The Benevolent Society is pleased to welcome our new board director, Leonie Jackson. Leonie is the Executive Manager, Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships of Deaf Services and the Deaf Society. This newly merged organisation is Australia’s largest service provider for the Deaf, hard of hearing and Deafblind community. Leonie has over 25 years of experience working for organisations with a Deafblind focus, both in the corporate sector and the Deaf Community.

Leonie’s career began as a teacher. When she was in high school, a new program was developed specifically for Deaf people to become teachers for Deaf children. Upon completion of her teaching degree, Leonie began teaching at the Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children (RIDBC) in Australia’s first bilingual program for Deaf children aged two to five, which she helped establish.

After 18 years at RIDBC, Leonie moved from educating Deaf children to educating society when she began exploring how she could influence policy, creation, and innovation, motivated by the desire to do more for her son’s (who is a Deaf child) education and future. Leonie joined AI Media and set up the education program for hard of hearing children in schools, helping them access class information through captioning.

Five years after joining AI Media, Leonie was tapped on the shoulder to become the CEO for the Deaf Society – In the organisations 100-year history, Leonie is the first Deaf CEO. In June of this year, The Deaf Society and Deaf Services organisation merged, and Leonie moved into her current role putting her in a position to influence policy, social change, and social outcomes for people with disability.

Growing up, Leonie was taught the value of equality, that no one person is better than another, and that everyone should be treated the way one would expect to be treated. This is what attracted her to The Benevolent Society, the fact that our values align, and that our vision is to help people live their best lives. Our rich, charitable, and philanthropic history and our commitment to empowering people to achieve what they want to achieve are why Leonie wanted to join The Benevolent Society board. In her new position as a director, she looks forward to connecting with others to come up with innovative solutions to how we can enhance our service delivery.

In her spare time, Leonie undertakes voluntary work and is the chairperson of the Australian Deaf Games, happening in 2022 at Lake Macquarie and in Newcastle. She enjoys entertaining and has a passion for cooking and loves to get creative with her dishes – but pasta is definitely her number one!