Telstra winner FINALTrailblazing women working in disability and rehabilitation have won 2015 Telstra Business Women’s awards. Guide Dogs SA/NT chief executive Kate Thiele was the Social Enterprise Award category winner who has radically changed the operating environment within the not-for-profit sector. Since joining the Guide Dogs organisation turnover has tripled, active donors have increased by more than 165% and regular donors from 450 a year to 21,000. She has also driven the Autism Assistance Dogs program, the first Guide Dog organisation in Australia to run the program. Thiele was the first South Australian to secure a fully funded, non- profit fellowship to the Harvard Business School.

The CEO of Enabled Employment, Jessica May, took out the Start-Up award for the online disability employment portal. Enabled Employment offers flexible employment for people with disability or ADF members with post-traumatic stress disorder and/or other injuries. The business is owned, run and managed by people with disability and ADF veterans to assist with employment for others with disability or veterans.  Another winner was Deborah Bampton, services development manager and administrator for Somerville Community Services who took out the Purpose and Social Enterprise Award in the Northern Territory. Bampton is responsible for 11 community group homes for people with severe to profound disabilities. She started working with people with disabilities in 1995 and her passion was reinforced when one of her eight siblings sustained a disability the following year.

A finalist in the Social Enterprise category in New South Wales was Special Olympics Australia CEO, Nicole Stokes. The overall national winner was Royal Australian Navy captain, Mona Shindy from NSW.

Caption: Kate Thiele with Tango at the 2015 Telstra Australia Business Women’s Awards