Not-for-profits continue needing to prioritise staff retention and attraction to ensure a stable and dedicated team, optimise resources, achieve their missions effectively, foster a positive organisational culture, and sustain long-term impact.

The Australian Scholarships Foundation’s inaugural Not-For-Profit Leadership Awards has put a spotlight on the importance of supporting staff and growing talent by introducing the “Outstanding Leadership in Talent Growth” award. This award celebrates best practice leadership demonstrating an employee focus, strong relationships, and innovative strategies.

Angela Gaylard, People and Culture Manager at Youth Projects, was awarded as winner of the “Outstanding Leadership in Talent Growth” award in 2023. The award judges noted Angela’s passion, leadership, and commitment to the development of all staff at Youth Projects shone through in her nomination.  Sharing, “combining a clear strategy and innovative initiatives such as values-based recruitment as well as achieving tangible outcomes around diversity, Angela Gaylard developed a comprehensive and detailed plan of action that significantly impacted her organisation”.

Angela Gaylard
Angela Gaylard, People and Culture Manager, Youth Projects

“Combining a clear strategy and innovative initiatives such as values-based recruitment as well as achieving tangible outcomes around diversity, Angela Gaylard developed a comprehensive and detailed plan of action that significantly impacted her organisation”.


In this article, we explore the initiatives Angela and the Youth Projects team have implemented to support talent growth in their organisation.

Supporting individual differences

Angela Gaylard (People and Culture Manager, Youth Projects) shares her beliefs, “by creating supportive work environments that value and support individual differences, organisations can improve employee well-being and overall performance.”

Through studies in workforce transformation, Angela developed skills to anticipate, lead and implement workforce transformations that are future-focused, putting people and business value at the centre. Angela has also worked in positions in operational and corporate leadership, which have afforded her valuable experience and insights into the intricate and ever-changing dynamics of human behaviour within work environments.

Coaching leaders

Coaching positively impacts leaders by enhancing their self-awareness, communication, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities. It fosters personal growth, boosts team morale, and promotes effective leadership skills.

Working with Youth Projects leaders, Angela coaches them on ways to cultivate an inclusive environment where employees can bring their authentic selves to work every day. Staff surveys at Youth Projects reflected an increase in the presence of lived experience in the workforce from 30% to 80% over a period of 18 months.

Angela shared, “Acceptance is a crucial focus for our teams, and we prioritise a non-judgmental approach synergistic to our mission.”

“Acceptance is a crucial focus for our teams, and we prioritise a non-judgmental approach synergistic to our mission.”

Angela gaylard

Addressing diversity and inclusion challenges

Australia has lifted its standards when it comes to gender equality in the past year, with the latest Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum showing Australia jumping 17 places from 43rd to 26th. Gender pay gap problems in not-for-profits persist, despite their mission-driven nature. Women are often compensated less than male counterparts, hindering progress towards gender equality.

Through a range of contemporary strategies and ongoing evaluation, Angela lead a project with the Youth Projects team in addressing the Gender Pay Gap (GPG). As a result, Youth Projects was able to reduce the GPG from 15.7% to 5.2% in just two years, whilst establishing a gender equitable Board of Directors, Executive Leadership Team, and Senior Leadership Team.

As a founding member and Co-Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Angela also developed and delivered training to give all Youth Projects team members to develop an understanding of, and practical guidance, on making inclusive language part of their daily life and sharing how to use language respectfully and inclusively when working with and referring to LGBTQIA+ folks. This led to Youth Projects being awarded winner of the “Workplace Inclusion Award” at the 2023 Victorian Pride Awards, and achieving the Victorian Government’s “Rainbow Ready Certification”.

Values-Based Recruitment Review framework

Values-Based Recruitment Review framework is crucial for ensuring organisations hire candidates who align with their core values. It promotes a positive culture, improves employee engagement, and fosters long-term success.

In her role Angela has developed and implemented a Values-Based Recruitment Review framework to ensure talent employed at Youth Projects are aligned to organisational values to avoid potential operational and cultural issues in operations.

The new framework outlines required baseline values and how to see them in action, with all job advertisements rewritten to target and connect with the talent being pursued. This resulted in an 8% reduction in employee turnover, and a remarkable 80% of employees considering Youth Projects to be an excellent place to work, in contrast to the 56% average for typical Australian-based companies.

Talent Review re-design

Talent reviews help leaders and organisations to better understand their people and make decisions to best support the future needs and strategic direction of their organisations.

Angela worked to re-designed Youth Projects’ Annual Talent Review program to focus on assessing employees’ demonstration of organisational values and behavioural framework, and the impact this translates to on individual performance.

Working at all levels of the organisation Angela helped build the knowledge and skills, whilst coaching individuals to see the benefits of this approach on program outcomes. Angela shares, “This has enabled line managers to feel empowered to have conversations focused on tailored development plans and personalised reward programs.”

These measures also led to a comprehensive workforce development strategy defining development goals, career aspirations, and stretch capabilities of all employees and positions at Youth Projects. As a result, Youth Projects successfully filled 30% of advertised positions through internal talent redeployment in the past 12 months enabling graduates to transition into frontline roles, and high performing frontline workers to step into growth or leadership roles, supported by intensive coaching, to ensure success.

Emerging Leader Program

Through the process of re-designing the Talent Review Program an emerging leader program has been created to provide developmental opportunities for frontline employees with leadership aspirations.

This program includes structured training, coaching, and experiential learning to enable retention while developing an internal pipeline for emerging and leadership talent within the organisation. Following program completion, the team has realised 21 promotions and lateral movements and a further 7 team members undertaking formal higher duties secondments within Youth Projects.

Supervision Framework

Based on feedback from frontline leaders, Angela spearheaded a Supervision Framework that provides all leaders with a working tool that supports, enables, and provides guidance on supervision sessions and performance-based conversations.

Leaders at differing levels (structurally and experience-wise), work with the framework to help give employees an understanding of how and why their leaders will engage with them to have performance-based conversations and create opportunities for employees to share structured feedback on their leader’s performance. Angela says this has helped to, “(successfully) embed a model where all employees feel safe and supported in the conversations because they are informed and engaged to have productive and tough conversations”.

Youth Projects, CEO, Ben Vasiliou, shares, “These collective activities have helped create an inclusive environment that fosters open conversations, facilitates talent growth and improved attraction and retention of exceptional and values-aligned talent at Youth Projects”.


The 2023 Not-For-Profit Leadership Awards finalists for Outstanding Leadership in Talent Growth award included Francesca Caccamo, Head of People and Programs, Consent Labs; CHASE Team, Community Health Advancement and Student Engagement; and Angela Gaylard, People and Culture Manager, Youth Projects. We congratulate all the amazing finalists for this award, you and your organisations should feel proud of your achievements.

We thank Clayton Utz for their support with this award to recognise the importance of leadership in talent growth for not-for-profit organisations to achieve mission.

Entries for the 2024 Not-For-Profit Leadership Awards open in February 2024. Subscribe here to our newsletter to receive award announcements.

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Congrats to all our scholarship recipients in 2023

A big congratulations to all the not-for-profit scholarship applicants awarded scholarships in 2023.

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