New Mardi Gras’ decision to return to a co-chair model was based on a need to drive greater female involvement in the organisation and publicly kill off the perception it is run by a single individual, Steph Sands said.
Sands was elected NMG co-chair last week alongside Nick Parker. She told Sydney Star Observer the organisation was firmly focused on the future.
“We believe the single chair model probably gave undue prominence to one individual. This gave the impression that one person was calling the shots. Not only was that impression false, but it also puts tremendous pressure on anyone in that role,” she said.
“The second reason is that we believe that we lost something when we stopped having both male and female co-chairs.
“The key thing is that the organisation has clear leadership. When I was a co-chair previously this leadership had to come from the board as there were few other people around to do it.
“The situation is quite different today. NMG now has a small, but growing permanent staff base that is driving the organisation forward on a day-to-day basis. The role of the board and the co-chairs is now quite different. Our role now lies in broader areas of policy, review and strategy.”
Sands said the new board would work towards improving NMG’s relationships with key community organisations while CEO Anna McInerney takes on the public-face role.
“The entire board will definitely be building relationships with community organisations and groups and spending more time with members of our organisation,” she said.
“The board can provide a visible and approachable forum for our members and community. What is of utmost importance, however, is that the entire board fulfill our elected duty of a governance role for the company.
“We are writing a three-year strategic plan for the business which will document our longer-term vision, however, short term goals revolve around governance, succession planning for both staff and key volunteer positions (such as the board) and effective risk management.
“Our immediate action point from the AGM is regarding consultation, from which we sent out our first of many surveys to our members last week on our community grants program.
“Our next survey is a membership-based survey to help craft the strategy for our membership program moving forward and includes ideas for how members can have even further input into the organisation.”
Sands, who with Lynne O’Brien is one of only two women on the board, said she hoped having male and female co-chairs would encourage greater female participation in NMG.
“As such a regular networking event for the women of Mardi Gras and other organisations will be held in the near future,” she said.
“All female members of the organisation and community should watch out for this evening as this will be an opportunity to become more involved in the organisation in a number of ways.”

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