Ignite your leadership journey with the fifth She Leads Conference – the premier event for women at all stages of their leadership journey.

This flagship Conference provides a fresh perspective on women’s leadership and is not like any other conference for women you might have heard of. We don’t just want women to succeed in their workplaces, we want them to thrive in all areas of their life.

The 2018 She Leads Conference provides a holistic approach to women’s leadership the focuses on providing you with the expertise required to elevate yourself in your home, workplace, and community.

Practical skills you will gain include collaborative leadership, positive team work, emotional intelligence, and innovative thinking that considers gender and cultural diversity. You will achieve the confidence and expertise required to advance your influence across all sectors of your life to rise and help lift others up as you go.

Held across two days at the Rex Hotel from Tuesday 31 July to Wednesday 1 August, the 2018 She Leads Conference will attract a diverse range of women leaders, including female-identifying and non-binary people, at all stages of their leadership journeys, from a variety of fields.

The Conference centres around the theme Rise: We grow powerful by lifting each other, and includes a full program of keynote speeches, seminars, and panels that will build your capacity to be a positive and influential leader in all that you do.

Building on the success of our past four events, we expect a continued positive evaluation outcome as received in 2017, with 92 per cent of surveyed attended evaluating the Conference as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’, 91 per cent stating they would recommend the Conference to other women, and 84 per cent of respondents indicating that they would attend the Conference next year. Learn more about our previous She Leads Conferences.

To receive the YWCA Canberra member discount become a member today, or to receive a discount on a table for 10, complete this form.

Meshel Laurie

Meshel Laurie is a radio and television broadcaster, writer and corporate speaker of over 20 years’ experience. Meshel is currently a regular panellist on Channel Ten’s The Project, and pops up quite a bit on TV, with numerous appearances throughout her career. Credits include Hughesy, We Have A Problem, host of ABC’s Stand Up! co-hosting Ten’s This Week Live, and regular guest appearances on shows such as Rove Live, The Glass House, Can of Worms, Spicks and Specks, Good News Week, The Circle, and Adam Hills: In Gordon Street Tonight. Meshel is also an accomplished author and practicing Buddhist, and has published a memoir, The Fence-Painting Fortnight of Destiny (2013), and two books in her‘Buddhism For…’ series, including Buddhism For Breakups (2017), and Buddhism For The Unbelievably Busy (2017).

Jamila Rizvi

Jamila Rizvi is an author, presenter, and political commentator. Described as one of the preeminent voices of young Australian women online, Jamila injects her own special brand of humour, irreverence and authenticity into the public debate. Jamila writes a twice-weekly column for News Limited about politics, gender and parenting. She is an accomplished host and commentator, appearing regularly on The Project, The Drum, and ABC Radio. She previously worked as Editor in Chief of the Mamamia Network, and as a political adviser to the Rudd and Gillard governments. Her first book is Not Just Lucky and was published in 2017, and her second book, The Motherhood, an anthology of essays about motherhood, was published in April 2018. Jamila is also an Ambassador for CARE Australia and refugee advocacy group, Welcome to Australia, and she is a board member for The McKell Institute and the Melbourne’s Writer’s Festival.

Nas Campanella

Nas Campanella is a journalist and newsreader with the ABC and Triple J. Nas lost her sight when she was six-months-old and also has Charcot-Marie-Tooth, which means she can’t read Braille. Nas is the first blind newsreader in the world to read and operate the studio for herself live to air, and is passionate about travel; she has been published in Lonely Planet and the Sydney Morning Herald, and provides advice on accessible travel to members of the tourism industry. In 2016 Nas was part of a Disability Empowerment Skills Exchange in Fiji where she worked in a media communications and advocacy role with the Spinal Injury Association in Suva. During the month-long exchange, Nas devised a social media strategy for the organisation, assisted in the design and launch of a disability awareness training program for the United Nations, and ran workshops in public speaking, press release writing and interview skills. Nas is also a board director for Motivation Australia.

Mary Delahunty

Mary is the Head of Impact for HESTA and has been with the fund since early 2013. She is a councillor and immediate past Mayor of the City of Glen Eira. She is a 2015 Churchill Fellow awarded for the completion of international research on equity for women in pension systems. She regularly speaks at industry forums and leadership events on the inequities in our retirement system. Mary has recently been appointed to the Ministerial Advisory Council on Gender Equality for Victoria. Mary is also a Board Member of The Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority (000) and a past Chair of Reclink Australia, a National Not for Profit organisation offering sports and recreation opportunities to break the cycle for disadvantaged Australians.

Dr Raji Ambikairajah

Dr Raji Ambikairajah holds a PhD in electrical engineering and has spent most of her career in the technology start-up and venture capital sectors. Raji is the Chief Operating Officer of Women in Banking and Finance, a current non-executive director of the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship, and is an Ambassador for Room to Read. Raji was also awarded the 2018 NSW Woman of the Year Award in the Community Hero category.

Bridget Clinch

Bridget Clinch began serving in the Infantry straight out of school, and quickly became a Captain. Bridget’s life quickly changed when she informed the Australian Defence Force (ADF) she was transgender, and began transitioning. This life change transformed Bridget into a trans-rights activist, where she successfully dismantled the ADF’s extant anti trans policy, allowing trans people to continue serving. Bridget continues to support trans visibility and inclusion projects, including the inclusion of trans women in sport.

Dr Vanessa Lee

Dr Vanessa Lee, from the Yupungathi and Meriam people, is a senior researcher in social epidemiology (Med. PBH) within the Faculty of Health Sciences at University of Sydney, an Honorary Associate of the National Centre for Cultural Competency, the Chair of Public Health Indigenous Leadership Education Network, a board director of Suicide Prevention Australia, and a founding member of Indigenous Data Sovereignty Network. Vanessa also works with Domestic Violence NSW LGBTIQ Interagency, providing cultural insight in addressing domestic violence issues within the First Nations sexuality and gender diverse community.

Natalie Walker

Natalie Walker is the Founder and Managing Director of Inside Policy, a national collaboration to design new solutions for old and complex policy challenges. Prior to founding Inside Policy, Natalie was the inaugural CEO of Supply Nation. Natalie is also the non-Executive Chairman of Evolve FM, a co-Chair of National Australia Bank’s Indigenous Advisory Group, and co-Chair of the Cape York Girl Academy.

Angela Priestley

Angela Priestley is the Founding Editor of Women’s Agenda, a journalist and editor turned media entrepreneur, a business owner, and author, most notably of Women Who Seize the Moment. Angela has interviewed more than 1000 women during her career, and regularly shares what she’s learnt on Women’s Agenda and in front of audiences as a speaker, panellist, and event moderator.

Vanessa Paterson

Vanessa leads the team responsible for the advice, reporting, coverage and leading practice functions of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, including the employer of choice citation. Vanessa has worked in key roles in the Agency since 2001 and was integrally involved in the reforms of the Agency and its underlying Act. Her team continues to play an important role in implementing the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012. Prior to working at the Agency, Vanessa worked in a range of senior roles in the private sector. Vanessa has a Bachelor of Science majoring in psychology, particularly focusing on organisational psychology and neuro-psychology, areas about which she remains passionate.

Emeritus Professor Marian Sawer, AO, FASSA

Marian Sawer is former head of the Political Science Program and is now Public Policy Fellow and Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University. She is a former president of the Australasian Political Studies Association, co-founder of its Women’s Caucus, and recipient of its lifetime achievement award. Marian was made an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1994 for her services to women and to political science and was elected to the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia soon after. She has also served as Vice-President of the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and was Co-Chair of the 2016 World Congress of Political Science in Poznan.

Dr Jessa Rogers

Jessa Rogers is a Wiradjuri woman, Fulbright scholar and is currently leading the Indigenous Research and Education Strategy at the University of New England. She sits on the Federal Expert Reference Group on English Language Learning for Indigenous Children [ELLIC], the ACT Ministerial Advisory Council for Women, and the Management Committee of Future Earth Australia, Australian Academy of Sciences, recently completing her 3-year term on the National NAIDOC Committee.

CPL Laura Power

In 2003 Corporal Laura Power was enlisted as an Operator Supply in the Army Reserve. Following a break in service to focus on family, Corporal Power re-enlisted to the Army Reserve as an Administration Assistant.CPL Power has served domestically and overseas, deploying on Operation Relex II – Border Protection and Operation Accordion in the Middle East. Corporal Power has also been awarded the Soldiers Medallion for Exemplary Service. CPLPower has two daughters and is currently posted to Defence Force Recruiting, Canberra as a member of the Specialist Recruiting Team – Women.

Michele Fonseca

Michele Fonseca is a strategy and communication consultant, and the former Head of Community Engagement at the ABC, where she was responsible for leading the ABC’s key initiatives around community engagement as well as diversity and inclusion. Michele established a Diversity Working Group within ABC News, with the aim of making the operation more reflective of Australia’s many communities, both on and off air. Michele has also worked as a reporter, producer and presenter across several ABC programs including 7pm News, 7.30, Radio Current Affairs and the Asia Pacific News Centre.

Vanessa Vanderhoek

Vanessa Vanderhoek is passionate about helping people have a fulfilled life by personally and professionally by working flexibly. She is an empowering career coach, a highly energetic facilitator and trainer, and an exceedingly experienced consultant. Vanessa is the proud founder of Flexible Working Day and CEO of The FlexAgility Group, which assists organisations to reap the rewards of flexible working for both their people and business goals.

Amanda McIntyre

Amanda McIntyre is a Partner in PwC Canberra’s Business and Performance team, and has more than 20 years’ experience working in Financial Management, and is a member of the DFAT Australia Award’s Women in Leadership Program Steering Committee. Amanda has also headed International Delegations, representing the interests of the Australian Government in International Fora, and was part of the Senior Executive team that delivered the G20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane in 2014, and was Head of the Office for Women.

Frances McNair

Frances (Frankie) McNair is a comedy loving, anxiety ridden, rent scrounging optimist who is currently growing her hair out (#brave). Her comedy is combination of personal experience, unnecessary musical bursts, absurd voice overs and truth bombs that everyone was already aware of. She has performed all over Canberra and interstate including; Floriade Fringe Festival, Canberra Comedy Festival, and Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Laura Campbell

Laura Campbell is a local disability activist, feminist, and comedian. During her time as an ANU Psychology/Law student, Laura was the ANUSA Disabilities Officer, and later the Executive ANUSA Education Officer. In 2016, Laura began performing stand-up comedy, and came runner-up in 2017’s Triple J’s RAW state finals, has sold out runs in the Canberra and Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and performing with the likes of Matt Okine, David Hughes, Josh Earl, Nazeem Hussain, Akmal, and Kirsty Webeck.

8:30-9:00am               Arrivals

9:00-9:30am               MC opening remarks

Meshel Laurie

9:30-10:10am              Keynote: Levelling the Playing Field

Jamila Rizvi will speak about the disadvantages faced by women in the workplace and society through an intersectional lens, highlighting practical solutions to level the playing field. Jamila will discuss the expectation placed on women and offer easy-to-follow advice on how to overcome these expectations to not only succeed, but thrive.

Jamila Rizvi

10:10-10:45am            Morning tea

10:45-11:45am            Panel: Leading and Lifting

Four women from a range of industries and backgrounds will share what they have learnt as they rose to leadership positions, what they do to lift other women, and how they utilised the support of others. Drawing on industries including STEAM, transport and policy, academia, and the Australian Defence Force, and panellists’ diverse identities, you will gain practical advice on positive team work, collaborative leadership, and learn how to overcome challenges no matter your position, industry, or background.

Dr Raji Ambikairajah, Bridget Clinch, Dr Vanessa Lee, and Natalie Walker. Facilitated by Angela Priestley.

11:45-12:25pm            Keynote: Inclusive Leadership

Triple J’s news radio presenter, Nas Campanella, highlights opportunities for women who want to be more inclusive of people with diverse abilities and backgrounds, in their homes, workplaces, and communities. Understanding people’s differences will help you develop and lead strong teams that create innovative business solutions to meet the needs of your customers and stakeholders.

Nas Campanella

12:25-1:10pm              Lunch

1:10-2:30pm               Breakout seminars

  • Holistic Career Planning
  • Productivity Hacks and Empowered Staff
  • Creating Successful Mentorships and Menteeships
Details about these seminars can be found under the ‘Seminars’ tab

2:30-3:00pm                Afternoon tea

3:00-4:00pm                Panel: Creating Structural Change to Rise

Four women from a range of industries and backgrounds will present strategies that you can use to lead in your home and workplace, through a discussion on the benefits of creating a gender-equal world. Panellists will also discuss how they personally contribute to gender equality, what motivates and inspires them, and how to continue driving change.

Vanessa Paterson, Prof. Marian Sawer, Dr Jessa Rogers, and  CPL Laura Power. Facilitated by Michele Fonseca.  

4:00-4:40                     Keynote: Bravery, accountability and creating space

In this final keynote speech, Mary Delahunty, Head of Impact for HESTA will give you the tools to put your new knowledge into action. You will leave knowing how to be brave in the face of uncertainty and how to positively lead and lift others.

Mary Delahunty

4:40-5:00pm                MC closing remarks

Meshel Laurie

Seminar 1: Productivity Hacks and Empowered Staff

Facilitated by the Founding Editor of Women’s Agenda, Angela Priestley, this workshop targets mid and executive level women who not only want productivity hacks, but want to learn how to delegate work to their staff in an empowering way. Attendees will discover how to grow their employees’ skills, confidence, and promotion success through delegation of tasks and personal and professional development, which also improves productivity.

Seminar 2: Holistic Career Planning – How to get a Competitive Edge!

Facilitated by The FlexAgility Group CEO and Flexible Working Day founder, Vanessa Vanderhoek, this workshop targets aspiring and emerging leaders, empowering attendees to embrace this fast paced working world and not get left behind.  Our world and workplaces are rapidly evolving; research from the World Economic Forum suggests that 35 per cent of the skills necessary for us to thrive in a job today will be significantly different by 2020. Never before has it been more important than now to take action and ensure that you have a competitive edge. Attendees will learn what sets them apart, how to achieve their goals and receive promotions, while also considering how to lift others as they rise.

Seminar 3: Creating Successful Mentorships and Menteeships

Facilitated by PwC Canberra’s Partner and previous head of Office for Women at PM&C, Amanda McIntyre. Amanda is passionate about inspiring, empowering and education women to be leaders of the future. This workshop targets anyone seeking to establish a mentor/mentee relationship in the workplace. Attendees will come away understanding the benefits and importance such a relationship offers, how to establish one, what it involves practically, and where obligations lie in making sure partnerships work. Attendees will also have an opportunity to partner up with others on the day and put to practice some of the skills highlighted in the seminar.

On Tuesday 31 July, the night prior to the Conference, there will be a networking and cocktail function. With a highly limited number of tickets, this networking event provides attendees with the exclusive opportunity to meet like-minded people prior to attending the Conference.

The Function, held on the new and luxurious Rex Hotel rooftop bar, includes complimentary drinks and canapes, and attendees will also be treated to a comedy show by two leading Canberra comedians; Laura Campbell and Francis McNair.

Attend the Networking Function

YWCA Canberra is a membership-based, non-religious organisation, and we encourage the participation of people of all cultures, beliefs and ages in our movement. Strengthened by diversity, we aim to be inclusive of all people who wish to attend the Conference, and as such have the following accessibility services available.

Please note that if you require any of these services, please let us know before you book.


There will be two Auslan interpreters at the event who will interpret the entire Conference and Networking Function. If you will require the translators for personal conversations please let us know.

Hearing Loop

There will be a hearing loop available for the Conference only. Please note that while we have tried to access one for the Networking Function, we have been told it is not possible due to OH&S concerns.

If you will be using the hearing loop at the Conference, please let us know as this will effect the table you are seated at and the seminar you are able to attend.

Wheelchair access

The venue is completely wheelchair accessible. The Conference takes place on the ground floor of the Rex Hotel, and the Networking Function on the rooftop bar, accessible by lift. If you are attending the Networking Function please let us know so that we can ensure the floor layout is accessible.


If you need to pray anytime throughout the day, you will be able to access one of the seminar rooms, located two minutes walk from the plenary space. Please note that the seminar room will not be accessible while the seminar is in session, from 1:10pm to 2:30pm. If you require a different arrangement please let us know so that we can work with the Venue to organise something appropriate.


If there is another accessibility inclusion not listed here that you require access to, please let us know by emailing sheleads@ywca-canberra.org.au or calling (02) 6175 9900.

She Leads has secured a number of full scholarships for this year’s Conference, which ensure equal access to this one of a kind leadership event. Through the generosity of Jacq Burridge, Fiona Jolley, and the National Council of Women ACT, female-aligned attendees have a wide variety of scholarship options to suit their personal circumstances.

Jacq Burridge Scholarship

To apply for one of the Jacq Burridge scholarships, attendees should:

  • be a woman (includes female-identifying and non-binary people)
  • be a current full-time university student*
  • be a young woman (30 years and under)
  • commit to attending the event
  • write a 500-word article (by 15 August 2018) describing how attending the Conference has enriched
    your life

*Please note that one scholarship is available for one student from each of the following Canberra universities: University of Canberra, Australian National University, and Australian Catholic University.

Fiona Jolley Scholarship

To be eligible for a Fiona Jolley Scholarship, attendees should:

  • be a woman (includes female-identifying and non-binary people)
  • be a young woman (30 years and under)
  • commit to attending the event
  • write a 500-word article (by 15 August 2018) describing how attending the Conference has enriched
    your life

NCW ACT Scholarship and Zonta Club of Canberra Scholarship

To qualify for a NCW ACT scholarship or a Zonta Club of Canberra Scholarship, you must identify as a woman (including female-identifying and non-binary person), commit to attending the event, write a 500-word article (by 15 August 2018) describing how attending the Conference has enriched your life, and identify with at least one of the following:

  • identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person
  • culturally and linguistically diverse
  • person with a disability
  • single parent
  • survivor of gendered or domestic violence
  • unwaged
  • otherwise marginalised group

ACT Government’s Community Support and Infrastructure Grants Scholarship

To be eligible for an ACT Government’s Community Support and Infrastructure Grants Scholarship,
attendees should:

  • identify as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person
  • be a woman (includes female-identifying and non-binary people)
  • live in the ACT
  • commit to attending the event
  • write a 500-word article (by 15 August 2018) describing how attending the Conference has enriched
    your life

Strive to Thrive Scholarship – supported by YWCA Canberra Life Member
Betty Ferguson

To be eligible for a Strive to Thrive Scholarship, attendees should:

  • be a woman (includes female-identifying and non-binary people)
  • be a current student or past graduate of the She Leads Diploma program
  • commit to attending the event
  • write a 500-word article (by 15 August 2018) describing how attending the Conference has enriched
    your life

National Council of Women Australian (NCW) Scholarship

To be eligible for a National Council of Women Scholarship, attendees should:

  • be a woman (includes female-identifying and non-binary people)
  • be a woman who may not otherwise be able to participate to attend the Conference.
  • commit to attending the event
  • write a 500-word article (by 15 August 2018) describing how attending the Conference has enriched
    your life

Applications are now closed.


Defence Force Recruiting

Defence Force Recruiting (DFR) connects high calibre individuals to fulfilling careers in the Australian Defence Force. Demonstrating a commitment to women’s leadership, DFR were our Principal Supporter for the inaugural She Leads College Conference in 2015, helping us to connect young women in years 11 and 12 with inspiring women mentors and gain access to leadership skills and development. In 2016, DFR supported both the She Leads Conference and the She Leads College Conference as our Principal Supporter. In 2018, we are pleased to once again welcome DFR as the Principal Supporter for the She Leads Conference, She Leads College Conference, and the She Leads High Conference.


PriceWaterhouseCoopers have joined the 2018 She Leads program as a Champion partner to collaborate in progressing gender equality and raising the status of women. PwC have a long track record of empowering women in work through increased work-life balance, parental leave, and a commitment to eliminating the gender pay gap.

CentreRED IT

CentreRED IT are dedicated to equality, as is demonstrated through their work with the Not-For-Profit sector in Canberra and Melbourne. CentreRED IT have joined the 2018 She Leads Conference Networking Function as the Network Partner. Through this partnership, they are actively engaging the Canberra community to progress women’s leadership and networking opportunities.



As the leading global specialist recruiting group, Hays believes in powering women’s ambition. Hays is committed to helping women develop career opportunities, and that’s why they have come on board as a She Leads Champion for both the She Leads In-Conversation Series and the She Leads Conference in 2018.


Lush is a new 2018 supporter of the She Leads program, and brings their strong advocacy for human rights and equality. Lush is a long-standing cosmetic company that create cruelty free and 100% vegetarian products, and strive to provide fresh and ethically made and sourced products to improve the planet. We are please to welcome Lush as a Champion for the In-Conversation series, She Leads Conference, She Leads College, and She Leads High.


HESTA has supported the She Leads Program since 2014, when they partnered with us for the inaugural She Leads Conference. As one of Australia’s leading superannuation funds, HESTA is committed to creating a better future for all Australians, and to providing valuable resources and advice regarding superannuation planning for women. We are pleased to welcome HESTA as a She Leads Program Partner for this years Conference.

Women’s Agenda

Women’s Agenda is a free publication that gives a voice to career-focused, aspirational women who want to set their own agendas. That’s why in 2014, we partnered with Women’s Agenda as the official online partner of the inaugural She Leads Conference in Canberra. The partnership was based on crafting and sharing compelling content from the Conference speakers and our leadership team, and providing a platform for these important stories to be spread beyond the Conference walls. We are delighted to have continued this partnership every year, including 2018.


HerCanberra is an online and physical publication, designed to connect women (and blokes) with their city and each other. Featuring the voices of local writers, we write daily about life in Canberra – from ‘what’s on’ to reviews of places to eat; social commentary to health and fitness; beauty and nutrition to books and movies; fashion and motherhood to recipes and home style; if it’s part of ‘her’ life you’ll find it on HerCanberra.


Capital Chemist

Capital Chemist has been a She Leads Friend since 2015, and is continuing to support us to create an affordable, engaging and professional event.

KDN Group

KDN Group have joined the 2018 She Leads Conference as a Conference Friend. They are a property investment, development and management group that is solely Canberra owned and Canberra based, and has been a long-term family business. KDN Group are committed to gender equality, and work to provide equal opportunity in all that they do.

Rowdy Digital

Rowdy Digital produces strategy and design for a digital-first world.

National Council of Women ACT

NCW ACT is affiliated with the National Council of Women of Australia, which, in turn, is affiliated with the International Council of Women. NCWA is a national non-government umbrella organisation with broadly humanitarian and educational objectives, which seeks to raise the awareness of women and girls to their rights and responsibilities as citizens and to encourage the participation of women in all aspects of community life. NCW work with, and across all sectors, to identify and bring about change to ensure that there is equity and security for all in Australia.

Zonta Club of Canberra

Zonta Club of Canberra is part of Zonta International, a leading global organisation of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. Zonta International envisions a world in which women’s rights are recognized as human rights and every woman is able to achieve her full potential. In such a world, women have access to all resources and are represented in decision making positions on equal basis with men. In such a world, no woman lives in fear of violence.

ACT Government – Community and Infrastructure Support Grants

This Program aims to support community organisations to deliver their programs and services effectively and efficiently for the benefit of members of the ACT community.


Prinstant have joined the She Leads program in 2018 as Print Partner for the She Leads College Conference, She Leads Conference, and She Leads High Conference. Prinstant are a small, locally-owned printery based in Fyshwick, and specialise in conventional printing, including books, magazines, annual reports, stationery, wedding needs, business cards and posters.