Scholar Profile - Leah Kenna PDF Print E-mail
Leah Kenna


Operations Coordinator at The Gumala Foundation

Awarded a Bankwest Foundation / ECU scholarship for the Graduate Certificate in Business, 2016

What sort of work does your organisation do?

Gumala is a NFP organisation that was established in 1997 after the signing of the Yandi Land Use Agreement between Gumala peoples - the Banyjima, Innawonga and Nyiyaparli language groups - and Hammersley Iron, now part of Rio Tinto.

The objectives of Gumala are the alleviation of poverty, sickness, suffering, distress, misfortune and destitution for our Traditional Owners. These objectives are undertaken through the provision of specifically designed programs and services focusing on education and training, business development, community development, as well as health and well-being and culture.

Describe a typical day's work.

My role as Operations Coordinator for Gumala involves project managing special assignments, defining the scope of projects in collaboration with senior management, developing schedules and ensuring project deliverables are on time and in line with policies and procedures.

The provision of advice and support for audit and compliance requirements also forms part of my role, as well as being accountable for records management systems and information management systems on behalf of the organisation.

Secretarial support for Board meetings and the coordination of other high level meetings such as AGMs, also form part of my duties.

What are some of the key learnings from the Graduate Certificate in Business?

The Graduate Certificate in Business course at ECU enabled me to learn more about core business functions and how to apply these within the NFP sector. My new skills in management are assisting me to provide support and leadership to my colleagues, including our Indigenous trainees in the office.

New learnings in marketing have broadened my thinking in relation to how we communicate with our beneficiaries and how we are able to apply marketing strategy to our stakeholder engagement, which could enhance funding opportunities for the organisation.

Finally, learning more about economics, finance and accounting has assisted me to understand the value creation that can be achieved through the careful application of knowledge in this area, particularly in economics and finance.

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

I think the course benefitted me by improving my knowledge all round, which has improved my skills and capabilities in every duty I perform for Gumala. I feel my newly learned management and leadership skills are perhaps what my organisation is benefitting from the most. Being a positive leader and role model is important to me, especially in an environment where we are training young Indigenous people. I hope now I am displaying structured and encouraging management behaviour to those who may be learning from me, or for those who I may be working with, particularly in my role as a project manager.

Also, having now completed a Graduate Certificate in Business at ECU, I have decided to continue my studies in this area and progress on to completing an MBA. Hopefully once I complete this I will be a greater asset to both myself and my organisation.

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

Anthropology and Indigenous studies have always interested me. When I moved to Australia from Ireland and saw the work being done to improve the lives of Aboriginal people I wanted to become a part of that mission.

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

There are also many NFPs operating across various sectors, many of them providing duplicate services. Greater coordination and collaboration between NFPs would strengthen the impact they are able to have. I believe the involvement of commercial companies and partnerships between these companies and NFP’s is greatly needed in order to increase awareness about the work performed in the NFP sector. Corporate entities have a great platform to communicate with communities and could greatly impact the awareness of the public and customers by partnering or sponsoring a NFP and assisting them to promote their mission.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

As a Gumala employee I am a part of a very unique and important organisation that allows for me to have an impact on a small part of Indigenous Australia. I feel privileged to be in what I consider a fairly unique position - meeting and engaging with Indigenous people on a daily basis.

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" newly learned management and leadership skills are perhaps what my organisation is benefitting from the most."


With a background in anthropology, Leah is passionate about working in community based organisations and NFPs that focus on delivering positive outcomes for those less fortunate or in need of assistance. She began work at The Gumula Foundation in 2012 as an Administration / Projects Officer and currently holds the title of Project Manager.

In 2016, ASF awarded Leah a Bankwest Foundation scholarship to complete Edith Cowan University's Graduate Certificate in Business.


Annual revenue / size:

Large - $5m - $25m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Social Services

Operating in: