Stories in philanthropy

Cultural crusader meets ethical leader

It was a nickname conferred long ago, but it still resonates today. Nineteen years ago, Terri Janke was dubbed a cultural crusader after her legal work helped protect the intellectual property of Indigenous art in Cairns.

Fast-forward to 2019, and Terri is the inaugural recipient of the Chief Executive Women (CEW) & Vincent Fairfax Fellowship at Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership, recognising her continued role in advising Indigenous cultural and intellectual property.

But the Fellowship is only the start of the next stage of Terri’s journey.

“I’m so looking forward to learning from leaders from other businesses,” Terri said. “I work alone – I have a team – but I don’t have a network of people to give me a second opinion…this is an opportunity for me to think about the next level.”

Terri runs a small law and consulting firm in Sydney, with Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients. And she has just found out that her doctorate on Indigenous intellectual and cultural property has been passed, which means she will graduate as Dr Janke later this year. Not only that, but she’s also writing a book on Indigenous intellectual property, to be published in 2020.

It’s already been a big 2019 for Terri and she is keen to embrace the learnings offered through the Fellowship. Peter Collins, who is program director of the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship delivered by Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership, said CEW’s commitment was a sign that the 25-year long tradition of the Fellowship fostering Indigenous leadership would continue and be renewed.

“Terri Janke is already an outstanding Indigenous leader and we look forward to working with her so she can make an even greater difference,” he said.

Terri believes the Fellowship will provide her with more opportunities to consider how to build on the key areas of ethics and governance.

“Ethics has always been a big part of the work I’ve done interpreting and advising indigenous communities,” she said.

“Governance is very important – we often look at it through a legal or regulatory lens. There are lot of challenges coming up that are ethical and moral…(and) maybe I’ve done that (kind of leadership) unconsciously.”

Terri believes in an era when our main institutions are often under fire, there is even more relevance to the moral and ethical dimensions in public and corporate life. “It needs to be a very strong muscle in our business,” she said. “The ethical leader of today is in a world where the community is much more discerning, looking for leaders who are authentic.”

Terri will focus on indigenous governance that will help build “…strong resilient indigenous organisations, working in education, health and housing.”

CEW Scholarships Committee chair Colleen Harris said her organisation was committed to enabling talented women to lead and excel in senior roles.

“For Australia to realise the benefits we know that diversity can deliver, we must also get a critical mass of diverse women in senior positions of influence and leadership,” she said.

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