August 14, 2020

Global Voices of Loreto Kirribilli, the inaugural LK Connect Mentoring and Networking Program webinar event, drew an audience of more than 270 people from around the world as six ex-students spoke of their goals and personal philosophies, emphasising the real value of community.

Participants connected from countries including Belgium, the USA, Canada, Scotland, England, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as from across Australia, to hear the speakers’ insights into how their ideas and businesses have delivered social, economic and environmental benefits and have helped shape attitudes and outcomes in their chosen fields.

Facilitated from London by Joanne Sawicki (’78) a digital health and media entrepreneur, the speakers included Grace Brennan (’01) from Warren in Regional NSW, founder of the highly successful #buyfromthebush campaign; Caroline McLaughlin (’83) from Singapore, who is Head of Partnerships for Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) and one of the founders of the Ribbons of Hope, Invest In Women Foundation which supports women and girls’ organisations; Julia Burke (’85) from Alice Springs, who is an innovator, communicator and connector working with indigenous communities, NFPs and Governments to instigate change; Melanie Brandman (’81) from New York, founder of The Brandman Agency with offices around the globe and Bridie Ohlsson (’09) from Singapore, CEO at Geora, working with farmers and agribusinesses to drive sustainable practices.

A common thread among the speakers was the importance of community and how the Loreto Kirribilli community continued to impact the direction of their lives, long after they walked through the school gates for the last time. Grace Brennan spoke of her fellow panellists and other Loreto Kirribilli women saying,

“We are women of action, but I have also found there is a kindness that I can identify with. It really excites me to think about what may come of stronger professional networking infrastructure for Loreto Kirribilli alumni!”

Melanie Brandman, speaking from New York, said there were still positives in these difficult times, despite her field of travel and hospitality being severely impacted.

“We are all having to explore how we do things differently and how to connect with people differently but you also see the true character of people and also people working together helping each other.”

The thought-provoking event prompted swift responses and congratulations. Sr Anne Kelly, a past Loreto Kirribilli Principal, said,

“The webinar was brilliant. I learned so much.”

Grandparent of current students and ex-student, Gai Hamer said,

“I laughed, cried and felt a personal sense of pride in such wonderful women,”

and former student Bernadette McNamara added,

“Thank you for bringing Loreto back to me a little bit more.”

Former Loreto Kirribilli Board member Elizabeth Murphy commented,

“Engaging, varied and informative, especially in such a difficult period,”

and past parent and former Loreto Toorak student Virginia Banks added, 

“Now that’s what being a Loreto ex-student is all about. What an amazing platform and a wonderful way to hear what these inspirational women are doing and the advice for school leavers, university students and early job hunters.”

These former students are a testament to the lasting impact of a Loreto Kirribilli education as they continue the pioneering work of Mary Ward who called upon women to “Be seekers of truth and doers of justice.”