Blacktown’s Woman of Year


A full-time postgraduate student, volunteer and research assistant who still finds time to be an adviser to a number of government and non-government organisations is the 2020 Blacktown City Woman of the Year.

Lisa Lewis who was presented with the award at Blacktown City Council’s recent International Women’s Day breakfast said she is excited to collaborate with Council and develop projects for women.

“I wasn’t expecting it after seeing the calibre of the finalists. It’s really nice to be valued for something I do behind closed doors,” Lisa said.

“Being amongst them [the finalists] was amazing and finally being chosen was the cherry on top.”

Lisa has volunteered with a number of organisations including the Australian Red Cross and Amnesty International. In 2018 Lisa received the 2018 Outstanding Youth Leader of Western Sydney Award and is also an adviser to a number of organisations including the Migrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition and the Western Sydney Local Health District.

The award was presented to Lisa by Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM and the Chairperson of Council’s Women’s Advisory Committee, Deputy Mayor Councillor Julie Griffiths.

Mayor Bleasdale said, “International Women’s Day is celebrated annually around the world to inspire women to achieve their full potential and to highlight women’s equality, and inequality, worldwide.

“We adopt this annual event as an opportunity to also spotlight the achievements of many of our community-spirited women in Blacktown City.”

Councillor Griffiths said, “The Woman of the Year Award recognises the outstanding achievement of women within the local community through voluntary or paid work.

“It’s with great pleasure that we present Lisa Lewis with this award and recognise the skills and achievements of all 24 nominees.

“Their talents and community work have made an indelible impression on the award judges,” she said.

In 2017 Blacktown City Council established a Women’s Advisory Committee to provide advice on issues relevant to women.

2020 Blacktown City Women of the year finalists

Laura Ranola

Born to two Filipino immigrants, Laura spent her formative years in Sydney’s West and Studying at Western Sydney University.

From humble beginnings to now juggling the media industry, youth work, counselling and everyday struggles, Laura’s breadth of experience qualifies her to affect change in the Blacktown Area. After noticing a gap in the media space, Laura began work to give her community the voice they deserved.

Her leadership of The Western has helped set the spotlight out west to recognise new and innovative talent as she hopes to empower women in the community to no longer wait to create change.

Lisa Gobo

Lisa works on the National Community Hubs Program for the NSW Department of Education. Community hubs are designed around a place-based and people-focused model that responds to local needs to achieve positive outcomes for children, families, schools and the wider community. Lisa joined the community at Colyton Public School (CPS) Mt Druitt in 2018, as the Community Hub Leader. It is on behalf of the strong community of families and staff at Colyton Public School that she receives this nomination, whose dedication to their children and each other make these things possible.

Like other local schools, CPS has experienced tremendous growth and now has over 900 students, 80% of which are from families coming from migrant backgrounds, many recent arrivals. As an Aboriginal and First Australian woman, Lisa uses the cultural knowledge of her peoples and Elders to guide approaches to belonging and coming together on country

Vanessa Cullen

Born, raised and based in the Blacktown City area, Vanessa is the Managing Director of Forward Thinking Design; a Certified Social Traders and B Corporation social enterprise, which she founded almost 17 years ago.

Forward Thinking Design is one of the most awarded built environment strategy and fitout design studios in Australia, and over the years Vanessa has provided employment, mentoring and on-the-job training to many local women and new immigrants. Vanessa is the Diversity and Inclusion Chairperson of BLocal Sydney, Australia (B Corporation business community) and an activist for equality, environmental sustainability and improved ethics in business and society. As a sufferer and survivor of serious illness she is an Ambassador for Polycystic Kidney Disease Australia, Member of the Australasian Kidney Trials Network Scientific Committee and NSW Co-Chair of the BEAT-CKD Consumer Advisory Board (all voluntary roles).

Vanessa holds a 254km Fastest Known Time ultra-trail running record for running the length of the Shoalhaven coast’s 100 Beaches in 2019, and she previously represented Australia in age group triathlon.

Sarah Cupitt

Ms Zahid’s work focuses on gender, women’s rights and the displacement of Afghan diaspora around the world. She is also a volunteer advocate for human rights, health, justice, and promotion of democratic values. She is currently working as a Domestic Violence Prevention Officer at SydWest Multicultural Services to reduce violence against women and their children in Afghanistan, Indian and South Sudanese communities. She is also the founder and director of Afghan Women on the Move Pty Ltd. The organisation supports women and girls outside religious and community influences to help them have a voice and become socially, economically and emotionally independent.

Lisa Lewis

Lisa is a full-time postgraduate student, volunteer and research assistant. She is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Youth Leader of Western Sydney Award and 2017 Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Engagement and Sustainability Award. Lisa has demonstrated exemplary leadership in encouraging others to embrace themselves and become civically engaged. She has volunteered with Blacktown’s Australian Red Cross, Marist Youth Care, The College (Quakers Hill) and Mt Druitt’s Amnesty International chapter. She currently advises the Migrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition, Greater Sydney Commission, Western Sydney Local Health District and U.S. Embassy through various positions.

Picture: (From left) Deputy Mayor Councillor Julie Griffiths, 2020 Blacktown City Woman of the Year Lisa Lewis, Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM

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