Chief Executive Officer
Licia Heath is the inaugural CEO of Women for Election and she’s dedicated to inspiring and equipping more women across the country to run for public office at the local, state or federal level. In addition to training women to run for office, Licia is also focussed on engaging more women in Australia’s political process and educating them on the various roles they might like to take to help another woman get elected. She sets the tone that gender-balanced governments improve quality of life not just for women and girls, but for all of society.
Licia ran in the high-profile Wentworth by-election in October 2018 and helped shape the political debate on a national platform.
She spent over 19 years in the finance and asset management sector and worked at Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse in London and Australia. She helped establish Ironbark Asset Management, an Australian-based asset management business.
BA LLB FAICB, Chair
Helen Conway is an experienced lawyer, senior executive and director. She spent 10 years in private legal practice, including 7 years as a partner in a major law firm in Sydney, and then moved into the corporate sector where she worked as a senior executive in the insurance, transport, energy, retail and construction industries for 18 years. At the same time, she undertook various directorships in the health, transport and superannuation sectors.
Helen is an expert in workplace gender equality. Between 2011 and 2015, she was the CEO of the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, a statutory authority with regulatory and other responsibilities. During her term, she stewarded the seamless implementation of new legislation governing the Agency and led the development of the Agency’s strategic vision and long-term change agenda for driving improved gender equality outcomes in Australian workplaces. This included delivering world-leading unique standardised benchmark gender data, and conducting bold change campaigns and developing innovative educational resources. Helen was also involved in the establishment of the Australian Gender Equality Council including being one of its founding directors.
Lisa Annese has been the Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Council Australia since 2 June 2014. In this role she leads debate on diversity and inclusion in the public arena.
Under her leadership, DCA delivers innovative diversity practice resources for Australian businesses and supports in them improving their inclusion capability. She has led a broad array of ground-breaking, evidence-based research, including Australia’s first national index on workplace diversity and inclusion, seminal research on the economics of the gender pay-gap and original work on Counting Culture and building Asian Leadership Capability, as well as research supporting individuals being “Out at Work” and main-streaming flexible work.
In 2018, Lisa was named one of the AFR’s 100 Women of Influence. In 2019 she was elected to the Board of Amnesty International Australia and she is also Executive Producer of DCA’s podcast, The Art of Inclusion. Lisa has had a long career in the diversity and inclusion space across the corporate, government and not-for-profit sector.
Amanda is the CEO at ‘Xplore for Success’, an Australian consultancy that specialises in ‘Driving Gender Equality’ and Career development and advancement for women – and men.
Amanda Webb is an experienced and highly respected Human Resources practitioner with over 25 years business expertise in banking, finance, professional services, FMCG and management consulting, having worked for a number of Australian, global and private companies including Deloitte, Westpac, AMP, and the Sydney Olympic Games.
Amanda is an advocate for women and human rights and is committed to driving gender equality. She is a Board Member of Dress for Success Sydney, and an Ambassador for Human and Hope Association, Cambodia.
Philip Busfield M.A. (Hons) Cambridge University (Mathematics) is a risk and finance consultant to the Private Equity and banking industry. He has three decades of experience in various senior executive roles in merchant banking and investment.
Philip has founded and chaired a charity for Parkinson’s sufferers, been actively involved in local community regeneration projects, and is the Treasurer of Dying with Dignity NSW and Your Last Rights Australia, as well as various roles including Co-Chair, Treasurer & Board member of Twenty10 Incorporating GLCS, NSW largest LGBTIQA+ youth charity.
Born and raised in the UK, he now calls Australia home, and in March 2018 became an Australian citizen! He is driven by his passion for Human Rights and particularly the rights of individuals to freedom of expression, speech, and life choices.
Kat Dunn is a humanitarian capitalist with a passion for scaling social ventures. She was the CEO of Grameen Australia, a social business inspired by the work of Nobel Peace Prize Winner, founder of Grameen Bank, Professor Muhammad Yunus.
Kat started her career as a banking & finance lawyer at top tier law firm Clayton Utz and a corporate M&A lawyer at national firm Sparke Helmore Lawyers.
From 2013, she was appointed to lead the regulated fund establishment team for listed company, Perpetual Corporate Trust, and in 18 months led over 40 deals with total funds under management in excess of $3 billion. In 2016, Kat was appointed the youngest executive to serve on the senior leadership team of Perpetual Limited. Among other industry roles she has advised the Financial Services Council and Commonwealth Treasury on designing the regulatory frameworks of the APEC Asia Region Funds Passport and Australian Collective Investment Vehicle Regime.
Kat is the creator of F-OFF: Fear of Failure Forum, a movement to say “F-OFF to your fear of failure and grow your potential” and coaches CEOs and high performing teams on actualising their potential.
Gulandam (Gul) is a Principal Advisor in the Victorian Government, currently working on policy relating to jobs, employment, regional Victoria and economic reform. Prior to this, she spent 9 years in management consulting at PwC and IBM, specialising in citizen-centric transformations to improve the way Government services its most vulnerable citizens.
Whether it is improving mental health outcomes for veterans, health system reforms to be more patient centric, or improving access to justice – Gul believes that equity and access are critical to improving outcomes for all Australians. Gul is a first generation migrant from Peshawar, now living in Melbourne, and is fluent in Pashto, Urdu, Hindi and English.
She is particularly passionate about ensuring our parliament represents the diversity of the people it serves.
Tessa Irwin CFRE EMFIA
Tessa Irwin is a passionate fundraiser and expert in major gift and campaign fundraising. As Senior Manager of the Powerhouse Parramatta Campaign (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences) she catalyses philanthropic support for Western Sydney’s first state cultural infrastructure.
Tessa is co-founder and co-Chair of the Australian Philanthropy Network of major gift fundraising professionals. She has been a member of the Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) NSW Committee since 2017, serving as NSW Chair 2019-2020, and of the FIA Awards for Excellence in Fundraising Advisory Committee in 2021.
In 2020 Tessa completed her Certified Fund Raising Executive internationally recognised accreditation and was named FIA’s NSW Young Fundraiser of the Year. Tessa is proud to work and volunteer for social good and contribute to creating a fairer, better represented Australian community.
“I have signed on as a WFE 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 member’s so they do not get an entitlement mentality to their positions when refresh is needed.”
“I am honoured to be a WFE 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 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.”
“I am honoured to be an Ambassador for WFE.
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.”
“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.
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 very pleased to become a WFE Ambassador. It was a privilege and an honour to serve for twenty years as a Federal Parliamentarian, winning my seat in seven elections, but I also experienced the challenges and consequences of a less than inclusive parliament. Women are not only underrepresented numerically, we fail to be found in equal numbers in the most powerful positions, shaping policy and allocating resources. For the good of our country, this must change, with great women candidates contesting winnable seats.
Achieving parity will require temporary special measures to be adopted by all parties and by parliaments. The standing orders and structures of parliament must also be put under a gender lens to ensure they are not creating a work environment that puts barriers before parents with caring responsibilities.”
“I am honoured to join WFE 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.”
“I’m a founding member of Women’s Electoral Lobby, Chief Executive Women and The Sydney Community Foundation Women’s Fund and continue to advocate for women in public life.
I have a long track record of campaigning and fundraising for women’s issues and was heavily involved with the successful NSW Pro Choice Alliance campaign to remove abortion from the criminal code in 2019.
I have seen the policy differences that come from having more women in leadership positions which is why I joined as an Ambassador for WFE.”