This is the latest edition of the Menzies Brief - Vol 21, No. 1, 2018
From the Menzies Alumni Chair
Well a lot can happen in short time! Welcome to 2018 and the news that with the new leadership team installed at the Menzies Foundation, the strategy and direction is becoming clearer and we’re ready to go with a big year ahead.
Deputy Chair of the Alumni, Associate Professor Anne-Marie Hill and I attended the first Board meeting of the year last week and I’d like to extend my congratulations to the new Chair, Peter Jopling AM QC, and to John Menzies who has been appointed to the Board as Diana steps down. You will also see a story below about Sandra Mackenzie and I'd like to thank Sandra for all her support of the alumni over the years.
We’ve been active already this year speaking with quite a few alumni who have expressed interest in the Menzies Alumni Advisory Group. It’s terrific to have new blood and new ideas and we will be holding a planning session for the Advisory Group on 21 March.
In the next edition of the Brief we’ll be able to report back on what progress we make on that day.
Please keep in touch with Anne-Marie and I in coming months and feel free to let us know what role you think the Alumni should be playing now. It will become clearer as the new strategy takes shape.
I’d also like to thank one of the members of the Advisory Group, Engineering Scholar David Bowly, who attended the Dimboola Memorial Secondary College on behalf of the alumni just before Christmas, speaking to the graduating students. We’re very happy the Menzies Centenary Prize will continue and you’ll see last year’s recipient Courtney Dove, with her medallion in this edition of The Menzies Brief.
You will receive a save the date for the 40th year celebrations shortly and I encourage those of you who can – especially the Melbourne-based alumni – to attend the anniversary dinner on 18 May.
Dr Sheree Hurn Chair, Menzies Alumni
From the CEO
Welcome to the first edition of the Menzies Brief for 2018 and my first job should be to introduce myself.
I am the new CEO of the Foundation and it’s fair to say I join at a pivotal time in the Foundation’s history.
There has been quite a bit of change since you last heard from us. One of the most significant of these is the appointment of the new Board Chair, Peter Jopling AM, QC just last week. Peter will bring a renewed focus on helping the Foundation achieve impact in some important areas for Australia’s future. You can read more about the new Chair and his plans in the story below.
The Foundation and Board have extended their thanks to long-serving Directors, Diana Menzies and Sandra Mackenzie OAM, who have resigned their positions, and welcomed Harvey Kalman, Chris Butler and John Menzies, who will strengthen the financial expertise available to the Foundation.
Our priority now is celebrating and acknowledging the achievements of the first 40 years of the Menzies Foundation…. and then working hard to create new history in Sir Robert’s name by setting in train a new strategic plan.
You will be hearing more from us in coming months about the exciting prospect of engaging with and supporting entrepreneurs in science and technology, learning from their entrepreneurial journey and developing a body of knowledge about what works in an Australian context.
Our other new foray is into the classrooms of Australia. We’d like to identify those school leaders with the capacity to dramatically improve student outcomes and give them the backing to try new things.
The first cab off the rank will be the opening of our Sir Ninian Stephen Menzies Scholarship in Law in the second half of this year.
Finally, we are very much looking forward to the planning session planned with our Alumni Advisory Group in March.
It’s a very exciting time and we very much look forward to sharing this journey with you.
Liz Gillies CEO, Menzies Foundation
Jopling takes top job
Peter Jopling AM QC, a respected barrister, has been elected the new Chair of the Menzies Foundation setting the stage for the Foundation to move into a new era.
Mr Jopling said his priorities would be the finalisation and implementation of the new strategic plan.
Mr Jopling said the Board will move towards a venture and catalytic model of practice so the Foundation’s fellowship program can contribute to a systematic change platform which will, amongst other things, help foster partnerships and collaborations which best harness resources for significant social impact.
“We’re committed to seeing the Foundation create impact in some important areas for Australia’s future – ensuring our entrepreneurial scientists have the opportunity to learn what works best in the Australian market and backing some of the finest teachers in the country so they can dramatically improve student outcomes."
Rubbing shoulders with Reese Witherspoon as she takes on the male-dominated entertainment industry, Harvard Menzies Alumna, Sarah Harden, has been appointed CEO of Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine. It’s not every day you’re in the New York Times and Variety in the same week. She should probably get used to it!
Harvard Menzies Scholar, Professor Michael Hiscox, who is the Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs at Harvard and a leading mind on behavioural economics and nudge theory, has recently been working with the world’s largest chocolate company on its cocoa sustainability program.
NHMRC/Menzies Fellow Dr Misty Jenkins, at the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute, has been leading some research which could help safely adapt a new immunotherapy to reach hard-to-treat brain cancers.
Professor of English and Theatre Studies at the University of New England, Professor Anne Pender, will return to Harvard for a four month residence with the assistance of a Fulbright Scholarship to study three successful Australian authors who live in the US.
In the media
Michelle Kerrin (pictured), the Inaugural Menzies Indigenous Mentoring Fellow, wrote about her experience with Indigenous education and the role all parties have to play in Closing the Gap. The story was published in The Guardian.
The Daily Telegraph and other News Limited media ran a story about a number of trials being conducted by NHMRC/Menzies Fellow, Professor Matthew Kiernan, and his collaborators in the fight to find a cure for MND.
Director of the Human Rights Law Centre, Dr Aruna Sathanapally, a Menzies Law Scholar, was quoted in The Australian, speaking about the proposed changes to the government’s controversial foreign interference laws.
Harvard Menzies Scholar, Professor Kim Rubenstein continued to be the go-to constitutional law expert for commentary on Australia’s ongoing constitutional issues related to the effect of section 44 on the eligibility of our politicians to sit in Parliament.
Harvard Menzies Scholar and MIT Assistant Professor, Tracy Slatyer, was the subject of a story about her work to solve one of the greatest mysteries in physics and also the subject of a terrific artist’s impression of her. Click through to take a look. We hope she got a copy!
'One of the best years of my life'
At the end of her year as the Menzies Indigenous Mentoring Fellow to the students at Melbourne Indigenous Transition School, Michelle Kerrin told us how much it all means – daunting but one of the best years of her life.
Last year’s Menzies Centenary Prize winner, Courtney Dove (pictured with her medallion), also had a similar story to tell on her own experiences living at Queen’s College at the University of Melbourne.
This year the Menzies Institute of Medical Research in Tasmania marks 30 years of achievement.
For 30 years the people of Tasmania and Australia have benefitted from a centre of research excellence which is renowned for internationally significant medical research supporting healthier, longer and better lives. The Menzies Foundation has dedicated over $3.5 million over 30 years to the Menzies Institute for Medical Research with the final grant paid last year.
One of the proudest achievements of the Menzies Foundation coming up to its 40 year celebrations is the role we have played and the investment of over $9 million in the establishment of four Menzies health and medical research institutes. These institutes have grown to develop world-class reputations for their research.
Pictured above is the late and Right Honourable Sir Ninian Stephen KG, AK, GCMG, GCVO, KBE, QC, when he was Governor General of Australia, alongside Dame Pattie Menzies, at the opening of Menzies Tasmania.
After 31 years at the helm of the Menzies Foundation and five years on the Board, Sandra Mackenzie OAM has resigned from her position as Director.
Stepping down from the Board in December last year, Sandra wanted to send a farewell and thank you to the Menzies Alumni and all the great people she’s met along the way.
Involved from the first meeting to establish the Foundation, Sandra started working with Dr Eric Wigglesworth AM in September 1979.
She played a key role in the major achievements of the Foundation, particularly the establishment of the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin – moving up to Darwin in the initial stages of negotiation with the Northern Territory Government and the University of Sydney.
“At the 10 year event for Darwin we felt like proud parents, in terms of what we’d done in the name of Menzies,” Sandra said.
"The establishment of the Menzies medical research institutes provides an excellent example of how a small philanthropic organisation - through careful research and planning - has made a significant difference to the health and well being of the Australian community."
As the Administrator/General Manager of the Foundation from 1981 until 2012, Sandra personally knows so many of the scholars who have been awarded Sir Robert Menzies Scholarships and Fellowships.
"I am immensely proud of the Menzies Scholars and their achievements. Along with Pam Shearman, the highlight of every year was to welcome the Scholars 'home' to Clarendon Terrace and to hear first hand of what they were achieving at the highest level in so many worthwhile areas."
Sandra brought great corporate knowledge and history to the Board over the last five years, which has been of significant benefit to new members.
Sandra was awarded her OAM for services to the community, particularly through the Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Foundation.