The WELA Story

WELA was born out of an Australian Research Council funded project exploring Diversity in Leadership: Australian women, past and present. This project revealed the vital role that women play in the environment movement, their poor representation in leadership positions and the lack of support for those aspiring to take on leadership roles. We realised that for the environment movement to succeed, women – who are it’s backbone – must succeed. Hence, WELA.

WELA is lifting female voices to ensure that women’s insights, knowledge, and contributions are fully integrated into the change we need to make to save the planet. Our mission is urgent. We need all hands on deck—women and men.

The first WELA leadership development program was established in 2016.

The idea that we should simply ‘add women’ to leadership-as-usual – then ‘stir’- remains enormously appealing to many. … Rather, I have argued we need to keep our gaze firmly trained on the gendered societal and power structures that shape the very discourse of leadership itself
Amanda Sinclair, Not Just ‘Adding Women In’

Today, we recognise the need for our work to significantly expand in response to the growing environmental and climate crises and urgent need for change.

In 2020, WELA launched an expanded program of work that seeks to empower, support and fund women’s leadership for our environment and climate action. This expansion also seeks to put diversity at the heart of this leadership transformation, empowering and supporting women from diverse cultural, social and geographic backgrounds, as well as women from the private and government sectors alongside civil society.

WELA is hosted by The Green Institute, a not for profit organisation that works to support green politics through education, action, research and debate. The Green Institute is a Deductible Gift Recipient.

WELA is dedicated to Jane Elix, Louise Crossley, and Felicity Wishart, women leaders who made a difference and inspired WELA.

The WELA Team

WELA staff




Victoria McKenzie-McHarg; Strategic Director and Steering Committee member
Victoria is the Strategic Director of WELA, bringing 15 years of experience as a climate campaign manager to the role. She is the immediate past Chair of the Climate Action Network Australia (CANA), and a Steering Committee member of the Forrest Gateway to the Otways project.

Louise Duxbury; Lead facilitator, WELA leadership program and Steering Committee member
Louise is the Executive Officer of the WA Landcare Network Inc., a Director of the Gondwana Link Initiative, and a Project Manager with Green Skills Inc.

Libby Harper; Administration Officer

Libby is a business administration consultant, passionate community gardening advocate, and President of Moreland Community Gardening Inc. Libby is also a WELA Alumni.

WELA Steering Committee




Margaret Blakers OAM; founder and Steering Committee member Margaret is a long-term environmental activist, founder of The Green Institute, former Convenor of the Global Greens, and organiser of Australia’s first Bird Atlas.

Judy Lambert AM; founder and Steering Committee member Judy is a collaborator and passionate environmental advocate, having worked as an advisor to a Federal Environment Minister and co-founding an environmental consulting business, Community Solutions.

Dr. Sue Lewis; founder and Steering Committee member Sue was formerly Director of Swinburne University’s Centre for Gender and Cultural Diversity, and is a board member of The Green Institute.

Karen Alexander OAM; founder and Steering Committee member Karen is a campaign and not-for-profit governance expert. A former Chair
of Bush Heritage and Campaign Manager of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Karen was also a lead organiser of the famous campaign to stop the Franklin Dam.

Giz Watson; founder and Steering Committee member Giz was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Council from 1996–2013. Prior to this Giz led a building and construction business, and in 1992 became one of only three women registered as builders in WA. Giz has worked across the peace and environment movements, and is a member of the Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame.

Imogen Jubb; Steering Committee member Imogen is the National Manager of the Zero Carbon Communities program at Beyond Zero Emissions, and a Director of the Australian Energy Foundation. Imogen is also an Alumni of the WELA leadership development program.

Cherry Muddle; Steering Committee member As the Great Barrier Reef Community Campaigner with the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Cherry led successful campaigns to protect the Great Barrier Reef and Caley Valley Wetlands from unsustainable development.