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NEWS > Alumnae News > A message from the President of the Ex-Students' Association

A message from the President of the Ex-Students' Association

Sam Wegner (Ward, '89) reflects on the wonderful achievements and events of our Ex-Students Association and alumnae community in 2021.
2 Dec 2021
Alumnae News

Greetings to all alumnae! I hope you are all enjoying returning to social events and anticipating a festive Christmas season with many gatherings of family and loved ones.

2021 has been my first year as President of the Loreto Normanhurst Ex-Student’s Association. For those alumnae who I am yet to meet, I left Normanhurst in 1989 as Sam Ward. I currently have a daughter, Franziska in Year 9 at Normanhurst and in my work life I am an academic in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University.

It would be remiss of me not to commence my report by acknowledging the difficulties we have all faced during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all been challenged in various ways, personal and professional, and no arena of our lives has not been affected.

I would particularly like to acknowledge Marina Ugonotti’s leadership of the whole Loreto Normanhurst community in 2021. Marina has displayed the type of compassionate, steady and masterful leadership that is imbuing the next generation of Loreto women with the leadership skills with which to do great things.

My first year as President of the Association has been rewarding and eventful, despite the regrettable lack of social events.

This has been a pivotal year in the history of the Association. 2021 signalled the Association’s move into the digital space with the birth of the Normo Network. The pandemic has demonstrated how important our digital connectedness is, and the Normo Network continues to evolve and to facilitate new ways for alumnae to connect and to foster a Loreto spirit.

More than 650 alumnae have now joined the Normo Network. This is a wonderful achievement and has allowed more alumnae than ever before to connect, share news and photos, advertise their reunions, offer their experience in mentoring programs or receive mentoring, and even advertise their businesses. Many news stories form alumnae have been shared on Normo Network, including Alumnae Olympians, a “Notes from a Pandemic” series and the wonderful photos and stories from the LN Archives, which we have also been able to enjoy on our alumnae social media channels. We are planning a mother/daughter series of stories for Mother’s Day 2022 and I encourage any members who have a Normanhurst mother/daughter story to send it to exstudents@loretonh.nsw.edu.au.

The Director of Philanthropy and Community Engagement, Liane Giuliano and her staff continue to strengthen engagement with all sectors of the Loreto Normanhurst community. Liane has expended enormous effort assisting the Association in meeting our objectives in 2021 and I thank her personally and on behalf of the Association.

The Association’s philanthropic activity in 2021 focussed on the Alumnae Year Group Challenge. The Class of 2021 (since their official graduation, now the newest members of the Association!) were instrumental in bringing about the Alumnae Year Group Challenge. Upon learning of the Year Group Challenge, the Committee looked for a way to support the initiative. The Committee agreed to match the first $1,000 raised by any year group with $1,000 from the Association.

I am thrilled to report that the strategy was a stunning success, both financially and in raising the profile of the Association. The 2021 Alumnae Year Group Challenge concluded on 31 October 2021 and raised a total of $76,692 for the Welfare Fund (which provides bursaries at Loreto Normanhurst). 27 Year Groups raised $1,000 or more and as a result the Ex-Students Association contributed $27,000 in matched funding to the Alumnae Year Group Challenge.

I am grateful to the Committee and to the members of the Association for their support of the initiative, both professionally and communally, and am very proud of the leadership role that the Association was able to take in fundraising via the Alumnae Year Group Challenge. In addition to funds raised, participation in the Year Group Challenge has fostered increased social connections amongst alumnae and generated conversations around giving to bursaries by members of the Association.

In response to the Year Group Challenge, the Class of 1975 have contacted the Directorate of Philanthropy and Community Engagement with a proposal to fund one Indigenous student for her full six years at Loreto Normanhurst. This is in conjunction with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF). It is hoped that this is the first of many similar commitments by motivated alumnae groups. These stunning outcomes are indicative of the future of alumnae giving to the provision of bursaries at Loreto Normanhurst.

2021 has seen an outstanding increase the proportion of total fundraising at Loreto Normanhurst that is contributed by alumnae. Alumnae giving is up from 9% of total funds raised in 2020 to 35% of total funds raised in 2021. My sincere thanks to the entire alumnae community for their generosity to bursaries, capital works and other fundraising activities at the School.

COVID-19 sadly caused the cancellation of many of the School’s scheduled events in 2021 and the Association’s High Tea was also a casualty of lockdown. In the few windows of time where gatherings were allowed in 2021, some lovely events were held.

The Golden Jubilarians were hosted by the School at a lovely celebration lunch with stunning music provided by the students in the Chapel. It was a very special coming together of a very special group of alumnae, with more than 50 years of friendships to celebrate.

The Women of Influence event was a hybrid in person/online event and attracted more than 330 guests who celebrated the exceptional work of alumnae in the spheres of banking, business and corporate governance, politics and the arts. Alumnae speakers were Catherine Livingstone AO (’72) current Chair of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Saluda Medical Pty Ltd and Chancellor of UTS, Natasha Luschwitz (’98) Executive Director of Strategic Coordination in the Department of Premier and Cabinet, who was awarded the 2021 Public Service Medal for emergency crisis management for her role in managing the 2019-20 Bushfire Crisis and COVID-19 Taskforce, and Hattie Dalton (’90), BAFTA Award-winning film and theatre writer and director. At that event the School raised $5,025 directly to the Welfare Fund.

The Current Parent/Ex-Student morning tea was very well attended, and it was lovely to see the students coming in and out of the Reception Room from their classrooms to greet their mums. It was a very special moment of connection between students and alumnae and a special morning with my own daughter which I will cherish.

The Normanhurst/Kirribilli morning tea, the annual celebration of the connection between our two communities, was very well attended and Kirsty Robertson (’95) was a wonderful speaker who reminded us of some of the pivotal experiences in her years at Normanhurst which set her on the road to her current position as CEO of Caritas. The Association is grateful to Jane Dalton, President of PAL and Kim Turner, Kirribilli P&F President for facilitating that event.

Thankfully, the Normanhurst and Kirribilli alumnae were able to gather for one of the most anticipated events of the year, the Theatre Party where we enjoyed the exceptional musical Come From Away. Many thanks to Patsy Shannon and Ruth Tighe for their organisation of that event, which raised $3110.25 for Mary Ward International Australia.

The following day, the School Music Festival was a masked event, with tight COVID-19 protocols but was a very special night. It was followed mere hours later by what was to be the longest lockdown endured by Sydney so far.

I was thrilled to welcome the Class of 2021 to their Association via Zoom at the Year 12 Ex-students’ morning. At this annual event, the Association provides morning tea to the Year 12 Class and formally welcomes them to their Association.

The Association provides the Prix d’Honneur Award and the Pat Taylor Award at each Year 12 graduation ceremony. Both of these awards were presented this year to Grace Gillies, School Captain. Grace is an amazing young woman who led her peers through a year filled with challenges and demonstrated her deep love and commitment to Loreto Normanhurst. I have extended the enthusiastic congratulations of the Association to Grace and we anticipate hearing more from her in the coming years.

The Association’s AGM was held on Sunday 28 November and was well attended, with more than 40 registrations. Hayley Mein (’00) was elected Secretary of the Ex-Students’ Association Committee and Penny Graham (’84) was elected as a Committee member. Congratulations to Hayley and Penny and I Iook forward to working with you both in 2022.

At the AGM, the Members voted to support the following proposal:

That the Loreto Normanhurst Ex-Students’ Association encourages Members of the Association towards personal and communal reflection on the Uluru Statement from the Heart

I know that many members in both their professional and personal lives are striving for reconciliation with our First Nations People.

In encouraging Members of the Association towards personal and communal reflection on the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Association is aligning with the IBVM’s support for the Rights of Indigenous People and their encouragement towards personal and communal reflection on the Statement, as well as the School’s commitment to Reconciliation with Australia’s First Nations Peoples and to Indigenous Education at Loreto Normanhurst.

I hope that this formal encouragement is the catalyst for even greater consideration of the ways in which the Association, in our numbers and our Loreto Spirit, can continue to find new ways towards reconciliation with our First Nations People.

Next year is the School’s 125-year anniversary, the 50th anniversary of the Music Festival, and the 110th anniversary of the Alumnae Association. The events planned by the Association and the School next year will offer the opportunity to celebrate all those milestones in different ways and a calendar of events will finalised and published in the coming weeks.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Marina and all of the Community Engagement Team at the School, particularly Lauren Kirkby, for their continuous support, both financial and organisational, and for the range of wonderful events that they organise for alumnae. We are so very grateful that you continue to welcome so many of us home so many times throughout the year and with such warm hospitality.

Finally, I would like to thank Jane Parker – Vice President for her hard work, good humour and collegiality in our first year in our respective roles. I thank all the members of the Committee for their unstinting commitment to the work of the Association and for bringing their collective wisdom to the table. I look forward to continuing success for the Association in 2022.

I wish you all every blessing for a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a return to joyful gatherings of alumnae in 2022.

Kindest regards,

Sam Wegner (Ward, ’89)

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