La Trobe celebrates newest Distinguished Alumni

The youngest First Nations woman to be elected in Federal Parliament, the founder of Australia’s first listed philanthropic wealth creation companies, and an anti-domestic violence campaigner who helped abolish the law of provocation in Victoria are among eight exceptional La Trobe alumni to receive one of the University’s top honours this year.

La Trobe University is delighted to celebrate the achievements of its 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award winners:

  • Philip Cleary, author, broadcaster, anti-domestic violence campaigner and former independent Australian politician and footballer;
  • Dr Cynthia Brown, prominent businesswoman, speaker, researcher and non-executive director of the Brown Family Wine Group;
  • Geoff Wilson AO, senior investor and founder of Wilson Asset Management;
  • Adjunct Professor Ann Maree Keenan, health leader and former Victorian Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer;
  • Roger Gillespie OAM, co-founder and chairman of Australia’s most successful bakery franchise, Bakers Delight; and
  • Paul Joss, Albury-Wodonga leader and Joss Group Managing Director.

La Trobe is also thrilled to recognise the success of 2022 Young Achiever Award recipients:

  • Senator Jana Stewart, Labor’s first Aboriginal Senator for Victoria; and
  • Laura Henshaw, co-founder and CEO of global health and wellness community Keep It Cleaner (KIC).

The Distinguished Alumni Award is one of the highest honours bestowed by La Trobe University. The award is presented annually to alumni from a community of nearly 240,000 graduates.

La Trobe University Chancellor, the Hon. John Brumby AO, said this year’s Distinguished Alumni have not only excelled in their chosen fields, but also across an extraordinary breadth of contributions.

“Our Distinguished Alumni show the way that La Trobe people have left their imprint on just about every field of human endeavour,” Mr Brumby said.

“This remarkable group personifies the unique La Trobe spirit and values, and shows exactly why we are known for excellence, innovation, and impact.

“By sharing their stories, experiences, and exceptional achievements, these alumni help to demonstrate the impact that higher education has on individuals and our society as a whole,” Mr Brumby said.

This year marks a significant milestone as the University presents its 100th Distinguished Alumni Award, in partnership with UniSuper.

UniSuper’s CEO, Peter Chun, said UniSuper is proud to be a partner of La Trobe’s Distinguished Alumni Awards and the university’s super fund of choice.

“As the fund for Australia’s thinkers, creators and investigators, we are pleased to support La Trobe in their mission to make a positive difference through the real-world impact of education and research, and to shape the future of business and future generations of great thinkers,” Mr Chun said.

“We know that anything is possible when great minds come together, and these awards deliver on that promise.”

2022 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognises La Trobe University alumni who have demonstrated significant personal, community and professional achievements.

Philip Cleary

Philip ‘Phil’ Cleary is an author, broadcaster, anti-domestic violence campaigner and former independent Australian politician, teacher and footballer. Philip became the first Independent from Victoria elected to Australia’s federal parliament in 1992, winning Bob Hawke’s seat of Wills.

Since the murder of his sister in 1987, Philip has campaigned to stop violence against women for over three decades. His books and media commentaries were pivotal to the abolition of the law of provocation in Victoria, and today he is a member of the Victorian Government’s Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council. Philip has also leveraged his legendary status as an Aussie Rules football player, coach and commentator to motivate men to change their behaviour and attitudes towards women.

Philip graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (1975) and a Diploma of Education (1975) from La Trobe University.

Watch Philip's video:

Dr Cynthia Brown

Dr Cynthia Brown is a prominent businesswoman, speaker, communicator and researcher. As a Non-Executive Director of the Brown Family Wine Group (est. 1889), Cynthia drives strategic direction at board level for one of Australia’s leading family-owned wine companies. Cynthia has diverse capabilities across leadership, strategy, research, communication, human resources management, public relations, hospitality and wine. As an academic, Cynthia developed a scale to measure technology-facilitated abuse in relationships and its impacts, which has been translated into at least five non-English languages and used across Australia, Europe, Asia and the US.

Cynthia graduated with a Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) (2014) from La Trobe University She also holds a PhD, a Bachelor of Business and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Watch Cynthia's video:

Geoff Wilson AO

Geoff Wilson AO has over 42 years’ direct experience in investment markets, having held a variety of senior investment roles in Australia, the UK and the US. Geoff founded Wilson Asset Management in 1997 and later created Australia’s first listed philanthropic wealth creation vehicles, Future Generation Investment Company Limited and Future Generation Global Investment Company Limited, to deliver both investment and social returns. Geoff is currently Chairman of WAM Capital Limited, WAM Leaders Limited, WAM Global Limited, WAM Microcap Limited, WAM Research Limited, WAM Active Limited and WAM Strategic Value Limited.

Geoff graduated with a Bachelor of Science (1980) from La Trobe University.

Watch Geoff's video:

Adjunct Professor Ann Maree Keenan

Ann Maree Keenan is a highly respected health leader who has led significant healthcare reforms, workforce development changes, quality and safety reviews, and state-wide improvement initiatives. Ann Maree was Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer and Deputy CEO at Safer Care Victoria for six years until July 2022, and acting CEO during 2020-2021. Prior to this, Ann Maree spent 12 years as the Executive Director of Ambulatory and Nursing Services at Austin Health, where she grew engagement and recognition of nursing across the organisation and implemented key workforce reforms to improve patient safety and quality of care.

Ann Maree has been a member of the La Trobe School of Nursing and Midwifery Course Advisory Committee and the Professional Reference Group of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council. She has also chaired the Australian and New Zealand Chief Nurse and Midwifery Council and the Nurse Prescribing Committee of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (2017-2021).

Ann Maree graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing (1991) and a Graduate Diploma of Advanced Nursing (Administration) (1993) from La Trobe University.

Watch Ann Maree’s video:

Roger Gillespie OAM

Roger Gillespie OAM is the Co-Founder and Chairman of Bakers Delight and studied subjects in Arts at La Trobe University from 1974-76. Under Roger’s direction, Bakers Delight has grown from a humble bakery in Hawthorn, to become Australia’s most successful bakery franchise, with over 700 locations across Australia, Canada, USA and New Zealand, and net worth sales of around $750 million per annum. In 2019, as director of the Gillespie Family Foundation, Roger launched the Bradford Shepparton Pathway Program at La Trobe University.

Roger studied subjects in Arts at La Trobe University from 1974-76.

Watch Roger’s video:

Paul Joss

Paul Joss is an Albury-Wodonga leader who advances social inclusion and economic prosperity in regional Australia. As Managing Director of Joss Group, a private construction and maintenance company servicing regional NSW, ACT and VIC, Paul has led the company to deliver social and sustainable value for local communities through sponsorships and social procurement. Paul also sits on La Trobe University’s Albury-Wodonga Campus Regional Advisory Board, is Vice-President of the Albury Tigers Club, and is Chair of the James McQuillan Future Fund Trust.

Paul graduated with a Bachelor of Business (1998) from La Trobe University.

Watch Paul’s video:

2022 Young Achiever Award recipients

The Young Achiever Award recognises outstanding alumni aged 35 years or younger. It is awarded to those who have achieved significant career success within a relatively short period of time.

Senator Jana Stewart

Senator Jana Stewart is a proud Mutthi Mutthi and Wamba Wamba woman from north-west Victoria, and a mother of two children. Jana is the youngest First Nations woman to be elected in Federal Parliament, and the first Aboriginal Labor Senator for Victoria. Aged 18, Jana began working at the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), supporting children and families in out-of-home care. While at VACCA she trained in family therapy at La Trobe’s The Bouverie Centre, and later moved to the public service. In 2022, Jana was elected as a member of the Australian Senate.

Jana graduated with a Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy for First Nations Workers (2010) and a Master of Clinical Family Therapy (2013) from La Trobe University.

Watch Jana’s video:

Laura Henshaw

As a businesswoman, model, entrepreneur and the co-founder and CEO of Keep It Cleaner (KIC), Laura Henshaw leads a global health and wellness enterprise whose community spans over 2 million followers online. Laura’s business encompasses the popular KIC app, which provides over 250,000 subscribers worldwide with in-home workouts and recipes; fitness events; wellness retreats; a popular podcast; and more than 80 health food products stocked in supermarkets nationally. Laura also promotes body positivity and self-acceptance through a monthly column for Vogue Australia, as a keynote speaker at events, and as co-author of A Girl’s Guide to Kicking Goals.

Laura graduated with a Bachelor of Law/Bachelor of Business (2021) from La Trobe University.

Watch Laura’s video:

Image details

L-R: Geoff Wilson AO, Dr Cynthia Brown,  Laura Henshaw, Philip Cleary, The Hon. John Brumby AO, Professor John Dewar AO, Adjunct Professor Ann Maree Keenan, Roger Gillespie OAM, Paul Joss, Senator Jana Stewart, Professor Clare Wright OAM.