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The Tindall Foundation invited Joan Withers to join its board in 2009. She accepted without hesitation: “I knew why Stephen and Margaret Tindall were doing this—they overcame their natural inclination to be private in order to do good. So it was a privilege to be involved.”
Joan had been on The Warehouse’s board in 1998 and was an adviser to the Foundation in the early 2000s. When she became Chief Executive of Fairfax New Zealand in 2005, Joan relinquished all other roles except her place on the board of Auckland Airport, which she occupied for 16 years until 2013, including a term as Chair.
After she moved on from Fairfax in 2009, Joan was free to rejoin The Tindall Foundation. The trustee position is one she continues to fulfil enthusiastically alongside her many other business and charitable commitments (including being Chair of Mighty River Power).
Our trustees meet as a group at least six times year. Beyond fulfilling these governance duties, Joan is closely involved with some of the projects that the Foundation supports—like the Health Science Academies scheme to help Māori and Pasifika students from three South Auckland schools to gain secure jobs in the health sector.
“I am passionate about the Health Academies and their link with Middlemore Hospital because I live in South Auckland and see youth unemployment and decile one schools, but I know that the kids have potential,” said Joan, who chairs the steering group that governs this Counties Manukau District Health Board initiative.
Working pro bono in the charitable sector can be more demanding than corporate life, she finds. “In the corporate world you have a big infrastructure that is not always present in not-for-profit groups. But The Tindall Foundation is a well-structured philanthropic trust totally dedicated to the causes that it supports.”
Being able to rely on Funding Managers and having predictable revenue flows are important factors in ensuring good governance, Joan noted: “To an extent we know what we can donate every year, which is what enters from the family shares of The Warehouse, plus the investment from the portfolio. There is a long-term commitment here, which has been reinforced by the inception of the investment committee to secure finances for future donations.”
Joan plans to be a trustee for as long as she is needed, and is positive about the Foundation’s evolution:
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