A Q&A with Jenny Allen, CEO, Foundation for the WA Museum

Jenny Allen FAIM hopes to be known and remembered in years to come as a caring, determined and dedicated individual who looked to help others and loved her family and friends unconditionally. On the basis of her multiple career achievements to date, there is little doubt of this happening.

Currently Foundation for the WA Museum Chief Executive Officer, Ms Allen previously worked at The 500 Club, which followed a successful 16- year stint with Youth Focus WA. Within this role she took the not-for-profit organisation from fledgling start-up to a significant contributor to the mental health and wellness sector for young people. During her time with Youth Focus, Ms Allen picked up a range of accolades, including the Western Australian of the Year Community Award in 2013 and a finalist placing for WA in the 2014 Australian of the Year Awards.

Ms Allen also cited some of the proudest moments of her career while working for Youth Focus. “I am extremely proud of the successes I achieved in looking after young people and their families, seeing them at the beginning of their counselling journey and then at the end,” she said. “It would make my heart sing.”

Ms Allen spoke to Leader about this and some other key insights from her illustrious career.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
There have been many, but the success each year of Hawaiian Ride For Youth – its growth, its supporters and riders – and then two award wins in 2012 and 2015 for Best Charity Event at the Australian Event Awards were all thrilling achievements.

What has been most challenging and how did you overcome this challenge?
Heading up a not-for-profit with no money and little professional expertise was a challenge we overcame with the support of organisations and individuals in the corporate sector.

Do you have a mantra or work ethic that drives you on each day?
Enthusiasm and an insatiable wish to continue to learn and succeed in giving back.

How big an impact did your time with Youth Focus have on your leadership style?
The biggest impact was knowing if I could not achieve my goal one way, we as a team would work together to find another solution. I believe my compassion for humanity and its frailties made me a leader whose team’s loyalty and support gave me the impetus to always go further and beyond. I believe my 16 years at Youth Focus made me a better person and a strong and collaborative leader.

Was it difficult to leave Youth Focus and did you find it difficult to adapt to a new company?
In a word – yes. It had become part of me and my passion around suicide prevention and mental health was very real. I was not ready to retire and so made the decision to look for different areas that would give me challenges and opportunities to use my skills and experience gained as a CEO.

When you started working for the Foundation for the WA  Museum, did you have a goal you wanted to achieve?
Together with the chair and the foundation board, we wanted to achieve a substantial endowment fund to give our WA Museum the opportunities that government could not. To accomplish this we needed to look at structural and positive changes within the foundation, and these goals meant growing the brand, achieving DGR-1 (deductible gift receipt) status so the foundation could receive donations from a private ancillary fund and looking at the operation of the foundation in an exciting and innovative way.

What does the future hold for the Foundation for the WA Museum?
Excitement, education, advocacy. An ability to share and bring the community along to enjoy, learn and feel enormously proud of this iconic one and only state-of-the-art museum being built in our city with recognition throughout the international community of arts and culture.

Are there any major career goals you would still like to tick off?
I would love the opportunity to chair an important and recognised organisation to make a difference in the area of children and youth mental health initiatives. It is an additional passion of mine, as I have always had a great love of children and young people.

Do you have any pieces of advice for emerging leaders?
Although you may be the boss, you also need to have the trust and respect of all members of your team, which means open and honest discussions where everyone contributes. Remaining open to new ideas, listening and knowing when to step in and guide your team is also a valuable strength as a leader. You are only as good as your team and colleagues who surround you.

Article reproduced with permission. AIMWA Leader magazine, Fellow Q&A, Chris Thurmott, Issue #12, September 2018

Chair and Board appointees – Foundation for the WA Museum

Former Fortescue Metals Group CEO Nev Power will take over as Chair of the Foundation for the WA Museum Board later this month. Succeeding Justin Mannolini, who has held the role for the past 6 years, Mr Power is looking forward to steering the Foundation in the count-down to the new Museum opening scheduled for late 2020.

From 2011 to 2018, Nev was the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, one of the world’s largest, lowest cost producers of iron ore. Fortescue is widely recognised for its unique culture and world class infrastructure and mining assets in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. During his tenure, Fortescue quadrupled its production to over 170 million tonnes per annum and positioned itself as the lowest cost supplier of seaborne iron ore to China.

Mr Power chairs Perth Airport Pty Ltd, the fourth busiest airport in Australia which operates around the clock, 365 days a year, servicing around 14 million passengers per annum as Australia’s western hub and centre for commercial and leisure travel in Western Australia.

Mr Power is keen to contribute to the growth and development of Western Australia and is passionate about the economic and community development of Northern Australia. His belief that we must create the right environment for passion with focus will ensure that his stewardship will support the Foundation to reach its goal of raising $35m for the Discovery Endowment Fund.

This Fund will enable the Museum’s ability to bring international exhibitions to Perth and our branch Museums; WA Maritime Museum, WA Shipwrecks Museum, Museum of Geraldton, Museum of the Goldfields and the Museum of the Great Southern.

Mr Power’s experience and profile at a national and international level will add value to the Board and strengthen the profile of the Foundation. He is keen to contribute to the cultural development of Western Australia through supporting the scientific and historical exhibitions and displays our Museums have to offer.

In accepting the role Mr Power said, “I am very excited to be working with the WA Museum and the Foundation Board to provide the opportunity for WA locals and tourists alike to experience and explore our rich history and insights into the future”.

Outgoing Chair, Justin Mannolini said: “I am delighted that Nev has agreed to take over as Foundation Chair.  His experience in developing and leading high performance teams, coupled with his reputation and profile at a national and international level, will add great value to the Board and enhance the Foundation’s ability to reach its fundraising goal in time for the opening of the New Museum in 2020.”

Also joining the Foundation Board is Michelle Tremain, Managing Partner of PwC Perth.  With more than 24 years’ knowledge and experience, Michelle leads PwC Perth’s National Indirect Taxes practice.  Ms Tremain is also actively involved at a National level as PwC’s national GST Government and Not-for-Profit sector leader.   Michelle has a demonstrated passion for culture and the arts and has been proactive in her personal support for emerging artists in Western Australia.  She is also a current Board Member of the Perth Theatre Trust and sits on the Curtin Business School Advisory Board.

Jenny Allen, CEO, Foundation for the WA Museum said that she was excited by the appointments and looked forward to capitalising on Mr Power and Ms Tremain’s personal and professional networks and corporate reputations to raise the profile and presence of the Foundation and to highlight the supportive work it does for the WA Museum.  “We have been fortunate to have a visionary Chair in Justin Mannolini and I am confident that Nev Power will bring his own leadership style and passion to the role: my team and I are very proud to be working under his leadership. Michelle’s vast experience and involvement with our sector will also contribute significantly to the Foundation’s strategy and governance.”

The Inaugural Mindaroo Grant

The introduction of the Foundation for the WA Museum’s inaugural Minderoo Grant, funded from the Discovery Endowment Fund, has generated an excellent response from the WA Museum’s scientists and curators in its inaugural year. Eleven high calibre submissions were received from a wide cross section of Museum research departments with four recipients receiving Grants for key Museum projects which would not otherwise be funded.

The projects selected offer far reaching benefits and represent some of the WA Museum’s diverse disciplines in science, social and cultural knowledge. The successful Minderoo Grants project include:

Mid-Cretaceous vertebrate from the Pillawarra Plateau

Palaeontology fieldwork expedition to find fossil evidence of toothed birds, marine reptiles, shark and rays from the Cretaceous period.

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) of WAM’s historical, iconic and holotype specimens

Using cutting edge molecular DNA technologies to discover new knowledge on important and iconic biological specimens.


Acquisition of 3D scanner to improve WAM’s Collections conservation abilities and enable 3D digital and tactile access to the public. The 3D capability will provide benefit across a number of Museum teams including Materials Conservation, New Museum, Learning and Creativity, Maritime Archaeology, Anthropology and Archaeology.

Preserving the past – securing the future of the WAM tissue collection

Supporting the Museum to conserve against molecular degradation (RNA and DNA) to one of its most invaluable biological assets – the historical terrestrial vertebrates ultra frozen tissue samples. Many samples within this collection are irreplaceable due to being endangered or extinct and comprise a fraction of the 70,000 tissue samples held by the Museum. Tissue samples are ultra frozen at -80C to preserve them for future decades of genetic research on WA’s diverse terrestrial animals.

The four Minderoo Grant recipients were announced at an event hosted by the Foundation for the WA Museum where the WA Museum awarded its highest honour to philanthropists Andrew and Nicola Forrest for their committed leadership and financial support over many years. The Forrest’s became Fellows of the WA Museum, an accolade awarded to only 17 others over the 127-year history of the Museum, with Nicola Forrest being its first female Fellow.

Our thanks to the Stan Perron Charitable Trust

We were delighted to receive a wonderful surprise – a donation letter from The Stan Perron Charitable Trust advising that the Foundation would be receiving $1 million for our Discovery Endowment Fund.

As the CEO Jenny Allen said “It is not every day that something as wonderful and a surprise such as this arrives unexpectedly and causes much excitement.   To say that the Foundation is delighted is an understatement as we continue on our journey of growing the endowment fund to enable the WA Museum to attract international exhibitions, purchase cultural objects and be supported to carry out research projects”.

Growing the Discovery Endowment Fund is one of the major objectives of the Foundation as this will assist in delivering additional support to the WA Museum which is beyond the State Government’s funding.

Without families like the Perrons, this could not be achieved and we thank them for their amazing support.

Latest Partnership – Barbagallo Motors

Set amongst New Zealand’s outstanding natural beauty, in award winning accommodation, one lucky auction bidder at the Foundation’s Antarctica: Night at the Museum fundraising Gala will win the chance to drive an Aston Martin on Ice! Providing this incredibly exhilarating experience is just one example of Barbagallo Motor’s commitment to supporting the Foundation for the WA Museum in a creative and multi-layered partnership.

The partnership will integrate the highly respected brands of Lamborghini, Maserati, Rolls Royce, Jaguar and Land Rover across Foundation events and activities. The Barbagallo team are committed to culture and the arts in Western Australia, understanding the important role Museum’s play in creating a vibrant and liveable capital city, full of creativity, discovery and opportunity.

Museum in a Container at Mandurah CrabFest

8,849 visitors at this year’s Channel Seven Mandurah Crabfest engaged with ‘Museum in a Container’, thanks to the generous support of Quadrant Energy. The ‘Museum in a Container’ project, took a simple shipping container and transformed it into an interactive museum filled with all kinds of marine facts.

Every person, regardless of where they live, deserves to have equal opportunity to access and be a part of our State’s story. The importance of providing exhibitions and public programs during the New Museum build has been embraced by Quadrant Energy. Partnering with the Foundation to support major exhibitions such as the current “Horrible Histories: Pirates” (now showing at the WA Maritime Museum), Quadrant Energy is also committed to delivering community based programs which travel across WA to engage with diverse, non-traditional museum communities. This commitment follows the success of ‘Under the Sea’, a marine environment engagement and educational program ran at Garden City Shopping Centre in 2017.

In Search of Fish & Fortune

Julian Burt has a strong family connection to the WA Museum via the historically significant Ti-Tu vessel, first owned by Julian’s Grandfather Septimus Burt, WA’s Attorney General in 1886. Ti-Tu was built by local Fremantle boat builder in 1901 as a steam pleasure launch and is one of the oldest surviving watercraft which plied the Swan River in the early 1900’s. In 1974 with the generosity of the Burt family, the Ti-Tu was purchased by the Western Australian Museum and is now a part of the Museum’s important Maritime History collection.

The Burt Wright Foundation continues to support the valuable work of the Museum, and via the assistance of the Foundation for the WA Museum recently joined with the West Australian Fishing Industry Council, the Western Rock Lobster Council and the Pearl Producers Association to support the Museum’s production of the beautiful publication, In Search of Fish and Fortune along Australia’s West Coast by Bill Leonard.

In Search of Fish and Fortune along Australia’s West Coast tells the stories of the men and families that took on the many challenges inherent in Australia’s south and west coast seas and rivers to help pioneer the diverse fisheries and boat building industries. These industries have developed into major drivers of WA and Australia’s growth and properity.

The luxury publication showcases over 60 exquisite drawings, maps and classic photographs illustrating the evolution of design, craftsmanship, skills and technology of WA’s fishing craft, bringing the boats and their unique stores to vibrant life.

This beautiful hardcover coffee table style book of over 300 pages retails for $70 and can be ordered online by clicking here.

Silverstream Wines

Family owned, single vineyard, cool climate wines. What more could we ask for from our lastest multi-year partner committed to supporting our Night at the Museum fundraising Galas – How about an award winning Sparkling Chardonnay? Easy, done!

Streamstream Wines joins Gage Roads Brewing Co. and West Winds Gin, to provide guests who attend our events, home-grown West Australian beverages. We are proud to have the support of like-minded beverage companies who share our passion for the cultural development of our state for local, national and international audiences.

To learn more about their sustainable viticulture and passionate picker program, take a peek at the Silverstream Wines website.

Foundation secures major partnership with Tianqui Lithium

Last week was a very exciting one for the WA Museum and the Foundation for the WA Museum.

I am delighted to congratulate the Foundation for the WA Museum on securing a major contribution from the Tianqi Lithium Corporation and its Chairman, Mr Jiang Weiping.

On Wednesday night, Her Excellency, Ms Kerry Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia, and the Hon David Templeman MLA, Minister for Culture and the Arts, welcomed Mr and Mrs Jiang, Mrs Vivienne Wu, CEO and President of the Tianqi Lithium Corporation, and their colleagues from Tianqi, to a special event to mark the occasion.

Justin Mannolini, Chair of the Foundation for the WA Museum, signed agreements with Mr Jiang and Mrs Wu which will see the creation of a special fund within the Foundation’s endowment Discovery Fund established in his name and an overall investment of $5 million. In addition to supporting the WA Museum’s ongoing work, this funding will see the Western Australian Museum exclusively host several high calibre and world renowned exhibitions of Chinese culture over a 10-year period from 2020.

Tianqi has a 20-year history with Western Australia but has achieved much greater prominence in recent years due to its acquisition of the Talison Mine at Greenbushes (one of the richest lithium deposits in the world) and its subsequent development of a lithium hydroxide processing plant at Kwinana – the largest plant of its kind in the world. With so many electronic devices powered by lithium batteries and the emerging need for major electricity storage battery plants (not least in South Australia!) the world demand for lithium is expected to treble by 2025.

In fact, this is a major departure for Chinese lithium producers, as processing is usually carried out in China. However, Mr Jiang has stated that it made sense to process the high-grade ore close to where it was mined, and that he also had a personal attachment to WA and was proud to become a part of the community

A Tianqi spokesman affirmed: “Tianqi Lithium was presently investing nearly $1 billion in the new processing plant and expansion of the Greenbushes mine and has committed to the local community not just with jobs but through a range of sponsorships and partnerships in education, training, culture and the arts.”

Mr Jiang himself is no stranger to the WA Museum. He has been visiting us for some two years now and is an enthusiastic supporter of our work and our potential. At the event to mark this significant and generous support, he spoke with great passion and clarity about his interest in our project and the reason for his support. He said: “Partnering with the Foundation for the WA Museum demonstrates our commitment to build better relations between Australia and China, and importantly to bridge outdated cultural divides.”

In recognition of this extraordinary contribution, the Connections gallery, located on the upper level of the New Museum, overlooking the city, will carry Tianqi Lithium’s name. In addition, at the signing ceremony, Minister Templeman and Emeritus Professor Alan Robson, Chair of the Trustees of the WA Museum, conferred a Fellowship upon Mr Jiang in recognition of his ongoing personal interest and support.

The day before the presentation, Phil Thick, General Manager, Tianqi Lithium Australia, Mr and Mrs Jiang and Mr Yan Dong, Vice President Marketing, Tianqi Lithium Corporation joined Alec Coles, CEO, WA Museum and Jenny Allen, CEO of the Foundation, on site at the Museum redevelopment site to review progress.