Outgoing ADRA CEO changed by time at agency

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Paul Rubessa.

When CEOs depart, it is common practice to acknowledge their contribution to bringing about change to the organisation.

Paul Rubessa, who today announced his soon departure from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Australia, instead highlighted how the agency’s people—particularly its supporters, volunteers and staff—changed him during his three years of leadership.

“In visiting ADRA projects I got to meet lots of volunteers. The stories of how they helped people and the expansiveness of their work blew my mind,” he said.

That’s not to say that Mr Rubessa has not seen significant, positive change at the agency. During his leadership, ADRA Australia incorporated the values of a new vision and purpose statement into its corporate culture, saw a renewed commitment to serving Australians through a closer relationship with the Adventist Church and launched a new, five-year strategic plan. Agency finances have been reshaped to support long-term impact for communities so that more people around the world can live as God intended—free from poverty and disadvantage. And ADRA continued to be recognised as a leading agency within various faith-based joint consortia.

“Paul has been a great leader who has brought a clear direction to ADRA,” said Pastor Jorge Munoz, chair of the ADRA Australia Board and president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia. “He has been a stabiliser to the agency, bringing a collaborative approach and deepening the strategic focus of ADRA while at the same time aligning the team.”

Pastor Munoz appreciates Mr Rubessa’s personable and humble manner. “His passion to help others has been clear. I have valued his commitment to God’s kingdom and the mission of the Church.

“Paul has made a very good contribution to the ministry of ADRA and will be missed. We pray God may continue to bless him as he serves the Church in a different area of ministry,” he adds.

After finishing with ADRA during August, Mr Rubessa will serve as the Investment and Financial Services manager for the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“Even though I won’t walk through the ADRA doors each morning, I will remain part of the ADRA team as a supporter and a donor,” Mr Rubessa says.

Paul Rubessa, ADRA Australia CEO, with Jimmy Jacobs, ADRA PNG project coordinator, while on the Kokoda Track in 2019.

Mr Rubessa has many fond memories from his time at ADRA Australia. Working alongside the ADRA team in the Wahroonga office, walking the Kokoda trek as part of an ADRA Connections trip to Papua New Guinea to support the 10,000 Toes project, volunteering with two meal projects—Vital Connections in Brisbane and Vive Café in Melbourne—and visiting ADRA projects and op shops in South Australia are among his most inspiring experiences.

“My time at ADRA has changed me. I am far from perfect, but I see the world differently now—more compassionately and more generously, and I love that ADRA has triggered those emotions.” 

ADRA Australia is a member of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and a signatory to ACFID’s Code of Conduct. ADRA Australia has full accreditation with the Australian Government and is registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC). ADRA Australia is a signatory to the Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA) Code of Conduct. ADRA is the worldwide humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The global ADRA network spans more than 140 countries. For more information, visit www.adra.org.au