Scholar Profile - Tahnee Davies PDF Print E-mail
Tahnee Davies


Executive Officer at Forum for Directors of Indigenous Organisations (FDIO)

Awarded a BankWest Foundation / AICD scholarship for the Company Directors’ Course, 2016

What sort of work does your organisation do?

FDIO provides an independent forum for and governance support and guidance to directors and leaders of Aboriginal organisations and communities. FDIO hosts a regular seminar series on a variety of governance topics of interest, both in Perth and in regional WA. We publish a bi-monthly newsletter alerting our members to current and interesting articles on governance issues and community news. FDIO also seeks to reduce the cost and difficulty of recruiting quality independent directors by providing our members with free advertising for Board vacancies and a register of pre-vetted independent directors.

Describe a typical day's work.

On any given day, I could be researching or preparing Board papers, sourcing seminar presenters and locations, co-ordinating a workshop or panel discussion, meeting or talking with members and potential sponsors, writing articles for the newsletter, writing grant proposals, going through financial statements with our accountants, researching recent governance trends or managing our online presence.

What are some of the key learnings from the Company Directors Course?

Not having a governance background, I learnt an incredible amount about what it takes to make a positive contribution as a Board director. Where previously I was completely in the dark regarding finances, through the CD course, I gained confidence in interpreting financial statements and asking probing money questions. I learnt the fundamental importance of having a strategic framework for every aspect of our organisation and strong communication channels between the Board and the organisation.

How has it impacted / changed / benefited your role and your organisation as a whole?

FDIO supports good governance in Aboriginal organisations. Yet, when I joined FDIO earlier this year, its own governance was still in its infancy. From the first day of the AICD Company Directors Course, I was able to bring what I had learned to strengthen our own governance. FDIO has appointed three new directors with a variety of skills and backgrounds. I now provide Board papers and structure the Board meetings to permit the Board members to focus on strategy and key governance areas rather than day to day matters. It has given me a great foundation to identify key governance issues which leads to interesting seminar and workshop topics. I have access to an incredible network of leaders in the governance field, who are often available to assist me with governance questions.

How did you come to be working in the not-for-profit sector?

My background is in law and even as a junior lawyer in a commercial law firm many years ago, I increasingly enjoyed and sought pro bono and community work, including helping to set up the Homeless Persons’ Legal Advice Clinic (now called StreetLaw Inc.). Eventually I took up a position at the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA, which provides a free legal service to Aboriginal people. I loved the interaction with my clients and knew I wanted to keep working with Aboriginal people. After spending a number of years overseas, I came back to Perth wanting to work on community building, rather than reacting to problems created by the huge social issues facing our Aboriginal community. The role as Executive Officer at FDIO was a great opportunity for me to keep working in the NFP sector, focusing on positive community outcomes.

What do you feel is most needed to sustain and build the impact of the not-for-profit sector?

Beyond the obvious (more funding...), I believe the key factors in continuing to strengthen the NFP sector are to encourage well-qualified and well-connected people to take up leadership roles at NFP organisations and to focus on collaboration and even mergers between NFP organisations to harness the strength of numbers, reduce costs and build stronger networks.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I love to dance. My enthusiasm is not in the least bit dampened by my lack of talent. Over the years I have flung myself with great gusto into ballet, jazz, flamenco and samba classes. The pinnacle of my dance career was dancing samba in yellow feathers and platform shoes (and not much else) at the front of a float at the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, a few years ago. I still have the costume. It makes for a great conversation icebreaker..

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"From the first day of the AICD Company Directors Course, I was able to bring what I had learned to strengthen our own governance."


Tahnee was raised in Hong Kong and later went to school and University in Western Australia, where she obtained a BA (Politics) and LLB (UWA). She has a huge interest and passion for Indigenous culture and social issues and in her current role, she seeks to support Indigenous organisations and communities by providing access to good governance practices and information.

In 2016, ASF awarded Tahnee a scholarship to complete AICD's Company Directors' Course, part of the Bankwest Foundation Community Leaders Scholarship Program.


Annual revenue / size:

Micro - less than $80,000 pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Business, Professional Associations and Unions

Operating in: