Longstanding Board Member Katie Walker stands down after 20 years

Long serving CEF Australia Board member, Katie Walker, with husband Michael Walker at the Hand to the Land fundraiser, Sydney, March 2024.

It is undoubtedly clear that Katie Walker has had a remarkable influence on the educational outcomes of regional youth over the past two decades.

Since 2003, Katie has witnessed thousands of students from across rural and regional Australia access post school education and employment through grants and scholarships from Country Education Foundation of Australia (CEF).

This not only includes in her capacity as a Founding Director on the CEF Australia Board since 2003, but also her efforts across the countryside to advocate for CEF in its very early days.

Katie Walker, who was then President of CEF Yass Valley, with then Vice President, Norm Bolitho, at an event in Yass in 2006.

Katie Walker, who was then President of CEF Yass Valley, with then Vice President, Norm Bolitho, at an event in Yass in 2006.

She was a founder of the Country Education Foundation of Yass Valley, in her hometown of Yass, NSW, in 1998. Over the last 26 years, Katie, along with other volunteers from across the years, has worked tirelessly to support hundreds of young people in their area.

In 2016, CEF recognised her outstanding contribution by naming its annual volunteer award, the Katie Walker Outstanding Service Award, in her honour; an award presented each year to recognise the outstanding contribution and commitment of a CEF volunteer.

Her commitment to regional youth was formally recognised on Australia Day in 2024 with her inclusion in the Australia Day Honours List and an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her longstanding service to education and the community.

In late 2023, she made the decision to resign from the CEF Board, with her resignation becoming official at the CEF AGM on 2nd May, 2024.

Although she has stepped down from the Board, she still remains part of the CEF family, and plans to continue supporting local youth as the Secretary of CEF Yass Valley.

She said it was a “privilege” to have served on the CEF Board, and it was now time for the next generation of Board members to continue the work started by her longtime friends and CEF Founders, Nick Burton Taylor AM and Julia Burton Taylor OAM.

“What started in Boorowa (CEF’s first local foundation in 1993) is now in 46 communities across Australia,” she said.

It’s been a wonderful thing to be involved with and see the growth, and it’s very gratifying to see students return to their communities to bring their skills back with them.

– Long serving CEF Australia Board member, Katie Walker.

She spent much of the early 2000s on the road with Julia travelling across NSW to visit other communities to spread the word about CEF and help establish local foundations in Harden, Goulburn, Braidwood, Snowy Monaro (Cooma), Young, Namoi (Narrabri), Merriwa, Gilgandra, Coonamble, Gulargambone and Cowra. In 2004 they travelled to South Australia to help form the first local foundations outside of NSW in Eudunda and Clare Valley.

Alongside Nick Carmody in their roles on the CEF Yass committee, she was involved in brokering CEF’s first university partnership, with the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. This kickstarted CEF’s education partnership portfolio, which now includes universities and accommodation providers, giving extra financial support to CEF students.

The highlight for me has been seeing the growth and expansion of CEF, and the help it provides its students; giving them opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

– Long serving CEF Australia Board member, Katie Walker.

CEF Chairman, Nick Burton Taylor paid tribute to Katie, saying CEF would not be where it is today without her efforts.

“Youth in so many regional and rural locations may not have had the opportunity to access post school education and employment if Katie hadn’t made the commitment to spread the CEF concept,” he said.

“I would like to thank Katie for her incredible service on the national Board over the last 20 years and wish her all the best for her future.”

/Public Release. View in full here.