Leaders of not-for-profit organisations find quality executive education places unattainable for their organisations to fund. Through executive education scholarships executives access study experiences that accelerate their learning and unlock impressive results for their organisations.

Bec Johnson and Adam Davids are Australian Scholarships Foundation alumni ambassadors and not-for-profit scholarship recipients who have experienced the immense value of leadership education to support their careers in the sector. They share their experiences and how scholarships have helped them in achieving mission for their organisations and strengthens the sector.

Bec Johnson – Stanford Australia Foundation Not-For-Profit Scholarship recipient

Bec Johnson, Co-Founder of the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre in Western Australia, was the recipient of the Stanford Australia Foundation Not-For-Profit Scholarship in 2021.

In a presentation at the Stanford Australia Foundation she shared her story and the impact of this scholarship.

Dedicated to serving the community

I was born to help people. I’ve known ever since I was at high school that serving my community was what I wanted to do. I’ve worked for causes and non-profits my whole career,” shares Bec.

Bec Johnson Headshot
Bec Johnson, Co-Founder, Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre

“Firstly in policy to help prevent and control cancer in Australia, then managing climate change adaptation projects in Fiji, and most recently I co-founded a non-profit health centre to provide better care to people with type 1 diabetes – the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre in Perth.”

Importance of professional development for the sector

Bec has worked in international, national and very local organisations, she notes one thing she has noticed across them all is that “professional development is often deprioritised”.

“Many organisations run so lean that there simply aren’t the funds for it,”Bec says.

She notes, “The ability to take the time to train and develop ourselves and our people is often eclipsed by the need to respond to the constant and often urgent needs of our communities. And it’s still very rare that any of our funders offer budget for training and development, and when they do, there is intense competition to access it.”

“And yet, our sector needs professional development and leadership opportunities more than ever right now. They help us build capacity and capability into our leadership that gives our sector credibility, they help us be more effective at solving the big problems we tackle and serving our vulnerable communities, they help us keep talent in the sector, and they help us keep up, grow and adapt in an ever more challenging environment,” said Bec.

“I have worked in international, national and very local organisations and one of the things I have noticed across them all is that professional development is often deprioritised.”

Bec Johnson, Co-Founder, the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre

Wearing a hundred hats

Bec was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 17. She shares, that she will need more than, “100,000 insulin injections over my lifetime”. Noting, “Type 1 is one the most complex self-managed medical conditions to live with. I really struggled with it as a young adult and I got very little support from the system. When I looked around, I found that my struggle was actually everyone’s struggle – in fact, 87% of people with type 1 in Australia fail to meet critical glucose management targets, which sets them up to be at risk of blindness, mental health conditions, kidney failure and amputations.”

When she began at the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre she shares that she, “had to undergo a rapid transformation from a person who wanted to do something about a problem to a leader. I suddenly wore a hundred hats – from supervising the build and fit out, to setting strategy with the Board, to driving every decision about programs, marketing, people, clinics, internal governance, events, fundraising and community building – without any government funding, all while trying to live well with my disease.”

“Leadership is immensely fulfilling but it is also intense, lonely, and a constant paradox of tension between outward confidence and internal doubt”, shares Bec. She notes, “As a leader I constantly ask myself – is there a better way to do this? What do we not know here? How can we make more impact? I am hungry for the answers to these questions, to be exposed to the best thinking and research, to have the time to reflect, think, learn and grow, and to be connected to a network of people like me.”

“I suddenly wore a hundred hats – from supervising the build and fit out, to setting strategy with the Board, to driving every decision about programs, marketing, people, clinics, internal governance, events, fundraising and community building.”


The power of scholarships

Bec’s scholarship studies were at Stanford Business School completing the Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders (EPNL). She said, “professionally, it opened my eyes to world-class thinking on strategy, operational efficiency, decision-making, culture, team leadership. It also connected me, via a study tour of diabetes organisations, research institutes, and the clinical community, with new ideas, resources and connections. I have brought these things back and built them into the strategy at the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre as I moved from the role of CEO into a Board role this year. As a Board we have just undertaken a full strategic review with the Family Centre’s new leadership and our new plan is ambitious, exciting and set to make a profound impact. Watch this space.”

Bec shares, “”My experience at Stanford gave me development that will help me achieve my mission. It is something I will take forward into the rest of my career that will allow me to make even broader impact.”

Adam Davids – Fulbright Scholar

Adam Davids, is a proud Aboriginal man and descendant of the Wiradjuri people. He was one of the pioneers of CareerTrackers and CareerSeekers which works to create the next generation of professionals and leaders from Indigenous, Asylum Seeker and Refugee backgrounds.

In 2019 Adam won the Fulbright award in non-profit leadership offered through the Australian Scholarships Foundation and supported by Perpetual Limited.

As a Fulbright scholar, he examined the critical attributes of organisations that serve racial minority people to identify their factors of sustainability and impact.

Adam Davids

When Adam Davids, returned from the Fulbright Scholarship in the USA he was brimming with ideas on how to improve outcomes for Indigenous young people. 

At that time Adam was a director of learning at CareerTrackers, which successfully tackled the 60 percent drop-out rate for Indigenous university students.

“I have benefitted personally and professionally from the experience,” Adam says.

“I’ve been gifted insights into more than 100 years of impact-driven by not for profits for minority people in the USA that have strong parallels to more recently established programs that serve Indigenous Australians.”

“I was welcomed by exceptional leaders within the Native American and African American community who reinforced my understanding of the key long-term investments needed to empower racial minority young people.”

Adam has also published work that provides solutions to address racial wealth inequalities in the USA.

Today, Adam continues the legacy of his Fulbright experience as a Board Member of Social Ventures Australia and as he prepares to launch his new company First Nations Equity Partners which will work to get Australia’s largest and most successful companies committed to addressing global standards of racial equity through an Indigenous Australian lens.

Read more on how we are breaking the cycle, and our impact for the sector.

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