Scholar Profile - Jenny Jackson PDF Print E-mail
Jenny Jackson


CEO at Manninhgam Community Health Service

Awarded a scholarship for the Meikle Files Black Leadership Program and the KPMG Mentorship Program, 2013

What sort of work does your organisation do?

Manningham Community Health Service (MCHSL) was established in 1992. From humble beginnings, MCHSL has grown rapidly, our annual revenue increasing from $146,000 to $4.1m in 2013.

Today, we offer a range of health services for adults and children, including physiotherapy, speech therapy, mental health service, diabetes education, dietetics, occupational therapy, and podiatry. We also offer a number of social support programs including the Men’s Shed, art therapy group, and music therapy group. Services are offered as individual or family appointments, or group programs. Examples of our group programs are exercise groups, anxiety and depression groups, and education groups on a variety of different topics.

Health promotion is another important service delivered through community health. At MCHSL our health promotion priorities are prevention of violence against women and improving mental health.

We also coordinate over 100 volunteers who provide services to the community including transport to health appointments, exercise group assistance, administrative assistance, and making weekly phone calls to isolated community members.

We are an active participant in, and contribute to, our local community. This strong community connection enables us to be responsive to the needs of Manningham.

As a business, MCHSL operates in a dynamic environment responding to client and community needs. We work collaboratively to build effective partnerships in Manningham and the Eastern Region and this enables us to provide the best possible services and programs to those most in need within our community.

Describe a typical day's work.

As Chief Executive Officer I provide the vision and leadership to ensure the delivery of high quality, sustainable services to the community that are in line with the values, goals and objectives of Manningham Community Health Services Ltd (MCHS Ltd) and the policies of its Board.

As CEO my day involves working with a wide variety of people and tasks – and this includes overseeing all aspects of the business, ensuring that the operational and strategic plans are achieved, securing new and additional funding from government and other sources and working with partners and stakeholders to achieve the best possible health and wellbeing outcomes for our community.

There isn’t a typical day for me but some aspects of most days are similar – I spend a lot of time talking about people, health, money, budgets and outcomes of all kinds!

What were some of the key learnings from the Meikle Files Black Leadership Program?

One of the key learnings for me from the program was really understanding and valuing the impact that a strong mind has on leadership and individual performance. The program identified factors which contribute to a strong mind and this has been of key value for me and one of my practice points to focus on since then.

Another key learning has been about managing distractions and consciously directing my focus in a calm and sustained way – this has been a major and fundamental shift in my thinking and behaviours and the way that I lead and manage. I now more consciously choose what I do and when I do it. I am clearer about the tasks that I am working on and try to ‘fill’ my mind solely with the tasks that I am working on and not with multiple tasks at once.

Another key learning for me was about high performance teams and developing my understanding of setting the environment for high performing teams.

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

This program has been like nothing I have experienced or undertaken before. I found the first day of the program challenging yet exciting and stimulating.

Despite feeling like I was already a reasonable proficient manager and leader, the program challenged me to reconsider many aspects of the way I approach my work and the way in which I lead. I think the program has resulted in me being at times less ‘available’ than I would have been previously – this has been a conscious shift on my part. I have raised the expectations that I have of myself and also those that I have of the Senior Management Team. We have a much greater use of data in measurement of performance and are reaping rewards already.

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

I started my career as a nurse and have always found that I get a great deal of my energy and satisfaction from working with people from all walks of life. I love being able to tackle difficult challenges and derive great satisfaction from being able to achieve things for our community that others think might be too hard.The NFP sector creates an opportunity to genuinely work alongside people which suits my style and way of working.

I have been very fortunate throughout my career to have had a number of great opportunities come my way but I have also worked really hard and undertook additional study whilst I was juggling a young family and working senior roles as well.

Recently I was also fortunate to receive a scholarship for the KPMG Mentor Program through ASF and this has complemented the MFB program beautifully.

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

The NPF sector needs to continue to grow and develop its' ability to ‘tell its story’ and make sure that we don’t under-sell the quality and importance of the work of the sector. The work of the sector is generally extraordinary and the talents and skills of the people (paid and unpaid) are exceptional and we need to be learn from other sectors and ensure that all areas of our practice meet industry standards and expectations. I think that the NFP sector also needs to be committed to measuring and demonstrating outcomes of the work that we do in order to ensure that we not only sustain current funding and support but that we can grow and enhance the contribution to and from the sector.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I have done three Oxfam Trailwalker events! Each year, for the last three years, I have walked / run 100km, with my three team mates, through Melbourne’s outer suburbs and over mountains to raise money for Oxfam Australia. As I write this, we have just finished our third walk / run in a time of just over 20 hours and our team has raised over $14000 in three years.

Oxfam is a charity that I am passionate about and I am very proud to have contributed, even in a small way, towards a world that is just and fair and where everyone has access to adequate water, food and education and where everyone lives in safety and free from violence.

Click here to read about other ASF scholars.

"The NPF sector needs to continue to grow and develop its' ability to ‘tell its story’ and make sure that we don’t under-sell the quality and importance of the work of the sector."


Jenny has been CEO of Manningham Community Health Service since 2011 and has held numerous executive and non-executive roles in the health and community sector for more than 20 years, in both the private and public sectors.

Jenny also represents Manningham Community Health Service on a number of advisory committees and councils and aims to contribute her expertise to that of the whole group in order to make positive and lasting impacts on the health and wellbeing of our community through systems improvement.

In 2013, ASF awarded Jenny a scholarship to attend the Meikle Files Black Leadership Program, and later that same year she was one of three participants in the KPMG Mentorship Program.


Annual revenue / size:

Medium - $250,000 - $5m pa

Segment of NFP sector:


Operating in: