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Media Release: CSI announce the first cohort of leaders selected to drive and amplify positive social change

Monday, July 12, 2021

Today, the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) officially announces the first of five Social Impact Leadership Australia (SILA) program cohorts – a diverse group of 24 leaders and organisations who will participate in a series of immersive and dedicated training and support opportunities over ten months.

The #SILA24 will focus on driving positive change for society through individual and organisational capacity building.

In 2020, CSI announced the SILA program, a five-year national capacity-building and leadership program for the Australian for-purpose sector.

Built from a collective desire to support for-purpose leaders to positively influence their organisations and the sector, four major Australian foundations – The Myer Foundation, the Sidney Myer Fund, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and the Paul Ramsay Foundation – have come together to fund the $9.6 million SILA program over five-years.

SILA is an evidence-based program specifically developed to meet the needs of Australian for-purpose CEOs and build the capacity of their organisations directly and indirectly. Crucially, SILA builds leadership cultures and capacity within the wider ecosystem of for-purpose organisations, as well as within individual leaders.

SILA’s first cohort of 24 leaders is drawn from NSW and the ACT (listed below). The cohort will participate in a series of immersive learning experiences, a tailored sabbatical – a unique offering in Australia – one-on-one coaching and dedicated organisational capacity building support. Crucially, the leaders will connect and learn from each other, creating a strategic network on which to build and amplify their social impact.

In 2022 SILA will be offered to for-purpose CEOs in Victoria and Tasmania. In following years SILA will be offered to for-purpose leaders and organisations across the breadth of the country.

SILA aims to improve economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes for individuals, each participant’s organisation and the broader for-purpose sector within Australia. It will be delivered by leading academics and practitioners, in a range of nurturing and conducive environments.

The first cohort has been selected through a rigorous and competitive process, with a focus on diversity and representation from both metropolitan and rural and regional areas in NSW and the ACT.

The selection committee comprised Jenny Wheatley, CEO of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, Robbie Macpherson, SILA Program Director, and Sarah Davies, CEO of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

Mrs Wheatley expressed her excitement at the calibre of the first SILA cohort saying the interview panel was required to make tough decisions to settle on the 24 participants from many strong applications:

“The cohort consists of experienced leaders with strong track records and great potential, not just for future leadership of themselves and their organisation, but for the sector and system more widely. SILA offers an opportunity for leaders to build a strong professional network that will support them well past the completion of the program, and this aspect is particularly important for those participants who work in rural and regional areas.

“The application process confirmed the need for targeted professional development opportunities for the really good people doing really good work in the sector. I am confident the return on investment for the four funding foundations will be high.”

Successful candidate, Penny Dakin, CEO of the Australian Research Alliance for Children & Youth, said she was excited by the potential of the program after being selected in the first cohort:

“The benefits to the for-purpose sector are enormous. For the first time in Australia a broad cohort of the for-purpose sector will have access to the highest quality professional leadership development as a group. It will strengthen relationships and collaboration, provide common language and common frames, help address silos and ensure that we’re all thinking with an ecosystems lens. This will enable us to adapt how we lead to embed these same things in the organisations we come from.”

Fellow participant, Melinda Phillips, CEO of BackTrack Youth Works, agrees: “I was particularly impressed that this program recognises the challenges CEOs traditionally face and allows leaders to continue learning, manage their personal wellbeing and collaborate with a network of social leaders to activate change and impact across the sector.”

A full list of the first SILA24 cohort can be found below.

SILA Cohort 2021/22 NSW/ACT Participants
Melissa Abu-GazalehTop Blokes Foundation
Kathi BoormanOne Door Mental Health
Nick ChapmanPolicy Cures Research
Janet CousensAct for Peace Ltd
Frances CrimminsYWCA Canberra
Penny DakinAustralian Research Alliance for Children & Youth (ARACY)
Annabelle DanielWomen’s Community Shelters
Jodie DargeProject Youth
Rory GallagherThe Behavioural Insights Team
Cassandra GoldieAustralian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)
Michele GoldmanAsthma Australia
Michelle HigelinActionAid Australia
David KeeganHOST International
Alice LansNoah’s Inclusion Services
Jordan O’ReillyHireup
Melinda PhillipsBackTrack Youth Works
Suzie RiddellSocial Ventures Australia (SVA)
Liz RitchieRegional Australia Institute
Antonia RuffellAustralian Philanthropic Services
Frances RushAsylum Seekers Centre
Fiona StrangHealthWISE
Leanne TownsendNational Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA)
Jarrod WheatleyProfessional Individualised Care
Jess WilsonGood Things Foundation Australia

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