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Taking your leadership to the next level with board positions and volunteering – a success story

Last month I had an article in the Working Women magazine published by Women’s Network Australia about the potential benefits to your career of taking on a board role.  The women who I mentor will know I’m a long time proponent of this strategy, although I think it’s particularly wise to consider these options in the current market environment, where promotional prospects are more limited and organisations are holding over vacancies instead of making new appointments.

So it was particularly exciting for me to meet in Adelaide last week with one of my mentees, Birgitte Sorensen, who shared with me the wins she’s had this year through her board positions and volunteering activities.  Birgitte has stepped up this year to take on the Chair in a not-for-profit organisation, Victim Support Service, that provides information, support and advocacy to victims of crime and has also been a founding member of the Friends of Rostrevor (school), which involves students in a range of environmental activities as part of the broader Friends of Parks network that undertakes volunteer work in National Parks.

You can click here to read the full article from Working Women, and here is a snap shot of what Birgitte had to say about the opportunities her board position and volunteering have created for her:

1.  Birgitte attended a Law and Order Advocacy Day in Parliament House (Adelaide) where she had either one-on-one or small group discussions with numerous Members of Parliament from the various political parties on victims of crime. It was part of an inaugural advocacy day to enable small not-for-profit organisations to have access to Members of Parliament and to infleunce their policy directions on matters relating to law and order (in Birgitte’s case it was specifically victims of crime).
2.  She was the key note speaker at a reception hosted by the the Lord Mayor of Adelaide (Honourable Michael Harbison) for the 30th Birthday celebrations for Victim Support Service – and addressed about 180 guests, including past and present Members of Parliament.
3.  Birgitte was also interviewed on ABC Radio regarding victims of crime and the Victim Support Service
4.  She was also a Panel Member at the National Victims of Crime Conference
5.  Then she had the chance to Chair the Annual General Meeting for Victim Support Service, presenting awards of recognition
6.  Birgitte Chaired the monthly meetings of the Board of Management for the Victim Support Service and had the opportunity to show leadership to staff and volunteers of the organisation. Of course this was noticed by Members of the Board, who often commented and complemented Birgitte on how well the organisation is running under her leadership.
7.  Finally Birgitte presented at the 25th Friends of Parks Annual Forum to showcase how the the Friends of Rostrevor are in the forefront of environmental education.  The former Environment Minister, Honourable David Wotton, and senior staff of Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) congratulated Birgitte and the students and teacher, and this presentation was reported to be the highlight of the Forum.  This has led to negotiations with DEH, regarding partnership arrangements on a number of projects, and with a private company, regarding potential funding.

These opportunities have created opportunities for Birgitte to develop her skills and confidence outside of her important career, and has given her additional exposure to influencing and negotiating outcomes, public speaking, dealing with the media, setting the future direction of organisations and effective chairing of meetings, which have valuable in both her volunteering and paid work.   And of course she’s had the opportunity to network and meet a range of people that she wouldn’t get in her paid work while contributing to the community on issues she is passionate about.

This is Birgitte’s story… and I bet there’s many more of you who’ve had similar outcomes.  So let’s hear your story too – post your success story on this blog… and let’s put all you tall poppies on display and show how wonderful the women leaders are in our community.



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