Books, reading and literature have always been at the core of Jennie’s life. With a background in publishing, when she moved to Asia with her family in early 2002, she became involved in the non-profit world, initially contributing to a women’s organization (CWAJ) in Japan, then becoming involved with Room to Read while living in Hong Kong. In early 2008 Jennie returned to Sydney and led the team which has established a highly successful fundraising and awareness-raising presence for Room to Read in Australia, becoming Development Director for Australasia in 2010. Since launching with a Wine Gala in February 2009, nearly $5m has been raised and there is now a network of six volunteer chapters around Australia, with chapters also starting to develop in New Zealand. Jennie’s personal commitment to Room to Read derives from strong connections with many of the program countries, including South Africa and Laos. Her husband worked in Vientiane for three years and they celebrated their marriage there with a baci ceremony in October 1983. In February 2008, before returning to establish Room to Read in Australia, Jennie and Ivor visited a remote community in northern Laos to see the Room to Read school they funded to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.
Photographer: Diane Macdonald