Scholar stories – Harvard Fellowship recipients

The Harvard Club of Australia in collaboration with the Australian Leadership Hub (formerly Australian Scholarships Foundation) offer fellowships to help fulfil the increasing demand for managerial skills and strategic decision-making within the not-for-profit sector.

Fellowships to the highly regarded Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management course at the Harvard Business School help for-purpose leaders to examine their missions, develop new strategies and improve the effectiveness of their organisations.

Renee Wilson is the Chief Executive Officer of Australian War Widows. In 2023, Renee was a recipient of the 2023 Harvard Club of Australia Ferris Family Fellowship.

Renee shares her experience, “This has been one of the best experiences I have had. It has taught me not only how to be the CEO of a nonprofit but also how to do the hard work of leadership and stay the course. I feel so much more confident in my role now and learned more in one week than I think I have in years of professional development.”

Leadership a new and generally unwelcomed reality

Jonathon Peatfield was a recipient of the Harvard Club of Australia Ferris Family Fellowship in 2023.

He is the Chief Executive Officer of Life Education NSW/ACT and manages a team of 80 people delivering health and wellbeing programs to children right across NSW, with support from the infamous mascot Healthy Harold.

Early in his career, Jono spent seven years in sales leadership and national account management with national hardware business the Otter Group. He then moved into the NFP sector after a close friend started batyr, a social enterprise that focuses on preventative education in young people’s mental health. Helping to scale the organisation through funding, clear strategic planning and building a great culture.

The experience of going to Harvard was fantastic, it had always been a dream so a huge thanks to ASF and the Ferris family for making it a reality. Being able to hear the diversity of thought and challenges that 150 NFP leaders from 14 different countries brought to the program was incredible. It was an inspiring week, I have enjoyed sharing learnings and insights with my team and look forward to any opportunities to share with the wider NFP community.

His favourite insight from his studies at Harvard was a definition of leadership provided by Professor Dutch Leonard, ‘Leadership is a process of introducing a new and generally unwelcomed reality to a person or group in society and helping them successfully adapt to it’.

Jonathon Peatfield and Harold
Jonathon Peatfield

Time to work on the business

Deborah Attard Portughes is the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the Women and Infants Research Foundation (WIRF). Deborah was a recipient of the Ferris Family Fellowship – Harvard Club of Australia in 2022.

Deb is a Senior Executive with experience in strategic planning, development and management of national not-for-profit organisations. She was previously employed by Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) for over 13 years and was instrumental in taking the organisation from a small WA operation to a National organisation with fundraising offices around Australia, the USA and UK. She also secured HRH Prince Charles as AWC’s first Patron.

Deb found the Harvard experience to be life-changing and incredibly inspirational. She notes, “The content of the course was exceptionally useful; providing case studies across the social sector created by visionary founders, or organisations founded by someone at a grassroots level who just wanted to make a difference in their community.”

The greatest single impact for her was, “accessing the remarkable peers on the course: spending time with people facing similar challenges and opportunities, sharing stories in a safe and enriching environment, and being challenged on my assumptions.”

She shares, “As is often with NFPs, leaders spend significant time ‘in the business’, and little investment in time and resources applied to strategic thinking and working ‘on the business’, and this is certainly the case for me.

As the CEO of a small not for profit I would not have been able to have had this experience if it was not for this scholarship – I cannot thank all those that made it possible enough!”

Deborah Attard Portughes
Deborah Attard Portughes, CEO of the Women & Infants Research Foundation

As the CEO of a small not for profit I would not have been able to have had this experience if it was not for this scholarship – I cannot thank all those that made it possible enough!”

Deborah Attard Portughes, CEO, Women & Infants Research Foundation

Previous scholarship recipients have also included:

In 2022 Patrick Reid, Chief Executive Officer of IRT Group which supports older Australians were recipients. Heidi Limareff, Group Chief Executive, Can:Do Group and Kristy Muir, CEO, Centre for Social Impact were recipients in 2020 and due to the pandemic attended later in in July 2022. Karen Crouch, CEO, Feros Care was awarded the scholarship when she was Executive Director, Anglicare Southern Queensland and Matt Davis, CEO/National Director, Salvos Stores were awarded the fellowship in 2019.

Harvard Club of Australia – Ferris Family Fellowships 2024 is offering two fellowships in 2024. Read more about the scholarship here.

Matt Davis

Scholar insights – Matt Davis

Leveraging a scholarship to impact Australia’s circular economy – Matt Davis, CEO of The Salvation Army Salvos Stores, arrived at Harvard Business School for a week-long intensive and he had done his homework. But nothing could have prepared him for the rigour of the program or the impact of the experience. Read more here.