Seasonal shift: A changing of the guard at IofC Australia

Monday, September 14, 2020


At the AGM on 26 July 2020, long-serving board member Andrew Lancaster did not seek re-election at the end of his term, which ended this year.

Andrew chaired the IofC Australia board for eight years, and served on it for more than 40 years, including many years during its previous incarnation as a Council of Management. As chair, he led IofCA through its Cultural and Structural Change process starting in 2013, bringing organisational development and uplifting the role of governance. His record of service to IofC includes being on the board of the Swiss IofC Foundation, which has oversight of the Caux Conference Seminar Centre and its programs. He also served on the IofC International Council and related bodies. From these international roles he brought a breadth of knowledge and experience to IofC’s work in Australia. In all his roles, Andrew exemplified IofC values and the core of his spiritual faith with integrity.

He and his wife, Margaret, live in Canberra where they have represented IofC with people in political, diplomatic and public-service life – a contribution they will no doubt continue to make. 


On the Operations side, Athalia Zwartz resigned as Executive Officer at the end of June, after six years leading the programs and administration of IofC Australia. Athalia came into the movement initially as a volunteer. Working with consultant Jonathan Klugman, she conducted an in-depth review of challenges facing IofC Australia, which proved pivotal in shaping the direction of the organisation. As IofC Australia’s first paid employee in a management role, she consolidated the delivery of IofC programs and built a solid administrative team, while keeping alive the volunteer essence and ethic of the movement. 

Upon her resignation, Paul Ntoumos, Chair of the IofCA board, wrote that:  ‘The board of IofC Australia has accepted Athalia's resignation with high appreciation for her dedicated service to the organisation and the movement over the past six years, and the significant role she has played in establishing the foundations of a formal organisation within an informal fellowship.'

‘We are all thankful for her leadership as an Executive Officer from the early organizational formative days of the IofC Australia Cultural and Structural Change initiative to the current solid organization with its strong team and clear and effective operational, financial and budgetary policies and processes, and are looking forward to her further contribution.’

In communication with IofCA members, Athalia expressed that, ‘My engagement with IofC has reshaped how I see the world. This has been much more than a job to me. I believe in who we are and what we seek to do, building trust and respect, and bringing healing and transformation in the world as well as how we do this – emerging our work through real relationships, caring for people, listening to others, and seeking a deeper and higher wisdom.  I look forward to contributing to IofCA in different ways.’

Recent achievements

Together, the IofCA board and the staff operations team in the last 12 months developed:

  • a strategic and corresponding operational plan;
  • a budget and approach to achieving financial sustainability;
  • a ‘pathways’ process to expand and revitalise the membership network; and
  • transparent and accountable decision-making and processes.

In his final Annual Report message as chair of the board in 2019, Andrew expressed confidence in the role that IofCA continues to play. ‘At a time when our national conversation struggles to bring to birth the next “big ideas” that shape our sense of who we are as a nation, IofCA is proud to contribute…through the work we do and the community action we support.’

Andrew’s most recent role as deputy chair of the board has been filled by Laurence Gray, a community development worker who has 20 years’ experience with World Vision overseas, and now works with not-for-profit community organisations in Melbourne. The Executive Officer position will be advertised in the coming weeks. 

- Mike Brown