Carol Schwartz AO has been awarded Australia’s highest philanthropic award in recognition of her contributions to improving gender equality, women’s leadership and social justice.
Schwartz was presented with The Leading Philanthropist award at the 2020 Australian Philanthropy Awards on Tuesday. The award recognises an individual philanthropist whose work is visionary, high impact and transformative.
“Carol has made an incredible contribution and demonstrates the positive community change that can be achieved through strategic, innovative and forward-thinking philanthropy,” Sarah Davies, Philanthropy Australia CEO.
“Carol is courageous and entrepreneurial in her philanthropic approach and uses a range of levers for impact – grant making, partnerships, investments, networks, new initiatives and organisations, and skills and expertise via boards and mentoring.”
Schwartz is one of Australia’s leading business figures and is the founding chair of Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia and Our Community and the chair of the Trawalla Foundation, the private family foundation of Schwartz and her husband Alan, and their children.
She is passionate about developing more female leaders in business, politics and the media, and has introduced a range of practical interventions including the Pathways to Politics Program for Women, the Panel Pledge and the Women for Media database.
“She is highly skilled in identifying innovative solutions for change and is regularly involved in catalysing successful new organisations which support both giving and education for transformative change,” Davies said.
While Schwartz holds many formal roles, the Australian Philanthropy Awards also recognised her ongoing generosity that happens quietly behind the scenes. She is always providing advice and guidance, connecting people and organisation, helping others unlock their potential and advocating for change.
Accepting the award, Schwartz said philanthropy was her way of investing in leaders who will have a positive impact.
“To me, philanthropy is a way to invest in ideas and leaders, and to catalyse and collaborate to create positive impact. My husband Alan and I established the Trawalla Foundation in 2004 and since then we have gone on a journey from more informal and emotionally driven giving to something that is strategic and long term,” she said.
“Today we aim to use all of the levers we have access to including corpus investments, skills, networks, mentoring and advocacy, so that we can deepen the impact of the individuals and organisations that we work with.
“As you may know, I’m passionate about the value of more female leaders, particularly in business, politics and the media. Some of the Foundation’s best philanthropy has been in this space, such as founding the highly successful Pathways to Politics Program for Women with the University of Melbourne, and then expanding into Queensland with QUT. I also established the not-for-profit Women’s Leadership Institute Australia to offer examples of practical interventions, such as the Women for Media database and the Panel Pledge to support a more equitable Australia.
“2020 has been a year like no other. We are living in very unusual and difficult times. It has been incredibly heartening to see the Australian philanthropic community rise to the challenge and adapt and grow their support for the social sector. The sector will have a significant role to play in the coming months and years, and I look forward to being part of bold and collaborative philanthropy with you all.”