2019 Leadership Award finalists


Assunta Meleca, Racing for MNDi Foundation

Assunta Meleca, aged 47, has been married for 19 years and is a mother of two boys aged 16 and 14.  In April 2017, whilst on Long Service Leave, Assunta  founded The Racing for MNDi Foundation.  It was established as a result of Assunta discovering her family carries a gene which causes the development of Motor Neurone Disease (MND).  Racing for MNDi is now Assunta’s full time job.  Assunta chairs The Board consisting of 5 volunteers and she heads the Events Committee which consists of 10 highly energetic women volunteering their time. Since the foundation’s establishment, Assunta has worked tirelessly to grow the ‘business’ and to share what makes Racing for MNDi different to other MND foundations.



Caroline Kennedy, Empowering Ambitious Women

Caroline Kennedy came from humble beginnings growing up in adversity, to become an accomplished CEO. She’s an author, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, mentor and coach. Caroline is the founder of Empowering Ambitious Women, she’s led start-ups to companies with annual revenues from $55 million to more than $250 million. She’s a pioneer, as the first female CEO to lead a network of builders and Australia’s largest building franchise. Caroline’s now the CEO and founder of Empowering Ambitious Women. Caroline’s vision is to see over 1 million ambitious women in our community by 2022, and she’s on a mission is to see women running the world.

Through EAW’s program of online education, one on one mentoring and aspiring content our purpose is to create a community where we move beyond inspiring women to empower women and organisations to become changemakers by turning talk into action to bring about change. Caroline is passionate about leadership, especially about empowering more women to step up, take a seat at the table and own it.



Emma Avery, Cloth Baby

Emma Avery is a sustainability entrepreneur, founder and owner of Cloth Baby, a business to help parents use modern cloth nappies easily and successfully.

When she first became a parent, Emma was dismayed by the level of plastic waste disposable nappies create, with each baby using over 6,000 nappies. She found it difficult to find succinct information about cloth nappies.  With a background in delivering sustainability and waste programs, her lightbulb moment struck: if she was finding it difficult to source the correct cloth nappy, then others must be too.  This led her to start her business.

Cloth Baby not only sells modern cloth nappies, it helps new parents understand their family’s return on investment when they choose cloth nappies and the positive environmental impact.  Emma reaches out to parents via demonstration events, online consultations and has developed “how to” resources to help parents achieve waste free living.



Erika Cramer, The Queen of Confidence

After overcoming a life full of trauma, physical and sexual abuse, near-death experiences, breaking her back and being widowed, Erika Cramer found herself drowning in pain and sadness trying to numb everything she had been through. These life-changing experiences finally lead her to life coaching where she went on a deep path to personal growth and healing.  Erika is a mother of 2 and a Confidence coach who is here to remind women of truly powerful and worthy they are.  Her podcast, social media platforms and Youtube channel are all created to help guide women into living a life where they empower themselves with awareness, education and action.  Where they seek progress, not perfection. Having just recently launched her business she has innovated the coaching industry by creating the ability to coach women globally via Instagram DM with her #lovingbitchslap offering and her controversial unedited, unflitered podcast on the go; The Confidence Chronicles, where she give her listeners all the tools, techniques and exercises to change their lives.  She is on a mission to revolutionise the way women connect, share and do the inner work. This year Erika launched the ‘Sistahood’, her in person, live coaching group that currently has 46 Aussie women (& counting) who do the inner work and meet as a tribe and community. Erika is taking a bold stand for women to own their Queendom throne and reclaim their self-confidence.



Kirstin Dunn, Semple Property Group

Kirstin Dunn opened Semple Property Group in 2013 with her mum Soulla. She was 37 weeks pregnant with her first son who was the first of three babies she has had since opening SPG. The business was a combination of two years studying for her Real Estate licence and her nine years of experience working in a large Real Estate office. Semple Property Group is a medium sized Real Estate agency specializing in Residential Sales and Property Management. The business is client focused and Semple Property Group – 80% of our business is repeat clients or referrals. We have a 4.8/5 average review from 113 clients. Customer satisfaction is the corner stone of everything they do. Semple Property Group went from working around the dining table, to renting a small space, to purchasing a factory unit in Cockburn Central and building a beautiful 210sqm double story premise.



Leah Chandler, Kids-Fit Australia

Kids-Fit Australia was started in 2016 with the support of her husband, Garrith.  Their aim was to help kids and families cope with everyday life by providing the appropriate fitness and wellbeing tools.  Leah saw that many kids were obese and had high anxiety and that families were very disconnected.  There was also a noticeable increase in ADHD, Autism and many other disorders at that time, which included two of their children.

Leah and Garrith develop and deliver a variety of fitness, yoga and mindfulness programs in mainstream schools, special schools and early learning centres for kids, families and educators. These run in both the Northern Territory and Queensland and have now released their signature family fitness program ‘Family-Fit Online’. This is an amazing toolbox available to all Australian families to teach families how to connect and be well using these tools.  This is inclusive for all families including those touched with special needs.



Melanie Tate, Puddle Jumpers Inc

Melanie Tate is the CEO and Founder of an award winning charitable organisation making life changing differences for society’s most vulnerable children. Melanie manages approximately 650 volunteers and employees. Melanie and Puddle Jumpers provide services to children, primarily those who do not live with their birth parents. Puddle Jumpers runs camps and activity days that give children who may never have been away a holiday, and provides food, clothing and household items weekly at their Community Food Nights. Puddle Jumpers has two op shops as well as owning a children’s birthday party hire company. Melanie started Puddle Jumpers 7 years ago from her kitchen table and since then the organisation has moved into premises owned by the Department of Child Protection with support from the government and private and public sponsors, including both the Minister for Child Protection, Rachel Sanderson MP and Shadow Minister Jayne Stinson MP.



Sally Johnson, We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms – Australia

Sally Johnson is a 42 year old mother of two with marketing experience. She watched as her Autistic son was excluded from play spaces due to their overwhelming nature and the judgment of others.

In 2017 she joined forces with her brother to bring US concept, We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms to Australia and a true revolution began. Their first gym opened in August 2018 and they’re now rolling out 5 more gyms around the country in 2019, with plans in place for 25 more.

We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gyms are open-to-the-public sensory gyms for children of all abilities. The gyms provide a nurturing and fun environment to foster learning, exploration and sensory-beneficial experiences like Open Play, Birthday Parties, Therapy and classes and respite in a safe, active and inclusive environment.



Selina Tomasich, Hair Aid Inc

Selina Tomasich is the founder and CEO of Hair Aid Inc., an Australian based charity doing amazing things both internationally and in communities throughout Australia. With a passion for finding real life learning events for students to engage in and create change in the world, Selina started Hair Aid in 2010. The vision was to provide hands on learning for students and to create livelihood empowerment training for people living in critical poverty. From this first project, Hair Aid was born.

Hair Aid is a social enterprise not for profit. Through several international and national projects, Hair Aid does two things – provide hair cutting training (developed and modified by TAFE educators and industry professionals) for people living in critical poverty in Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and community haircuts for people living in poverty or crisis in communities throughout Australia. This year, Hair Aid celebrated its 21st project in January to Manila, 22nd Project in Cambodia and 23rd Project in Thailand.



Shae Wissell, Dear Dyslexic Foundation

Shae is a Doctoral Candidate and a passionate advocate for those with dyslexia. She is a qualified Speech Pathologist with a Master’s degree in Public Health and Health Administration. Shortlisted for Telstra Business Woman of the Year 2018, Shae has worked extensively over the last 13 years in the health sector as a clinician and manager. She’s worked on major Federal and State health projects, within the Not-For-Profit and Community sector and more recently has been working and connecting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Communities to improve their access to health care services.

Shae is the CEO and Managing Director of the Dear Dyslexic Foundation. Her Doctoral research is investigating the social and emotional wellbeing of those with dyslexia in the workplace and how they can be better supported through improved HR practices.