The Police, Defence and Emergency Services Women’s Leadership Summit



Friday 16th July 2021

Interactive Online Event Experience 

$495 (+GST)

$695 (+GST)

Friday 16th July 2021

Interactive Online Event Experience

Super Saver


08:30 - 09:00            Online Registration

09:00 - 09:30

Welcome and Opening Comments

Dr Janet Smith

Program Director, Women & Leadership Australia

Janet Horton

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, Women & Leadership Australia

Dr. (COL-Ret) LaShanda Cobbs joined OptumServe in July 2020, and was appointed the Director of COVID-19 Services. As the Director of COVID-19 Services, Dr. Cobbs is responsible for leading the organization in providing COVID-19 testing operations, later adding COVID vaccines, for private and public organizations across the country. Dr. Cobbs served more than 31 years in the United States Army and retired at the rank of Colonel in 2019. During her military career, she served in numerous leadership positions and led organizations in both the Continental United States and overseas. In addition, Dr. Cobbs deployed to Afghanistan as the Executive Assistant to the Deputy Surgeon General of the US Army. Since 2017, Dr. Cobbs has served as an Adjunct Faculty Professor at Georgetown University in the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Dr. Cobbs teaches in both the School of Nursing and the Health Systems Administration Program.

09:30 - 10:00

From Testing to Vaccines: OptumServe’s Role in Managing COVID-19

Dr. LaShanda Cobbs

Director, COVID-19 Services, OptumServe; Retired Colonel, U.S. Army

10:45 - 12:15

Panel Discussion

Embracing the ‘other’ in others and ourselves

‘Othering’ is an assumption – often unconscious – that a person or group with different characteristics to us does not belong. It is an effect that can influence how we perceive and treat those around us – whether we view them as being part of majority or minority. We might unconsciously make assumptions about someone based on their cultural background, gender, sexuality, religion, politics or profession – and this can influence the way we perceive and interact with them. However, it is often these exact expressions of diversity that are the basis for real growth and new thinking. In this session, panellists will explore their own experiences of ‘othering’, what ‘othering’ means for leaders and how we all can embrace our differences to become more inclusive and effective leaders.

10:30 - 10:45            break

The Police, Defence and Emergency Services Women’s Leadership Summit

Friday 16th July 2021  |  Interactive Online Event Experience

10:00 - 10:30

Leadership in Troubled Times

Assistant Commissioner Tess Walsh APM

Assistant Commissioner, Professional Standards Command, Victoria Police

Tess Walsh is the Assistant Commissioner, Professional Standards Command in Victoria Police with the role to enhance and promote a culture of high ethical standards across the organisation. Prior to this appointment, Tess was the first female Assistant Commissioner of Crime Command, and has a strong background in the management of investigations and general duties policing. Tess also has a passion for community engagement and effective crime prevention strategies. She was inducted into the Victorian Women’s Honour Roll in 2014, awarded the Australian Police Medal in 2016 and, in 2018, was included in the Deloitte and Google Outstanding 50 LGBTI Leaders list. Outside of work, Tess enjoys spending time with her partner and dogs and keeping up with her large extended family.

Anna joined the Queensland Police Service in 1997 and has worked all over Queensland in both operational and corporate roles. Anna is currently Acting Inspector in the Queensland Police Services’ newly formed First Nations and Multicultural Affairs Unit and is leading work to drive organisational cultural capability and cultural safety. Anna is a Phd candidate who considers herself a lifelong learner, having a completed a Master of Philosophy (QUT) a Bachelor of Justice (QUT) and a Diploma of Public Safety. For her wellbeing, Anna also completes a daily gratitude journal and is aiming to do this for ten years straight.  Anna was inspired by Oprah Winfrey to start the journals. She has had the privilege of meeting Oprah three times. 

Acting Inspector Anna Dwyer

Acting Inspector, First Nations and Multicultural Affairs Unit, Queensland Police Service

12:15 - 12:45            Lunch

Brigadier Lisa Ferris was born in Gisborne, New Zealand and is of Ngati Porou (Ngati Konohi/Ngati Oneone) descent. Brigadier Ferris holds a Master of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration from Victoria University, and completed United States Marine Corps Staff College in 2014. In 2008, Brigadier Ferris was deployed to the Arabian Gulf as the Legal Officer aboard Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship TE MANA, and in late 2009, Brigadier Ferris was deployed to Afghanistan as the legal officer advising the New Zealand senior national officer on rules of engagement, law of armed conflict, and general military law issues. In 2017, Brigadier Ferris was confirmed as the Director of Defence Legal Services and she was promoted to the rank of Brigadier in 2018.

12:45 - 13:15

Keynote Address

Brigadier Lisa Ferris

Director of Defence Legal Services, New Zealand Defence Force

13:15 - 14:00

Development Session

Welcome to your Balcony

Moving from the dancefloor to the balcony is a concept developed by Ronald Heifeitz, world-renowned authority on the practice and teaching of leadership. Getting ‘up on the balcony’ provides leaders with an opportunity to step back from the action to gain a different perspective. This session will provide strategies to ‘Stay on the Balcony’ in order to gain an understanding of what is required in this time of adaptive challenges. By using the balcony concept, you will be able to revisit the ‘bigger picture’, be proactive rather than reactive, and considered and strategic in your actions.

14:00 - 14:15            Break

$295 (+GST)

$695 (+GST)

Heidi joined the Australian Defence Force Academy in its inaugural year in 1986. Following graduation, she trained as a Maritime Warfare Officer and enjoyed a variety of jobs at sea and ashore until transitioning to Navy Reserve Service in 2003. In 2018, she completed a Masters of Defence and Strategic Studies and re-joined fulltime service in the Directorate of Navy Culture before joining Headquarters Joint Operations Command in 2021. She is passionate about raising awareness of the unconscious incompetence that has silenced “others” in our society. She believes respectful curiosity goes a long way to ensure we harness the power of difference in ourselves and others to provide the capability edge required by our Defence Force into the future.  

Dr Kirstin Ferguson is a business leader, company director, award winning leadership expert, and author. Kirstin is the former Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and she also sits on a number of publicly listed and private company boards. In 2017, Kirstin attracted considerable attention after she created the widely acclaimed #CelebratingWomen campaign and in 2018, published her first book called Women Kind. Kirstin also spent a number of years as a senior executive in a large corporate law firm and began her career as an Officer in the Air Force. Kirstin has a PhD, Honours degree in Law and also an Honours degree in History. Kirstin has been named one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence, is a Churchill Fellow and the recipient of a number of industry and academic awards.

14:15 - 14:45

Keynote Address

Dr Kirstin Ferguson

Company Director, Author & Award-Winning Leadership Expert

Tammy Barlette is a retired Lieutenant Colonel and fighter pilot with more than 3000 total flying hours. Tammy completed Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training in April of 2000, and upon graduation was immediately assigned to be an instructor in the T-37. After an aircraft injury required cervical spine reconstruction, Tammy transitioned to the Arizona Air National Guard and during this time, graduated from the prestigious US Air Force Weapons School. Desiring to get back into a high-performance aircraft and having a passion to teach, Tammy then transitioned to the Air Force Reserves, instructing in the T-38 Talon for the last 6 years of her 20-year military career. Tammy retired from the Air Force in 2018 after 20 years of service and now runs Athena’s Voice, a women veteran speaking business.

14:45 - 15:15

Living on Emergency Fuel: How to shift perspective and shuffle priorities in order to keep your tank from running dry

Tammy Barlette

Retired Lieutenant Colonel and fighter pilot, U.S. Air Force; CEO, Athena's Voice

Rochelle is currently the National Manager Career Recruitment for Fire and Emergency NZ. She was the first career woman firefighter to be promoted to Station Officer in 2008, and in November 2015 was the first career woman firefighter to be promoted to the rank of Senior Station Officer. Rochelle is passionate about recruitment and has a real interest in recruiting and retaining women and those from minority groups into Fire and Emergency NZ. Rochelle attributes her authentic leadership style through the experience gained as Vice-Captain/Captain while playing for the Black Ferns (women’s rugby) and was considered one of the most experienced players in Black Ferns history, winning three World Cup titles and named player of the year in 1995.

Rochelle Martin MNZM

National Manager Career Recruitment, Fire and Emergency New Zealand; Former Black Ferns Captain

Commander Heidi Rossendell

Gender Advisor, Joint Operations Command, Australian Defence Force

15:15 - 15:30

Closing Comments

Dr Janet Smith

Program Director, Women & Leadership Australia

Janet Horton

Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach, Women & Leadership Australia

Please note: all timings are in Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST)​