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Wow! Five years – where has it gone? Five years in a position of leadership that I was offered and took on with trepidation which turned into great pride, love, care and commitment. At first hesitantly and then with time, came confidence and understanding of the privilege bestowed on me. Leadership does embody being principled, leading by example, no matter how mucky and dirty the job, and inspiring people to be the best they can be so that they can bring their whole self to the organisation all the time – not just the part that suits. It is not merely enough to be a visionary, an idealist or an intellectual to define leadership. All these ideals need to be tempered with practical realisations, a forward thinking plan and teamwork. To look at the future with unrealistic rose coloured glasses is not wise. To believe the past way of doing things is the only way forward is just as unwise. We must also draw on tried and tested experience and hold on to what works as there are many many years of experience within the past leadership of WIZO. We will learn to embrace new thinking and approaches wherever feasible and have the courage to discard what is not. Times have moved forward in a way we can hardly recognise. Medicine, literature, information technology , business, and education has also changed so much even in the last five years. And so must WIZO. The stepping stones to the future have been laid ready for the next generation of leaders to reach even greater heights. New leadership is like arrows shot into the future. I am sure they will land on the door of success.

I believe in the last five years the name of WIZO has become synonymous with excellence, innovation and a desire to offer something just a little different than other organisations. If we keep our vision focused then those stepping stones to the future will turn into one small step for man, one giant leap for WIZO (with apologies to Neil Armstrong!)

We have a strength and vibrancy in what we do that is unparalleled. Our lives here are not accidental, we WIZO women are not without purpose. The fate of the Jewish nation of Israel is linked with that of the Jewish people in the Diaspora. I believe our ironclad bond has never been stronger. We may speak different languages and have different cultures, but we share one heart, one heritage and one belief in the unshakeable strength of Israel. Being active in WIZO gives each and every one of us the privilege to empower our Jewish state and to embrace this privilege with both hands. WIZO’s strength throughout our history has been our ability to adapt to any situation in Israel and respond immediately to its needs.

Our successes have been glorious the last five years. Four wonderful major functions that really were the talk of the town. Each one attracting a larger audience than the one before. Our guest speakers have been truly outstanding and I thank Anat for her vision in going all out in getting these speakers to Australia.. We’ve produced an innovative publication, our Every Woman Magazine, with wonderful articles each edition bringing in good profits every year. The New Horizons Club was successful as was the ‘You’re the Voice Membership Campaign’. Of course our Sponsor a Child initiative is now in full swing again and promises to be a great success culminating in a thank you lunch on May 9th this year.

These financial successes, combined with bequests received by WIZO NSW have enabled us to contribute to the following major campaigns in the last five years:

 The Day Care Centre Campaign has modernised all the playgrounds at the Raya Jaglom Day Care Centre in Tel Aviv: the Chorley Day Care Centre in Ra’ananna : and the Day Care Centre in Rishon Le Zion.

 New bathrooms and kitchens have been installed at our Day Care Centres in Rishon Le Zion and Chorley. Also at Rishon Le Zion we have laid new pathways and a new stroller parking area.

 WIZO Australia’s successful bed campaign allowed us to purchase new beds for every child at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim in Haifa.

 The WIZO School of Life was completely refurbished. This campaign was run over 2 years. Donations from all the States combined with a generous bequest, enabled this marvelous renovation to be completed.

Yes we certainly have much to be proud of. I take pride in the legacy of WIZO. Our mothers and grandmothers built the educational and social welfare infrastructure and it is we, our daughters and granddaughters through WIZO who will write the next chapter. We should take pride in the achievements and refurbishments of our projects, take pride in knowing that Australia is considered creative and innovative, take pride in the fact that our fundraising efforts are 5th in the world, but most of all take pride in the fact that we have a shared vision, shared ideals and believe that a strong Israel is essential not only to us, but our children and our children’s children. We encourage people to help themselves break out of the cycle of poverty, to educate and equip them with the life skills and support systems they need. We give Israeli children the opportunity to excel. Through thick and thin, war and peace, poverty and plenty, WIZO continues to believe that education is the passport to life. An educated person gives back to society, an educated person passes on the importance of education to his children, thus breaking the cycle of violence and despair.

At the conclusion of my last report as President, I do have people to thank and I thank them most sincerely and from the bottom of my heart. My thanks must go to Rony, Esther and of course Gilla who have continually guided, taught and mentored me. I could not have had a more supportive Executive and Group Presidents. I must say how I have missed the office support of Ann, Adele and Esther and their combined 100 years of WIZO knowledge but life evolves and it has…and Milena and Jo have been a wonderful office support to me with their creativity, knowledge, and sunny natures. There has also been one other person who must take a great deal of the kudos, in propelling WIZO to the forefront of Sydney’s community and that is Anat. Her drive and passion have been boundless, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart. I must also voice my appreciation of the work Julie Ross is doing as Treasurer as well as her predecessor Michele Spiro. Margo in the Federal office has great WIZO knowledge and I acknowledge and thank her for the immense input to the NSW office. It must be said also that WIZO does not function without our incredible volunteers. I sincerely thank each and every one of you for the time you give to us and I must especially mention Adele Rosenfeld, Deidre Libbert and Sara Gresham who never fail to give us a helping hand when needed.

I always feel you cannot be in a leadership position in any organisation or business without a supportive partner. My husband Danny has been truly remarkable and has only encouraged me to do the job to the best of my ability, to be on deck at all times and to be a backstop for the organisation. He would never let me shirk my duties. Leftovers three nights running, never a problem, meetings three nights a week, never a problem, opening up the office at 6.30am to let the painters in, not a problem. Thank you and I love you! My daughters Rachel and Tara have been so supportive too and I hope I have inspired in them their duty to the community. I think I have as they are two young women of the world I am most proud of.

I wish the incumbent President good luck in her role as leader of this amazing movement and I can assure her that we gain much more than we could ever put in. I hope I have given you the service, the dignity, the respectability and leadership this organisation demands and it has been my pleasure to give back to you.

Thank you

Gloria Newhouse

Have a look at photos from the evening here

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