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Amanda Young

Chief Executive Officer, First Nations Foundation
Nationality: Australian
Living in: Melbourne, Australia
Fields of work: public policy, governance, indigenous economic participation

“Kindness, curiosity, commitment and courage are four values of inestimable power when creating equality. Firstly, a non-judgemental framework and a curious mindset leaves you far more open and empathic to the experience of someone who is not thriving; commitment to change and the courage to act and advocate are what bring about the change. These resonate strongly with me personally, my life mission to help Indigenous people and my determination to effect change, whether I am standing up to governments, police forces, titans of the economy or the privileged.”
— Amanda Young

Amanda Young practised criminal law for eight years, which prepared her well for a career as an advocate and a public speaker. Keen to influence the change agenda, she then moved into government strategy and policy, where she worked across social and political initiatives including reparations payments for the stolen wages of Indigenous workers. It is a cause for which she feels particular affinity, as her people were brought to Australia as slaves, working under similar punitive regimes during the British colonisation of Australia. 

In social policy, Amanda has supported the creation of an organisation for the Stolen Generations (the name for Indigenous people forcibly removed from their families under assimilation policies) and tackled police misconduct relating to disempowered Indigenous people. She also drafted an amendment to her State constitution recognising Indigenous people. Reducing power imbalances is a strong feature of her work.

In 2012 Amanda shifted her focus to the economic concerns of First Nations people, becoming a mentor and business consultant to an emerging Indigenous entrepreneurship sector. 

Since 2015 Amanda has served as Chief Executive Officer of First Nations Foundation, which researches the financial position and wellbeing of its people, builds financial skills using traditional cultural values, and conducts outreach events in the most remote parts of the country to reunite Indigenous people with their retirement savings. In one 13-day initiative, the foundation reunited A$14 million with its Indigenous owners.

Amanda plans to shift the economic outcomes for First Australians dramatically, and close the wealth gap between mainstream Australia and its Indigenous population. There are strong macroeconomic forces creating opportunities for the latest generation of this 65,000-year-old culture which has given her people a home. 

Amanda completed a postgraduate law qualification, and has attended Harvard Business School’s Executive Education programme and Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has held board positions at an international professional coaching federation and an Indigenous architecture board. For Amanda, an Atlantic Fellowship is a deep honour, as she has always funded her own education. Only three generations ago her family were slaves; now she is hoping to help the disadvantaged to economic freedom.

Twitter: @ceo_fnf

“I have enormous hope for the future, and for the innate wisdom of people to do the right thing. I see signs everywhere: a millennial cohort who care about where they put their money, from ethical value chains to their retirement investments; a rapid increase in philanthropic funding; a discernible shift in education institutions towards equity; increased female economic participation; and a focus on supporting our environment and the ecosystem that sustains us.”
— Amanda Young