We are WELA: Mary Maher

Spotlight on Mary Maher, Supporter of QLD WELA Weekend

Earlier this year, we ran a WELA Weekend in Queensland. This weekend was made possible by a collection of women funders from Queensland who came together to support it. One of these women was Mary Maher. We thank all of these women for what they enabled and recently caught up with Mary to hear her story that inspired her to take action with WELA. 

A reflection from Mary Maher

Growing perspective

When I think of what has shaped my environmentalism two points of inspiration have stayed with me since the 1970s:

The first is the image of the blue planet, our earth, taken at the moon landing. It’s called earth-rise as the sun falls on our fragile planet. It still brings tears to my eyes, our blue fragile planet. 

The other point of inspiration is the quote by Joe Miller: “If the earth were just a few feet in diameter.” 

These thoughts about our planet stay with me, underpinning my environmentalism.

Integrated career

I have been very fortunate because my career and my activism have intertwined. 

After eleven years as an environmental science educator, I took study leave in my local government. They offered me the position of being their first environment officer so back in 1988 we introduced bushland and wetlands protection, water quality strategies for Moreton Bay, impact assessment of infrastructure and development, and big recycling – in Australia’s biggest local government. It had huge capacity and it was their chance to do more than roads, rates, rats etc.

After that I set up my own environmental consultancy and since retirement I have worked on climate action.

Women leaders

I see that it is vital to turn the spotlight on the part women can and do play in building the myriad of pathways forward for our blue planet and the future of humanity. Robyn Gulliver’s recent book The Advocates gives us a strong sense of women’s focus and capacity in environmental action. They are both in the ranks doing the hard work and they are building and leading environmental initiatives on all scales. Lock the Gate, Stop Adani, Farmers for Climate Action, Solar Citizens, and The Next Economy are just a sample of where women are high profile and have a high impact across the board. 

WELA as a tool

In 2021 I joined the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (led by Amanda Martin) to learn more about environmental philanthropy and to structure my giving to have the highest impact. I was approached by another Queensland member to support the WELA Weekend that was to be held in Queensland in early 2022 and I was very happy to contribute. It was a great success and I look forward to hearing how the participants fare, and seeing their projects go live or their actions gaining traction in whatever pursuit they choose.

I wish all women may have the opportunity to tune into what inspires and excites them in the big world of environmental action. It is Humanity’s Moment (as Dr Joelle Gergis’ brave recent book signals to us) and women are big change shapers and makers. 

Keep up the good work WELA Women.


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