Au revoir, Pam

Jerry Jane and Pam.jpg

As most of our readers will know, our former CEO Pam Rutledge handed over the leadership baton to Mark Orr from the beginning of 2018. 

Flourish Australia Chair Prof Elizabeth Moore said it is difficult to see it as a retirement or even a farewell because Pam will continue her work with the Mental Health Tribunal as well as projects for Flourish Australia.

We marked the occasion of this transition on the 21st of December at Figtree Conference Centre. This included some live speeches, some videotaped speeches, some gift presentations and the usual high standard of catering by the Figtree Conference Centre staff. 

From Richmond to Richmond

Pam has had a long career as a social worker and a leader in both government and non-government sectors. We won’t reveal exactly HOW long, but Mark mentioned that in 1983 she was Executive Officer of the “Richmond” Report which spurred revolutionary changes in the way we deal with mental health issues as a society. The report’s actual title was “Inquiry into Health Services for the Psychiatrically Ill and Developmentally Disabled.” Things have changed so much since then that the title is almost unspeakable today! 

Later, Pam succeeded Fred Kong as CEO of Richmond Fellowship of NSW. Incidentally, that organisation’s name came from the town of Richmond UK where the first of many “Richmond Fellowships” started, and is not related to the Richmond Report. From 2012 Pam worked with PRA CEO Phil Nadin to bring us the merger of RichmondPRA, now known as Flourish Australia.

Tulips

We noticed there was an unmistakable TULIP theme to the event, and a marked preference for the colours orange and purple (Pam’s favourites).

Pictured above is Pam receiving one of several gifts of artworks. Gerry Connolly from Prestige Packing Co, Harris Park presented it to her, while community art coordinator Jane Miller looks on. Gerry contributed one of his own artworks as well. 

Jane said that many artists from Wollongong, Blacktown, Harris Park, Richmond, Parkes and Head Office created the tulips. The picture also includes text: “People were asked for a word to describe our CEO.” 

The tulips have been individually cut out to create a collage. “It took 2 days to put all of the elements together in a way that was going to make every person’s contribution valued and important to the whole artwork,” Jane added. 

Leadership 

Pam’s own speech was unusually subdued as she confessed that it is going to be a bit strange for her to be able to do whatever she wants on most days! This is probably because that over the years what she has actually wanted to do has been to come in to work at Flourish Australia! 

What impressed us most about Pam was that her farewell speech emphasised how much she had learned from everyone else. Elizabeth drew attention to this quality in Pam: she is always able to spur other people on to do their best. What more could an organisation want from a leader? 

Incoming CEO Mark Orr need not be so nervous about the big shoes to fill (metaphorically speaking). After all, he has been mentored by Pam and some of the magic is bound to have rubbed off! We notice that he has even picked up that infectious laughter of Pam’s that was often heard echoing round the place. 

Warren Heggarty

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