Wendy McCarthy AO


Wendy McCarthy AO
CEW Member

Independent Non-Executive Director

Wendy McCarthy is an experienced manager 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, family planning, human rights, public health, overseas aid and development, conservation, heritage, and media. Wendy is a Past President of Chief Executive Women (1995 to 1996).

She has held many significant leadership roles in key national and international bodies including eight years as Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ten years as Chancellor of the University of Canberra, and 12 years of service to Plan Australia as Chair, with three years as Global Deputy Chair for Plan International.  She has recently retired after eight years as chair of headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, 15 years as Chair of McGrath Estate Agents and seven years as Chair of the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Wendy currently chairs Circus Oz, Australia’s leading circus and is deputy-chair of Goodstart Early Learning, Australia’s largest early learning provider.  She is also a non-executive director of IMF Bentham, the world’s most experienced and successful litigation funder.  She is a Patron of the Sydney Women’s Fund, Ambassador for 1 Million Women and Advisor to Grace Papers.

She has also established several businesses, including her national consulting practice McCarthy Mentoring which specialises in providing mentors to major corporations, the public sector and not for profit organisations. Her daughter Sophie McCarthy took over the business in 2012, and Wendy has continued on in the role of founder and mentor.

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 she was inaugural inductee of the Women’s Agenda Hall of Fame for her contribution to the lives of Australian women.

She is an experienced speaker and facilitator, and is regularly asked for comment on social and political issues.  She enjoys writing and is the author several books including her memoir Don’t Fence Me In published by Random House in 2000.

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