Businesswoman and Activist

Life Fellow FAICD  Mentor; Speaker; Writer; Social Activist; Company Advisor; Director For Purpose Investment Partners; Founder & Patron, Sydney Women’s Fund; Chair, The Parenthood


Wendy McCarthy’s story is one of a determined country girl who was the first in her family to go to university and that opportunity is reflected in her commitment to the education of women and girls. It is the story of how her generation of women changed Australia.


Wendy’s generation fought to have their voices heard – paving the way for future girls and women to have the opportunity to complete secondary education, receive fair and equal pay, and access safe contraception and abortion.


Wendy is an experienced executive and company director who began her career as a secondary school teacher, moving out of the classroom in 1968. She still thinks of herself as a teacher /educator / mentor who works in different classrooms for change across the public, private and community sectors, in education, women’s rights, public health, overseas aid and development, media and the arts. She founded McCarthy Mentoring in 1996, which her daughter Sophie McCarthy now owns and manages.


Wendy has held many significant leadership roles in key national and international bodies including serving as Chair of Plan Australia, headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and Circus Oz; Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Chancellor of Canberra University, Deputy Chair Goodstart Early Learning; and non-executive Director of IMF Bentham.


Wendy was awarded the Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia in 1995; Distinguished Alumni Award at the University of New England in 2001and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of New England awarded in 2020.


Wendy has written many books, her most recent book Don’t be too polite Girls was published in 2022.


Considered one of Australia’s most influential women, she is experienced speaker and facilitator and regularly comments on social and political issues.