Announcing the winners of the 2021 Women's Agenda Leadership Awards

Announcing the winners of the 2021 Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards

Women leading with real impact alongside compassion, courage and collaboration were celebrated at the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards in Sydney on Thursday night.

With 34 finalists across nine different categories, the awards evening aimed to celebrate and elevate the leadership we need for the critical decade ahead.

As part of the program Women’s Agenda also announced “Five Frontline Heroes”, nominated by Women’s Agenda readers, in order to showcase the women who’ve led across various emergencies and in courageous capacities over the past 18 months.

Women’s Agenda also named a new Hall of Fame Entrant, highlighting the work that one women has achieved in changing things for women for the better in her industry or field: with 7x World Champion Surfer Layne Beachley receiving the prize.

Aminata Conteh-Biger took out the Agenda Setter of the Year Award, for her work establishing the Aminata Maternal Foundation, saving the lives of hundreds of mothers and babies in her home country, Sierra Leone. The judges noted her “ethos and integrity, and how she personifies joy.” They spoke about her going out by herself from Australia, harnessing a deeply traumatic past for the “benefit of wider society and to make the lives of women in her home country safer.”

The Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards were made possible thanks to the excellent support of our partners, including Salesforce and Telstra Health.

Pip Marlow, the CEO of Salesforce for ANZ & ASEAN, said the finalists embody the leadership we need to get us through the next decade.

“It’s women like the ones in this room that will reshape our country, our companies, and our society to be more diverse and more inclusive.”  

Chair of the Judging Panel Shirley Chowdhary said that this year it’s particularly important to celebrate women in leadership.

“In difficult times where we fight against dangers in the workplace, structural and hidden barriers to advancement, hidden and overt discrimination and the tide of history, women have stood up and asked to be heard, again.

“The finalists in these Awards are outstanding examples of this leadership. They personify courage, compassion, inclusivity and collaboration – all qualities that we need in abundance right now.

The full list of Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards is included below!

Susana Ng

Emerging Leader in the Public & University Sector: Susana Ng

Susana has over 20 years of experience in community development, policy and leadership development. She has been nurturing a new generation of activists and community development professionals by supervising over 150 Social Work and Policy students. Susana has also developed and managed the award winning International Student Leaderships and Ambassadors Program (ISLA) since 2013. Angered by rising interpersonal and systemic racism, and the lack of safe spaces for people of colour to have a voice about racism, Susana initiated and convenes the NSW Anti-Racism Working Group which uses a collaborative impact approach to address racism.

Joanna Dodds

Emerging Leader in Climate Action: Joanna Dodds

Joanna is the president of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, a unique organisation changing the conversation around climate. Her powerful storytelling about the devastating losses of individual Australians, sidelines political brawling and instead creates compassionate engagement.

Priyanka Ashraf

Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year: Priyanka Ashraf

Lawyer turned technologist, Priyanka Ashraf is the Founder and Director of The Creative Co-Operative, Australia’s first 100% migrant Women of Colour owned, led and operated startup dedicated to lifting the economic access barriers faced by migrant WoC as a result of systemic racism.

Structured as a social enterprise and operating as an agency, the CCO employs migrant WoC across creative, marketing and digital services and in the space of roughly 6 months of bootstrapping, has already created over 40 paid work opportunities for migrant WoC. The CCO applies a Pay It Forward model, where its commercial work helps fund community projects to amplify WoC. 

Antoinette Lattouf 

Emerging Leader in the Not for Profit Sector: Antoinette Lattouf 

Antoinette Lattouf is an award-winning Network 10 journalist. She’s the Director and co-founder of Media Diversity Australia. In 2019, Antoinette was named among AFR’s 100 Women of Influence. She’s currently writing a book, ‘How to lose friends and influence white people’ which will be published by Penguin Random House in early 2022. 

While continuing her day job as a television journalist, Antoinette led landmark research into the lack of diversity in the news media which made national and international headlines, introduced paid internships for CALD entry-level journalists, oversaw the launch of a free directory of CALD professionals for journalists to use as talent interviewees. She also leads a team of 30 volunteers who help run MDA and is about to hire full-time staff to help the charity grow.

Naureen Alam

Emerging Leader in Tech: Naureen Alam

Naureen Alam is the Senior Manager, Future Business and Technology at AGL. A change-maker in the clean energy industry, Naureen is passionate about operationalising innovation & tech to realise a sustainable energy future. Recognised as an Engineers Australia’s Young Engineer of the Year finalist and selected for EnergyLab’s Women in Clean Energy Fellowship program, Naureen has also completed a Masters in Sustainability Leadership from Cambridge University, UK.

In the past year, Naureen has delivered $10million value by leading a gender balanced and technically diverse team.

Mani Thiru

Emerging Leader in the Private Sector: Mani Thiru

Mani Thiru is the APAC Business Lead within the Aerospace & Satellite Solutions team at Amazon Web Services.

Mani works to enable the space sector achieve its most ambitious goals by leveraging cloud computing and transformative services like machine learning, artificial intelligence, satellite & data analytics to deliver innovation in a range of areas; from space enabled agriculture & emergency disaster response through to space exploration and earth observation research. 

Esha Oberoi

Emerging Leader in Health: Esha Oberoi

Esha Oberoi is the Founder CEO of Afea Care Services, a national disability care provider. She is an entrepreneur and self-love advocate who credits much of her success to her transformative ideology that, ‘Mental Health begins in the Heart’. Afea Care Services is a purposeful home care provider with a Mission to Empower People through love and happiness.

A/Prof Francine Marques

Emerging Leader in STEM: Francine Marques

A/Prof Francine Marques is a National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellow, Monash University. A medical researcher, Francine currently leads a team of 13 scientists who are working toward discovering new ways to prevent heart disease through our gut microbes. Francine’s leadership has been key to new programs to support those working in science, particularly women. Examples include national and international mentoring programs, a podcast about mentoring with world leaders in heart disease, and a woman in heart research spotlight. She has led a national survey of researchers to determine how to improve their work conditions and retention. 

Aminata Conteh-Biger with Pip Marlow, CEO of Salesforce Australia and New Zealand

Agenda Setter of the Year: Aminata Conteh-Biger

Aminata Conteh-Biger is an Australian author, speaker, advocate, special representative for Australia UNHCR and performer as well as the founder and CEO of non- profit organisation, the Aminata Maternal Foundation, saving the lives of hundreds of mothers and babies in her home country, Sierra Leone. Determined to “be change” while on earth, Aminata describes this as her vow to her integrity.

In 2020, Aminata’s memoir ‘Rising Heart’ was published by Pan Macmillan; recalling her trauma at being kidnapped from her father’s arms as a teenager and used as a sex slave.

The Women’s Agenda Five Frontline Heroes

Professor Raina MacIntyre is one of Australia’s leading epidemiologists, who was been clear and vocal about the necessity of mask-wearing from the early stages of COVID-19. As a brilliant communicator, she’s been able to share important scientific information about the pandemic with the general public.  

Bernadette Eather led the COVID-19 response for Ramsay Health Care. She supported all of Ramsay’s healthcare services to respond and prepare for the virus in Australia, and has worked with government and sector stakeholders to ensure its services remains effective and prepared. She also supported in managing the mental wellbeing of Ramsay’s 30,000 frontline staff. 

Natalia Esdaile-Watts has been an SES volunteer since 2006. She helped during the bushfires and other local weather disasters as the only female team leader in her SES unit, and assisted in offering compassion, food and water to responders as well as those who’d lost everything. Natalia is also a powerful advocate for ending domestic violence. 

Elizabeth Jowanie is a qualified nurse based in Wollongong. As a speaker of five languages and a former refugee, she’s been instrumental in helping others to find the care and help they need. Also a volunteer with the SES and a member of its dedicated Multicultural Liaison Unit, she uses her language skills to educate community members about how the SES can help them during floods and storms. 

Louise Orr supported her 70+ team through the Summer bushfires in NSW, and has been leading recovery programs on the NSW North Coast since January 2020. During the devastating fires, her team at the NSW North Coast Local Land Services assisted people in keeping pets and livestock safe and in acquiring the assistance they need. 


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