Summit Speakers​

Summit  Themes​

Summit Facilitators

The pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on school leaders, who have been on the front lines dealing with unprecedented disruption for over two years. This summit will provide opportunities to be inspired by experts, connect with other school leaders, recharge leadership strategies and envisage and plan for the future.

Tanya Plibersek MP

Shadow Minister for Education, Shadow Minister for Women, Federal Member for Sydney

Jelena Dokic

Former World #4 Tennis Player; Olympian; TV Commentator & Expert Analyst, Channel 9; Bestselling Author; Advocate

Dr Briony Scott

Principal, Wenona School

Dr Jessa Rogers

First Nations Senior Research Fellow, Queensland University of Technology; Managing Director, Baayi Consulting

Kristen Douglas

National Manager & Head, headspace Schools

Liv Pennie

CEO & Co-Founder, BECOME Education

Ashley Fell

Director of Communications, McCrindle; Social Researcher; Author; TEDx Speaker

Marisa Matthys

Principal, St Mary’s School Greensborough

Dr Cynthia Briggs

Lecturer Indigenous Knowledge, Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, Southern Cross University

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The Australian Schools


Connecting, developing and supporting Australia’s women school leaders​

The Australian Schools Women’s Leadership Summit provides a unique opportunity for women at all levels of school leadership to connect, share their experiences, build their leadership capacity and prioritise their own wellbeing. 

A collaboration between the National Excellence in School Leadership Institute (NESLI) and Women & Leadership Australia, the Summit brings together the latest in women’s leadership expertise and a deep understanding of current challenges and opportunities for leaders in the education sector. This interactive, online event will feature inspirational keynote presentations, expert workshops, panel discussions, participant breakout sessions and online discussion forums.


Summit Overview​

NESLI in partnership with WLA​


Connect with women leaders from schools around the country to share insights, strategies and peer support.


Reflect on key challenges – especially in light of the ongoing global pandemic – and develop strategies to strengthen your leadership practices.


Be inspired by experts in school leadership, gender equity, mental health and resilience.


Hear from diverse women leaders about their experiences, challenges and successes.

Drawing together respected educators and thought leaders, the Summit aims to celebrate the role of women as leaders and custodians of their school communities, as well as equip participants with insights and skills to assist them in achieving long-term career success and fulfilment. 

Supporting Leadership Equity and Excellence​

During the summit, participants will hear from a number of inspirational education sector speakers about their leadership/career journeys and the key elements that have contributed to their success. Armed with this valuable insight, participants will identify their own unique gifts and talents and begin to create their personal brand and message.

Inspiration and Insight

Where to from Here?

Guiding our Schools through the coronavirus pandemic and continuing to prioritise patient care has placed extraordinary demands on school leaders across Australia and the world. The world as we knew it has changed, and for many, some level of ambiguity and change will remain. This critical juncture presents a timely opportunity to reflect and learn from our recent experience and rethink the way we have done things in the past.

Relational Agency

High functioning teams are essential to the busy work of schools, yet as a team leader in a school do we know why effective teams work and why there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’?  This workshop looks at how supportive teams can empower individuals to be their best selves and what actions build trust in a team. We’ll look at what makes a healthy team, the concept of ‘relational agency’ and the characteristics of trust – the essential foundation of a team. Useful for both team leaders and team members in schools.

Dr Janet Smith is the Program Director for the Australian School of Applied Management (ASAM), Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) and the National Excellence in School Leadership Institute (NESLI). Her role involves workshop facilitation, leading national and international leadership summits, teaching face-to-face and online leadership courses, course design and executive coaching. Janet has previously worked extensively as an Associate Professor in Higher Education,  focusing on educational leadership, gender, coaching, mentoring, emotional intelligence, communication, reflective practice and well-being.

Dr Janet Smith​

Program Director, Women & Leadership Australia

Dr Debra Kelliher is an experienced principal of two girls’ schools and has recently completed her Doctorate in Education focusing on how to improve girls’ leadership capacity in the independent school environment. She is passionate about leadership which is based on authentic personal values and believes that leadership is a relational and collaborative process, rather than an individual pursuit. 

Dr Debra Kelliher

Senior Facilitator, National Excellence in School Leadership Institute

Suzi Finkelstein

CEO, Women & Leadership Australia

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM

Aboriginal Elder; Renowned Artist; Activist; Writer; Public Speaker

Susan French PSM

Principal in Residence, School Leadership Institute, School Workforce, NSW Department of Education