Collingwood is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Bridie O’Donnell to the club’s board of directors.

O’Donnell holds degrees in medicine and public administration and was a national champion across three sports – cycling, rowing and triathlon.

Currently the Executive Director of the Victorian Government’s Public Events Team and Director of the Gender Equity Project, O’Donnell was the inaugural Director of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation between 2017-2020 and a physician with Epworth HealthCheck between 2013-2017.

O’Donnell joins the board to fill a vacancy created by the departure of vice-president Alex Waislitz. Waislitz joined the Collingwood board in 1998. He flagged earlier this year his intention to step down in the course of the 2021 season, which allowed the board nominations committee to prepare and identify O’Donnell

“It’s been an honour to have served the club for more than two decades and I’m pleased to be leaving the board at time when we are in strong financial position,” Waislitz said.

“Collingwood is now in a period of renewal and it’s appropriate that I make way for that process to continue. I wish Mark and the team continued success and I am happy to assist in any way I can.”

In the interests of good governance the nominations committee, with the assistance of an executive search firm, considered an initial list of 90 potential candidates from which seven were shortlisted. It was from this process, which required approximately eight weeks to complete, that O’Donnell and the recently appointed Neil Wilson emerged.

Waislitz’s resignation and O’Donnell’s appointment were made official at a meeting of the Collingwood board this afternoon, meaning that the momentum behind a program of progressive change and renewal at board level continues to build.

Six of Collingwood’s seven directors have been on the board for five years or less and two of those, Paul Licuria and Jodie Sizer, were appointed vice-presidents tonight.

Licuria, a decorated past player and successful business figure, is working with ceo Mark Anderson and GM of Football Graham Wright on the strategic future for the AFL program. Sizer, co-ceo of PwC’s Indigenous Consulting who will take up a position as chief executive of the Great Ocean Road Authority in July, is bringing her experience in Indigenous affairs and cultural leadership at a national level to the implementation of the Do Better program.

Collingwood president, Mark Korda, welcomed O’Donnell and thanked Waislitz, who had been Collingwood’s longest serving director.

“With a medical, public health and elite sporting background, Bridie offers expertise across a range of fields that are of importance to Collingwood,” Korda said.

“Our nominations process, through which Neil Wilson was also recently appointed to the board, focussed on our future needs as a sports organisation at the forefront of male and female sport.

“My strong view is that in the 21st century the Collingwood board ought to reflect a greater gender balance, cultural diversity and a younger profile as well as the critical skills required to run a large and prominent sporting business.

“A club such as ours operates at the intersection of elite sport, business and community. Someone of Bridie’s calibre will help in all of those fields and enable us to picture, plan for and realise a future full of possibilities and opportunity.

“Alex has been a wonderful servant of Collingwood. He answered the call to help 23 years ago and has played a pivotal role in the modernisation of Collingwood; a process that took the club from Victoria Park to Olympic Park, saw it win the 2010 AFL premiership, play in a further five grand finals and add elite women’s football and netball to the Collingwood family.

“Alex also made a significant contribution to Collingwood’s very sound financial position which has us as one of few clubs financially independent of the AFL.

“His commitment to Collingwood Foundation’s philanthropic and community initiatives such as Magpie Nest has also been outstanding. I thank Alex for his passion and care. I look forward to seeing him at the football.”