Media Release

Freemasons Victoria Appoints First Woman Chief Executive


Freemasons Victoria

The United Grand Lodge of Victoria, for the first time in their 127 year history, has appointed a woman Chief Executive to lead the 10,000 member organisation into an era of expansion and consolidation in the many services provided to the community.

Jane Sydenham-Clarke, a former senior executive at Federation Square for close to ten years, and with a career spanning not for profit and commercial sectors in human services, cultural, tourism, community and property management, will take over the new role in early September.

Richard Elkington, President of the Board of General Purposes Freemasons Victoria said, "The appointment of Ms Sydenham-Clarke by the Board comes at a time of rapid and continual growth in society making it vital for Freemasons Victoria to build on its strong community foundation while taking a progressive approach to engage with current issues.

Left: Deputy Grand Master, Keith Murray; Jane Sydenham-Clarke, new CEO Freemasons Victoria;
Grand Master Don Reynolds and President of the Board of General Purposes Freemasons Victoria Richard Elkington
 at the announcement of the new CEO for Freemasons Victoria with the model of the new headquarters in Albert Street, East Melbourne. 

"Currently Freemasons Victoria extends across more than 280 Lodges in 163 metropolitan and regional areas, with its headquarters in Albert Street, East Melbourne undergoing a major reconstruction that will house a new Masonic Centre and Business Operations."

Jane Sydenham-Clarke said "Freemasons Victoria has played a significant role in the development of Victoria in all walks of life and is based on the solid foundation of 'good men doing good deeds' with the support of their families, to assist each other and the broader community.

"With a father who was a member of Freemasons Victoria I have firsthand experience and understand the important role this organisation plays in enabling good men and building our community.

"The Freemasons philosophy has particular contemporary currency as we face today's diverse social challenges. Now more than ever we need space for good men to support each other, their families and their community.

Our immediate challenge will be to engage a new generation of younger Freemasons and to recapture the community's attention as a whole."

Ms Sydenham-Clarke said while Freemasons create space for men, women play a vital role in the work of the organisation supporting their partners and contributing significantly to the success of philanthropic and other community building initiatives.

Grand Master, Don Reynolds said he welcomed the appointment, saying that Jane Sydenham- Clarke's immense professional capacity and track record in building community awareness and engagement with Victorian landmarks signals the beginning of an exciting new chapter in Freemasons Victoria's history.

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Freemasonry played a pivotal part in the growth and establishment of our state.
The foundation stones of some of the most prominent buildings in our city, such as the Melbourne Court House, the Melbourne Hospital, the Princes Bridge and many more, serve as a constant reminder, that Freemasonry was at the cornerstone of early Melbourne and Victorian architecture.

By the 1880s, Freemasonry in Victoria had grown to such a degree that there were over 100 Lodges scattered throughout the state. The number of Lodges in Melbourne grew by 50 per cent in six years, and Freemasonry was indeed, prominent at the highest levels of office, influencing every walk of life. In 1883, a group of men decided that a new, VICTORIAN named and based body be formed to govern and oversee Freemasonry in Victoria, and the Grand Lodge of Victoria was established.

By 1889, such was the continued growth, influence, popularity, strength and presence of Freemasonry in Victoria, that further establishment occurred, creating the UNITED Grand Lodge of Victoria and the Installation of the very first Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge.