LV News | Leadership Victoria

Calling all Leadership Victoria Alumni: You’re Invited to The Reignite Alumni Gala

Mark your calendars! The Reignite Alumni Gala will be held this October, celebrating over 30 years of the Leadership Victoria Alumni community.

Not only is this is the perfect opportunity to come together, reignite connections and re-engage with your cohort, you will also have the chance to meet the Leadership Victoria team and other esteemed leaders from across all Leadership Victoria programs.

Date: Thursday 26th October 2023

Location: Melbourne Town Hall

Time: 6:30pm – 10:30pm

Reach out to your Alumni year group and book a table HERE to enjoy an unforgettable night of sharing experiences, old and new, with the Leadership Victoria community. Don’t forget to include a table name so your cohort can sit together on the night.

As part of this event, funds raised through donations to the LV Foundation will help sponsor a Scholarship into the Williamson Community Leadership Program (WCLP) in 2024.

Any organisation interested in sponsoring the Gala Dinner, which will be attended by 400 outstanding leaders from across Victoria, please contact us at

For any questions, please reach us on

Humans of Purpose Podcast Partnership

We are excited to announce a partnership with the Humans of Purpose podcast.

The podcast is a go to pod amongst the LV Team as it features genuine conversations about career journeys, purpose and how to create a positive social impact through work with a varied list of purposeful leaders within the local community.

The podcast Host, Mike Davis, is an active LV alumni from the 2019 Williamson Community Leadership Program and has featured a few LV alumni on the pod, including our Acting CEO Scott Ko, and Sarah Davies (CEO of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation & Williamson alum from 2004).

Each week through June and July, the Humans of purpose pod will release a new podcast focusing on the theme of purposeful leadership.

The first podcast featured Bernadette McDonald, an alum from the 2007 Williamson program. As CEO of the The Royal Children’s Hospital, Bernadette shares fascinating insights around the challenges facing the health industry, habits for managing self and being more creative in how we lead.



This podcast featured Arminé Nalbandian, CEO of Centre for Social Impact (CSI). Arminé discusses her leadership style, the culture she has created at CSI, and her exciting plans for the future.



This podcast features Chris Kotur. Chris Kotur is the Leader in Residence at Leadership Victoria. Chris is a Williamson Community Leadership Program alumnus from 1994. Chris has had an incredible career to date and more recently has worked with three Royal Commissions – the Bushfires Royal Commission, the Royal Commission into Family Violence and the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and in each instance she has continued to work with communities and agencies implementing subsequent reforms.


Keep an eye out for more pods dropping soon.

Leadership Victoria announces new CEO

Leadership Victoria Chairperson, Christine Nixon AO, APM, is pleased to announce the appointment of Katherine Ellis as Chief Executive Officer.

Katherine has over 30 years’ diverse leadership experience across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, and a strong track record of developing leaders and connecting them across sectors to achieve collective impact.

“The Board conducted an extensive search process and was delighted with the wonderful range of applicants.  Katherine stood out for her understanding of Leadership VIctoria’s purpose, and history. But most important was her demonstrated commitment to community leadership” says Christine Nixon.

Katherine will be taking up her role as CEO from the 31st of July, 2023

Katherine is a graduate of Leadership Victoria’s flagship Williamson Community Leadership Program (2007), which she celebrates as a pivotal point in her life.

“Williamson gave me space to reflect, think through leadership challenges I was facing, and identify the path forward for my career.  It opened my eyes to parts of the Victorian community I had known nothing about, and also gave me new set of personal and professional friendships that I still hold dear today.

“I know many alumni feel the same, and I am truly honoured and excited to have the chance to lead LV and help bring that amazing opportunity to more people.

“We are living in extraordinarily challenging times, and more than ever, Victoria needs leaders who value adaptive approaches and collaboration. 

“I look forward to working with the impressive and diverse LV community, especially the staff, board and alumni, to help strengthen leadership and connection across Victoria” says Katherine.

Katherine comes to LV from Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic), where as CEO she has forged a stronger youth sector and led innovative growth, with the challenging backdrop of the pandemic and climate disasters.  She previously worked in London as Director of Youth Affairs at the Commonwealth of Nations, focused on youth empowerment and leadership policy and programs across 53 countries. Her career also includes five years leading and transforming the Reach Foundation, as well as providing strategic advice to a variety of organisations and academic institutions.

Earlier, Katherine spent over a decade in the private sector, working both in Australia and internationally in a variety of analysis, strategy and corporate social responsibility roles.

Katherine holds a Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, a Master in e-Business, a Bachelor of Commerce, and a Diploma of Youth Work.

Over the coming months, the LV team will be in touch with opportunities to connect with Katherine as we continue to adapt and adjust to new ways of engaging with our communities and our stakeholders.

“We are excited to have Katherine leading the next phase for LV and I hope that you will join me in extending her a very warm welcome.

“I also wish to thank our Chief Operating Officer Scott Ko, for his leadership as the Acting CEO since Sally Hines departure. Scott will continue in this role until Katherine joins us at the end of July, 2023” says Christine.

– Christine Nixon, Leadership Victoria Board Chair

Celebrating Reconciliation Week 2023

This year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week is to Be A Voice For Generations. It’s a theme that encourages all Australians to be a voice for reconciliation in tangible ways.

The 2023 Reconciliation Week is a special one for Leadership Victoria as it aligns with the launch of our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which was held last week at the Koorie Heritage Trust with some of the LV alumni that took the call to create the impactful RAP and the LV board who supported the entire project.

The launched also provided an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge the collective effort, input, and wisdom shared by those in the LV alumni Working Group and Focus Groups.  A big thank you to all of these individuals for taking the call (see page 11 for the full list of these amazing humans).

As a collective, we walked along Birrarung Marr which glistened in the afternoon sun and listened to the stories of Aboriginal history. We then made our way into the Koorie Heritage Trust to learn more about the tools used by the Aboriginal Peoples of the Kulin Nation to thrive on this land for more than 60,000 years. Thank you to the Koorie Heritage Trust for a welcoming and thought provoking experience.

*Picture of LV alumni, board members and team walking along the Birrarung Marr 

The launch of the RAP marked an important first step in our journey to support and empower courageous, curious, and purposeful leadership to advance reconciliation in Australia. Not only is the RAP a commitment for Leadership Victoria to make progress on reconciliation but perhaps more importantly, it provides tangible ways for us to be a voice and ally for reconciliation. A voice for generations.

To help support the implementation of the RAP, we are looking for 4-6 LV alumni to form a working group with the LV team, to help us steer our RAP over the next 18 months. If you’re interested, please follow the link to express your interest. We anticipate the forming of a group in July 2023.

Leading Australian Resilient Communities Graduation

Community is at the heart of the Leading Australian Resilient Communities leadership program, and after attending last week’s graduation at the Morwell Innovation Centre, it’s safe to say the Gippsland community is beating at a healthy rate.

The final day of the program provided an opportunity for the 22 diverse community leaders from Central and East Gippsland to share an update on their community projects and reflect on their journey through the program.

One of the key themes we heard from the reflections of those in this session was a sentiment that leadership can look different from how it is normally depicted in media and culture. Leadership doesn’t always need to be loud. It can be from the side, rather than from the front and it works best when it’s authentic.

One of the participants put it so eloquently: Use what you have.

From all of us at Leadership Victoria, Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and Committee for Gippsland, congratulations to this group of community leaders! We’re excited to see them spread their knowledge and experiences far and wide into their communities.

Here is a little summary of the community projects:

  • Be Well Gippsland – A gentle and preventative approach for sporting clubs to self-assess their wellbeing.
  • Get Tanked – A blueprint for creating and maintaining community projects.
  • Summer Harvest – A process for connecting members and alumni from Gippsland community projects / programs.

We’re looking forward to seeing where the participants take their projects from here, and if you’d like to support or engage with any of these community projects, please get in touch by sending an email to

CALD2LEAD Partnership Announcement

We are delighted to announce this week the signing of a partnership agreement with CALD2LEAD.

Having worked closely with CALD2LEAD since 2019, we were at a stage where both of our organisations felt it was important to recognise this relationship has evolved over this period & reached a stage where entering into a partnership agreement is reflective of that.

At the same time as signing the agreement, we have launched a ‘joint’ fundraising campaign for one scholarship place for a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) woman leader in November’s ‘Women’s Leadership Program’.

CALD2LEAD Chair Dennis Banfield said: “Faye, Steve, Hugh & I are rapt to have taken our relationship with LV to a new level of collaboration and commitment. As LV Alum and with the knowledge from our own leadership journeys, the formation of CALD2LEAD would not have happened if we hadn’t completed the FOLIO Leadership Program together in 2017. It was a very special moment when we finalised our agreement.

Crucially our work is only just beginning in terms of enabling more CALD Women leaders to access programs such as the high-calibre ones LV provides. We are really pleased LV has a similar commitment to ours, so the alignment is absolute. Thank you to Christine, Scott & the LV team for all their support and willingness to work with us and our growing CALD2LEAD community.

Leadership Victoria Chair Christine Nixon said: “LV exists to bring together inspiring people such as Dennis, Hugh, Stephen, and Faye, and empower them to become community leaders who go on to create meaningful opportunities such as this.”

We are absolutely delighted to partner with CALD2LEAD in its mission to develop the leadership capacity of CALD Women Leaders, and encourage others to get involved where you can.

Image Caption: Scott Ko (COO & Acting CEO LV), Christine Nixon (Chair LV), Faye Shee-Durnion (Board member CALD2LEAD), Dennis Banfield (Chair CALD2LEAD).

Leadership Victoria Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan Endorsed

We are excited and proud to share that LV’s Reconciliation Action Plan has been endorsed.

We couldn’t have done this were it not for the collective effort, input, and wisdom shared by those in our Working Group and Focus Group (see page 11 for the full list of these amazing humans). Special thanks to Karen Milward for helping guide this project, to Dreamtime Art for bringing our RAP to life, and our former team member Lisa Croxford for making it happen and managing the process.

Leadership Victoria’s vision for reconciliation is to support and empower courageous, curious, and purposeful leadership to advance reconciliation in Australia.

Read the full Reconciliation Action Plan.

*The above image is a photo of the Djirri Djirri Dancers at the celebration evening for the Williamson Community Leadership Program.

A deep dive on purpose driven leadership

Scott Ko is the Acting CEO at Leadership Victoria. He possesses a diverse portfolio career from consulting to public and private sectors on strategy, innovation, and technology, through to launching successful social enterprises and startups. He is also a speaker and a writer, with a particular passion for purpose-driven community leadership, social enterprise and social impact, systems thinking, and human-centred design. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or drop him an email on

The concept of ‘purpose driven leadership’ is one that has grown in importance over the past few years, accelerated in part by the global disruption that is Covid. From young people who are seeking greater purpose in the places they work through to established executives reflecting on the leadership impact they’d like to create, it’s a concept that is increasingly shaping the way we think about what we do.

However, notions around ‘purpose’ and ‘leadership purpose’ have also become quite buzzy, so in this article, let’s spend a bit of time dissecting what ‘purpose driven leadership’ means. Let’s break down the definition, why it’s important, and what it is you can do to reflect on your own leadership purpose.

I should caveat that this is an article very firmly rooted in the realm of philosophy, meaning the aim is not to tell you what is right or wrong, but to share a perspective for you to consider and reflect on.


What is the purpose of ‘leadership’?

Before we get into ‘purpose driven leadership’, it’s important to consider what the purpose of leadership itself is. It should come as no surprise that multiple interpretations can exist; what is perceived as effective leadership will depend heavily on the context in which leadership is required. For example, during a crisis, a ‘command and control’ type of leadership is often considered the most effective. Within the context of community leadership – the domain of Leadership Victoria – the activity of leadership involves bringing different people together and engaging them to make progress on key issues relevant to that community.

It’s important to frame the activity of leadership this way because it allows us to consider ‘purpose driven leadership’ as a subset of overall leadership activity. That is, before you think about what it means to be a purpose driven leader, it’s important to possess an understanding of the context in which leadership is required. At minimum, this means an understanding of the community you serve – which applies equally to a work or a social community – and the issues or outcomes that the community seeks to address.


How then should we define ‘purpose’?

Like leadership, ‘purpose’ is a concept that has been explored and debated across many different disciplines, from Simon Sinek to Ariana Huffington. There are functional interpretations (i.e. the purpose of a door lock is to… well… lock doors) through to more social interpretations (i.e. the purpose of a door lock is to provide people with a sense of security).

Within the context of community leadership, I’m going to lean on the following description: Purpose is an overarching aim or goal towards which activities can be directed.

The benefits of having a clear purpose almost goes without saying; a clear purpose provides everyone with a consistent sense of direction, it helps create focus and an understanding of how activities are prioritised, and it serves as a source of motivation for the collective.

Conversely, think of any group or team you’ve been a part of where the purpose is unclear.  Things move slowly (if at all), people don’t understand how their work contributes to a larger goal, and the perceived lack of purpose can be debilitating and demoralising.


What is ‘Purpose Driven Leadership’?

Bringing these two concepts together, it thus follows that a purpose driven leader is one who demonstrates leadership behaviours that bring people together in a way that drives progress towards a common purpose.

At this point, some of you may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned anything about social impact, corporate social responsibility, or United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). All of these themes are commonly associated with notions of purpose or being purpose driven but the reason I haven’t touched on them yet is because I think there’s an important distinction to make between your personal purpose and that of a community or organisation.

It can be all too easy to get caught up in the idea of ‘finding your purpose’ and using that as a basis for leadership. However the challenge this can present is that our personal purpose may not always be compatible or appropriate for the community we service. As an example, consider any situation where you have seen a leader join a community and begin to work towards their own goals in a way that is contrary to the group’s.

Equally, if we’re unclear about your personal purpose, we may find ourselves adopting the purpose of our community or organisation as our own. To be clear, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing but the risk is that as a leader, we can lose our own sense of purpose and identity. Not only can we ‘lose our way’, we may become less effective leaders and the community can stagnate as a result. This is why some communities change their leaders over time, bringing in different people with different ideas and perspectives that can breathe new life into a community.

I posit that if we are clear about our personal purpose and we have a deep understanding of the communities we serve and its collective purpose, finding overlap between the two is where we achieve effective purpose driven leadership.



The purpose driven leadership ‘equation’

Looking at purpose driven leadership through this equation gives us some interesting insights on how to become a purpose driven leader.

The first part of the equation is understanding our own personal purpose, as distinct from the various communities and organisations we will serve over our lifetime. What is it we want to achieve? What leadership impact do we want to create? What drives and nourishes us as individuals? What values as a leader are important to us?

Preserving space around our personal purpose also gives us space to evolve and adapt over time, as we embrace new experiences or our personal situations change. As we become clearer about our personal leadership purpose, it helps us understand how we can show up to serve others in different capacities.

The second part of the equation is understanding the purpose of the communities or organisations we serve. What are their needs? What unique challenges do they face? What outcomes are they working towards? And how has this changed or evolved over time? This is where the aforementioned outcomes such as corporate social responsibility, social impact, or contributing towards the UNSDGs come into play.

By keeping the community’s purpose at arm’s length, it allows us to better engage the people around us, to really listen to their stories, and better understand motivations and aspirations. Or for those familiar with adaptive leadership principles, it allows us to ‘get on the balcony’ and to better diagnose the problem more objectively.


How to become an effective purpose driven leader?

When we look at both parts of this equation clearly, we can start to ask ourselves some really interesting questions:

  • If I had to write it down, what is my leadership statement of purpose?
  • Is there a clear overlap between my leadership purpose and the community’s purpose?
  • How long does this overlap last for?
  • Is there a time when my purpose is achieved for this community?
  • Is there a time where the community no longer needs my purpose?
  • Are there other communities that align to my leadership purpose?
  • Do I need to adjust or evolve my purpose in order to serve this community better?
  • And finally, by understanding both sides of the equation: Can I articulate what my leadership purpose is for the community I currently serve?

Answering these questions honestly is good both for ourselves and all the various communities we serve, and helps us become more effective purpose driven leaders.


In conclusion

Purpose driven leadership is a powerful and effective way to lead, both for ourselves and the communities we serve. By understanding our own personal purpose, as distinct from the collective purpose of our community or organisation, we can become more effective as purpose driven leaders.

As we round out the year, it’s a great opportunity to take some time for reflection, and to determine how we can best show up for a meaningful 2023.

If you’re seeking to cultivate your personal sense of leadership purpose, check out Leadership Victoria’s range of programs here, or simply reach out to me if you’d like to continue the conversation.

Thanks for reading!

Williamson Community Leadership Program Participants for 2023

We are excited to announce the 64 leaders who have been selected for the 2023 Williamson Community Leadership Program. Over the next year, the group will dive deep into themselves, the nature of leadership and explore vital issues facing our society.

Participant Employer
Adam Murdoch Energy Safe Victoria
Allison Howell Quinton University of Melbourne
Amanda Lawrie-Jones Accessible Action
Amanda Handley Medicines Development for Global Health
Amelia Condi Summer Foundation
Amy Robinson Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project
Angela Sormaz Transport Accident Commission
Angela Erwin Barwon Health
Anna Stephenson MCCC GP Training
Annette Davis Monash Health
Ariana Kurzeme Alannah & Madeline Foundation
Brydie Quinn Able Australia
Caitlin Oliver Department of Families, Fairness & Housing
Charlie McMullin Cross Yarra Partnership (CYP)
Christina Earls DuluxGroup
Christine Leahy Corval Group
Debbie Shiell Austin Health
Fatima Everitt Dreamtime Art Creative Consultancy
Fiona Schutt WorkSafe
Georgi Fairley FPPV Architecture
Georgie Dwyer Berry Street
Georgie Birch City of Stonnington
Gillian Denison Future Fund
Greg Christison Fire Rescue Victoria
Hisney Nowfal Middleton Group
James Seow Monash University and City of Port Phillip
Jay Mueller Australian Football League
Jessica Bartik Department of Premier and Cabinet
Jithma Beneragama Amazon Web Services
Jo Curtin Community Broadcasting Foundation
Joe Murfet Department of Transport
Joe Youssef Department of Justice and Community Safety
Julia Oxley Monash Health
Kelly-Ann McKinnis ANZ
Kevin Kapeke VicHealth
Kieran Lenehan Fire Rescue Victoria
Kiran Khan Annecto
Leigh Saunders Aborigines Advancement League
Lisa Cox Northern Health
Liza Raynes ANZ
Mark Cochrane-Holley City of Melbourne
Martina Murray Melbourne Theatre Company
Melanie Cook Cook Beattie & Associates
Natalie Boston Vicinity Centres
Natalie Donohoe Premium Health
Nina Klein Ambulance Victoria
Paul Davies Leisure Networks
Peta Owen Ambulance Victoria
Prue Humber Bendigo Kangan Institute
Rachel Elliott Australian Football League
Rachna Madaan-Bowman South East Community Links
Ranya Shahwan Worksafe Victoria
Ross Connor Department of Transport Victoria
Sally Baker EBM RentCover
Sam Read Sexual Health Victoria
Sarah Naarden Initiatives of Change Australia
Steve Coldham City of Casey
Sue Anderson Co Squared
Susanne Newton Darebin City Council
Tanya Wolkenberg City of Melbourne
Tighearnan Corcoran Department of Family Fairness and Housing
Timothy Binks Department of Education & Training
Tish Tambakau Beyond Blue
Tom Connell The Royal Children’s Hospital

Diverse perspective has always been an integral part of the Williamson experience. As well as their personal experience and knowledge, the 2023 cohort represents a range of different sectors, including:

  • Not-for-profit and charity
  • Emergency services
  • State and local government
  • Education
  • Infrastructure, engineering and construction
  • Banking, finance and consultancy
  • Technology
  • Self-employed
  • Social services
  • Law and justice
  • Sustainability and environment
  • Retail/social enterprise
  • Health and healthcare
  • Sport

*Employer as at time of Williamson 2023 recruitment (November, 2022) Please note that employments may change over time and will not be reflected here.

Leadership reads: Fostering Culturally Diverse Leadership in Organisations

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and absorb the book Fostering Culturally Diverse Leadership in Organisations by Karen Loon. As someone with an Asian background (I immigrated to Australia from China when I was 6), I’m always excited to see greater research and discussion on this topic, especially from those approaching the topic with an Asian-Australian lens.

Karen is an Asia-Capable Non-Executive Director, Audit Committee Chair and former Financial Services Partner (Assurance) at PwC with over 30 years of deep, international experience with preeminent financial services firms across Asia-Pacific, particularly in Singapore & Australia.

Motivated by her own experiences and observations on the lack of Asian-Australian leaders in Australian firms, Karen’s book examines how successful culturally diverse leaders at work resolve the contradictions and tensions of their personal identities within organisations. She interviewed dozens of successful Asian-Australian leaders to listen to their experiences, research what factors hold organisational change back, and share what we can learn from leaders who have thrived and smashed the ‘bamboo ceiling’.

I found Karen’s book to be a thought-provoking, well-researched, and nuanced approach to culturally diverse leadership. As someone fascinated by systems-thinking, I really appreciate how she explores the different contributing factors experienced by different Asian-Australian leaders, from the influence of our family and cultural systems, the interplay with Australian cultural contexts, the dynamics of organisational systems, and the impact this subsequently has on Asian-Australian leaders.

However, what I particularly resonate with is Karen’s choice to focus on the individual journey at the start of the book. She starts by exploring the familial roots of Asian-Australian leaders, the role that family plays in their identities, how these experiences influence the way people show up at work, and their subsequent career trajectories. Importantly, Karen also examines and acknowledges the distinctions between the different Asian cultures (such as community-centric vs individualistic differences) and how these might influence different approaches taken by Asian-Australian leaders.

In the second half of her book, Karen then flips this around to explore how organisational systems influence the identities of Asian-Australian leaders. Here, Karen is particularly nuanced in exploring the pitfalls of capital D ‘Diversity’ initiatives and is unafraid to explore the complexity and hard work that drive genuine diversity in organisations. She identifies many of the paradoxes at play that both help and hinder progress, as well as provide practical examples for what organisations can do.

I thoroughly enjoyed Karen’s book, the effort put into the research, the depth of thought and examination, and recommend her book for both emerging culturally diverse leaders as well as those seeking to foster long term change.

You can order a copy of Karen’s book here.

Written by Scott Ko (COO for Leadership Victoria) 

Disclaimer: With thanks to Karen, who provided me a copy of her book for review.