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Responding to a crisis on day one of a new role, Linn Araboglos

Linn Araboglos joins Purposely to share her career journey spanning corporate, Government and charity sectors.

Linn found her calling in the middle of the COVID pandemic becoming the leader of one of twelve of the largest grant making charities in New Zealand. Chief Executive of the Wellington Community Fund is a role Linn really wanted, partly because of where she grew up. She had also experienced the joy of philanthropy as interim Head of the Vodafone Foundation and wanted more.

Linn started her role when New Zealand was in that first COVID lockdown, an online welcome from her trustees and team kicked off her first day in the job. Undoubtedly a tough time to start in a leadership role, particularly, as there was a lot of fear across both the New Zealand and global charity sectors. Charities weren’t sure if they were going to survive themselves let alone be able to respond to the significant level of need out there. Funding was crucial and Linn and her team a crucial role to play.

‘We actually took the opportunity to change things and turn everything on its head. (as a funder) We went from having complex criteria for applications and deadlines for funding rounds to no deadlines and a simple process. Twelve criteria down to three very simple criteria that were really about meeting community need, plus the self-determination and community aspirations.’

Their primary purpose is granting, a strategic funder focused on delivering equity and inclusion for communities across the Wellington region. As a ‘local’ Linn is personally invested in seeing the region and its people and communities thrive.

Linn has lived her whole life in Wellington. This includes where she went to University. She secured a Batchelor’s Degree in Psychology and Criminology degree at Victoria University and she was the first member of my family to ever go to university. ‘it was a bit of a big deal for me and my family’.

Completing her studies she was unsure of what she wanted to do next, she describes stumbling into the corporate sector, a role in insurance working as a claims manager. Working in a corporate environment was a new experience for her, however, starting in a call centre suited her. ‘It seems like a world away from where I am now but the more I heard about people’s circumstances, trauma’s and challenges the more I wanted to help’

This experience led Linn to a role in Government (for almost two decades), initially as a project manager and then as Director, Ministry of Youth Development, a role she had for 3 years.

‘I was sitting in a building looking out at the Beehive, where our government is housed, and I remember staring at the building and thinking that I really wanted to contribute to a lot of the good work that the government were doing. I guess I made a values based decision. I ended up working there for, gosh, 17 odd years, before making the leap to the philanthropic sector’.

In addition to her professional career and new leadership role she is mother to three children who she describes as ‘proud of what I do, although now life is back to some sort of normality they complain I am at the office a lot’. A significant part of Linn’s career has been driven by her passion to improve the lives of people, those most vulnerable and particularly children and young people. Linn has extensive experience working with community organisations, funding partners, governance boards and Ministers and she looking forward to putting this experience to good work to help her community in the future.

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