Name: Hannah Wandel
Pursuit: Country to Canberra
As the founder of Country to Canberra, I am passionate about empowering rural girls to reach their leadership potential. Country to Canberra innovatively connects rural teens to powerful female politicians and executives to breakdown gender and geographical barriers to success. To achieve this, we run a nationwide essay competition and award our winners with an all-expenses paid ‘power trip’ to Canberra. This experience exposes girls to motivational mentors, builds career networks and inspires them to lead in their local communities. Having grown up in rural Australia, I am driven to ensure regional women are afforded equal opportunities to achieve their dreams.
When did you start?
I founded Country to Canberra in May 2014 and just two months later, launched the inaugural essay competition to schools nationwide. Gratefully and after receiving a high number of entries, our first ‘power trip’ was held in December 2014. Although it’s relatively new, I’ve had the idea to kick-start an organisation for rural girls since attending boarding school in my teens. There, I observed career and education opportunity imbalances between the city and country. As an advocate for equality and regional affairs, I wanted to stimulate change.
Career highlight or biggest achievement?
The successful execution of Country to Canberra’s inaugural ‘power trip’! Having a dream, and then seeing that idea come to fruition was incredibly exciting. Organising engagements for senior politicians, holding press events and meeting with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was deeply motivating. Yet, my main highlight was spending time with the winning students and seeing the positive impact the confidence and leadership ambitions. Since visiting the ACT, the winners have gone on to do amazing things and I couldn’t be prouder.
What is your dream?
To grow Country to Canberra into a bigger and even better non-profit. As a director and influencer, I want to help increase the number of rural women in leadership roles, influence policy and boost female political representation in Australia. Ultimately, it equal opportunities, rights and access for women and men.
Who or what have inspired you?
The amazing women working in rural Australia who bolster our national productivity and spirit.
Who's your hero?
I look up to Gail Kelly, Natasha Stott Despoja, Ita Buttrose, Sheryl Sandberg and Lieutenant General David Morrison. Oh, and my dedicated, community-oriented parents who volunteer tirelessly in country SA.
Any other special talents?
Unfortunately, I’m incredibly talented at getting lost.
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.
Favourite TV Show?
The West Wing.
Ever since visiting Japan: Sushi (at any time of the day or night).
How the grant will help you/how will you use the money?
Flights from rural Australia to Canberra are notoriously expensive. The grant money will allow me to book approximately four ‘power trips’ for 2015. It will also help out with accommodation, incidentals and brand building. Lastly, the support of AFTS will help Country to Canberra reach even more young women and hopefully, provide positive societal flow-on effects for our future female leaders.
Last words: Quote or Motto you live by?
‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’