29 September 2023

Changes at top of Brotherhood of St Laurence

Executive Director steps aside, board reshuffled

Conny Lenneberg, Dr Lucia Boxelaar, Stephen Newton AO

By Stephen Cauchi

8 June 2021

The Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Conny Lenneberg, has resigned for health reasons, while former school principal Stephen Newton has replaced Archbishop Philip Freier as Chair of the Brotherhood board in recent leadership changes at the organisation, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year.

The Brotherhood, a leading social justice and anti-poverty organisation, will search for a new Executive Director as it prepares to celebrate its anniversary with a range of activities.

Dr Lucia Boxelaar, the Brotherhood’s Director of Community Programs, is acting Executive Director.

Brotherhood spokesperson Bridie Riordan paid tribute to Ms Lenneberg, who joined the Brotherhood in January 2018 as its 10th – and first female – Executive Director.

“A passionate and vocal leader, Conny led our organisation with abundant energy and conviction, speaking out on social justice issues and advocating for those most in need,” Ms Riordan said.

“Conny decided to step down from her role in February this year to focus on her health. After a year of personal health challenges, we’re happy that Conny is now doing well.”

Ms Lenneberg – a Master of Arts from La Trobe University – was appointed with more than 25 years experience in the development and social justice sector, including senior executive and board roles.

She led World Vision International’s organisation and programs in the Middle East and Eastern Europe for more than six years and served as a senior manager at Australian Volunteers International.

Her record overseas includes organising responses to the Syria crisis, community development in Afghanistan and humanitarian work in Aceh, Indonesia, in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.

In Australia, her achievements include enabling partnerships with Indigenous communities, government and business in Central Australia and the Pilbara.

As a board member of Community Aid Abroad, she also assisted with its 1991 merger with Freedom from Hunger that led to the formation of Oxfam Australia.

Ms Riordan said the Brotherhood would shortly commence the process of recruiting a new Executive Director. “But in the meantime, we’re in safe hands with Dr Lucia Boxelaar,” she said.

Dr Boxelaar joined the Brotherhood in November 2018, after being with World Vision Australia for 11 years where she led teams that managed large-scale programs.

She also led two global strategic initiatives for World Vision International.

She has a Bachelor of Arts with honours in anthropology from Monash University, and a PhD in community-based natural resource management from the University of Melbourne.

The Brotherhood’s board announced the appointment of Stephen Newton as board chair on 28 April.

Mr Newton is a former school principal and chair of national and state independent school sector organisations for 25 years. He was appointed Officer in the general division of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2012 for his distinguished service to education.

His previous community board roles include past chair and member of the board of Anglicare Victoria. He currently serves as a trustee of the Hugh D.T. Williamson Foundation and as a director of the Epworth Medical Foundation.

Mr Newton succeeds Archbishop Freier, who has concluded his five-year term as board chair.

“Stephen is a distinguished Australian who has dedicated his life to making a difference to the lives of others and his considerable expertise brings a wealth of experience to BSL,” Archbishop Freier said.

“As a communicant member of the Anglican Church, Stephen is deeply committed to BSL’s mission of creating a more compassionate and just society where everyone can thrive.

“I feel most confident of the future of the Brotherhood of St. Laurence with Stephen at the helm.”

Mr Newton said he looked forward to working with the Brotherhood’s charter and life members, board, staff and volunteers in improving the lives of the disadvantaged.

“I hope to build upon BSL’s important work in alleviating poverty in Australia as the organisation enters its 10th decade,” Mr Newton said.

The Brotherhood was a “mission and values-driven organisation”, he said. “I will work to help further both that mission and to make real the values that all of us at BSL hold to be important.”

Mr Newton thanked the Archbishop for his “tremendous” leadership as chair.

“The Archbishop leaves the Brotherhood of St Laurence in a strong and respected position both in our governance and in the extent of our reach.”

Archbishop Freier will continue his involvement in the Brotherhood, including chairing the annual meeting.

Ms Riordan said the Brotherhood commenced its year of celebrations with its official birthday anniversary in December 2020.

It marked the anniversary with the launch of its 90th birthday site https://90.bsl.org.au/ 

“Throughout the year, we will be celebrating key historic moments such as Father Tucker’s Day in late May,” she said.

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