Sandi Laaksonen-Sherrin commenced as National Convenor of Defence Families Australia in June 2021.
When she first met her now husband, who serves in the Army, she had no idea how irrevocably the benefits and costs of being a military family would change the course of her life. Eight years and multiple domestic and overseas postings later, she has devoted her career to supporting the Defence community.
Sandi brings with her a strong educational and professional background in research, government and change management. She started her career in biological sciences, working with anything from penguins to dolphins, and from forests to beaches across NSW and Victoria. She then undertook a number of project management and business improvement roles in public health, indigenous employment and entrepreneurship, and the veteran reintegration sector. This experience covered a broad range of social impact issues.
From 2017-2018, she spearheaded research for the multiple award-winning NSW Veterans Employment Program. The research insights gained by the program helped to shape veteran employment initiatives across NSW and Australia more broadly. Through her work she has advised all levels of government, ex-service organizations and the private sector to shape strategic direction to meet the current and future needs of the Defence community.
In her experience across six different government departments, she has led local and remote teams through a range of improvement initiatives. As Transition Manager then Assistant Director within Defence Community Organisation, she often advocated for Defence families in areas such as health, finances, housing and relocation, veteran and spouse employment. Her main aim was to ensure each case was resolved as efficiently as possible, reducing negative impacts on the ADF member and their family. In a large scale project, she led the design and implementation of a new service model to deliver personalised transition support to ADF Reservists on Operation Bushfire Assist 2019-2020. This commitment to service was recognised with an Australia Day Medallion in 2021.
Sandi has also undertaken a Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD) researching the veteran reintegration sector in Australia. She hopes that this work continues to provide insights about the sector, and highlight opportunities for improved efficiency and better outcomes for the Defence community.
Contact Sandi on [email protected]