Karen Mahlab AM comes from 20 years in the community sector to the role of Chair of Victoria University’s Sir Zelman Cowen Centre.

Her experience and leadership is invaluable to the Centre and the University’s focus of creating inclusive, equitable, prosperous communities through applied research.

The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre at Victoria University specialises in law and cultural diversity. Its projects include training for the Australian and international legal sector, education programs for people seeking a better understanding of law, governance and regulation and community engagement initiatives which promote multiculturalism, social cohesion and equality of opportunity.

Karen is the CEO and founder of one of Australia’s first social businesses, Pro Bono Australia. Since 2000, Pro Bono Australia has provided media, jobs, education and skilled volunteering for the common good to over one million people per year.  

Karen has been an innovator in opening the channels of connection between not-for-profit organisations, volunteers, philanthropy and business. She is a passionate believer in the power of community and connection and serially ignites projects that build both.

Karen was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 2015 for services to the Not-for-Profit Sector and Innovation in Philanthropy.

Areas of expertise

  • Philanthropy
  • Not-for-profit organisations
  • Innovation and technology
  • Communication
  • Community engagement
  • Social responsibility

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