Skip to content

Chief Executive Women announces winners – 2020 CEW & Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation Scholarships

Chief Executive Women announces winners – 2020 CEW & Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation Scholarships
Chief Executive Women (CEW) recognises National Reconciliation Week by today announcing Dr Michelle Dickson, Dr Leanne Holt, and Kristy Masella as the winners of the 2020 CEW Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation Scholarships.

The three scholarships, which are offered to mid-level and senior women managers who are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander heritage, will enable the winners to attend executive education programs at Harvard Kennedy School, Boston, Massachusetts.  

Announcing the winners, CEW Scholarships Committee Acting Chair, Deidre Willmott, says

Our experience is that the CEW Scholarships Program provides the scholars with greater capability, credibility and confidence. These scholarships will benefit the winners as individuals and the lives of other Indigenous women through the new skills they bring back to their roles. This outcome will help shape Australia’s collective journey towards a more just, equitable and reconciled nation.

Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales, says, “One evening in the early 1990s, I went to a function in Woolloomooloo, Sydney, hosted by Roberta Sykes, to celebrate the award of a scholarship to Larissa Behrendt to travel to Harvard to undertake a Master of Laws, the first Indigenous Australian lawyer to study at Harvard. I knew neither Larissa nor Roberta Sykes. Indeed, I knew no-one at the function. However, one aspect of that evening has always stayed with me. Roberta Sykes announced that she intended to establish a scholarship foundation. A deeply strategic and inspirational concept. As they say, ‘the rest is history’. 

I am therefore honoured to extend my warmest congratulations to this year’s winners of the CEW & Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation Scholarships. As we mark the start of National Reconciliation Week today, you continue in the tradition of dedication and leadership of earlier scholarship winners, inspiring the next generation of Indigenous students, leaders and thinkers. I wish you every success in your endeavours.”

Richard Potok, Executive Director of the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation and CEO of the Aurora Education Foundation, says: “We are delighted to partner with CEW to provide talented Indigenous women with the opportunity to further develop their leadership skills, enrich their experiences, advance their careers and deliver benefits to their communities”.

Read Media Release here.

The Winners

Dr Michelle Dickson, a Darkinjung/ Ngarigo woman from New South Wales, is a Senior Lecturer and Academic Program Director in Indigenous Public Health at the University of Sydney.

Leadership is about leveraging networks and communication strategies to create responsive, values-led change. I look forward to exploring how I can contribute more to the learning opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and support further understanding and valuing of First Nation’s health and wellbeing,

says Michelle.

Dr Leanne Holt is Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy at Macquarie University. She has over twenty years’ experience working in Aboriginal education and is a Worimi and Biripai woman from the mid north coast of New South Wales.

This scholarship will strengthen my abilities to develop and implement achievable tertiary education strategies for Indigenous people and their communities, especially given the recent pressures on universities due to COVID-19,

says Leanne.

Kristy Masella is the CEO of AES, a national Indigenous recruitment and group training company. She is a Murri woman from Rockhampton and has worked in Aboriginal affairs for more than 25 years across portfolios in New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Kristy says the scholarship will help her address the challenges that she faces daily.

Working with government and other stakeholders is becoming increasingly complex. I want to build my effectiveness as a leader and a manager and to continue improving the lives of Aboriginal people across the country,

says Kristy.

The Scholarship

The CEW & Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation Scholarships form part of the annual CEW Scholarships Program, which in 2019 provided 20 talented Australian women with the opportunity to take their careers to the next level by supporting executive education at internationally acclaimed business schools.



Scholarships play a fundamental role in CEW’s efforts to create opportunities that level the playing field for women across the country.  Today, as three of our 2024 scholarships are officially opened to applicants, we celebrate the invaluable contributions of three remarkable benefactors whose commitment to gender equality shines through their support for scholarships.  Through their...
The CEW Scholarships Program lies at the heart of women leaders enabling women leaders and 2023 has seen us reach new heights awarding scholarships to 34 outstanding women leaders across 19 different scholarships. We have been very excited to offer four new scholarships in partnership with Chemistry Australia, Actuaries Institute, Property Council of Australia, Melbourne...
In the world of data science, where innovation and leadership play a pivotal role, women have been steadily breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings. Their contributions are invaluable, yet there is still a gender gap to overcome. The inaugural CEW Actuaries Women Leader in Data Science scholarship winner, Lisa Green, is a prime example of...
Keren Paterson is a 2023 CEW scholar and attended INSEAD’s Advanced Management Program in France this year. Read about her amazing experience below: Some of the most inspirational business leaders that have influenced my career are graduates of the INSEAD Advanced Management Program (AMP). They have led very different businesses, but they share an incredible...
The winners of the CEW and ANZ Sustainability Scholarship are working to address some of our planet’s most pressing challenges in radically different ways. They are: Brickworks General Manager Operations Emily Antonio I’m Plastic Free Founder Simona Paganetto Coates National Environment and Sustainability Manager Robyn Simpson While their expertise and experience different greatly, they are...
This year’s recipient of the ARA Women Leaders in Retail Scholarship Coles Group General Manager, Non-Food Business Unit Debra Galle, prioritises values and behaviours to build supportive, transparent and team-based cultures. Debra is passionate about fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) retail, a segment that has faced rapidly changing and difficult circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic....
Theatre directors, music producers and brand builders, curators and a philanthropic fundraiser are among the recipients of the 2023 Hansen CEW Leaders Program for the Arts Scholarship. Made possible thanks to the generosity of Jane Hansen AO, these scholarships help women leaders looking to take on executive leadership roles within the Arts by supporting them...
The winner of this year’s CEW Chemistry Australia Scholarship is Orica manager of manufacturing technology Kira McGrath. McGrath has extensive experience with ammonia, nitric acid and ammonium nitrate manufacturing processes specific to Orica’s Kooragang Island manufacturing facility, in Newcastle New South Wales. The facility supplies critical products to the mining and infrastructure, agriculture, water supply,...
We are delighted to collaborate with Melbourne Business School (MBS)and the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust (HMST) to offer emerging women leaders in Victoria’s not-for-profit and for-purpose sectors the opportunity to complete an Executive MBA. HMST is an independent philanthropic trust established by Helen Macpherson Schutt (née Smith) in 1951 with the aim of benefiting future...
CEW is delighted to announce the recipient of this year’s prestigious Maureen Kerridge CEW Scholarship – Libby Owens, the CEO of Champion Data. With an impressive 20 years of experience in the sports media industry, Libby has made significant contributions to the field and broken barriers throughout her career. Libby’s journey in the sports media...