The Stronger Smarter Institute appoints a new CEO

In a step that signals a new stage in the growth of the Stronger Smarter Institute, a highly regarded leader from Australia’s not for profit sector has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of the Stronger Smarter Institute.

“The appointment of Lisa Siganto is a profound and important step in the life of the Institute,” said the founding CEO, Dr Chris Sarra.

In taking up the position of CEO with the Stronger Smarter Institute, Lisa has left her role after 4 years as the Qld Director and recently Project Manager for the Philanthropy Team with Social Ventures Australia, a non-profit organisation which seeks to create better education and employment outcomes for disadvantaged Australians by bringing the best of business to the social sector.

“I have always been passionate about quality education for all children. As a parent I know very well the profound importance of high expectations of my own four children,” Ms Siganto said. “As I came to understand the Stronger Smarter agenda I felt compelled to join their team. It lets me play my part in ensuring high expectations for all Australian children.”

The Queensland-based Stronger Smarter Institute has worked across Australia enabling school and community leaders with approaches that change the tide of low expectations in Indigenous education.

Since 2005, the delivery of over 60 Stronger Smarter Leadership Programs has engaged more than 1,400 school and community leader participants in almost 400 schools across Australia, with a reach that has potentially impacted upon 30,000 Indigenous students.

The Institute was founded by Dr Chris Sarra, who in the late 1990s became the first Aboriginal principal of Cherbourg State School. Dr Sarra challenged the whole school community to have high expectations of its Indigenous students and fostered the ‘strong and smart’ philosophy which embraced a strong and positive sense of what it means to be Aboriginal in contemporary Australian society.

“It marks a further stage of our growth and is a sign of the great trust Australia’s educators have in us and the growing support of Australia’s corporate and philanthropic sector, who see the Stronger Smarter Institute as an opportunity to transform the lives of Indigenous and low SES school children,” Dr Sarra said.

“Significantly, these partners are walking with us not because they feel sorry for Aboriginal and low SES children, but because they share our authentic belief in the pursuit of excellence for ALL Australian children.

Dr Sarra will continue as Chairman of the organisation, on board to chart the Institute’s future strategic direction and provide mentoring.

Dr Sarra said the Stronger Smarter Institute’s long-term leadership team remains Indigenous led and committed and energised about the future.

“There can be no doubts that the transition of the Institute to an independent not for profit organisation in 2013 has been a profoundly challenging time,” Dr Sarra said.

“We have emerged from those challenges having gained greater support and a wider remit to take all Australian schools beyond a stronger smarter tipping point,” he said.

“I have always maintained that the Stronger Smarter Institute is about the philosophy not the individual, so my stepping away from the day to day management role won’t impact upon the work we do.

“Leadership is about being as exceptional as you can be, with words and behaviours that give licence to others to be exceptional also. I like to think that my own efforts to be exceptional and have high expectations of Aboriginal & low SES children have enabled many other school & community leaders to do the same.

“I step away from the role of CEO and into the role of Chairman, confident in the team and new board, confident in the Stronger Smarter networks we have created and confident in our dreams about the pursuit of excellence for all Australian children.”

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