2017 ALEAs National Winners

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2017 ALEAs National Winners

The National winners of the Australian Leadership Excellence Awards are:


  • 2017 Community Leader of the Year –  James Lolicato (VIC)

James is the co-founder and CEO of the grassroots movement Proud 2 Play Inc which connects LGBTI identifying youth between the ages of 14-24 that wish to participate in group and community sports. James has spent the last decade facilitating and convening local LGBTI youth groups throughout Victoria and challenging sporting associations and communities to be more accepting of the LGBTI environment and develop ideas and programs which help the advancement of inclusion within community and sport clubs.

“Diversity and inclusion in our organisations is the most important thing,” said James. “A diverse voice, bringing the voice of the people rather than just the same old male pale stale voice we hear all the time is so important for our organisations, for our development and for leadership. We need to show that leaders can look different, can be different, can be LGBTI – they can still lead the same effective manner and they’ll bring a whole new influence into the society.”


  • 2017 Emerging Leader of the Year – Hannah Wandel IMLa (ACT) 

Hannah is the Founder and CEO of Country to Canberra, a national Not-for-profit which empowers young rural women to reach their leadership potential through leadership training, inspiration, connection and mentoring to overcome gender and geographical barriers to success. Hannah manages governance, sponsorship, stakeholder engagement and 15 volunteers in her role. Hannah is a Director of YWCA Canberra, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and Director of the National Rural Women’s Coalition – Australia’s peak body for regional women. She is formerly a journalist and currently works as an adviser at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“What is really important as an Emerging Leader, something we should all be encouraging our young people to do is give things a go,” said Hannah.

“Country to Canberra women are an incredible group of young people who all work and study full time, they give up their days, their weekends, their nights, their annual leave to provide opportunities living across regional, rural and remote Australia. I am so grateful to them. We want to make sure that no young woman goes without great education and opportunities.”



  • 2017 Leader/Manager of the Year – Jamie Getgood (SA), HR Director of General Motors Holden 

With GM Holden closing its manufacturing operations in Australia, Jamie has taken leadership in the development of a best practice Transition Centre to support all employees in receiving the support, advice and training to help them transition into new work. Currently, he has seen a positive outcome for 83% of outplaced staff at Holden.

Before completing his HR degree, Jamie started his career as a mechanical tradesman, which built a great foundation to his HR profession.

“It’s bittersweet accepting this award because it’s two weeks away when we close our manufacturing facility,” said Jamie. “It’s not just closing Holden, this is an industry. Toyota closed Tuesday, Ford closed last year. This is bittersweet in the sense that we’ve been able to do some amazing things and really look after the people in every possible way that we can. We’ve got a world-class transition centre that is getting accolades from all around the word, we’ve got companies approaching us to copy the model that we’ve got because we have changed the way people are being outplaced.

“There are 950 Holden workers that are going to finish in two weeks’ time and to be honest the real leaders are them. It’s easy to look after them when they have such amazing transferrable skills, we are one of the best automotive plants in the world today, and we’re closing. It’s an absolutely incredible statement of how great our workforce is. I can’t be any prouder than I am of that workforce. The leadership I’ve had to show is just to be a reflection of my people because truly it’s them that has stood up and made my job easy.”


  • 2017 Not for Profit Leader of the Year – Mat Rowell (TAS)  

Mat Rowell is social work trained and qualified with a strong background in work related to children, and in advising, lobbying and advocating social policy to governments at all levels.

He is the former CEO of TasCOSS, and Deputy Chief of Staff to two Tasmanian Premiers. Mat’s board experience includes past Chair of Relationships Australia and currently sits on the ACOSS Board and is President of TasCOSS.

In his acceptance speech, Mat used the opportunity to spotlight Australia’s marriage inequality, saying, “I’m a gay man in a relationship for 20 years, married to my husband two years ago in another country. At the time that happened, my father-in-law was unable to travel to that country because he was unwell and passed away before he could see his son’s marriage legally recognised. Leadership is about authenticity, and my authenticity is that I’m not just a CEO, I’m also a gay man, so vote yes!”


  • 2017 Owner/Entrepreneur Leader of the Year – Fiona Fonti (ACT)

Fiona is an Occupational Therapist with over 12 years’ experience in the Workplace Rehabilitation Industry who founded TRS when realising a gap in service while working on delivery of a national project. She is an active volunteer and donor for several charities and is a committee member for Canberra Women in Business.

Fiona was unable to attend the awards ceremony as she was on a work training trip in Bali. Her husband, Adrian Hassan accepted her certificate on her behalf.

“This is really big for Fi,” said Adrian. “Overcoming challenges and adversities injured workers do is something Fiona has become very accustomed to her whole life. Fiona was actually born deaf and couldn’t hear for the first 20 years of her life, and the challenges of getting over that has really pushed Fi forward.”


  • 2017 Student Leader of the Year – Khushaal Vyas (NSW) 

Khushaal is a Law Clerk at TressCox Lawyers, Volunteer Paralegal at Welfare Rights Centre NSW, Head Public Speaking and Debating Coach at Sydney Boys High School. He has elite communication Skills as demonstrated through Public Speaking and Debating accolades at national levels and international levels (National Public Speaking Runner-Up and Best Delegate at the Asia-Pacific Model United Nations Conference)

He has shown Community Service and Involvement by the Dubbo-Wiradjuri Volunteer Program, establishment of the Fairfield City Youth and Community Centre and receiving the NSW Premier’s Multicultural Youth Community Medal.

“I’ve been lucky enough to come from a privileged background, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a whole bunch of really cool spaces,” said the young paralegal. “My message that if you find yourself lucky enough to be in those sort of situation, you have the capacity to get involved and help other people. I work in Dubbo, but the people who are the real heroes are the ones in the community areas doing work on the ground.”

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