Alumni Spotlight: Henny Smith
Henny Smith was the National President of UN Youth Australia from 2007 – 2008 and is now working for the national activist organisation GetUp. We got in touch with Henny to hear about her current work and past volunteer experience.
What role do you currently have in GetUp? What does your work entail?
I’ve just wrapped up as GetUp’s Impact Director – managing our four campaigns teams and media team. The role involved working out campaign strategy and tactics, member comms and media management, fundraising, lots of work with partner organisations and people management! I’m right now on my way to the US to study a Masters in Public Policy at Princeton.
How did you come to get involved working for GetUp?
I started out as an intern for my old UN Youth buddy Simon Sheikh, who had become the National Director of GetUp at the fresh young age of 24. I worked on the anti-Pokies campaign – organising a special general meeting of Woolworths Ltd. to try to force them to adopt $1 bet limits on their 13,000 poker machines. Sadly we did not succeed. I then left for a couple of years, before coming back to GetUp to work for another UNYA Alumni, Sam McLean.
What role/s did you hold in UN Youth Australia? Did your volunteer experience help you on the path to where you are today?
I was the National President of UN Youth in 2007-08, and before that the National Treasurer and the Vice President of UNYA Western Australia. UNYA taught me most of my useful skills. For example, how to organise events/ activities/ parties/ myself, what to do in meetings with big wig, how to argue a point persuasively, how to build a budget, how to play 500. It also gave me self-belief (maybe too much) and a bunch of super talented friends who I’ve had the pleasure of working for and with since we entered the real world. So yes – I would say I would definitely not be who or where I am today without UNYA.
Do you have a highlight from your volunteer experience at UN Youth?
Meeting Hans Blix was pretty fun. Beating Ross Broad and Lizzie Landels in our 2017 500 tournament was also good, even if technically ten years after leaving UN Youth.
What advice would you give to a young person hoping to get involved in activism in Australia or get a job in the field later in life?
If you want a job in a not for profit, try to volunteer for them while you’re still at Uni. And everyone wants people with all the digital skills – so try to learn a bit of Photoshop and video editing.