Scholar Profile - Alison Davis PDF Print E-mail
Alison Davis

ALISON DAVIS

Chief Executive Officer at Autism West Support Inc

Awarded a BankWest Foundation / Governance Institute scholarship for a Certificate in Governance for Not-For-Profits, 2015


What sort of work does your organisation do?

Autism West assists families affected by autism. We offer a range of social and therapy groups, provide access to an autism library, present an annual autism conference and support innovative projects such an autism mentoring project at Curtin University. We have also collaborated with Curtin and Deakin Universities on the production of TOBY, a revolutionary autism therapy app.

Describe a typical day's work.

Every day for me is different, which is part of what I love most about my role. In one day I might spend time with our fantastic volunteers planning our range of fundraising events (which include the Race Around Rottnest, the Team Sprint Cup and our inaugural cocktail party), help organise our conference, work with the Board on strategy and budgets, write a grant application and work on TOBY, our autism therapy app. There is no shortage of jobs to do!

What are some of the key learnings from the Certificate in Governance for Not-for-Profits?

It reinforced the message that the NFP sector needs to think and behave like a business, and that without good governance the best intentions in the world won’t be enough. Having clearly defined roles for the Board members and management and a robust strategy is really important to ensure that the organisation stays focused on its key objectives.

How has it impacted / changed / benefited your role and your organisation as a whole?

It has given me the tools I need to better define my role, and to enable me to work with the Board on its role and Autism West’s strategy. I feel much better equipped to deal with issues such as risk management, financial reporting and regulatory compliance. The presenters provided a lot of practical examples, and the class notes will be a very useful reference for me and the Board. I have already made a number of suggestions to our Chairperson about changes we should make based on recommendations from the course.

How did you come to be working in the not-for-profit sector?

My background is as a lawyer, and I have worked in both the commercial and NFP sector in a legal capacity. More recently, I worked in the education sector as the National Copyright Manager, managing copyright for TAFE institutes nationally. I have always been drawn to roles that feel worthwhile, and although there are challenges with working in the NFP sector, it is also incredibly rewarding. I feel very privileged to be working at Autism West. I have met some incredible people, and it is gratifying to know that the work we are doing makes a real difference to families affected by autism.

What do you feel is most needed to sustain and build the impact of the not-for-profit sector?

The impact of the NFP sector would be strengthened by creative approaches to corporate volunteering. We had a great experience this year working with Flow Perth. A team of volunteers worked over a weekend on TOBY, our autism therapy app, and made an incredible difference to the app. We were able to achieve things that would never have been possible without the team of technical, product and marketing experts. It is an example of how a NFP can be supported in a really practical, significant way by skilled volunteers. NFP organisations often have passion and enthusiasm, but lack expertise in particular areas, and it is important to find ways for people with skills and experience to assist and mentor.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I am a short story writer in my spare time. Right now I have very little spare time, so I do very little writing, but I have a head full of stories waiting to be written when the opportunity arises.


Click here to read about other ASF scholars.

Click here to find out more about the Bankwest Foundation Community Leader Scholarship Program.


"The impact of the NFP sector would be strengthened by creative approaches to corporate volunteering. NFP organisations often have passion and enthusiasm, but lack expertise in particular areas, and it is important to find ways for people with skills and experience to assist and mentor."


ABOUT ALISON:

With a background in law, Alison has worked in the public sector, commercial organisations and in the not-for-profit area. She is currently the CEO at Autism West Support Inc, where she works across all areas of the organisation including  programs, finance, marketing and events management.

In 2015, ASF awarded Alison a scholarship to attend the Governance Institute's Certificate in Governance for Not-for-Profits, supported by the Bankwest Foundation, Governance Institute and ASF.

ABOUT AUTISM WEST SUPPORT INC:

Annual revenue / size:

Medium - $250,000 - $5m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Health

Operating in:

WA

Website:

http://www.autismwest.org.au/