A message from our President and Chair

December 05, 2022

Dear all,

After 7 successful years leading the Stroke Foundation, the Board of Directors announced, with regret, the resignation of its CEO, Ms Sharon McGowan, who is moving to take on a new career step.

On behalf of the Board, Professor Linda Kristjanson thanked Sharon for her exceptional leadership, which has seen the Stroke Foundation grow and expand into new areas, including childhood and young working age stroke, the launch of Australia’s first Stroke Ambulance and the development the National Strategic Action Plan for Heart Disease and Stroke.

Sharon has built a positive and engaged work culture. She established strong collaborative relationships with governments, clinicians, researchers and people with lived experience - allowing her to drive innovation and influence system change across the stroke system.

As a passionate advocate for evidence-based practice, she championed the world’s first “living clinical guidelines” in stroke, and leveraged this experience to support the team that established the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce during the pandemic, in response to a void in guidance for clinicians on the front line.

Under her leadership, Stroke Foundation was recognised with a Best Workplace Award 2022 by the Voice Project. She also guided the organisation in the development of our first Reconciliation Action Plan. During her tenure, the organisation implemented an IT strategy which enabled delivery of ongoing support to the stroke community, employees, clinicians and researchers throughout the pandemic, with significant engagement across its education and online support programs.

As a member of the Australian Stroke Alliance, Sharon was part of the leadership team that secured $40m, the largest health and medical research grant ever awarded in Australia to develop lightweight portable brain scanning technology. This grant builds on the success of Australia’s first Stroke Ambulance, which was launched in 2017.

The Board offers their heartfelt thanks to Sharon for her deep passion, tireless drive and dedicated commitment to the Stroke Foundation’s mission to prevent stroke, save lives and enhance recovery. Her leadership has positioned the Stroke Foundation extremely well, and the strategic initiatives she spearheaded will continue to bear fruit.

Sharon leaves a talented team with a focused strategic plan, which will see our organisation grow in impact and influence in future.

Professor Kristjanson said, “Sharon will be deeply missed. We wish her the very best in her new position and are grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to work with her. The Stroke Foundation has important work to do and we look forward to working with our stakeholders and supporters to driving the improvements that will change the state of stroke in Australia for generations to come”.

Professor Linda Kristjanson AO FAICD FTSE PhD

President & Chair