IPAA Victoria names top 50 public sector women for 2020

By Shannon Jenkins

September 17, 2020

Federal health minister Greg Hunt and Labor MP Dr Anne Aly get the gongs. (Image: Adobe/NAUM)

Outstanding women working in the Victorian Public Sector have been celebrated at IPAA Victoria’s Top 50 Public Sector Women event.

Now in its fourth year, the 2020 ceremony held on Wednesday evening recognised both established and emerging public sector leaders, with attendees tuning in from the comfort of their homes.

Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions deputy secretary Dr Emily Phillips noted that during this “incredibly challenging” year, it was encouraging to receive such a large number of nominations for the awards.

“There’s never been a time when the public sector is more needed, and more profoundly relies upon a diverse leadership, that makes the best use of all available talent, that makes the best possible decisions, and that reflects and understands the community is,” she said.

“The great work of public sector women has never been more extraordinary or more important. It is crucial that we take the time to reflect on their achievements and to recognise their commitment and contribution.”

Victoria Police assistant commissioner Libby Murphy, who was a Top 50 winner in 2019, offered some advice on leadership:

  • Firstly, get the “people stuff” right, Murphy said, such as driving people towards a common goal.
  • Be willing to learn from others, “challenge yourself through the thinking of others”, and don’t surround yourself with “yes” people.
  • Truly listen to what people are saying, don’t just hear what they’re saying.
  • Allow people to make mistakes to let them grow, and learn from those mistakes.
  • Build resilience in your people, and allow them to understand that “it’s okay to not always be okay”.
  • Be honest with your people and acknowledge them for the things they bring to the team.
  • Finally, reach out for support and guidance when you need it, because “you’re not going to be able to lead an effective team, unless you’re happy and healthy yourself”.

See the full Top 50 Public Sector Women 2020 list below.


Faith Chikodzamapfeni, manager, Department of Health and Human Services.

Amanda Correy, director of strategic communications, Rail Projects Victoria.

Dr Tracey Marsden, director of pets and animal welfare, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.

Natalie McColl, head of rapid recovery, Transport Accident Commission.

Shamiso Mtenje, chief audit executive and director of assurance, Department of Education and Training.

Carley Northcott, director of NDIS Service Delivery, DHHS.

Caroline Schmidt, director of group brand and student acquisition, Bendigo Kangan Institute.

Leanne Sinclair, associate director of family violence response, Victoria Legal Aid.

Jana Stewart, executive director of aboriginal justice, Department of Justice and Community Safety.

Celia Tran, senior community engagement and policy adviser, Victorian Multicultural Commission.

Ada Young, director of strategic policy, economics and integration, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.


Beth Allen, director of children and families, DHHS.

Vivien Allimonos, executive director of communications division, DET.

Vicki Bahen, manager of intermediary pilot program, DJCS.

Catherine Basterfield, chief executive officer of Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Niccola Brown, deputy secretary of people and workplace services, DJCS.

Sarah Cumming, managing director, Gippsland Water.

Rena De Francesco, assistant director gender equality and inclusion command, Victoria Police.

Dr Nerina Di Lorenzo, executive general manager service delivery, Melbourne Water.

Catherine Dixon, executive director, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

Genevieve Dolan, chief communications officer and chief of protocol, Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Dr Sharn Enzinger, executive director of mission coordination, DELWP.

Michelle Fitzgerald, chief digital officer, City of Melbourne.

Julie Freeman, assistant Victorian government solicitor, Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office.

Joanna Giannini, general manager people, safety and culture, Southern Rural Water.

Amanda Hill, CEO, Dairy Food Safety Victoria.

Tess Hughes, chief communications officer, DJPR.

Rebecca Jhonston, executive planning and infrastructure, North East Water.

Adj Assoc Professor Ann Maree Keenan, deputy CEO and chief nurse and midwifery officer, Safer Care Victoria.

Deborah Leach, director of medical student programs, Eastern Health Clinical School, Eastern Health & Monash University.

Anna Love, chief mental health nurse, DHHS.

Cynthia Marwood, CEO, Sentencing Advisory Council.

Carolyn McClean, director community development, City of Boroondara.

Lisa McMeeken, superintendent, Victoria Police.

Ella McPherson, chief operating officer, Victorian School Building Authority.

Juliana Phelps, CEO, Shire of Towong.

Sara Rhodes-Ward, director eastern region, Department of Transport.

Dr Bethany Roberts, deputy chief fire officer Gippsland region, DELWP.

Jenny Scicluna, general manager customer, people and performance, Cardinia Shire Council.

Robyn Seymour, deputy secretary, network planning, Department of Transport.

Professor Karen Smith, director, centre for research and evaluation, Ambulance Victoria.

Glenda Smith, general manager, people, culture and safety, Goulburn-Murray Water.

Dr Gillian Sparkes, commissioner for environmental sustainability, DELWP.

Kate Symons, commissioner and chairperson, Essential Services Commission.

Liana Thompson, CEO, Northern Grampians Shire Council.

Annie Tinney, CEO, Commission for Children and Young People.

Helen Vaughan, deputy secretary, water and catchments, DELWP.

Annie Volkering, executive director land management policy, DELWP.

Linda Weatherson, general manager, community and city services, City of Melbourne.

Annette Wiltshire, executive director, legal division, DET.

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