The Illawarra Connection marked 30 years of connecting like minded leaders in the Illawarra community at its anniversary event on Tuesday night.
Founded in 1993, the group was formed at a time when the Illawarra's fortunes were at a nadir, during the recession of the early 1990s and the subsequent decline of the Illawarra's traditional manufacturing base in the early 2000s.
The founders and early leaders of The Illawarra Connection sought to overcome this by promoting initiatives for the benefit of the Illawarra business community, supporting employment and management opportunities.
In later years, these initiatives were formalised in a scholarship for a nominated member to undertake an MBA with the University of Wollongong's Sydney Business School, as well as the Leadership Illawarra Program, in parternship with RDA Illawarra, which connects up and coming leaders with experienced mentors to enhance the region's human capital.
In a special publication, former presidents Peter Kell and Roger Summerill reflected on the organisation's ups and downs, while current president Graham Lancaster highlighted the organisation's unique challenges during COVID.
"Here we were promoting connection in a world where circumstances were trying to keep us apart, attempting to isolate us, and it was more important than ever that we remained connected for our own mental health and for the health of our community."
This year's scholarship recipients were announced on the night, with Shiva Gopalan of Warrigal Aged Care and Grace Roulston of The Disability Trust awarded the course of study.
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