~ Monday August 28 2017
Nazha Saad 1960 - 2017
Nazha Saad, woman of influence helped thousands of homeless
By Marie Persson
Nazha Saad was named as one of Australia's Women of Influence by Westpac and The Australian Financial Review. She was a leader in the Australian community housing sector and was widely acknowledged as an innovator, activist and humanitarian. Before she became ill, Saad was CEO of St George Community Housing, providing accommodation for more than 8000 homeless people.
Saad was the daughter of Emile and Hasyby Saad, Lebanese immigrants who came to Australia with little to their name but their commitment to hard work and a hunger to succeed. Her family was a traditional one and it is testimony to Saad's determination and drive that she achieved so much in her short life.
Nazha Saad (centre), CEO of St George Community Housing, at a permaculture garden created by St George Community Housing for residents. (Jane Dyson)
To say Saad was a high achiever is to underplay her abilities. Wherever she was she shone. She was school captain at Burwood Public School and a prefect at Strathfield Girls High. As well as completing an executive course at Harvard Business School, Saad topped her MBA class. She trained with her brother Joseph for many years at the Australian Tae Kwon Do Academy and despite being an average swimmer – not that she would admit it – she attained her underwater divers licence.
Saad was fearless and not afraid to stand up to any sort of bias, prejudice or misogyny. As a senior executive in the NSW Public Service she didn't hold back. In one memorable incident, in a very public forum, she playfully (but with meaning) slapped the minister of the day on the arm when he made a sexist remark. There was a hushed silence until he laughed it off. He knew not to mess with her.
Nazha Saad, CEO of St George Community Housing, was a leader in the Australian community housing sector and was widely acknowledged as an innovator, activist and humanitarian. (Supplied Photo)
Ross MacRae was the great love of her life along with their poodle cross, Maddie. For many years she enjoyed sailing holidays in exotic places with MacRae and a small group of friends, despite suffering from appalling seasickness. Every morning she would take copious pills and disappear below. At the end of the day she was half carried onto a dock, a beach – anywhere that didn't rock. MacRae was always there for her at the end of the day.
Saad always said that she would like to have left this world having made it a better place for her sister, brothers, colleagues, friends and those less fortunate than her. She wanted to face whatever is next with her head held high, knowing she had lived a good life and had done her best.
She was beautiful and caring and lit up any room she entered. She was authentic, vulnerable, strong and wise. Throughout her life she united all who met her with her infectious personality and her ferocious commitment to social justice. She faced death as she faced life – with grace and gratitude, kindness, genuine curiosity, a sense of hopefulness and a concern that was always for others.
Nazha Saad is survived by MacRae, her mother Hasyby, her brothers Joseph and Richard and her sister Najette.