Three things which keep me involved as a board member at Whitley are the purpose of the organisation – to explore, build our knowledge, and train people to share the Gospel. The people – they are second-to-none. They’re passionate about what they do and very engaging. And finally, the vision at Whitley.
We’re all experiencing some of the big decisions made recently with the expansion plans and the move to Box Hill. Who knows what the future holds, especially with what’s happening globally at the moment. But I like the conviction of putting a line in the sand and saying that this is what we are going to do. And we’re doing it!
This is my fifth year on the board at Whitley. Being part of its council is pretty hands-on. There are seven of us. My background is economics and human resource management and I contribute as much as I can to those areas of business. I think the Lord gives you a real balance, like the skills and experiences gleaned from your career. Some of the things I’m doing on the council are purely as a result of what the Lord has blessed me with. To be able to use those in this context is a real delight. The other thing I enjoy about working on a board is being part of a “team”; the wonderful diverse backgrounds, experiences and ways of thinking. To solve problems and address challenges.
My faith has benefitted from being part of the community. For instance, reflecting on the devotions we might have as part of a meeting, or speaking with faculty and hearing their stories – just being around that learning environment you cannot help but absorb things!
Learning is also about questioning, challenging and pontificating. Whilst I’m only at Whitley once every couple of months, it’s enough to stimulate my own thinking and to do further reading. Whitley is a safe place to explore your faith in a supportive and knowledgeable environment.
A highlight of my time on the council was when I had the opportunity to spend a morning talking with staff and faculty about the history of Whitley. We discussed where Whitley came from and what its values were. It was wonderful to hear people’s different perspectives, to learn of Whitley’s rich history, and how it has contributed much to our faith community over many, many years.
I would like to give a shout-out to Executive Secretary Lorraine Mitchell. She is a powerhouse but also an incredibly quiet achiever. I can’t imagine the million things that get thrown at her on any given day. She just gives a smile. Nothing is ever too much of an issue.
I am married to Darryl and we live on 160 acres, just south of Lancefield, in the Macedon Region, about thirty-five minutes from Melbourne Airport. It feels as though we are in the middle of nowhere sometimes. It’s a working farm. We have cattle and horses, and within the property is a small vineyard. We produce four styles of wine and have a small cellar door in the original horse stables. We are called Parkside Winery and Farm. Yes, the smallest part of the farm takes the most amount of work! We’ve won quite a few awards and in 2021 our 2015 Vintage Sparkling was awarded the trophy for the Best Sparkling Wine in Australia and New Zealand amongst boutique producers. We must be doing something right!
Because of where we live I spend a lot of time doing natural horsemanship (colloquially called horse whispering). It’s where you’re training them using the psychology and behaviour exhibited by horses in herds. I became interested after witnessing all the people who have served overseas in traumatic circumstances. There’s something about horses that these people relate to more than other therapy animals.
If I could invite anyone to dinner I would invite Condoleezza Rice, the first black American female US Secretary of State, an accomplished concert pianist and one the first of two women to be admitted as members to the Augusta National Golf Club. She’s always been a person of interest to me and I think she would be fascinating to talk to over a meal.
Advice for my younger self? ‘If you’ve got a plan or a dream or whatever, figure it out, walk together with Jesus and get on with it’. Lots of things can hold you back and sometimes the biggest thing to hold you back is yourself.