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Karen's thoughts on the Social Economy

Timing is Everything

Thursday, 18th October 2012

Just when Prime Minister Julia Gillard makes international headlines on the topic of equality, I find myself in incredible company at the announcement of Australia’s top 100 Women of Influence in Sydney.

It was humbling to be amongst the stellar line up of women doing great things across the nation.

My friend Jan Owen who is the chief executive of the Foundation for Young Australians was crowned as the top Woman of Influence.

Jan is one of the most vocal and committed advocates for young people in this country. She is recognised as a leading social entrepreneur and innovator. From 2002 to 2010, Jan was executive director of Social Ventures Australia, a leader in social investment in Australia.

Prior to this she founded the CREATE Foundation and was inaugural CEO for nine years. Jan is the only non-US citizen to receive a fellowship for leadership and innovation to the Peter Drucker Foundation, USA.

In 2000 she was awarded membership of the Order of Australia for services to children and young people. Jan serves on the Boards of NAB Schools First, the School for Social Entrepreneurs, Inspire Foundation, Enterprise Melbourne and the International Women’s Development Agency.

The Australian Financial Review and Westpac Awards celebrate and honor women who are making an important contribution to reshaping Australia's social and economic life, across business – small or large, the community and arts, philanthropy, the public sector and Not for Profits.

It is also gratifying to see the top award go to someone in the Social Enterprise arena out of the 10 award categories. It attests to the growing movement of people working to change the world through mission-led enterprises.

I am incredibly honoured to be named under the social enterprise category for developing Pro Bono Australia as one of Australia’s first social businesses.

In this category I am in the company of Jan Owen and Kirstie Parker, the Managing Editor Koori Mail, Ronni Kahn, the Founder of Oz Harvest, Elizabeth Honor Lloyd, Member, Ministerial Council of Asylum Seekers, Chair of Violence Against Women Advisory Group, Sharon Callister, the CEO of the Salvation Army Aged Care Plus and Carey Badcoe, CEO Australian Business and Community Network.

More than 350 women were nominated for the initial 100 Women of Influence awards across 10 categories: board/management, innovation, public policy, business entrepreneur, diversity, young leader, global, social enterprise, philanthropy and local/regional.

Pro Bono Australia was set up in 2000 as an online hub for people who want to know more about the national community sector. It’s a significant voice and influence for the issues, concerns, news, events and broad activities of the Australian Not for Profit sector and acts as a point of connection for Government and Corporate Australia with the community sector.

All of which I am very proud. 

Karen Mahlab AM is the Founder and CEO of Pro Bono Australia. In 2015 she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to the Not for Profit sector and philanthropic initiatives.
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