Women Leaders Retreat 2023

In August, WELA in partnership with the Global Leadership Foundation ran a Women Leaders Retreat on Dja Dja Wurrung Country in Victoria.

Designed for women and gender diverse people already in formal leadership positions for our environment – CEOs, Chairs, Seniors Executives – from civil society, corporate and governmental sectors, this retreat was all about creating emotionally healthy leadership, a strong network and exploring how these women can support each other and bring the movement forward together.

The retreat brought together 18 people for three nights around the theme of ‘Inspire-Connect-Learn’, aiming to inspire all participants to be part of a growing and impactful movement for long-term systems change.

Highlights from the retreat included:

🌿 a yarning circle led by Dja Dja Wurrung women Bec Phillips and Marilyne Nicholls, alongside Nyikina Warrwa woman and community leader, Dr Anne Poelina, and Wudawurrung woman Sarah Eccles

🌿 a walk down memory lane with WELA co-founder Karen Alexander who spoke about the historic campaign to stop the Franklin dam as well as the formation of WELA.

Take a look at photos from our Women Leaders Retreat in partnership with the Global Leadership Foundation


  • “It was a gift to be with these mighty women who are leading transformational work in the face of global boiling. It was an unreal reminder of the power of sisterhood! These women are doing the most phenomenal work in the Asia Pacific region, and I was proud to represent my team at Today.


    We were fortunate to learn about First Nations leadership from Professor Anne Poelina, Aunty Marilyne Nicholls, Bec Phillips and Sarah Eccles. My deepest thanks for sharing your country, wisdom and leadership with us. The amazing team at WELA and Global Leadership Foundation; thank you for connecting us, recharging us, and inspiring us.”

    Louise Sergent
    Managing Director, Today
  • “I joined a group of over 20 women/gender diverse executive climate and conservation leaders from across Australia for the very first Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia women leaders retreat designed just for us.


    We worked through specific challenges we face and ways to support ourselves and others to address the climate and environment challenges in a fair and equitable way (and without burning out!).


    Thank you to the WELA team, Global Leadership Foundation and the team of incredible women who shared their experiences across many intersectional lenses including First Nations, parenting and caregiving, disability and illness. All these identities determine our opportunities and shape our leadership. From heading councils and companies to writing novels and running campaigns these women are powerful! Such a privilege to be with and learn from you all on Dja Dja Wurrung Country in such a supportive and caring environment. I want the whole world to know more about and celebrate every person there!”

    Robyn James
    Director Gender and Equity, Asia Pacific at The Nature Conservancy
  • Feeling mighty lucky to have met these incredible, formidable women, each of them dedicating their energy, talent and passion to the biggest and most complex issue humanity has faced.


    I learned a lot about my place in the environment movement and that despite the overwhelming magnitude of the challenge it need not be a lonely place: there are so many of us working towards the same goals and the love, solidarity and support is there if you reach for it.


    And of course, as always, a timely and welcome reinforcement that women kick arse. 💪🌏


    Thank you Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia for creating magic and having me.

    Jane Gardner
    Director of Communications, Climate Council


A massive thank you to Gayle Hardie from the Global Leadership Foundation for leading the facilitation at this first-of-its-kind retreat. 

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WELA’s leadership programs support women and gender diverse changemakers who want to accelerate positive transformation for our environment and climate.

Take a look at our programs, designed to help you move forward with your ambitions.