The Illawarra Connection’s first networking dinner of the year on Tuesday will be a chance for TIC president Graham Lancaster to introduce new executive officer Keirin McCormack.
Ms McCormack takes over from Yvonne Walker who stood down after four years in the role to have the time she needs to focus on her growing conduct management and HR consultancy HR with Ease.
She was born in Canberra but her university lecturer mum was from Wollongong.
Ms McCormack came to live in the city for six years where she worked with the community engagement team after completing her first degree. Her father is a scientist and she lived overseas in North Amercia and Europe for many of her childhood years.
Ms McCormack describes herself as an expert collaborator and passionate community engagement professional. She worked in Melbourne as a project manager with the Federation of Community Legal Centre last year before heading back to Wollongong a month ago. Prior to that she was an Equity Access co-ordinator at the University of Wollongong, as well as a member of the Pathways team and Community Engagement team.
Prior to that she was a projects coordinator and a research officer at the University of Technology in Sydney where she completed a BA Communications (Social Inquiry) with a major in Police and Advocacy. She has a certificate of participation from the International Association of Public Participation and a Juris Doctor postgraduate law degree from RMIT University.
Ms McCormack has been a member of Junior Chamber International (JCI) for the last three years and was the national director of public relations in 2018 and is now the national director of finance. “My passion is working for a purpose and inclusive community. This year I'm starting up a small not-for-profit working with small animals and children”.
Ms McCormack’s achievements include being a program winner at the Australian Government Department of Education and Training University Teaching Awards and a finalist in the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Awards for her work with UOW Outreach and Pathways. In 2017 she was named winner of JCI’s Most Outstanding Member Award and was a participant in the Writing Programme for Equity and Widening Participation Practitioners (Australia and the United Kingdom).
Mr Lancaster said TIC had an impressive field of applicants for the position. “We look for someone who is capable, efficient and well organised. Someone who is very personable. We looked for someone with a good history of networking. Keirin clearly had that from her experiences with JCI and in organising events”.
“We are an event based membership organisation and we really look for someone who is going to be able to organise our events and provide top quality information and entertainment for our members,” he said.
“We are also very mindful that any leadership networking group should replenish itself, rejuvenate and bring new members in”.
Ms McCormack has done considerable work during the last 12 months helping not-for-profit organisations, charities and startup enterprises with advise.
“Through that work I have found a bit of a passion and place for myself. I am looking to continue that kind of work. When I came back a month ago and this opportunity arose with such an incredibly important organisation in this region, I jumped at it”.
Ms McCormack sees TIC providing a connection among all generations and an pipeline to develop and grow people and businesses by supporting each other. “Which is important because there are so many amazing opportunities I see in this region”.
Ms McCormack challenges people who see negative constraints about being located in a region. She sees any such challenges as a chance to be innovative. And she says that is what Wollongong does so well. It looks at challenges and uses them as an opportunity to spark innovation.
“There are some really exciting things going on here. And TIC is about connections,” she said.
The Illawarra Connection provides a pipeline through scholarships with the University of Wollongong’s Sydney Business School and Memorandums of Understanding with groups such as JCI Illawarra which help build capacity in the region.
Ms McCormack said profiling and acknowledging people and organisations doing great things is also an important and valuable role TIC plays.
She said the membership organisation is made up of people and organisations who have a purpose and intend to make a different to and for the region.
“They are all amazing people. And I want to help them make a difference. This is a way I can make a contribution. I am really excited. And Yvonne has been so helpful. She is so organised and it is the best handover I have ever had”.
Among Ms McCormack’s priorities is to get the six best speakers she can find for the bi-monthly dinners each year.