Community the focus for Vinnies’ new chief executive

By Veronika Cox

Incoming St Vincent de Paul Society Tasmania chief executive Heather Kent knows exactly where she wants to get started – right in the midst of her community.

“My initial focus will be upon building strong relationships that foster existing trust and loyalty with the community,” she said.

“I know that donors and volunteers already enjoy a long and rewarding relationship with Vinnies and its programs. To nurture those for the benefit of the community more generally genuinely excites me – I can’t wait to get started.”

Ms Kent replaces Lara Alexander, who was elected as Bass Liberal MHA early this year.

Ms Kent, who is currently the chief executive of the Royal Hobart Hospital Foundation, said St Vincent de Paul had a critical role to play not just in advocating, but in working with others to find new, sustainable solutions.

“The elements behind the increased cost of living (rising energy tariffs, supply chain effects on the price of goods and services, plus interest rate increases) are crystalising right at a time when there is a desperate shortage of suitable housing,” she explained.

“These elements are impacting those at risk of vulnerability in many connected ways.”

Ms Kent said she looked forward to working at a strategic level, while remaining firmly focused on the difference Vinnies makes at grassroots level. 

“I’m looking forward to the challenges I know I will face, but also the reward of working with like-minded colleagues in helping to make a difference for others where it is most needed,” she said.

“I hope to call on my 18 years of experience in dealing with government and the not-for-profit sector to further the goals of the Society.”

Ms Kent said St Vincent de Paul had a tremendous impact on communities across Tasmania.

“Be it the delivery of food and soup on a nightly basis on Loui’s and Vinnies Vans, offering shelter and accommodation through affordable housing and Bethlehem House, creating meaningful employment through the Society’s Special Works, or its exceptional Emergency Assistance programmes that deliver funds and support every day to so many in need,” she said.

Ms Kent will commence her role with St Vincent de Paul at the end of August.

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