‘I can’t wait to get things under way’ 

Fri, 11 Aug 2023

Community Foundations Australia has appointed internationally regarded community philanthropy executive Ian Bird OLY from Canada as its new CEO. Ian, who will join the organisation in October, will bring a depth of experience in community foundation development and leadership from his current role as chair of the Global Fund for Community Foundations and his former role as the President and CEO of Community Foundations of Canada. 

In his role leading the Canadian peak organisation, Ian oversaw a transformation of the sector from an association of collegial, independent entities to a connected network working with purpose together and with other sectors on domestic and global priorities. The CFC’s work included reconciliation with Indigenous communities, expanding the field of social finance, fostering community capacity for refugee relocation, shifting patterns in giving and philanthropy, and extending the role of public partnerships with and for under-represented communities. 

“We are thrilled to benefit from Ian’s innovative thinking, his compassion and global perspective at this important juncture. A creative and visionary peak body is crucial to stewarding the Australian network through this period of growth,” said Community Foundations Australia Acting Chair Diane Bray AM.  

“We have set an ambitious agenda for ourselves that comes from our commitment to bridging community leadership with global perspectives. Ian’s track record attests to meeting people where they are and helping them see what is possible.” 

Ian, who is also a former Olympian in hockey, having represented Canada at the Summer Olympics in Sydney and Seoul, said: “Australia is on the cusp of the most important developments in community philanthropy. 

“It is not simply the pending expansion of the community foundation network, but also the shift in its ethos that is already under way. This is a place where community trust and assets are coming to the forefront in new ways, giving voice to new leaders and priority to new practices.  

“I didn’t want to miss out and can’t wait to get things under way,” he said. 

Most recently, Ian has been advising impact-focused companies, foundations and initiatives, such as the Foundation for Black Communities and Indigenous Peoples Resilience Fund, where he worked alongside the founders during their formative phase and successful capitalisation efforts. 

In the decade prior, Ian led Community Foundations of Canada and fostered an approach of shared leadership among Canada’s movement of community foundations. This took shape by aligning diverse stakeholders, growing the capacity and resources at Community Foundations of Canada and instilling an ethos of reciprocity and partnership.