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History of Aurora Foundation

"I found the experience of Aurora 2016 to be eye opening, unique and one that I will never forget. The design of the course was very well considered and assisted with absorption of the content. It was refreshing to be immersed into the environment and experiences being advocated rather than just hearing about them.". - Caroline Clark - 2016 Auroran

History of the Aurora Foundation

The development of the Aurora Leadership Institutes can be traced back to Margaret Trask AM. Margaret was an innovator in the field of education for librarianship and was Executive Director of Australian Information Management Association, (AIMA) in the early 1990’s. She was a strong advocate for the need to provide leadership and management training for librarians and was influential in enlisting the support of Warren Horton AM (pictured) to provide AIMA with a base at the National Library of Australia, and to use AIMA as the vehicle for delivering high quality programs for librarians. After his retirement as Director-General of the National Library of Australia, Warren Horton AM established the Aurora Foundation Ltd in 2001. Warren was highly respected in the library world, both in Australia and internationally. Warren understood Margaret Trask’s vision, and added his own political weight to assist in its implementation.

Developing the Aurora Institutes

After his retirement, Warren established and provided financial support to the Aurora Foundation, and served as its’ initial Chairman. His vision and generosity has ensured that the Aurora Foundation was set up on a solid foundation for the future. Brenda McConchie PSM took over as Executive Director of AIMA when Margaret Trask retired in 1993 and together with Warren Horton designed the first Aurora Leadership Institute. Brenda attended the Snowbird Institute in the US in 1994, and this became the model for Aurora, with some adjustments to suit Australian and New Zealand circumstances.

The Aurora Leadership Institutes 1995 - 2010

The first Aurora Leadership Institute was held at Thredbo in 1995 under the auspices of AIMA Training and Consultancy Services Ltd. The significance of this Institute is described in a special issue of the Australian Library Journal (vol 45, no 1, February 1996). The next three Institutes were held biennially up to 2001, also under the AIMA banner. The Aurora Foundation Ltd was established by Warren Horton in 2001, after his retirement as Director-General of the National Library of Australia.

After the sixth Institute in 2003, (which was held in Canberra due to devastating bushfires around Thredbo at the time), the Foundation held a “Recall Meeting” at Waiheke Island, Auckland New Zealand. A key objective of the Recall was to allow Alumni to be re-energised and inspired. The Aurora Board also wanted Alumni to identify opportunities and future needs. The inaugural Board Directors were Warren Horton (Chair), Ian McCallum (Company Secretary) and Directors Brenda McConchie, Mary Teague, and Lesley Piko.

In 2002 the Foundation took responsibility for the fifth and subsequent Institutes. Attendance at the Recall was open to all mentors and participants of the Aurora Leadership Institutes however numbers were restricted to 40 attendees, so as to allow the maximum opportunity for debate and use of case study methodologies. The Australian Library Journal in May 2003 contains a number of articles about this meeting. The next six Institutes, from 2004 – 2009 were held annually at Thredbo.

The Aurora Leadership Institutes 2011 - now

In 2009 – 2010 the Board of the Aurora Foundation began exploring new options for leadership education. Feedback from participants and mentors over the past few years has suggested that we need to re-assess the existing Aurora Leadership Institute program as well as look at options for new and expanded programs, particularly in the light of our increasingly networked information world.

After consultations with stakeholders in both Australia and New Zealand in late 2010, the Board agreed to develop two new programs, the Aurora Institute for Emerging Leaders and a series of Masterclasses.

The Aurora Institute for Emerging Leaders is now held annually at Q Station, Manly.

The Institutes have provided an important opportunity for those in the Australian and New Zealand library profession, and others from associated information industries, to explore leadership concepts and their own potential.