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Susan McKinnon Foundation appoints Mike Baird as inaugural CEO

Susan McKinnon Foundation 3 mins read

The Susan McKinnon Foundation (SMF) has today announced a significant new chapter with the appointment of former NSW Premier Mike Baird AO as its inaugural Chief Executive Officer, and Holly Kramer as Chair.

SMF founders Grant Rule and Sophie Oh said Mr Baird, in this new role will significantly scale the Foundation’s activity in the areas of improving Australia’s public administration, supporting effective political leadership and strengthening the nation’s democratic institutions.

“We are thrilled to announce Mike as our inaugural CEO. His reputation as a centrist, can-do leader who has been highly successful in politics and business, makes him the perfect person to lead our organisation,” Mr Rule said.

“The Foundation’s non-partisan work is driven by evidence and data rather than ideology. The respect Mike has across the political spectrum will be instrumental in advancing our work.”

Mr Baird said he had been impressed by the Susan McKinnon Foundation’s work and purpose, and was excited to lead the organisation through the next step of its evolution.

“It’s no secret I’m passionate about the role governments and MPs can play in driving positive change. The Susan McKinnon Foundation offers a wholly unique opportunity to contribute more widely to the future of political leadership and democracy in Australia," Mr Baird said.

“I am energised by the SMF’s vision of trying to help our political leaders be equipped for senior roles, contribute to public policy, encourage mechanisms to support strong government and to inspire many to play a role in government during their careers. I think its contribution has already been hugely positive and I’m very excited to lead its progress from here.”

Mr Rule and Dr Oh also warmly welcomed SMF Chair, Holly Kramer, whose background includes serving on the boards of Woolworths, Fonterra Co-operative, and ANZ. In her executive career she was the CEO of apparel retailer Best & Less, and prior to that an executive at Pacific Brands and Telstra.

“Holly brings a wealth of executive and non-executive experience from ASX 20 listed companies and will play a pivotal role in the development of a high-performing, impact focused organisation as we scale. We are very lucky to have her leading our board,” Ms Oh said.

“I know Holly’s experience and stature gives our stakeholders enormous faith in the integrity of our mission.”

Ms Kramer said she was greatly looking forward to her work with the Foundation.

“The Susan McKinnon Foundation’s work is vital in promoting effective political leadership and democratic processes,” Ms Kramer said.

“I am thrilled to be involved with an organisation that is dedicated to making a meaningful impact and I look forward to working with Mike, who will be an outstanding leader for this organisation.”

Starting from nothing, Mr Rule built Australia’s largest SMS technology business and following the $1.7 billion sale of that business in 2021, Sophie and Grant committed the majority of their wealth to the Susan McKinnon Foundation.

Some of the Foundation’s major initiatives include The McKinnon Institute for Political Leadership, the McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership, and funding the establishment of the e61 economic research institute.

The Susan McKinnon Foundation’s board also includes Professor Peter Shergold, Hon. John Thwaites, and Sir Bill English.


About us:

The Susan McKinnon Foundation (SMF) is dedicated to strengthening Australia's democracy and enhancing public administration. Their goal is for Australian governments to be more effective, transparent and accountable. The foundation supports practical programs that deliver tangible progress and their work is motivated solely by the long-term public good. Their approach is nonpartisan and is undertaken in cooperation with all sides of politics.


Contact details:

Anil Lambert / 0416 462 722 / anil@hortonadvisory.com.au

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