Scholar Profile - Wendy Warren PDF Print E-mail
Wendy Warren


Chief Executive at EBL Disability Services Inc (EBL)

Awarded a scholarship for Elkiem's Meikle Files Black Leadership Program, 2013/14

What sort of work does your organisation do?

EBL provides accommodation, respite and holiday options aimed at building independence and supporting personal choices for people living with a disability. We work hard to ensure people are given the same opportunities as every person living in their local community.

We own, lease and operate a large number of accommodation homes in Adelaide. Support is provided by qualified disability professionals and we operate 24 hours per day 7, days per week. Since opening in 1981 we have specialised in intellectual and physical disability and our services are designed to support people from childhood through to adulthood.

Describe a typical day's work.

As CE my day can vary considerably from developing partnerships at a senior level both internally and externally, working closely with Board Members, all aspects of governance, financial oversight, contractual compliance, WHS and administration etc. There are times when I need to roll my sleeves up and provide support to staff and residents at the coal face. I am responsible for the development and oversight of strategic plans, including all areas of administration and resource utilisation. I am involved in Govt negotiations, tender development, driving innovation that supports core mission and brings about positive change in the individuals and communities we serve. I work closely with peak bodies, families and communities. I support senior managers to drive quality improvements and participate in a number of internal and external sub committees. As the Responsible Officer for the organisation I take a lead role in driving the organisation towards it strategic directions and encouraging and supporting innovation. I work with my CFO to monitor and manage the budget which is forever changing due the individual needs of each client we support. I am a mentor, coach, advocate and sometimes a counsellor.

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

I was challenged to look inward from the moment I walked into the room. This course forced me to stop and think about my actions / impacts. The key learnings were too many to list but the big ticket item for me is do whatever it takes “to be a safe pair of hands”. Learning about when to lead from behind as well as from the front was insightful. We learned about the importance of timing, knowing when to be reflective and when to lead intuitively or empirically. What to focus on through significant periods of change, ‘brave’ leadership and the art of mastering distraction. I could go on…

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

I feel more confident as a Leader and believe I am a better person to work with in that I’m more focused on the important issues. I find myself more welcoming of staff feedback and braver when it comes encouraging them to give new ideas a go. As a team we are learning to master failure faster these days. The overall results speak louder than words with our organisation experiencing 400% growth in a relatively short timeframe. We are becoming a team of innovators and I feel more optimistic about major sector change which has become our reality under the NDIS.  

Within the team there is an innate sense of calm without feeling that we have lost the hunger for success.  I am now more confident to take the time to reflect before simply steaming ahead at full throttle and find myself more curious about the impact of leadership at all levels across the organisation.

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

I have ‘lived experience’ of disability within my family and many years ago was head hunted from the corporate world to a senior position within the NFP sector. Despite the many challenges, once your passion takes control and you become aware of the positive difference you can make this work really does gets under skin!!

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

Brave Leadership at all levels together with investment in upskilling those people who choose to work in the NFP sector is most needed to sustain and build positive impacts long into the future.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I am the proud owner of a 105 year anniversary Harley Davidson, limited edition 1600cc motorcycle. In my downtime, I love nothing more than cruising the countryside alone with the wind in my face – it’s when I experience a little piece of Zen.

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"The overall results speak louder than words with our organisation experiencing 400% growth in a relatively short timeframe."


After years of working in the corporate sector, Wendy was headhunted by a not-for-profit organisation and given a senior management role. Since then she has held a range of senior management roles within the Job Services Australia and Disability Services Sector. Wendy currently holds the position of Chief Executive at EBL Disability Services where she has worked for three years.

ASF awarded Wendy a scholarship to attend the notable Meikle Files Black Leadership Program course late-2013.


Annual revenue / size:

Large - $5m - $25m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Health, Social Services, Housing

Operating in: