific.

“Claire's leadership has inspired one of the fastest growing membership NGOs – supporters have increased from 50,000 to 450,000 under her leadership.”

Colin Jackson

Jackson is the CEO of Conservation Volunteers Australia. He joined CVA in 1985 after 13 years in the Insurance industry. He was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001 for service to conservation, and the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2005 for services to conservation and the environment through Conservation Volunteers Australia.

“Colin is well-respected and known for his innovative ideas and capacity to lead the organisation successfully.”

Craig Comrie

Comrie is the CEO of the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia. He is also been the Chairperson of the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition since December 2012. He was also a founding member of the National Rural Law and Justice Alliance and a Senior Policy Officer at the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition.

“Craig is a leader in the youth sector both nationally and in his own state of Western Australia. He is actively ensuring the youth sector has a strong voice at a time of significant policy change and flux.”

David Crosbie

Crosbie is the CEO of Community Council for Australia (CCA). He has also worked as the CEO of the Mental Health Council of Australia, CEO of Odyssey House Victoria, and CEO of the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia. Crosbie has served on a range of key national policy bodies including being the Co-Chair of the National Compact Expert Advisory Group, a member of the Community Response Task Group set up by then Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the Prime Minister’s Australian National Council on Drugs, the National Advisory Council on Mental Health, and the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation.

“His leadership in the Not for Profit sector has been exemplary. He is a strong voice for all of us.”

Jason Cubit

Cubit is the CEO of Horizon Housing. Horizon Housing, as a consolidated group of two charities, manages and develops community and affordable housing for those on low and moderate incomes. Formerly Gold Coast Housing Company, it has been established for 20 years. Cubit has been CEO of the organisation since 2007.

“As CEO of Horizon Housing, Jason has led the organisation over seven years from 200 properties and seven staff to 2400 properties and over 70 staff. Jason is a strong, fair and thoughtful leader who drives innovation and growth within Horizon Housing Company.”

Jay Allen

Allen is the Founder of advocacy NFP and a Community Coordinator at the Melanoma Institute Australia. A former truck driver, Allen was diagnosed with stage III melanoma in 2007. Since then he has become an advocate for the banning of solariums and travels Australia raising awareness of the dangers of melanoma.

“Jay single-handedly lead the campaign that has seen sunbeds banned in NSW.”

Julie Reilly

Reilly is the CEO of the Australian Women Donors Network. She has coordinated international OECD conferences for both Federal and State Governments, won an Excellence Award for her work with the National Centre for Gender and Cultural Diversity at Swinburne University of Technology and advocated in the media to ensure better outcomes for women personally affected by breast cancer. She has studied Philanthropy and Social Investment and is currently a Director of the Board of the Australian Childhood Foundation.

“She has connected countless programs and projects with funders, these are relationships that result in large amounts of money reaching many women and girls. She brings gender to the table at sector events, and is well known and respected for her contributions.”

Kon Karapanagiotidis

Karapanagiotidis is the Founder and CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. He has been recognised as an Australian of the Year (Victoria) finalist in 2007, was invited to participate in the 2020 Summit in 2008, was voted one of Australia’s 20 Unsung Heroes as part of the launch of the new Portrait Gallery in Canberra in 2008, and was voted as one of Melbourne’s 100 most influential people in The Age Melbourne Magazine. Most recently, Kon was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2010 and an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2011.

“The work he does for refugees in Australia is invaluable.”

Maha Abdo

Abdo is the CEO of the Muslim Women Association. She arrived in Australia in 1970 unable to speak English. Since then she has become a spokesperson in issues facing the Australian Muslim community. She has been active in national debates about religious face coverings and has worked to reduce domestic violence amongst Muslims.

“She is a leader and an amazing bridge builder.”

Mary Waterford

Waterford is the Executive Officer of the Western Sydney Community Forum an organisation that works to build strong, organised communities by bridging the divide between communities and policymakers at the local, regional, state and national levels. She has worked in the community sector in many capacities for over thirty five years including neighbourhood centre management, women’s refuge evaluation, disability community projects and mental health cultural development projects.

“CEO of Western Sydney Community Services – an inspiring voice for 2 million people in Western Sydney.”

Peter Quarmby

Quarmby is the Executive Director of Community Sector Banking. He has worked in the Community Sector for over 25 years and was also instrumental in the foundation of both Community Sector Banking and Australia’s first Regional Superannuation Fund. He serves on a number of boards at both a national and international level including Community 21, Illawarra Disability Trust, 4th Sector Enterprises, INAISE (International Association of Investors in the Social Economy) and RIPESS (International Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy).

“Peter is passionate about the Sector's capacity to bring about change and he thinks and acts big.”

Randa Kattan

Kattan is the CEO of Arab Council Australia. She has been an active community leader for over two decades and has been vocal on promoting the status of women and social justice principles. She has worked in the areas of settlement, employment, youth, women and management and has initiated a range of anti-racist strategies, cultural and community building projects.

“Randa is CEO of Arab Council Australia and has redirected energy to peace building and education from reactivity and defensiveness.”

Richenda Vermeulen

Vermueulen is the Founding Director of ntegrity, an an agency that helps not-for-profits increase their impact through digital marketing. She previously worked as a Social Media Manager for World Vision Australia and World Vision USA. She is a regular commentator on the biggest digital issues facing NFPs.

“She has a strong vision to change the way the sector understands digital.”

Rosie Batty

Batty is a Domestic Violence Campaigner. She was thrust into the role after her son Luke, 11, was killed by his father at a cricket ground in Tyabb, an outer suburb of Melbourne, in February this year. Since then she has become a face for domestic violence victims, calling for an overhaul of the justice system and urging for the issue to be placed into the spotlight. In October she was named the Victorian of the Year.

“An inspiring woman who has shown amazing strength and used her own situation to inform others.”

Simon Robinson

Robinson is the Director of London Benchmarking Group (LBG). More than 300 companies around the world use the LBG framework to measure, manage and report the value, and the achievements, of their community investment. Robinson has been a CSR professional since the early 1990's having held a range of positions including Deputy Regional Director for Business in the Community (UK), GM for Corporate Responsibility at Sensis and inaugural CEO of Melbourne/Australia Cares.

“Leading corporates to measure their impact and report transparently.”

Susan Pascoe

Pascoe is the Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. Prior to accepting the role of Interim Commissioner for the ACNC, she was a Commissioner at the State Services Authority in Victoria focusing on regulatory reform. She also served as one of three Commissioners on the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. Pascoe’s earlier professional background was in education where she served as President of the Australian College of Educators, Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority and Chief Executive of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria.

“Susan's influence in the sector cannot be underestimated. As head of Australia's first charity regulator, she has overseen the progressive implementation of a regulatory framework working cooperatively with the sector.”

Tim Matthews

Matthews is the National President of UN Youth Australia. The organisation is the largest entirely youth-led, youth-run organisation in the country. He is also on the boards of the United Nations Association of Australia, and the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition. Matthews has previously served as the President of the New South Wales division from 2010-2012, and as Convenor of the UN Youth Australia National Conference 2013. He is currently studying Arts/Law at the University of Sydney.

“A Leader in the Youth non-profit sector. He is an incredibly inspirational young leader with a mind for innovation.”

Violet Roumeliotis

Roumeliotis is the CEO of Settlement Services International. She has an extensive background in advocating for and developing services for vulnerable and at-risk communities and individuals –  with more than thirty years' involvement, in both a professional and voluntary capacity, in human resource and project management. In particular, she has developed specialised knowledge and skills in working with people of a non-English speaking backgrounds and culturally diverse communities, refugees and humanitarian entrants, families in crisis, women and children at risk.

“Shows great leadership in a fast growing Not for Profit. An important contributor.”

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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