Australian Volunteers International

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October 30, 2020

AVI CEO Paul Bird hands over to newly appointed Chief Executive, Melanie Gow

Early next month, after an incredible five and a half years at the helm, AVI’s CEO Paul Bird will hand over to the organisation’s newly appointed Chief Executive, Melanie Gow.

Paul’s passion for and commitment to AVI has been a constant throughout his tenure. His reputation is widely recognised in the sector, demonstrated through AVI’s continued growth, his relationships at senior levels in DFAT, appointment to the Board of ACFID and election as Chair of the International Forum for Volunteering in Development.

AVI Chair Kathy Townsend said Paul had made a significant impact on the organisation during his time as CEO.

“From leading the successful tender for the Australian Volunteers Program, through to the development of new programs including AVI’s Fiji based, Pacific People and securing a new home for AVI at 160 Johnson St, his achievements have been broad based.

“His contribution nationally and internationally through his board membership at ACFID and his role as president of FORUM have further cemented AVI’s reputation as a world leading international volunteering for development agency,” she said.

Paul Bird said it has been a privilege and honour to lead AVI through both challenging and rewarding times, building on the organisation’s almost 70-year heritage.

“I am so proud that AVI manages a truly world-class international volunteering for development program that holds at its heart the organisation’s ethos of sharing skills and knowledge through relationships based on mutual respect and trust as truly sustainable development, now expanded through Australian and local volunteers, mentors, students, technical advisers.

“Through this, we are able to build the capacity needs identified by partner business, government and civil society organisations in 29 developing countries,” said Paul.

Melanie Gow brings to AVI a depth of experience in international development. Having worked for many years with both World Vision Australia and World Vision International.

During this time Melanie has held a number of roles including Deputy CEO, Chief Strategy Officer, Chief of Staff to the CEO, Deputy Director for International Policy and Advocacy and Chief Supporter Officer.

Kathy Townsend said Melanie brings a broad range of experience to AVI including managing international programs, policy and advocacy as well as income generation and diversification.

“We are delighted to enter this new chapter under Melanie’s leadership. Her track record in strategy development and implementation; government relations; program and product innovation and stakeholder engagement with industry and the INGO sector are second to none.” Kathy said.

Melanie has a particular interest in children’s rights, having served as President of the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Geneva and as Co-Chair of the NGO Expert Panel to the UN Special Representative on Violence Against Children in New York.

In addition, she has run a small commercial business and a consulting practice working principally with for-purpose organisations. She is an experienced Board director having served on the Boards of a number of organisations including ACFID, Hagar and currently the Intrepid Group Foundation.

Melanie said AVI is a unique organisation within the international development sector of Australia.

“It is the premier organisation, connecting people around the world to share their skills, knowledge and experience to achieve positive, reciprocal, sustainable development outcomes.

“AVI’s vision and values strongly reflect my own commitment to a connected and shared understanding of what is required to achieve positive and equitable change. I’m very much looking forward to continuing the work of this extraordinary organisation.” she said.