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Besen Foundation Appoints New CEO


2 October 2017 at 8:22 am
Lina Caneva
The Besen Family Foundation has appointed former philanthropic fund manager from trustee services company Equity Trustees Tabitha Lovett as its new chief executive officer.


Lina Caneva | 2 October 2017 at 8:22 am


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Besen Foundation Appoints New CEO
2 October 2017 at 8:22 am

The Besen Family Foundation has appointed former philanthropic fund manager from trustee services company Equity Trustees Tabitha Lovett as its new chief executive officer.

Lovett left Equity Trustees in March 2017 after a company restructure and replaces Louise Doyle as CEO of the Besen Family Foundation. Doyle is moving to the US with her young family as her husband takes up a new job opportunity in California.

Doyle told Pro Bono News that while she was sad to be leaving the foundation, the opportunity for her husband to take his skills to the US was “amazing” and the “right time” for her family.

At Equity Trustees, Doyle’s successor Lovett was responsible for managing some of Australia’s most established trusts including The William Buckland Foundation and the Alfred Felton Bequest. She was also a grant manager for the Victoria Law Foundation and a solicitor at King & Wood Mallesons.

In her most recent role with Equity Trustees she managed 12 staff and a portfolio of more than 450 charitable trusts with combined funds under management of $1.8 billion, distributing more than $70 million annually; and managed the investment relationships with more than 30 not for profits with combined investments of more than $300 million.

Lovett is a qualified lawyer and was a recipient of a 2007 Churchill Fellowship.

The Besen Family Foundation was established to build on the philanthropic tradition started by property developer Marc Besen and his wife Eva. The foundation focuses on arts and culture, health and welfare and Jewish interests.

Lovett told Pro Bono News there were “some lovely synergies” between her experience in the social justice sector and philanthropy and the Besen Family Foundation’s grant programs.

“The trustees have recently decided to focus the foundation’s health and welfare program on researching and inviting applications to fund initiatives that seek to improve early childhood development outcomes for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities which is an area about which I feel strongly,” Lovett said.

“Increasing evidence demonstrates that early childhood development plays a vital role in a child’s educational trajectory and thereafter future employment opportunities.

“The Besen Family Foundation is well known for funding in the arts and culture space – and I was very fortunate to have worked alongside the chair and trustees of the Felton Bequest who likewise contribute a wealth of knowledge and passion for the arts to the discussion.”  

Lovett said she was also attracted to the Besen Family Foundation because she had always “admired the Besen family’s generosity and the commitment and lead they took in establishing their family foundation back in 1996”.

“That was before the introduction of Prescribed Private Funds (now known as Private Ancillary Funds) (PAF) and Marc and Eva Besen provided such a strong example to other families by structuring their giving and involving their children in their philanthropy,” she said.

“In my previous role we would encourage founders of PAFs to involve their children and grandchildren in the governance and grant-making of their foundations to instil a philanthropic tradition and legacy.”

Lovett said another attraction in working with the Besen Family Foundation was the trustees’ involvement in social impact investments.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to delve more deeply into impact investing which was more difficult to embed in a trustee company environment. The Besen Family Foundation has already taken a lead in the philanthropic sector by adopting an approach in selecting its investments that seeks to create positive social and environmental impacts alongside financial returns,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to working with the trustees in the areas of impact in which they are interested in investing and funding – which covers climate change, community development, social enterprise, health, education and sustainable development.”

Lovett said that being involved in philanthropy provided an opportunity to work closely with the “leaders and staff of organisations who bring endless enthusiasm and stamina to looking for solutions to the problems that contribute to inequity and disadvantage”.  

“There is a great opportunity to partner with other charitable foundations in Australia to research and fund innovative approaches, test new ideas and evaluate and share findings,” she said.

“Working in philanthropy means you never go home feeling that your work is done but at the same time your curiosity and desire to see positive change effected is constantly fuelled. It’s a great privilege to be in this role.”


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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