After 11.5 years as CEO of Vision 2020 Australia Jennifer Gersbeck is stepping down from the role. During her time at the helm, she has guided the organisation to the place that it is today, as the credible and respected national peak body for eye health and vision care. She reflects on her time with the organisation, the importance of collaboration and the next part of her journey as she continues to advocate for the elimination of avoidable blindness.
I joined Vision 2020 Australia as CEO in October 2004. It was like stepping into the unknown—faced with an exciting opportunity to take a leadership role in a sector I knew little about. Eleven and a half years later, as I prepare to leave the organisation, I find myself reflecting on all that has been achieved through collaborative action and the lessons learned that I will take with me to my new role at The Fred Hollows Foundation.
There’s no doubt I was on a steep learning curve when I arrived at Vision 2020 Australia all those years ago. But while there were many challenges along the way, working for such a worthwhile organisation has always been rewarding. I’m proud of what has been achieved through the hard work and commitment of all those involved in the eye health and vision care sector. I’m also very thankful to the dedicated Board and staff who have made Vision 2020 Australia the successful and well-respected organisation that it is today.
Thinking about the past decade, it’s clear the success of Vision 2020 Australia is due to the shared vision and determination of many people. But, if I had to pick three words to describe what actions contributed most to this success they would be influence, unity and message. It might sound simple, but the truth is we made sure we influenced the right decision-makers; we brought the sector together and demonstrated a united front; and we always knew what we wanted to achieve and were clear about what we were asking for. Undeniably, the success of Vision 2020 Australia is the sector’s collective victory. Much has been achieved working with, and supported by, our 50 member organisations.
I sense the sector has always been ahead of the game, recognising early on that much more can be achieved through collaboration. There’s no doubt that working in partnership and strengthening collaboration is becoming more popular and I’m confident that Vision 2020 Australia will continue to lead the charge.
My commitment to, and support of Vision 2020 Australia’s ongoing success is resolute. I’m very proud to have been a part of the growth and development of this small, but highly effective organisation. Vision 2020 Australia brings people together and fosters partnerships and collaboration. No other organisation is better placed to continue this critical role.
I will take the learnings of the past eleven and a half years and apply them to my new role as Director of Global Partnerships and Advocacy at the Foundation. On a personal note, I’m excited by the new challenges ahead and eager to share my knowledge and learn from others as we work towards our common goal to ensure a world in which no person is needlessly blind or vision impaired.
To bring us a step closer to eliminating avoidable blindness we need effective partnerships and a collective will. I look forward to taking that step with The Fred Hollows Foundation alongside many others, including Vision 2020 Australia.