In summary

  • Swinburne alum from the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne are helping to build a better world
  • Kirra Johnson, Mark Harwood, Suzanne Findlay and Anne Lennon were some of the finalists in the inaugural Michael Liffman Alumni Awards, which recognises individuals making outstanding social impact
  • The Centre for Social Impact Swinburne recently celebrated 20 years of providing social impact education

Meet the Swinburne alum from the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne helping to build a better world. 

Kirra Johnson, Mark Harwood, Suzanne Findlay, Amanda Robinson, Anne Lennon and Kate Fazio (2022 winner) were finalists in the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne’s inaugural Michael Liffman Alumni Awards, which recognises individuals making outstanding social impact. 

Find out more about some of their careers and how their Swinburne experiences have equipped them to make a positive social impact. 

Advancing social impact investment 

Suzanne Findlay is a graduate of the Master of Social Investment and Philanthropy (now the Master of Social Impact) and works at not-for-profit Sacred Heart Mission as Manager of Social Impact and Growth.  

Suzanne was part of the team that negotiated Victoria’s first social impact investment, using her corporate experience as an investment manager and equities analyst to contribute to the development of impact investment practice and research in Australia. 

She has co-authored numerous reports on social impact investing, as well as homelessness and affordable housing. She worked on the 2016 and 2018 Benchmarking Impact Reports on impact investing in Australia.

Suzanne says that studying at the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne opened many doors. 

“Work opportunities from my degree arose while I was studying and included being a co-author of Impact Investing Australia’s 2016 Benchmarking Impact report and the AHURI Inquiry into social impact investment for housing and homelessness.  

“Both involved combining my studies and previous investment experience and confirmed my decision to move away from a corporate environment. Studying at Swinburne facilitated my transition towards social impact through my interactions with fellow students, many of whom were working with NFPs or social enterprises and provided real life examples of what we were studying.” 

Employment pathways for young people

Kirra Johnson is the Head of Impact and Innovation at Good Cycles, an organisation aimed at creating employment pathways for young people in a range of future-focused industries. 

In addition to her work at Good Cycles, Kirra is Chair of the board at Juno, a specialist family violence and homelessness service that supports women and non-binary people. 

She says completing a Graduate Certificate of Social Impact has been instrumental to her success.

“Over many years in the social purpose sector I have become increasingly fascinated by the intersection of business and social purpose, asking myself how new types of ‘business’ and ‘social’ thinking can integrate to create generative social change.

“There I crystallised many ideas and gathered the tools to generate real social innovation and impact. Most importantly, I learnt to see myself as someone who can deeply engage in the social impact ecosystem and lead transformational change.” 

Kirra Johnson, Kate Fazio (winner of the Michael Liffman Alumni Award), Centre for Social Impact Centre Director Libby Ward-Christie, Michael Liffman, Mark Harwood and Amanda Robinson at the inaugural Michael Liffman Alumni Awards.

Global equity through entrepreneurship 

Mark Harwood is the CEO of ygap, an international organisation that supports social impact ventures with a mission of ‘advancing global equity through entrepreneurship’.

After starting his career as a consultant for government and private sector organisations, he pivoted to the for-purpose sector and joined aid organisation World Vision. There he led the Social Entrepreneurship and Economic Development unit applying business principles to achieve social and economic returns.

Mark is passionate about the role of locally-led entrepreneurship in helping to achieve inclusive economic development that is both financially and environmentally sustainable. His current work with ygap aims to unlock the potential of local businesses across Africa, the Pacific Islands and Australia.

“Doing the Graduate Certificate enabled me to expand my knowledge and skills in areas that are crucial to being a successful CEO. 

“It helped me have a more holistic perspective across programs, fundraising, leadership, impact measurement and design which have all been critical whilst leading an organisation through a global pandemic.”

Converting ideas into social impact 

Anne Lennon is the CEO of Social Change Central, an award-winning online hub that helps entrepreneurs find the support they need to turn their ideas for social change into social impact. 

Anne is passionate about the power of social enterprise to deliver widespread change. She is a corporate lawyer turned social entrepreneur. After experiencing firsthand the struggles that social entrepreneurs face in finding support, she co-founded Social Change Central, which is a growing community of over 50,000 changemakers. 

“My studies opened my eyes to the incredible work being done in the social impact space and the many opportunities to really make a positive impact in my work. I loved the focus on practical, real-world type learning. 

“The networks I gained through my studies are invaluable. At Swinburne, I feel like I really found ‘my tribe’. I met people with very diverse work backgrounds - from corporate to government to education and charity - all with huge determination to create positive social change.”

The Centre for Social Impact Swinburne recently celebrated 20 years of social impact education.

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