Nominees announced for 2020 Women of the West Awards

Western Sydney University is pleased to announce the nominees for the 2020 Women of the West Awards.

Nominated for their substantial contributions to the Western Sydney community, twenty remarkable women have been recognised across the categories of Woman of the West (Business), Woman of the West (Community) and Young Woman of the West (18 to 30 years old).

This year’s group of diverse and talented nominees include women who are making a difference in areas such as: small business development, educational attainment, health promotion, community wellbeing and social integration.

The University’s Acting Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Denise Kirkpatrick, offered her congratulations to the nominees.

“The Women of the West Awards are an opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding contribution women make to Greater Western Sydney. We are pleased to celebrate their leadership, dedication and the unique voices that inspire so many within our community,” said Professor Kirkpatrick.

Winners of the Women of the West Awards will be announced on 13 March as part of the University’s celebration of International Women’s Day. The awards will be presented in collaboration with the Coleman Greig Women in Business Forum (opens in a new window) at Waterview in Bicentennial Park.

Former Australian of the Year and family domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty AO (opens in a new window) will be the keynote speaker at the event.

2020 Women of the West nominees

Woman of the West (Business)

Carole-Anne Priest

Carole-Anne is a lawyer, director, CEO, and entrepreneur.  As founding partner of Imalia, she is creating innovative products in financial services that empower women to take control of their financial future.  Carole-Anne is a past winner of the Private and Corporate Award and the Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year Award.  Carole-Anne is also Deputy Chair of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway, Chair of Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections and Director of Whole Heart Communities.

Dawn Cady

Dawn is a passionate advocate for chronic pain sufferers as a former chronic pain sufferer herself.  She is currently a Pain Coach at Alleviate Pain, and she has won multiple awards for her innovative healing techniques.  Dawn has interviewed Dr Phil about chronic pain and is a published author on the topic.

Debbie Roberts

Debbie Roberts has a strong background in supporting and promoting her local business community in the Macarthur region.  She is an advocate for health, education and organ & tissue donation.  She is currently the Executive Officer of the Camden Region Economic Taskforce.  Debbie has completed an extensive amount of community volunteer work.  She is also a mentor to young women taking on leadership roles.

Louise Sparkes Howarth

Louise Sparkes Howarth is the Founder and Head Pineapple at Pineapple Marketing & Promotions. Louise supports her clients to have businesses that stand tall and stand out – online and within their community – through social media and strategic marketing.  Louise has won a National Ausmumpreneur Award, a National Roar Award and an award from Western Sydney Women.  She is also an internationally certified results coach, charity ambassador, and a member of various committees.

Michelle Byrne

Michelle Byrne has a strong background in local government. She is a passionate about community and building a quality lifestyle for residents.  She is also an advocate for mental health, homelessness and education, and has been involved in numerous fundraising causes over the years. She is currently serving as the Mayor of the Hills Shire Council. To date, she is the youngest Hills Shire Mayor and is only the third female Mayor in over 109 years.

Pat Hall

Pat is the CEO of Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections, overseeing their core business and the operations of six social enterprises.  Pat is passionate about changing women’s lives through education and employment, and her enterprises provide approximately 4,800 hours of employment annually for disadvantaged women. She also developed a model enabling philanthropic scholarships to support women in their future endeavours.  Pat is winner of the 2017 Westfield’s Local Hero Award, the 2018 Zest Outstanding Community Not-for-profit Leader Award, and the 2019 the Zest Hall of Fame Award.

Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson

Rosemary is internationally recognised for her service to the injured worker community.  As an injured worker herself, Rosemary has a clear understanding of the process of recovery and the journey of return to life, community and employment.  She has worked for many years to reduce and remove the long-term impacts of social and self-exclusion that can often result from workplace injuries.  Through her initiative Craig's Table, Rosemary works to fill the many gaps between mainstream workers compensation and the needs of people who have been injured at work.

Sue Tsigaros

Sue is a Consultant, Facilitator, Mastery Coach, and Speaker.  She is also the founder of Iris Group.  With 30 years’ experience in academic, corporate and entrepreneurial environments, Sue is passionate about supporting women in business to achieve career success and quality of life while stepping up to strategic roles of influence.  Sue has a broad suite of qualifications that support the capacity-building work she does across Western Sydney.

Woman of the West (Community)

Bev Jordan

Bev Jordan is a freelance writer and a committed volunteer who believes in the vital importance of a connected community. With over 35 years’ experience as a journalist, she uses her skills to help not-for-profits, service groups, and fundraisers gain the publicity they need to make a difference.  She is on numerous committees, founded the Hills Relay for Life Ball and has shaved her head twice to raise money for Cancer research.

Carina Fernandes

Carina is a third-year Bachelor of Nursing (Advanced) student at Western Sydney University. She is an UNAI Millennium Fellow, a member on the Penrith City Council Resilience Committee and Vice President of the P&C at Kingswood Public School. She volunteers for projects to reduce heat impact, improve urban food planning and community gardens, and support reading and art.  Carina is also a WSU peer mentor, a volunteer for the Reading Ambassador Program, and a contributor to Cake Angels. She is on the Dean’s Merit List and has won the 2019 ZEST Unsung Hero Award, The Academy Award of Excellence for Community Engagement in 2018, and the Univerisity's Citizen Scholar Award.

Marama Mackay

Marama has a strong background in building community resilience and connections.  She regularly volunteers her time and services to various community organisations.  She is a passionate advocate for Australia's elderly populations and works closely with First Nations’ elders.  She is currently a support worker at annecto – The People Network and is an accredited aged care trainer and assessor. She has previously been awarded the ZEST Unsung Hero Award.

Maryam Zahid

Maryam Zahid is an activist, advocate and theatre writer.  She is passionate about supporting community members from minority backgrounds. She is the founder and director of Afghan Women on the Move Inc., an initiative which nurtures self-empowerment amongst refugee and migrant women through art, cultural programs and storytelling. Maryam is currently employed as Domestic Violence Prevention Project Officer at Sydwest Multicultural Services. She is also a bilingual health educator at NSW Refugee Health. Maryam is the current Blacktown Woman of the Year.

Ruby Campbell

Ruby has over fifty years of experience in both paid and volunteer work in Western Sydney. She began as Senior Constable in the NSW Police Force working predominantly with juvenile girls, then joined the Anglicare Family Support Team as a Team Leader.  During this time, Ruby has supported hundreds of families from disadvantaged backgrounds in their quest for a better quality of life, predominantly in the Mt Druitt community.

Sharon Robertson

Sharon is the founder of the Dilly Drought Drive and has raised over $1 million to support farmers in Wollondilly since 2018.  As a former professional photographer, Sharon has also contributed imagery to dozens of other fundraising campaigns.  She is an accomplished coordinator and has setup a range of community awareness initiatives including The Oaks Bushfire Awareness Day, the Picton Storm Recovery Group, Macarthur Storm Chasers, Our Community: The Oaks, and Wollondilly Living.

Young Woman of the West

Aimee Paananen

Aimee Paananen grew up in Western Sydney.  Recognising the impact of anaphylaxis from her own experience, Aimee established a nut-free beautysalon, The Elegant Life.  In 2019, Aimee grew her business by establishing a training academy.  She now helps women develop confidence, self-esteem and financial independence as they undertake their own journeys to start home-based businesses.

Anyier Yuol

Anyier was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and moved to Australia at the age of ten years old. Anyier holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Master’s in Development Studies (Refugees and Displacement) and is currently undertaking her PhD at Western Sydney University. She is employed as a Youth Transition Support Worker at Community Migrant Resource Centre and works primarily with newly arrived refugee youth to connect them with education, sport, employment and their local communities. Anyier is the chair of the Australian National Committee on Refugee Women (ANCORW). Anyier is also the Founder and CEO of the Miss Sahara Pageant social enterprise and Anyier Model Management, both of which aim to build social cohesion within African communities and wider Australian communities.

Kiara Osborne

Kiara is a Bachelor of Psychology student at Western Sydney University.  She is a passionate advocate for mental health and physical exercise. She is a dedicated student leader and member of the Student Representative Council and has contributed to an extensive number of volunteer initiatives both in the University and the broader community.

Ozge Karahuyuklu

Ozge holds a Master’s degree in Primary Teaching from Western Sydney University.  She has conducted many charity events to raise money for childhood cancers and for children in need.  She is committed to making sure that the children within her care feel safe, happy and learn something new every day, and strives to continue to make a positive impact in children’s lives.

Reem Qrma

Reem is a Physiotherapy student at Western Sydney University. She is a volunteer mentor at Core Community Services and helps guide young refugees into education and employment. She has volunteered as co-researcher for the Photovoice Research Project and Your Life Your Say Project to share lived experiences of youth refugees and to help others understand how to implement new Australian settlement services. Reem received the Great Irish Famine Memorial Award, the Crescent Foundation Leadership scholarship and Opportunity Scholarship and was a finalist in the Academy Community Engagement Award last year.

Sampavi Sivakumar

Sampavi has a strong background in allied health.  As a passionate advocate for equality and empowering marginalised communities, she is the founder of humanitarian project C.O.E.X.I.S.T. She is a dedicated volunteer for many organisations across Western Sydney, including DREAM, the Australian Red Cross, student mental health and wellbeing at Western Sydney University, and the Young Council of the Future at ChangeFest 2019.  A physiotherapy student at Western Sydney University, Sampavi is co-president for the Rural Health Union of the University. She was a UN Millennium Fellow in 2019 and a 2020 finalist for the 7News Young Achiever Award for NSW/ACT.


12 February 2020

Ali Sardyga, Media Officer