February 2024

Governance for Systems Change

Where we have come from 

Collaboration for Impact is a systems change intermediary. Over our 10 years of life, we have taken up different roles as we strive to transform systems towards equity and justice. Our early role through advocacy and capacity building was demonstrating that community change was possible through collaborative efforts. We then developed additional roles creating learning and knowledge platforms and large multi-sector convenings for collective learning. Now, we have transitioned to incubating new practices and models to centre equity and address systemic injustices. To enable these changes in role, CFI has developed organisational practices of reflection, sensing and testing to learn what is needed next to support Australia’s growing field working to change systems of inequity and disadvantage.   

We do the same with our governance.

Over our 10 years of life, CFI’s governance model has iterated 3 times. We began with a founder-based, start-up governance. We explored networked governance before adopting a more traditional skills-based model with network representation for the years where CFI consolidated its growth and development. Eighteen months ago, we appointed a CEO and transitioned our two Co-Founders out of organisational leadership whilst maintaining strategic Board roles. 

Where we are going

Since July 2023, CFI has been embarking on a process to reflect, sense and test what is needed next for CFI’s governance model. Our guiding inquiry questions have been:

  • What new developments and learnings are there in governance for systems change? 
  • What does equity-centred governance look like and require?
  • What can we learn from First Nations governance principles? 
  • As a systems change intermediary, to whom are we most accountable?

Over the last 8 months we have been strengthening our capacity to explore these questions by:

  • agreeing a governance development co-design process and appointing cross-cultural facilitators 
  • scanning the domestic and international field to understand best practice and innovation in equity-centred governance 
  • inviting 3 new Board members into the governance co-design process to bring more diverse thinking and experience
  • appointing a Chair to lead the governance co-design process and transition to CFI’s next model of governance.

Farewelling CFI’s current Chair – our Co-Founder, Liz Skelton 

At the 2023/2024 AGM, CFI’s Board accepted the resignation of Liz Skelton, current Chair and Co-Founder of CFI. While this transition has been the subject of much planning and preparation, it does not lessen the significance of this change.  

As a CFI Co-Founder, Liz imbued CFI with her values and practices. These are visible every day as CFI strives for equity, centres those most impacted, creates the conditions for co-leadership with First Nations people, actively seeks out diversity, and strategically discerns the role we are best able to play. With compelling clarity and grit, Liz championed the development and integration of CFI’s cornerstone practices – adaptive and systemic leadership, collaborating in complexity, power intelligence, and – in partnership with Mark Yettica Paulson – Deep Collaboration. Her vision and commitment propelled CFI from a self-organising network to becoming one of Australia’s leading systems change intermediaries. Throughout, Liz stretched the organisation with her sharp strategic questions, ability to hold complexity, and unflagging Scottish humour. We are immensely grateful for Liz’s humanity and friendship, and honour that CFI is able to contribute to equity and justice in Australia because of her leadership.  

After a 10 year commitment to CFI’s start up, growth and development, Liz is putting down her roles as CFI Chair, Board member and systems leadership practitioner. After some rest and renewal from supporting systems change on the ground, Liz will be exploring her next horizon and learning opportunities. 

In the coming months, we will have more moments to celebrate Liz’s leadership and legacy. For now, we share this update balancing the loss we feel against the knowledge that Liz is a Co-Founder of CFI in perpetuity and her legacy will live on in CFI’s next horizon. 

Sharing our governance story

As CFI’s governance model iterates, we will share updates here over the coming months.

CFI Board

February 2024 

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