Elaine Henry OAM
Elaine Henry is currently Chair of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth and a Non-Executive Director of numerous groups focusing on the public good. For example, she is a Director of Social Ventures Australia, the Australian Social Innovation Exchange, the Public Interest Journalism Foundation, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Financial Literacy Board and the Australian Statistics Advisory Board, among others.
In addition, Elaine is a Governor of the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), and on the Advisory Boards of the Global Foundation, the Australian School of Business and the Centre for Social Impact.
For almost 13 years until the end of last year, Elaine was the Chief Executive Officer of The Smith Family where she led the transformation of the organisation (which was set up by businessmen in 1922) to concentrate on the root causes of disadvantage rather than ameliorating the symptoms using the power of education to disrupt the intergenerational cycle of poverty. The unique operating and funding approaches saw the entwining of the ‘have nots’ (participation strand) with the ‘haves’ (engagement strand) to produce a truly inclusive model involving sponsorship, mentoring and tutoring over the life course helping to provide opportunities for the disadvantaged to attain the skills and capacities they need to thrive in the 21st century.
In the previous 13 years, Elaine was the Executive Director of the Cancer Council (NSW) which developed from a small statutory authority into a world acclaimed cancer control agency. She was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1994 and a Doctorate of Letters (h.c.) from the University of NSW in 2006 for her eminent service to the community and community health, particularly her contribution to the control of breast cancer. She played a major role in developing the model for Australia’s breast screening program, oversaw the establishment of the National Breast Cancer Centre and Breastscreen NSW and convened the National Steering Committee for Australia’s inaugural Breast Cancer Day. She instigated a range of entrepreneurial fundraising activities including Daffodil Day and Australia’s Largest Morning Tea.
In 1981 Elaine joined the Cancer Council on her return from working overseas for 14 years during which time she held positions at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, University of London; the National Radiological Protection Board within the Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell; and Oxford Brookes University where she had previously been awarded a first class honours degree in Science.
During her career, Elaine has sought to influence public policy development by working on numerous and diverse committees at the state, national and international levels. She was a consultant to the World Health Organisation assisting eastern Mediterranean countries to plan and implement cancer control programs and was also a Director of AXA Trustees 1998-2001.
Elaine has received many awards for her work; most recently she was honoured by Research Australia in 2009 with their Lifetime Achievement Award. She was recognised as one of the Australian Financial Review’s BOSS True Leaders in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010.
Elaine continues to pursue her passion of translating current research knowledge into practice in order to progress the health and wellbeing of individuals and our nation.