Wendy McCarthy AO


I  encourage young women to say yes to opportunity and worry about the risk later.

Wendy McCarthy AO

Wendy began her career as a secondary school teacher and remains passionate about the power of education and its ability to transform lives. For decades she has been a teacher, educator and change agent in Australian public life. Wendy has worked with government, corporations and community based organisations in education, women’s issues, public health, heritage, and media and she has held national leadership roles in all of these areas. She has represented Australia at conferences on women’s health and leadership, education, broadcasting, conservation and heritage and for four years was Chair of the Advisory Committee of WHO Kobe Centre, Japan. Currently she is the Chair of Circus Oz; McGrath Estate Agents; headspace Youth Mental Health Foundation and the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund. She is a Non-Executive Director to GoodStart Childcare Limited.  In November 2009, after 13 years of service, Wendy retired as the Vice-Chair of Plan International and as the Director of Plan Hong Kong and Plan Australia. In 2005, she completed a decade as Chancellor of the University of Canberra and she was a founding member of the Australian Chancellors’ Conference. As well as being a published author, Wendy has held executive and non-executive director roles in many of Australia’s leading private and public institutions. Her advocacy for the rights of women and children and leadership have been recognised nationally and in 1989 she was appointed an officer of the Order of Australia for outstanding contributions to community affairs, women’s affairs and the Bicentennial celebrations. In 1996 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia and in 2003 she was awarded a Centenary of Federation medal for business leadership. Wendy thinks of herself as a tribal elder.


Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney

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