What HCV Fellows think about the program...

Kent Burgess, CEO, Your Community Health (2023 Fellow)
“It was incredible to be in the company of over 150 not for profit CEOs from 15 countries.  In addition to the amazing peers and Professors that we were exposed to, was the course content. The learning was case study based and drew upon the best available research and evidence in contemporary NFP leadership. More often, I was inspired to reach further and deeper, using new models, tools, and ways to frame strategic issues. We were frequently reminded to always return to mission in our focus on "Mission and Margin", to "move at the speed of trust", "get comfortable with failure" along the journey, and know that success happens when "preparation meets opportunity". My head and notes are full of many, many nuggets of wisdom that remind me that leadership is an ongoing process of self-awareness, development and focus.

It was bittersweet to finish the intense week of learning in such a hallowed environment. Following on from the Program I had a full week of study visits to community health services in Boston and Toronto. Being hosted by generous CEOs from diverse services was a great way to start applying the learnings of the Program. Seeing how each leader was doing things differently, each adapting their vision to their local contexts and need. Being a HCV NFP fellowship recipient has been the experience of a lifetime and career changing.”

Clare Davies, CEO, Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (2023 Fellow)
"Thank you to the Harvard Club of Victoria for this exceptional opportunity. It was inspiring to meet Non-Profit leaders from around world and learn from the Harvard Business School faculty in an immersive learning environment. The program was beyond anything I could have imagined, and I will continue to draw on this experience for decades to come.

The study tour that followed Harvard was equally wonderful. I had the opportunity to visit many peer-led services in America to build connections and share our Australian experiences. Overall, I am grateful for the new relationships that have developed from this experience including Harvard faculty, SPNM2023 colleagues, peers in America and the great people from Harvard Club of Victoria."

Sean Duffy, CEO, Ballarat Community Health (2023 Fellow)
“The SPNM program was what I hoped it was going to be and more. It has provided me with confidence, greater depth of knowledge, new models and thinking to apply in my role as a CEO. It challenged me professionally and personally; it was at times confronting but nurturing. The process of living groups and case study methodology as a base for learning was extremely effective, but I needed to apply myself and prepare to ensure I received the greatest benefit from the program. Finally, the networks and colleagues that I have created across the globe is invaluable. Like minded, passionate leaders who I continue to speak with regularly and learn from, and gain support when needed, is such a wonderful benefit of the program.”

Toni Stewart, focus Individualised Support Services (2022 Fellow)
 “My sincere thanks to the Harvard Club of Victoria for this amazing opportunity. It was inspiring, challenging, thought provoking and overall, an experience I will be forever grateful for.”

Terry Symonds, CEO, Yooralla, (2022 Fellow)

“I was so grateful for the chance to participate in the 2022 Strategic Perspective in Nonprofit Management program at Harvard University. My organisation now faces its biggest challenges in decades, and this program helped me draw out the questions we need to be asking. The faculty brought energy and humour to every session, weaving theory on strategy, innovation and leadership into an interesting series of case studies. I brought home literally dozens of models and frameworks to apply practically to our work, and have shared them in debrief sessions with senior staff and reports to the Board.

The participant cohort were as inspiring as the content. It was a privilege to live with and learn from nonprofit leaders, now friends, from around the world. I know we still stay in touch and support each other from afar. I have no hesitation in recommending the SPNM program to other nonprofit leaders.” 

Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO, Scope (2021 Fellow)
“Participation in the 2021 Virtual SPNM program provided me with the opportunity to step away from the day-to-day of COVID-19 lockdowns and to lift my line of sight for the first time in 12 months. The program was of exceptionally high quality, delivered in a virtuoso manner by Professor Dutch Leonard and his faculty associates. The case studies were diverse and interesting. The chat room lit-up throughout each session with over 100 voices.

Nonetheless, through on-line chat groups, study groups, emails and social media, participants rapidly bonded and shared a unique experience.  By the end of the program, I was exhausted but incredibly grateful for the experience.”

Marcus Godinho, CEO, FareShare (2021 Fellow)
“The Harvard SPNM course was the most valuable and inspiring education experience of my life.  For me there were four stand out facets.  In no particular order:

1. The lecturers were challenging and inspiring.  One OMG moment, was when a lecturer upon finishing his sentence said he had noted while he was talking that one course participant (of the 100) had posted in the Chat that she disagreed with him.  He respectfully explained why he thought it was particularly relevant to her movement and in particular her organisation’s role within that movement.  He had processed all this while he was speaking. 

2. The content was particularly relevant to FareShare.  It provided me with a process and framework to assist with a refresh of our strategy.  It also provided me with some useful material to share with existing and potential funders.

3. Of course, everyone would rather have been together in Boston, but the virtual experience was flawless.  Support staff were always present should they be needed.  It was clear staff had put a lot of thought into matching participants and the make up of groups.

4. Participants contributed so many experiences, advice and encouragement.  I just know that many of us will remain in contact for years to come.  I have already had a meeting with the Smithsonian which reached out keen to explore how it could partner with FareShare in Australia.

This was my first Harvard experience and I am determined it won’t be my last.”

Elizabeth Drozd, CEO, Australian Multicultural Community Services (2019 Fellow)
“The value and relevance of SPNM is multifaceted and immense. For most CEOs who attend, it is the first opportunity ever to be together with 160 like-minded CEOs who are all working to address some of the most challenging aspects that exist in society, e.g. assisting refugees who are crossing the Mexican/US border, homelessness, poverty, educational and intergenerational disadvantage, unemployment. It was great to have such a strong acknowledgement by the Harvard lecturers of what we do as leaders of communities.” 


Edward Tudor, Executive Director, Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (2019 Fellow)
“Simply put, SPNM was the most outstanding learning experience that I have ever had. The faculty were sensational – so engaging, so approachable and energetic – and the course content fascinating and hugely relevant. HBS is such a motivating and exciting place: at the end of the week I was completely exhausted but wished I could stay another three weeks!”

Melodie Potts Rosevear, CEO, Teach For Australia (2019 Fellow)
“I took a lot away from the week, but one of the major takeaways was how common it is across our organisations to have a Vision and a Mission, but how often we lack a more immediate ‘operational mission’ which helps guide trade-offs and decisions for the medium term. The big ‘M’ mission we have, but I believe there is still work to do in our little ‘m’ mission, and I suspect that resonates with folks at Teach For Australia. This is why I am so excited to see work already happening: in our regional vision setting, in clarifying elements of our program vision, in innovation, in relation to our Alumni – all feeding into our 2030 vision.”

Christine Mathieson, CEO,  Expression Australia (formerly Vicdeaf) (2018 Fellow)

“The course itself was an incredibly precious and valuable 7 days. Not just from the perspective of what I learned but the time for reflection and opportunity to question, challenge and validate my relationships, practices, leadership and decisions. The simple yet powerful phrase of ‘Hope is not a Strategy’ framed up a lot of what I took from the course. “                                                                   


Sharon McGowan, CEO, The Stroke Foundation (2018 Fellow)
“..the Faculty was impressive in their depth of knowledge, their engaging lecture methods but particularly for their obvious commitment to positive societal change. It was clear that this course was very personal to each of the Faculty members and they were invested in the development of the attendees as a positive force for change.”     

Gerard Brody, CEO, Consumer Action Law Centre (2017 Fellow)

The SPNM was a wonderful experience that gave me the opportunity to meet and learn from some inspirational leaders. The teaching was first rate, and I particularly appreciated where the lessons were grounded in empirical research. The various frameworks and strategies presented were insightful, and I have already applied some of the thinking to my work. In particular, I’ve considered the need to invest resources, mechanisms and capabilities to enable Consumer Action to become more adaptive. Supporting an organisational culture which is questioning, experimenting and learning will be an important focus for me, particularly as new pressures are placed on service delivery.”

Robyn Miller, CEO, Mackillop Family Services (2017 Fellow)
“The ‘real life’ platform of the dilemmas and struggles of various organisation’s strategic planning and management helped me to reflect on our challenges with fresh eyes and to widen my vision and perspective. The focus on integrating theory and leadership practice through the deep engagement with colleagues from all of the world was a unique privilege. In short the program both gave me stimulation and plenty of food for thought, and also it reassured me that we are on the right track in terms of the strategic perspectives that we have taken at Mackillop. We have almost completed our strategic plan for the next three years, so the timing of the scholarship and the content of the course could not have been better.”


Teresa Jayet, CEO, Mallee Family Care (2017 Fellow)

“The experience of being in attendance with 180 other CEO’s from around the Globe was phenomenal. …The course work was critical, however, the networks made during this week were also just as imperative for me.” 

Antoinette Braybrook, CEO, Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria (2016 Fellow)
This opportunity come at a time when our organisation started going through significant change, influenced by many external and internal factors.  The program has helped me to think about, through a different lens, our organisational structure and my role in operations and/or strategy. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the living group and especially the peer consultations.Each of the members brought something different to the discussion. I gained a lot of useful advice on my strategic project. It was wonderful to connect with 11 other Australians who are leading in the not for profit sector. Many of these connections continuing.
Nigel Fidegon, CEO, Merri Health (2016 Fellow)
The HBS program was extremely relevant and invaluable to me as a CEO in a sector undergoing such significant reforms. The program was exceptionally well administered and ran like clock work.The facilities were outstanding and every detail had been considered to support course participants from the moment you arrived and throughout the course program. The passion and commitment from the faculty staff was exceptional. This was from the academic staff, the administrative support staff, and all other employees I came into contact with during the week long program. I found the whole experience very inspiring. 
The methodology used in the program I found a valuable learning exercise and gave a different perspective in analysing and critiquing the case studies and applying the learning’s from this to my own setting and how these learning’s could be applied in my own context. 
Lisa Griffiths, CEO, OzChild (2016 Fellow)
The Case Study Method provided a rich learning experience in terms of both understanding and exploring the cases. The cases were all highly educational. All cases had relevance in some way to my role as a CEO. The Professors were exceptional. The other CEOs all had unique and wonderful perspectives and the group I had the privilege of working in brought me great insight to my own leadership and where my organisation was at and where it could go.
Carmel Guerra, CEO, Multicultural Centre for Youth (2015 Fellow)
The SPNM course exceeded expectations and provided a once in a life time learning experience. As someone not inclined to return to formal education, it was practical and experiential. The Harvard Executive Education Centre was of an exceptional standard and every need was met to ensure you could remain focused on the educational experience.  It was unique for a CEO of a NFP like mine to have the opportunity to spend a week focused solely on organisational strategic issues without the distractions of actually running an organisation.
The Harvard Case Study Teaching Method was brilliant and engaged us in real life examples that we could all relate to. The teaching staff were incomparable; engaging, knowledgeable and excellent communicators. The program was well paced and challenging with a good balance of new information and revitalizing long standing organisational/business theories.  The knowledge I gained is already being utilised and shared with colleagues. A highlight was the peer to peer learning gained from mixing with over 150 NFP CEOs from around the world.  I have maintained contact with fellow students who have already become invaluable sounding boards.  
Paul Ronalds, CEO, Save The Children (2015 Fellow)
The quality of the learning experience was outstanding, both the presentation by professors as well as the value of the discussion. The environment and amenities also allowed for students to focus on getting the most out of the experience.
The timing of the course was ideal from a Save The Children Australia perspective – we are in the process of finalising our next three year strategy (2016-18) and the course material was directly relevant to my reflection on the future direction of the organisation. 
There have been immediate benefits from the network. For example, Save The Children Australia runs a large number of op shops and I have been able to facilitate meetings between Save The Children Australia’s Head of Retail and a number of UK based op shop operators.
The side meetings were very useful. For example, I met with Give Directly in New York. Give Directly currently operates in Kenya and Uganda and aims to help people living in extreme poverty by making unconditional cash transfers to them via mobile phone.  The meeting provided general lessons in how to adopt new technologies and innovate rapidly while still leveraging a robust evidence base. However, it was also useful specifically to the work we are doing with refugees around the world and I facilitated introductions with US and Save the Children International colleagues. The issue of how to leverage the opportunities provided by new technologies is a critical issue for our next strategy.
Simon Ruth, CEO, Victoria AIDS Council (2015 Fellow)
Attending Harvard was an incredible experience. Australian Universities don’t have the same atmosphere or ambience to them. The SPNM was a great opportunity to spend a week with 158 like minds discussing topics of joint interest. Although there are quite significant differences between the way US based charities are structured and function and Australian organisations, the similarities allowed for engaging debates and the differences created a lot of discussion amongst the Australian attendees about the value of these differences. Having 17 Australians on the course allowed me to be able to jointly process the learnings and has created lasted relationships. The Victorian, Tasmanian and South Australian attendees have met together once and plan to do so again in six months.
Being able to immerse yourself in the Harvard experience by living on campus and working in home groups created a sense of belonging and added to the experience.
The course material was delivered by Harvard Business School experts, who brought business concepts to their discussions of the functioning of not for profits. The case study learning style was enjoyable and allowed for full class participation. The ability of the faculty to update on each case study and present outcomes brought the case studies to life, particularly when we were introduced to the key players from some of the studies.
Key learnings for me from the course included considering “being excellent” and the need to “train your customers”. We have already explored these concepts in the workplace and developed a new health promotion campaign with the key purpose to retrain community expectations about HIV treatment. Board purpose, functioning and fundraising were all valuable discussions. One of the benefits of the residential model was that discussions on each topic would extend into the evenings with opportunities to gain insight into how other organisations and countries tackled key aspects of not for profit management.
Both the Harvard experience and the SPNM course were incredibly valuable. I have gained learnings and relationships that will stay with me throughout my career. I have broadened my peer network both within Australia and internationally. The program has already had an impact on my organisation and how we deliver services and make decisions. The peer experience, spending the week with a group of CEOs, was key to the learning model and I couldn’t recommend the course highly enough.