International Women’s Day: Inspirational Women of the Climate Council

08.03.23 By

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the amazing achievements of women everywhere. Here at the Climate Council we want to give a shout out to some truly inspirational women in our ranks whose work is changing attitudes surrounding one of the most important issues of our time: climate change.

Experts in their fields, these leaders are playing a huge role in pushing for action on climate change in Australia. They appear frequently in the media, contribute to Climate Council publications, write landmark reports and speak at keynote events. 

People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action, and we see how important this is in the face of climate change. Yes, we need to move fast this decade to prevent catastrophic climate change, but we need to move together, and in ways that leave communities stronger, healthier and more equal. We cannot solve this crisis with the same approaches and power structures that have caused it. Empowering women and girls needs to be at the heart of climate action.

Prof. Hilary Bambrick, Councillor

Professor Hilary Bambrick

Hilary is an environmental epidemiologist and bioanthropologist researching the health impacts of global heating, especially on more vulnerable populations, and has expertise in the development, implementation and evaluation of adaptation strategies.

She is Professor and Director of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University in Canberra. Hilary has worked on risk and vulnerability assessments, national health systems resilience and community-based adaptation projects, including in the remote Pacific, Asia, and in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. Areas of interest and expertise include extreme weather, vector-borne disease, food safety and security, the built environment, and health systems. Hilary advocates for the rapid and well-planned energy transition away from fossil fuels to protect health, now and in the future.

Hilary regularly appears in the media and has contributed to several Climate Council reports, including:

A supercharged climate: rain bombs, flash flooding and destruction

Crunch time: how climate action in the 2020s will define Australia

Dr Kate Charlesworth, Councillor

An image of Climate Councillor Dr Kate Charlesworth

Dr Kate Charlesworth MBBS (Hons), MPH, FAFPHM, PhD is a public health physician in Sydney. After working as a hospital doctor in Perth and Sydney, Kate completed much of her training in public health medicine in the UK.

She worked as a Research Fellow at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and then at the Sustainable Development Unit in Cambridge. The SDU is a world-leading unit tasked with reducing the carbon footprint of England’s National Health Service. Kate has also completed a PhD in low-carbon healthcare, and has 15 peer-reviewed papers.

Kate now works in the NSW public health system as a medical specialist in environmentally sustainable healthcare – the first such role in Australia. Kate regularly appears in the media and has contributed to several Climate Council publications including the following:

A new guide for parents: managing eco-anxiety in your kids

Kicking the gas habit: how gas is harming our health

Hollie Cheung, Research Assistant

Hollie is a research assistant at the Climate Council.

Her research has investigated climate-related financial risk for banks and levers to transform decision making, such as defining the public interest and enabling constructive discourse. Hollie is passionate about social and climate justice, and creating a more equitable world for people and planet. At the Climate Council Hollie’s research focuses on clean transport and shifting our system toward public and active travel, alongside electric vehicles.

Hollie has contributed to several Climate Council publications including the following:

Are we there yet? Clean transport scorecard for Australian states and territories

Switch and Save: How gas is costing households

Power up: 10 climate gamechangers

Ashleigh Croucher, Senior researcher

Ashleigh is a Senior Researcher at the Climate Council. Ashleigh’s background is primarily in the intersection between climate change and international security, particularly focusing on multilateral organisations such as the United Nations. Ashleigh’s research has examined the way climate change is framed as a security issue in a range of forums, such as the United Nations Security Council, and in Australia’s national security policies.

Her research has covered the intersection between the climate science in the IPCC reports and how policy makers use various understandings in their statements in the UNFCCC processes.

Ashleigh has also worked in the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector, focusing on the social determinants of health including climate change. At the Climate Council, Ashleigh’s research has included decarbonising Australia’s industrial sectors and the opportunities in a global economy heading for net zero.

Dr Annika Dean, Senior Researcher

Dr Annika Dean

Dr Annika Dean works as a Senior Researcher at the Climate Council of Australia.

She has a PhD from the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales and previously worked as a lecturer on climate change and energy policy at the University of New South Wales. Her research has mainly focused on climate change impacts and adaptation in Australia and the Pacific Islands, including climate change impacts on human health.

Annika has contributed to several Climate Council publications. including:

Power up: 10 climate gamechangers

A supercharged climate: rain bombs, flash flooding and destruction

Cheryl Durrant, Councillor

Cheryl Durrant

Cheryl regularly appears in the media and as a speaker for summits around the world.

Cheryl has more than 30 years’ experience in the national security sector, including specialist Army intelligence and Defence capability and preparedness roles. Cheryl led the Department’s Global Change and Energy Sustainability Initiative from 2013-2016 and established the position of the Australian Defence Force’s Climate and Security Advisor in 2016.

She was the lead author for Defence’s submission to the Senate Inquiry on the implications of Climate change for Australia’s national security. Cheryl regularly appears in the media and has contributed to several Climate Council reports, including:

Rising to the challenge: addressing climate and security in our region

Climate change is a security threat the government keeps ignoring. We’ll show up empty handed to yet another global summit

Dr. Joelle Gergis, Councillor

Dr Joëlle Gergis

Dr Joëlle Gergis is an award-winning climate scientist and writer. She is an internationally recognised expert in Australian and Southern Hemisphere climate variability and change who has authored over 100 scientific publications. Between 2018 and 2021, Joëlle served as a lead author on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on the Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report – a global, state-of-the art review of climate change science.

Joelle is author of Sunburnt Country: The future and history of climate change in Australia and Humanity’s Moment: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope

Joelle has contributed to the following Climate Council publication:

Powder keg: Australia primed to burn

Prof. Lesley Hughes, Councillor

Professor Lesley Hughes

Professor Lesley Hughes is a Distinguished Professor of Biology and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity & Development) and Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Macquarie University. Her research has mainly focused on the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems.

She is a former federal Climate Commissioner and former Lead Author in the IPCC’s 4th and 5th Assessment Report. She is a founding Councillor with the Climate Council of Australia, a former Director for WWF Australia, and a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists. She has recently been appointed as a member of the Climate Change Authority.

Lesley regularly appears in the media and contributed to the following Climate Council publications:

A supercharged climate: rain bombs, flash flooding and destruction

Neighbourhood issue: climate costs and risks for council

Nicki Hutley, Councillor

Nicki Hutley is a highly experienced economist, with expertise in macro- and microeconomic forecasting and analysis gained over three decades of practice in financial and investment markets and in economic consulting. Nicki is particularly interested in the intersection of economy, society and environment. Nicki is also a longstanding council member of the Economics Society of Australia (NSW), and a Board member for One Million Women and the Financy Women’s Index. 

Nicki is a frequent commentator in the media and is a regular guest on both The Drum and The Project and has contributed to the following Climate Council publications:

G’day Cop27: Australia’s global climate reset

Tents to Castles: Building energy efficient, cost-saving Aussie homes

Amanda McKenzie, CEO

Amanda McKenzie

Amanda regularly appears in the media and has been CEO of the Climate Council since its inception in 2013.

Amanda is a prominent Australian environmental leader and one of the best known public commentators on the climate crisis in Australia.

Previously, she was the Senior Communications Advisor at the Climate Commission and in 2013, alongside Professor Tim Flannery, co-founded the Climate Council following Australia’s largest crowdfunding campaign at the time. Amanda has led the organisation as CEO for the last 8 years. 

Dr Jennifer Rayner, Head of Advocacy

Jennifer Rayner

Jennifer is the Climate Council’s Head of Advocacy, leading policy and political engagement across all levels of Australian Government. She has worked as a Chief of Staff and senior policy adviser to leaders across the Australian and ACT parliaments, with a focus on advancing a positive climate climate agenda across the spectrum of government activity.

Jennifer is the author of two books focused on intergenerational inequality and the economic prospects of workers in transitioning industries – both considerations which are central to designing equitable and inclusive actions to tackle the climate crisis. 

Jennifer regularly appears in media and has contributed to the following publications: 

Are we there yet? Clean transport scorecard for Australian states and territories

Switch and Save: How gas is costing households

Carol Schwartz, Board Chair

Carol Schwartz

Carol is highly regarded as a public commentator and agitator on issues of gender equality, women’s leadership, governance and business

Throughout her career, Carol has been a passionate advocate for women in leadership, particularly in business, politics and the media. As Chair of the Trawalla Foundation and the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, she has catalysed a range of practical solutions, including the Pathways to Politics Program for Women, the Panel Pledge, and the Women for Media database. Carol is also the Founding Chair of Our Community, a member of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women’s Leadership Board, and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership Advisory Board, Kings College.

 Dr Madeline Taylor, Councillor

Madeline Taylor

Dr Madeline Taylor is a Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University, Deputy Director of the Centre for Energy and Natural Resources Innovation and Transformation (CENRIT) at Macquarie University and Honorary Associate at the Sydney Environment Institute.

Madeline specialises in issues at the intersection of energy and natural resources law within the energy transition, as well as property and commercial law. Her research advances the novel examination of transitioning energy regulation and energy policy from comparative and socio-legal perspectives, including the strategic governance of energy and the fragmentation of ownership rights between the state, energy developers, and landholders.

Her current research focuses on the law concerning renewable energy development and energy justice.

Madeline has contributed to the following Climate Council publications: 

Path to Zero: How NSW Can Kick the Gas Habit

We asked five other inspiring women, from doctors to those impacted first hand by climate impacts, to tell us one thing that they’d like to see women and girls achieve as we work to solve the climate crisis.