Meet our Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leaders

Past participants in the Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leaders Program.

Here are the Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leaders from the 2018 program.

Nicole Atkinson

Nicole Atkinson - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Nicole is a proud Bangerang and Gunditjmara woman, living and working in the regional town of Shepparton, where she raises her two daughters. Having worked in Medicare for 14 years and contributing to Closing the Gap projects, she is currently working at the Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited (VACSAL) as a Community Development Officer. Nicole is also a board member with the Cummeragunja Local Aboriginal Land Council, Lullas Family and Children Services and the local Aboriginal Education Group, and is passionate about supporting Aboriginal leaders to become the decision-makers of our future.

Alice Barnes

Alice project manages Sovereign Hill’s Aboriginal history and living culture public programming and writes for the popular Sovereign Hill Education blog. In addition to using her work as a teacher to make her community more resilient and ready for 21st century life, she has also run for state and federal elections as a candidate for The Greens, and volunteers for a variety of community organisations and initiatives.

Tahlia Biggs

Tahlia Biggs - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Tahlia is a proud Barkindji woman who grew up on Wiradjuri and Dhudhuroa country in Albury/Wodonga. A cast member of the Black Border Theatre Ensemble at HotHouse Theatre, she produced politically charged comedy pieces surrounding the themes of Aboriginal identity, racism and the influence of media. She is passionate about breaking down stereotypes and supporting reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. She has been involved with numerous leadership programs, attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and was the recipient of the Ricci Marks award in 2017. As the Program Coordinator at the Korin Gamadji Institute she takes pride in knowing she is impacting the lives of Indigenous Youth to help them connect and be proud of the cultural identity.

Hue Man Dang

Hue Man Dang - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Hue Man is the current chair of the Communities that Care Board in Hobsons Bay and is committed to using evidence-based practices and initiatives to support the development of young people within the municipality. In the past, she has been involved in the Hobsons Bay Youth Services' Leaders of Today and numerous council committees. As a Western Chances scholar, she holds the issue of educational inequality close to her heart and has since started a web-based non-for-profit called Brain Nation Hub. Through the support of the Layne Beachley foundation and the Hobsons Bay Community Grant Fund, she has created free educational resources for young people and held workshops in Hobsons Bay.

Julia Donovan

Julia Donovan - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Julia is a journalism graduate with a background in communications and social justice. Her experience includes working for a Victorian Member of Parliament, and alongside a range of community groups, organisations and constituents. She recently became a Media Assistant for the Premier of Victoria. Julia completed an internship with the Victorian Trades Hall where she focused on tertiary education and had the opportunity to visit students on campus to hear about their teaching degrees and learning experiences. She hopes to help raise awareness about the role of education in tackling gender inequality.

Rose Girdwood

Rose Girdwood - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Rose is a primary school teacher who lives and works in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. She has a degree in Physiotherapy and Masters in Public Health and has previously worked in the public health system, within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in remote Western Australia and in community health in Victoria. More recently, Rose completed studies in Education and has become a motivated and committed teacher. Owing to her background in health sciences and public health, Rose came to the teaching profession with a focus on evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning and an interest and understanding of education as a social determinant of health.  She is passionate about equity and inclusion in public education.

Monica Hersburgh

Monica Hersburgh - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Monica works for Parks Victoria managing projects across the alpine landscape to protect Alpine Peatlands. These nationally threatened vegetation ecosystems play a vital role by providing freshwater to downstream communities. She has spent five years within the organisation growing as an individual and developing her leadership skills to achieve beneficial environmental outcomes.

Isabelle Howard

Isabelle Howard - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Isabelle is a proud Jaadwa woman, and the first Aboriginal person from Victoria to undertake the Australasian College of Health Service Management (ACHSM) internship program. She is a qualified nurse and holds a Masters degree in health administration. She has been involved in a range of projects and programs that aim to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal people. Isabelle aspires to be a strong female leader in Aboriginal health, and to actively advocate for her community. She is passionate about growing the Aboriginal health workforce, and ensuring health services are culturally safe.

Rana Hussain

Rana Hussain - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Rana Hussain is a social worker, writer, commentator and community representative. Having previously worked as a primary school counsellor, Rana took a sharp career turn to work in the AFL industry and is now the Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator at Richmond Football Club. Rana has always had a passion for footy and believes in football’s unique ability to connect communities.

Rose de Jong

Rose de Jong - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Rose is a proud Wiradjuri woman committed to improving justice outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Rose helps design and deliver Aboriginal services across Victoria's correctional system, and is passionate about reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the criminal justice system.

Francesa Maclean

Francesa Maclean - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Francesa has a PhD in engineering and has dedicated her career to promoting gender equality in STEM. In 2015 Francesca co-founded Fifty50, a student-led organisation promoting gender equality in academia and the STEM industry. She is currently a member of the Expert Working Group for the Australian Academy of Science’s Women in STEM Decadal Plan, and was named ACT Young Woman of the Year 2017, one of Science Technology Australia’s inaugural Superstars of STEM, and the 2018 ANU Postgraduate Student of the Year.

Chiedza Malunga

Chiedza Malunga - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Chiedza is a public health professional with experience in refugee health and sexual and reproductive health promotion and research in multicultural communities. Chiedza has worked in statewide programs across Victoria, ranging from individual and community based programs through to policy and advocacy initiatives. She is passionate about building the capacity of individuals, communities and systems to respond effectively to the needs of the most vulnerable groups. In her current work at Monash Health Refugee Health and Wellbeing she is strongly guided by principles of equity and social justice to influence equitable and inclusive healthcare.

Megan May

Megan May - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Megan is an osteopath with a passion for treating musculoskeletal conditions in pre and postnatal women. She believes that women’s health is much more than the medical issues that arise during childbearing years, or gender specific pathologies. Women’s health begins with raising intelligent, informed and empowered young women who can take control of their own health. Megan bases her work around these beliefs, advocating for well-educated clinicians, but also safe and supportive environments where girls and women feel comfortable and encouraged to improve their health.

Jayde McBurnie

Jayde McBurnie - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Jayde McBurnie is a health promotion practitioner, passionate feminist, collaborator and evaluator. Jayde currently manages the Together for Equality and Respect program: a cross-sector partnership of 35 organisations working together to prevent violence against women and advance gender equality in the eastern Melbourne region. Jayde whole heartedly believes in leading within a feminist framework and centering the voices of women, particularly marginalised women and women with lived experience.

Jedda McGlinchey

Jedda McGlinchey - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Jedda has grown up, studied, still lives and works in the Western suburbs. As a paramedic at Ambulance Victoria, she's met and cared for many patients that represent a snapshot of the diverse demographic of Melbourne’s West. She has insight into the barriers which prevent people from accessing primary health care and how this impacts the health system as a whole. These barriers range from socio-economic issues, mental or chronic health conditions, to cultural considerations. Jedda is committed to helping the community overcomes these barrier and improve access to primary health care.

Asma Mirzae

Asma Mirzae - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Asma is a recent business graduate from Monash University and a young Afghan-Australian.  She is interested in issues affecting young women, particularly the empowerment of women from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Coming from Afghanistan, Asma navigated her way in Australian society through sport and volunteering and led ‘I Speak Football’ - a global initiative that uses soccer as a tool for fostering the social inclusion of young people from different cultural backgrounds. Through I Speak Football, Asma has twice represented Melbourne at Global Summit of Young Leaders in Manchester. Asma is also a Shout Out Speaker through Center for Multicultural Youth.

Sarah Moran

Sarah Moran - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Sarah is Co-founder and CEO of Girl Geek Academy, with a mission to teach 1 million women to get into tech and launch their own start-ups by 2025. Girl Geek is behind Australia's first all-female hackathon, #SheHacks, Australia's first all-female makerfest, #SheMakes, and the world’s first hackathon for girls aged five to eight, #MissMakesCode.

Kamna Muddagouni

Kamna Muddagouni - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Kamna is a lawyer, writer and campaigner. She is passionate about the ways in which communities can build and mobilise to create social justice change and is particularly interested in how culturally diverse leadership frameworks can be ingrained in this process. As a Senior Lawyer in Victoria Legal Aid's Equality Law Program Kamna acts for clients experiencing discrimination and sexual harassment and engages in strategic advocacy for law reforms. Kamna is a Board Member for Fair Agenda, a not-for-profit organisation campaigning for gender equality, including for family violence services and reproductive rights. Kamna’s writing practice encompasses topics including legal rights for young people, her experiences as a Woman of Colour and a member of a diaspora.

Phoebe Nagorcka-Smith

Phoebe Nagorcka-Smith - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Phoebe has held a range of roles in community health, youth engagement, and public policy and planning. This work has focused on empowering the community to tackle complex social problems such as alcohol use, obesity, and gender inequality. As a Social Planner at Glenelg Shire Council, Phoebe oversaw the development of the Level Playing Field Working Group, which brought a diverse range of staff members together to investigate and then strengthen gender equality within the organisation. She also managed the development of organisation-wide strategies such as the Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan, Youth Charter, and Community Engagement Framework. Phoebe is a Board Member and Deputy Treasurer for Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West Inc., her local primary prevention agency. WHW BSW works to improve the health and wellbeing of women in the region, focusing on gender equity, sexual and reproductive health, and the prevention of violence against women. The Joan Kirner Program offers a rare opportunity for young women, and rural women in particular, to meet and support each other in developing leadership skills and their careers. Phoebe is passionate about honouring the strength and creativity of rural women in leading change, and hopes to share what she learns with other emerging leaders in her community.

Erin Pennett

Erin Pennett - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Erin is a Torres Strait Islander woman who lives on the Mornington Peninsula. She was born and raised in regional Victoria. She has recently commenced working at Yulendj Indigenous Engagement Unit, Monash University to academically support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Prior to this role, she was the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Development Officer at the Mornington Peninsula Shire. She actively advocated and campaigned to bring about change in matters that related to the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community living on the Mornington Peninsula.

Kate Robinson

Kate is a lawyer at the Women’s Legal Service Victoria, practicing in the areas of family violence, family law and victims of crime compensation. She works as an advocate for women experiencing particular disadvantage, to address legal issues arising from relationship breakdown and violence. Kate is also an advisory board member for the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance, and the Equality Rights Alliance. Her work with the Equality Rights Alliance has focused on respectful relationships and sex education for young women across Australia. Previously Kate worked with UN Women’s China Office and was part of the team that coordinated China's first domestic violence advocates training program and the country’s first family violence legislation.

Liz Smith

Liz Smith - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Liz began working in the western suburbs of Melbourne in 2013 and fell in love with the community's warmth, determination and village feel. She has held roles in community development and health promotion and is currently the Acting Coordinator Social Planning and Wellbeing at Melton City Council. As an active leader in Melbourne’s west, some of Liz’s achievements include joining forces with the residents of Brooklyn and delivering a number of amazing placemaking projects, a healthy eating project with newly arrived refugees, and developing the City of Melton’s strategy to promote gender equality and prevent violence against women.

Cherie Stitz

Cherie Stitz - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Cherie is energised by working with talented teams to deliver meaningful outcomes for the community. With more than 15 years of public sector experience, Cherie has developed specialist knowledge and expertise in disaster management, waste management, corporate governance, high-level government and international liaison and international aid. Cherie aspires to make a leading contribution to the way Australia manages critical challenges like climate change and energy security. At the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Cherie was a key contributor to the project team that developed the Australian Tsunami Warning System after the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and she delivered a comprehensive review, recommending improvements to the tsunami warning systems of 14 Pacific Island Countries. She has also helped strengthen the Bureau’s services to Australians through involvement in responding to government reviews, securing funding through budget processes and standardising hazard services to the States and Territories.

Kate Tehan

Kate Tehan - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Kate is a passionate educator who believes that all students deserve access to opportunities that equip them with the skills to be confident communicators, critical thinkers and compassionate agents of change. Kate’s expertise in English education extends to pedagogy and instructional leadership, and includes a strong interest in understanding how to best support teachers to build their capacity to accelerate student learning.

Monique Vella

Monique Vella - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Monique Vella is a passionate environmentalist and feminist who founded and currently chairs the EPA Women’s Network in a bid to empower and connect women across the organisation. Conscious of the underrepresentation of women in environmental decision making, Monique wants to apply her leadership skills, and passion to remedy this inequity.

Joanna Williams

Joanna Williams - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Joanna is a public health advocate who is passionate about starting the conversations that society shies away from. Her career in public health started by accident, when she co-founded Highschoolers Against Homophobia at 16 so that her parents would let her go the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. She speaks candidly about her experience of living with mental ill health, being queer and surviving sexual assault. Her lived experience has led her to run Bits and Bods, a web series that talks to teen girls about sex, bodies and all the awkward bits in between. In 2018, her leadership was recognised when she was selected for the Layne Beachley Foundation Aim for the Stars Program.

Katie Wood

Katie Wood - 2018 Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Leader

Katie commenced her sustainability career in the not-for-profit sector working with organisations such as AYCC and UN Youth on youth advocacy and education in the areas of climate change and human rights. Katie also worked with Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, an Indigenous Rangers program, delivering co-benefits in cultural vitality and environmental sustainability. Katie moved into a role with the EPA working in sustainable waste management before taking up her current position with Ernst & Young’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services team, helping organisations assess their sustainability risks and impacts, mitigate these risks and maximise positive impacts. Katie’s experiences have embedded a commitment to creating a world where social equity, environmental sustainability, cultural diversity and economic prosperity are equally valued and simultaneously nourished in everything we do. This has inspired her current focus, developing tools and frameworks to robustly measure and value non-financial impact to ensure we are creating real, positive change in the most effective, equitable and efficient ways possible.

Reviewed 27 February 2019

Contact Leadership Victoria

The Joan Kirner Program is delivered at the Leadership Victoria offices in Melbourne.

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