The Good Samaritan Foundation is building on its legacy and looking to the future with confidence with the recent appointment of a new Executive Director and Chair of the Board. Sonya Mears took up the role of Executive Director last month and Martin Slattery has been appointed as Chair of the Good Samaritan Foundation Board.
By Debra Vermeer
Sonya’s professional background is in marketing and the creation and execution of innovation and growth strategy.
She began her career working in marketing for media companies before moving into the financial services sector, where she gained experience in digital media, customer experience and growth strategy.
It was during this period that Sonya began volunteering with Streetwork, a not-for-profit organisation supporting high-risk young people to turn their lives around.
“After a couple of months, Streetwork offered me a paid role and I enjoyed being a part of the organisation so much that I knew that returning to corporate life was highly unlikely,” she said.
“I couldn’t be happier with my appointment to the leadership of the Good Samaritan Foundation.
“Supporting vulnerable women, children and young people in Australia and other countries to access education, food security and shelter from harm is a life calling.
“The Sisters of the Good Samaritan and their ministry partners’ programs have positive, intergenerational impacts and I’m looking forward to playing my part in ensuring that the programs continue long into the future.”
Sonya said one of the things that attracted her to the work of the Good Samaritan Foundation was its wide reach.
“The Foundation supports ministries in Australia, but also across the Asia-Pacific in Kiribati, the Philippines, and Timor Leste where we can have such an impact if we don’t turn a blind eye. It’s extraordinary how many people we are able to help, and the scale of what’s possible is really exciting,” she said.
Sonya said the parable of the Good Samaritan, the charism of the Sisters and their long history of ministry for women and children were inspiring, something that was brought home to her even more strongly when she attended the recent Chapter Gathering.
“The history of the Sisters is incredible, and I love the diversity of their ministry. That was very attractive to me, that all people can be Good Samaritans,” she said.
“The Parable of the Good Samaritan remains highly relevant to today. What you walk past is what you accept, so the challenge is not to walk past, but to look for small kindnesses you can do.”
Martin Slattery, the new Chair of the Good Samaritan Foundation Board, is a solicitor with law firm Carroll and O’Dea and first joined the Board in 2018. He had worked with the Sisters previously in setting up Good Samaritan Education.
“I’ve been on a number of different boards for various Catholic not-for-profit organisations,” he said. “I’ve always been attracted to working with institutions doing good work in society.
“The Good Samaritan Foundation in particular, in terms of women and children in need in Australia, Kiribati, the Philippines, and Timor Leste has got a broad reach in helping those in need.”
Martin said that over the years of his involvement with the Foundation, with Katrina Flynn as chair of the Board, he had seen it become more professional in terms of its structure, oversight and rigour in support of the Sisters’ ministries.
“I’m honoured, but also daunted, to be taking on the role of chair,” he said. “Katrina did a wonderful job and put in a lot of time and effort, so there’s a firm foundation. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to keep growing, to revisit what we’ve been doing and build on that.
“It’s an exciting time of change, with a new Executive Director and a new Congregational Leader, so we’re in a time of taking stock about how we’re doing things and working towards a joint vision for what we want to achieve.”
Martin said that in looking to the future he was very aware of the task of carrying on the Sisters’ legacy.
“The Good Samaritan Foundation and Good Samaritan Education have been deliberately established to make sure there is the ongoing presence of the Sisters, even into the decades to come,” he said.
“We are making sure that we keep in contact and touch with the charism of the Sisters and their long history of partnerships and goodwill in various parts of the community and develop it and not take it for granted.”
Part of that development is to seek government funding to assist with overseas development projects and to further strengthen policies and practices.
“It’s about making sure that we have sufficient reserves to ensure that if at some point in the future the Congregation was no longer able to assist us in things like rent and administration fees, we could stand on our own two feet and carry on the work,” Martin said.
The Good Samaritan Foundation was established in 1999 to provide ongoing finances and resources to the work established by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan. Donations over $2 are tax deductible in Australia and can be made by visiting www.goodsamsfoundation.org.au/donate.