Wendy McCarthy AO
Former CEW President

Wendy McCarthy AO is an experienced executive and company director who began her career as a secondary school teacher. She moved out of the classroom into public life in 1968 and since then has worked for change across the public, private and community sectors, in education, women’s rights, public health, overseas aid and development, media and the Arts.

Wendy has held many significant leadership roles in key national and international bodies including serving as Chair of Plan Australia, headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and Circus Oz, deputy-Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Goodstart Early Learning, and non-executive Director of IMF Bentham. 

Wendy was a founding member of Women’s Electoral Lobby, Chief Executive Women and The Sydney Community Foundation Women’s Fund.  In 2018 she Chaired the successful by -election campaign to elect Dr Kerryn Phelps AM as the Independent Member for Wentworth. She continued that role in the subsequent Federal election which Dr Phelps lost by a narrow margin.  She led the successful NSW Pro Choice Alliance campaign to remove abortion from the criminal code. The new legislation was enacted on 2 October 2019.

She has also established several businesses, including the national consulting practice McCarthy Mentoring which is now owned by her daughter Sophie McCarthy.

Wendy was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for outstanding contributions to community affairs, women’s affairs and the Bicentennial celebrations, and received a Centenary of Federation Medal for business leadership.  Most recently, in a special edition of Who Mattered in 2019, The Sydney Morning Herald named Wendy as one of the people defining Australia right now: “McCarthy’s advocacy and passion for women’s rights has spurred a new generation. We wouldn’t be where we are without her.”