Kon Karapanagiotidis

  • Kon Karapanagiotidis
    CEO and Founder, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre



An NFP Founder’s Journey: Growing the ASRC from 1 to 150+ staff

Explore the often untold parts of the journey travelled by founders and leaders who create and build their organisations on the smell
of an oily rag – from a vision, an idea into a thriving and established NFP.

Kon will speak about the joy, passion, risks, idealism, and energy that it takes to make this journey; but also about the losses, the grief, the sacrifices and the trade offs he made on one of the most precious and extraordinary journeys anyone can make.

The decisions around people and culture are amongst the most important Kon has made and continues to make in building the ASRC.

Kon will explore how, as a leader working to scale his team, he negotiated the challenges of protecting and upholding the very culture, values and practices that made the ASRC successful in the first place, and his inspiring evolution as a leader along the way.

About Kon

Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM, is the CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the largest independent human rights organisation for refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. The ASRC assists approximately 5000 people seeking asylum each year, and with the help of over 1200 volunteers and 150 staff, offers more than 40 holistic programs that protect people seeking asylum from persecution and destitution, support wellbeing and dignity, and empower people to advance their own futures.

Kon grew up in a working-class family in a small country town in Victoria. His personal experience of racism and of witnessing the exploitation of his parents in factories & farms planted the seeds of his passion for human rights. He started early, by volunteering at the first of 25 charities, a centre for homeless men at the age of 18. He went on to complete 6 degrees and become a lawyer, social worker, teacher and a published author.

Kon founded the ASRC at the age of 28.

His work has been recognised with over two dozen awards and honours including: an Order of Australia Medal (OAM), a Churchill Fellowship & finalist for Australian of The Year (Victoria) & the Human Rights Medal, as well as Citizen of the Year in his local community.

Most recently, in May 2019, Kon was recognised with an Honorary Doctor of Laws from his alma mater, La Trobe University and from another alma mater, he received a University of Melbourne Arts Faculty award for ‘Leadership’.

His memoir, The Power of Hope is published by HarperCollins Australia..