Our Ambassadors

The following people have committed to help us achieve our objective and achieve 50/50 gender representation in Australia’s parliaments.

Ann Sherry, AO

“I have signed on as a WFEA ambassador to help make sure the face of Australia is fairly reflected in our political system. To achieve this we need to increase the number of women in all our elected forums across all political parties.

We currently have too few women in parliaments and governments across Australia and we have even poorer representation of women in key portfolio positions in state and federal politics in particular. The outcome is lack of voice, lack of role modelling for young women and mono cultural debates and discussions leading to poor outcomes.

I believe we need interventions to change this as incremental change is too slow. It requires cultural change in political parties, it requires the setting of hard targets to be achieved in pre-selections (quotas) and it requires a regular refresh of sitting members so they do not get an entitlement mentality to their positions when refresh is needed.”

As a WFEA ambassador I will be able to help drive this change.

  • Ann Sherry is one of Australia’s leading business executives with a career that spans Government, Banking and Cruise Tourism.
  • Ann is the Chair of UNICEF Australia and currently holds non-executive roles with National Australia Bank, Sydney Airport, Palladium Group, Infrastructure Victoria, Rugby Australia, Cape York Partnerships, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.
  • She is an Advisor to and the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Carnival Australia, the largest cruise ship operator in Australasia and a division of Carnival Corporation & Plc.
  • The Australian Government awarded Ann the Centenary Medal in 2001 and in 2004 she was awarded an Order of Australia.
  • In 2015, Ann was named as the overall winner of the Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence Award.
  • Ann devotes considerable energy to her passion for women’s rights (currently as convenor of the MCC STEM group), supporting opportunity for Indigenous communities, personal philanthropy and support of the arts.

Anna Bligh, AC

“I am honoured to be a WFEA ambassador to be part of the change needed to see more women elected across all levels of our political system.

I know first-hand the challenges women face in public life, particularly in the first few steps of seeking and achieving election.

The 50/50 target that is set is ambitious however I believe not only is it achievable, it is necessary to ensure a strong voice on the key issues confronting our country.”

Dr John Hewson

Academic, economist, businessman, politician, columnist and commentator.

“I am honoured to be an Ambassador for WFEA.

I consider gender inequality to be one of the most important economic, social, and ethical issues of significance in Australian society today.

Women urgently need to have an equal and effective voice in Parliament and in government and I can hopefully contribute, through WFEA, to help make this happen.”

John is currently finishing two books – ‘ Public Policy Book’ and another as a Collection of major public policy columns and speeches etc.

  • He is currently a Professorial Fellow at Crawford School, Australian National University
  • Professor and Chair, Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Crawford School.
  • John is an adjunct Professor at UTS Business School
  • Adjunct BCEC Professorial Fellow Curtin University
  • Professorial Fellow, Thinker-in-Residence, and Member Advisory Board, Institute of Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra.
  • He is currently a director at The Sir Ronald Wilson Foundation at ANU.

Awards:

  • Fellow, Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia (FASSA)
  • Fellow, Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD)
  • Fellow, Finance and Treasury Association (FFTP(Hon))
  • Affiliate, The Securities Institute of Australia (ASIA)
  • Fellow, The Hong Kong Management Association
  • Member in the Order of Australia Centenary Medal
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellow
  • Lifetime Achievement Award University of Regina, November 2009
  • Order of Merit, Australian Olympic Committee May 2010

Emelda Davis Chairwoman- Australia South Sea Islanders (Port Jackson)

(Waskam) Emelda Davis is a social justice advocate with a skill base in Media, Events Management and Community Development having worked for over three decades across state and federal government agencies with a genuine interest and focus on grassroots communities.

As a proud women of colour I am grateful for the opportunity to represent ‘Women for Election Australia’ as a symbol of equal opportunity and access to the pathways and learnings to encourage women to engage across all areas of government and importantly decision making especially for marginalised communities.

In my current position as founder and chair of Australian South Sea Islanders (Port Jackson), national representative since 2012 our board consists of 70% female directors inclusive of youth representation as founding members.

Achievements include:
2020 Parliament of NSW, Legislative Assembly Community Recognition Statement
2020 Premiers Multicultural Community Medals (Settlement Services International NSW Human Rights Medal)
2020 Masters of Arts (FASS) Children of the Sugar Slaves ‘Black & Resilient’
2017 Rotary Inspirational Women’s Award
2017 Inspirational Wall Medal, Ultimo – Public School Sydney NSW
2016 NSW Women of the Year (Sydney Local)
2015 NSW Council for Pacific Communities Award
2015 ASSI National Assoc. constitution consult and adoption (Tweed)
2013 Parliament of NSW Recognition of Australian South Sea Islanders
2012-2015 ‘Wantok’ ASSI National Conferences (7)

The Hon. Nick Greiner, AC

Nick Greiner was Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales from 1988-1992.   Since his retirement from politics, he has been heavily involved in the corporate world.

He is currently Chairman of QBE Asia Pacific and is a Director of SGSP (Australia) Assets Pty Ltd and CPE Capital (formerly CHAMP Private Equity).

He is also Chairman, Council of Advisors, Rothschild Australia Limited and Chairman of Advisory Board, Crosby Textor.

Nick is also Federal President of the Liberal Party, Chairman of the European Australian Business Council (EABC) and a Member of the Board of Governors, Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).

He is also an Adviser for Wattle Hill RHC Fund, McKinsey and Company and is a member of the Advisory Board for the John Grill Centre for Project Leadership.

In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 1994, he was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia for public sector reform and management and services to the community and in 2001 the Centenary Medal.

Nick holds an Honours Degree in Economics from Sydney University and a Master of Business Administration with High Distinction from Harvard Business School.

Sue Cato

“I am honoured to join WFEA as an ambassador because not only have they recognised that we need greater civility in our political discourse – they are doing something meaningful about it.

Research has again and again shown that many women stay out of politics and broader public debates because of the nature of the engagement. It’s well overdue that we had those best placed to make a meaningful contribution leading our nation, not just those up for a fight.”

Sue has worked on business-critical issues and corporate activity for Australian and international corporations and entities for almost three decades. With an early career as a political staffer and having co-founded and then sold a corporate affairs company to multi-national interests, Sue established Cato Counsel in 2003 as a corporate communications company providing high-level strategic transaction support and public and corporate affairs advice. Cato Counsel has since evolved into Cato & Clive Partners.

Sue is recognised as one of Australia’s leading issues management experts, having managed some of the largest issues confronting corporate Australia. Sue is an advisory board member of Sydney Contemporary. She is a member of Chief Executive Women and is on the steering committee of the creative think tank, A New Approach. Sue is a regular commentator on business issues for the national media.

Narelle Hooper

I grew up in central western NSW on Wiradjuri country, the middle of five kids. My family ran a dairy farm and a pub, my mum worked the night shift as a maternity sister and I was the first in my family to go to university.

After 30 years in business as a journalist, working in the press gallery in Parliament House Canberra and with corporate boards and management, I am  angry, sad and frustrated that the issue then is still the issue now: women are still underrepresented in every level of government and in senior levels of business. We cannot afford to bypass half our talent; too much is at stake. Enough. We need an intervention.

That’s why I am proud to support the work of WFEA.

Women For Election Australia aims to inform and equip women so they can participate authentically and take their equal place in leadership, eyes wide open. When the people in power reflect the makeup of our community and respond to the deep long term challenges and opportunities we face, we will be a fairer, more sustainable nation with a vibrant future.

I am a non executive director at The Ethics Centre and Editor in Chief of the award winning Company Director magazine, published by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

I have worked with local newspapers, for BRW, the ABC, SBS TV and Fairfax Media across print, radio, TV and digital media. I’m a former editor of the Australian Financial Review’s BOSS Magazine and was founding co-chair of the AFR’s Women of Influence Awards to recognise women’s contributions in creating a more vibrant society and economy. Previous board roles have included the Tasmanian Development Board, Documentary Australia Foundation and the women’s global entrepreneurship accelerator SBE Australia.

In 2015, I co-wrote New Women New Men New Economy (Federation Press) with Rodin Genoff, which examines the practices and mindsets that drive innovation and sustainable growth. Gender equality and inclusive culture is at the core. I  studied journalism at Canberra University, am a qualified yoga and meditation teacher and have a Masters in Management (Financial Management) from MGSM.

Wendy McCarthy AO

Wendy McCarthy is an experienced manager and company director who began her career as a secondary school teacher. She moved out of the classroom into public life in 1968 and since then has worked for change across the public, private and community sectors, in education, family planning, human rights, public health, overseas aid and development, conservation, heritage, media and the Arts. 

Wendy was a founding member of Women’s Electoral Lobby, Chief Executive Women and The Sydney Community Foundation Women’s Fund and continues to advocate for women in public life. From September 2018 to October 2018 she Chaired the successful by-election campaign to elect Dr Kerryn Phelps AM as the Independent Member for Wentworth. She continued that role in the subsequent Federal election which Dr Phelps lost by a narrow margin. 

She has a long track record of campaigning and fundraising for women’s issues. Recently, she led the successful NSW Pro Choice Alliance campaign to remove abortion from the criminal code. The new legislation was enacted on October 2, 2019. 

Wendy has held many significant leadership roles in key national and international bodies including eight years as Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ten years as Chancellor of the University of Canberra, and 12 years of service to Plan Australia as Chair, with three years as Global Deputy Chair for Plan International. In 2016 she completed eight years as chair of headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and in 2017 she completed 9 years as Chair of Circus Oz, Australia’s leading circus. 

She has established several businesses, including the national consulting practice McCarthy Mentoring which is now owned by her daughter Sophie McCarthy. 

Her career has been publicly recognised in many ways: 

  • In 1989 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for outstanding contributions to community affairs, women’s affairs and the Bicentennial celebrations. 
  • In 1995 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of South Australia. 
  • In 2003 she received a Centenary of Federation Medal for business leadership. 
  • In 2005 the Sydney Morning Herald nominated her as one of Australia’s Top Public Intellectuals. 
  • In 2011 she was profiled in The Power of One as one of 100 women who have shaped Australia. 
  • In 2013 she was inaugural inductee of the Women’s Agenda Hall of Fame for her contribution to the lives of Australian women. 
  • In 2017 she was made a Life Fellow by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 
  • Most recently, in a special edition of Who Mattered in 2019, The Sydney Morning Herald named Wendy as one of the people defining Australia right now: “McCarthy’s advocacy and passion for women’s rights has spurred a new generation. We wouldn’t be where we are without her.” 

Wendy McCarthy is an experienced speaker and facilitator, and is regularly asked for comment on social and political issues. She enjoys writing and is the author of several books including her memoir Don’t Fence Me In published by Random House in 2000. She is currently writing an updated memoir to be published in 2021.