“You deserve a seat at the table.”

That’s the message that Kate Percy, 2021 CEW Scholarship winner and Director of Knowledge and Outcomes at Berry Street, wants to share with other women.

“Confidence is key, there’s nothing attractive about someone who is meek and doesn’t back themselves. It’s going to take women in leadership now owning it to change things for the women coming up behind us.”

Kate was one of four inaugural recipients of the CEW Schmidmaier/ Mayne Scholarship that supports applicants from the not-for-profit sector. This scholarship was established in 2021 in recognition of the commitment and contributions of two Directors of the CEW Leaders Program Lynette Mayne AM and Dagmar Schmidmaier AM who have inspired hundreds of women to develop their leadership capacity.

A social worker by trade, Kate worked in government, not-for-profit and in the international humanitarian space before returning to university to study a Masters of Communications with the idea of pursuing journalism. She instead wound up working in policy, where she started to observe a gap in the community sector between practitioners and the systems and processes designed to support them. That led her to a service development role, and in turn, her directorship at Berry Street, a provider of programs to children, families and young people including education services, trauma services and out of home care.

Her experience in the sector has informed Kate’s role in senior management, such that she sends new staff who haven’t worked on the front lines out to see how it’s done when they join Berry Street.

“There can be a little bit of an us versus them divide in social work, so I try and bridge that,” she said.

Kate is “not 100% sure” of where her career will go next, but it will be informed by the CEW Leaders Program, which she undertook this year. “It was transformative. It changed the way I think, including about what’s next. It gave me the words to wrap around my next move, it provided practical tools for making that happen and it gave me connections and a support network of other women.”

As Kate has now successfully completed her course, she will also become a member of the CEW alumni community, CEW Connect, and have access to exclusive events with CEW members as well as joining a supportive network of successful women leaders.

The 2022 CEW Scholarships Program is online, view all opportunities for women leaders.