Iona Presentation College

Empower Me, Inspire Her

24 June 2023 | 9.00AM - 6.30PM | Iona Presentation College Senior School Campus

Ionians, join us for this amazing day!

A symposium for all Iona women - Past Pupils, daughters, mothers and grandmothers!

Prepare to be inspired by extraordinary stories from extraordinary people, hear from leaders in social justice, learn how to 'design your life' and put yourself first, discover the life-changing benefits of compassion, and master makeup tips and tricks that will have you feeling empowered! Plus, enjoy networking opportunities over lunch and sundowner (included in your ticket).
This is a day not to be missed!

Feedback from last year's inaugural symposium 

"Inspiring day with so many connections."
"I feel ready to be me."
"Great community to be a part of."
"Life changing moment and day - full of love and friendship."

See below for details on the different sessions, and for information on each of the guest speakers throughout the day.

Register Now

Symposium Sessions

Keynote Speakers

Priya Cooper

1999 Young Australian of the Year for Sport; World Champion Paralympic swimmer; Chair – WA Institute of Sport, Deputy Chair – Disability Services Commission of Western Australia; President of Western Australian Disabled Sporting Association.

Born with cerebral palsy, Priya has spent most of her life in a wheelchair but has not let this stand in her way of achieving her goals in life.

Priya began swimming at a young age for therapy and later realised her potential as a competitor. With the hours of long, hard training Priya went from success to success, winning 3 gold and 2 silver medals, and breaking two world records and three Paralympic records at the Barcelona Paralympics in 1992. This was her first international competition. Priya won the most medals of any Australian athlete at the Games, and as a result was given the honour of carrying the flag for Australia at the closing ceremony. On arriving back in Australia she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her services to sport, and became an Australia Day Ambassador.

At the 10th Paralympic Games in Atlanta, Priya led the charge for Australia winning 5 gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal, as well as setting three world records and five Paralympic records. She was also selected to captain the entire Australian Paralympic team. Priya went on to win another gold and three bronze medals at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics.

In 1999 Priya was named Young Australian of the Year for Sport. Later, she was inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame in 2015.

In 2017 she was appointed Deputy Chair of the Disability Services Commission WA and is also President of WA Disabled Sporting Association. In 2022 she was appointed Chair of WA Institute of Sport. She also sits on the Venues West board plus various other boards and committees raising funding and awareness for people with disabilities to be involved in sport.

Priya has a degree in Health Promotion and Journalism from Curtin University, and is very involved in public speaking. She has addressed major corporate and government conferences and events in Fiji, Bangladesh (Australian High Commission), Sydney, Canberra, Hobart, Gold Coast, Cairns, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. She is an excellent motivational speaker whose presentation titled 'Success is A Choice' reminds us that any dream, large or small, personal or corporate, can come true with the strength of sheer determination and perseverance.

Dr Sally Murphy OAM

Dr Sally Murphy OAM, is an author, poet, academic and educator, with a passion for writing, reading and speaking. Her life's goal is to write for, read with and speak to as many people as possible, and spread a passion for reading and writing to children and adults worldwide. Sally has been telling stories for as along as she can remember, and is an award winning children's author. But, while telling fictional stories continues to be a key passion, Sally is increasingly interested in the stories she – and other women – tell themselves about their identities, their roles, and what really matters.  

Sally is also a mother, granny, daughter and friend. While this all sounds like a lot of things to be at once, she still finds time to play with her kids and grandkids, read books, walk on the beach, swim and a million other things. She thrives on being busy.

Sally has a Doctorate in Creative writing, and is a qualified and experienced teacher, having taught all ages from preschool through to university level. Based in the South West of Western Australia, she loves to speak to audiences big and small, close to home or around the world. In 2022 Sally was awarded an OAM in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, for her contributions to children's literature and education.

Craig Hollywood

As an Australian of the Year Award winner, Craig Hollywood is a valued member of the Australian social impact landscape. Through the power of a conversation the value Craig brings to society is of national and global importance. Not only is he an innovative motivational speaker and businessman with a knack for thinking outside the box, but the work that he puts back into the community has the power to truly inspire.

Craig understands the power of a conversation. He is the Founder of Short Back & Sidewalks; a social impact movement providing free haircuts and conversations with some of Australia's most vulnerable people.

Having started in a car park in Perth in 2015, Short Back & Sidewalks now operates across the continent and continues to positively impact people's lives by providing a consistent, judgement free service which helps to break the stigma often attached to those in need.

He believes collaboration is key to any success, but first we must connect with each other on a human level.

Craig's inspirational story and message will leave a lasting impact that will allow you to think differently about the mark we want to leave in this world.

Panel Discussion: Social Justice in Action


The panel is to empower and inspire through facts, knowledge, stories, compassion and respect through focus on social justice.

Rebecca Tolstoy AM - Chair, Path of Hope

Influenced by the discipline, commitment and drive of being part of the family hospitality business during my early career years in Sweden, in 2003 Rebecca and her family moved to Perth. Consistently a visionary, she has co-founded and advocated for a number of successful Local, National and International initiatives and companies. Her breadth of expertise spans, Accountancy, Executive Leadership; Hospitality, FinTechnology, Community Service naming a few. This has resulted in exemplary achievements across a range of national and international companies and projects.

In 2018, she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for significant Service to the Community, for exemplary leadership of social welfare organisations and support for victims and survivors of family domestic violence. Supported by applied studies, she brings to her work a bachelor in Accounting and Human Resource Management at Murdoch University and Board Governance of Excellence with Harvard Business School.

Rebecca is the Founder and Current Chair of Path of Hope Foundation - a local initiative expanded in to the global network of 200+ countries. Moreover, working in her family business provided her with a diverse skill-set of customer service including the importance of having current and future employees' career plans aligned with the companies vision and mission.

Sarah Linton - Deputy State Coroner

After completing a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Anthropology and a Bachelor of Laws at UWA, Ms Linton completed articles at a small law firm. She started at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions WA (ODPP) immediately after her admission in February 1997 as a professional assistant to the then Director, John McKechnie QC.

After about 18 months in that role Ms Linton transferred into a role as a Crown/State Prosecutor doing file and court work the position entailed. While still working for the ODPP, Ms Linton did two secondments to the Coroners Court as Counsel Assisting and also worked for six months at Victoria Legal Aid as a Solicitor. For the last period of her career at the ODPP, Ms Linton was involved in setting up the ODPP Appeals Team and then specialised in appeals until she was appointed as a Magistrate and Coroner in November 2013, commencing in the role in February 2014.

Ms Linton's position as Coroner was renewed for another five years and, following Mr Barry King's retirement, Ms Linton was appointed as the Deputy State Coroner on 1 January 2021.

Simonetta Cavilli (Class of 1991) - Solicitor and Member of

Simonetta is passionate about diversity, inclusion, equality, justice and empowerment. As a life-long learner, Simonetta has a Bachelor of Science, Post Graduate Diplomas in both Education and Forensic Sexology, a Bachelor of Laws and a PhD in Public Health. She firmly believes to be an advocate of human rights and social justice, one has to have a strong foundation in many intersecting areas, so solutions can well be considered from different perspectives. 

Simonetta's research involved women's identity and well-being following family and domestic violence which subsequently led her to seeking a career in family law where she believes her range of skills are best suited. 

She is also an academic and lecturer at Curtin University in the School of Population Health and believes that critical thinking, quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and practises are effectual ways to progress ideas and deliver change.

Elisa Fear - Chair,

Elisa Fear has extensive financial executive experience from roles in investment banking including equity capital markets, debt, advisory and venture capital. This is overlaid with commercial experience from owning and running businesses.

Elisa is currently on the boards of Western Power, Curtin University, Good Sammy Enterprises, St John WA and Limited (as Chair). She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds an MBA (Finance). Elisa is committed to providing support for women and children facing domestic violence and financial abuse.

Curate Your Career and Design Your Life

PRESENTED BY ELLEN HOOPER née Williams (Class of 2005)

While we may be lifelong learners, sometimes the obstacle we face is 'unlearning'. Over the course of our lives, many of us find that our life and career paths end up being based on what we think we 'should' do. In this keynote, Ellen Hooper will talk to you about the themes that come up time and time again in her hundreds of hours of executive coaching and the steps that you can take to find who you are, the career that you want and design the life that is best for you. Because when we live in alignment with our values and passions we are in the best position to support, inspire and care for others.  

Ellen Hooper is obsessed with people and culture. She's a certified coach with the International Coaching Federation, an accredited mediator, a passionate speaker and loves to help a group of people grow and develop. After graduating Iona in 2005 Ellen Hooper née Williams went on to complete a Masters of Management from the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from Bond University.

Featured by Channel 7, and HRD Magazine, her clients call her a coaching magician and a total legend who helps them get unstuck and she has been described by the Australian of the Year as her 'secret weapon'.

A reformed lawyer, former People & Culture C-Suite Executive, a Non-Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Growth Collective (all before the age of 35), Ellen builds a diversity and inclusion lens into everything she does, is fascinating by curating a career you love in a life that you've designed and is a self-proclaimed culture nerd.

Throughout her career, Ellen has worked for or with businesses in government, not-for-profits, major multinationals and ASX listed companies and coached everyone from graduates to CEOs and Board Chairs.

The Heart of Compassion


Catherine Kolomyjec, founder of The Kindness Challenge, will take you on a journey through Compassion and why it is at the very core of what it means to be human. She will lay the foundations for why embodying Compassion in your personal and professional life might just be the key to truly flourishing and being mentally well. This one-hour session will teach you the actual meaning of Compassion and guide you through the physical and psychological benefits of making it a habit every day. As one of Stanford's Global Ambassadors for Applied Compassion, Catherine will inspire you with real-life stories and evidence-based tips designed to empower and nurture you personally and in your relationships with others. 

In a world that is full of conflict, uncertainty and change, Catherine hopes that Compassion will give every Iona woman a toolkit for their own mental health and to support wellbeing in their homes, workplaces and the wider community.

Catherine Kolomyjec is a career Social Worker, and proud to have been educated in the Catholic Education sector, where her passion for social justice began. She has spent her career working with torture and trauma survivors around the world, with marginalised young people and in schools. For the last 17 years Catherine has run a local youth charity Soul Gestures Inc, dedicated to finding innovative solutions to inspire young people to shine. The two main projects in 2023 have been The Periscope Crew, a film of young people with a disability telling stories from their perspectives and The Kindness Challenge - teaching young people the physical and psychological benefits of compassion.

Catherine has been proud to work with Iona over the last two years running compassion workshops for Year 7 Camp (2023), Year 11 Reflection Days (2021 and 2022) and lunchtime workshops for Young Pressies (2022).

Catherine is committed to giving young people the best possible knowledge and skills to become compassionate leaders into the future and has just completed studies at Stanford University's Centre for Compassion and Altruistic Research to become one of their Global Ambassadors for Applied Compassion (2022). Catherine has been recognised for her social justice work over the years with UWA Grace Vaughan Award for Human Rights (1996), Westfield Local Hero Award (2021) and Santa Maria College's Project of Mercy Grant (2021). She is a published author, a contributor to the International Community Development Journal and Australian Medical Journal and the West Ed! Liftout. But most importantly she is a mum to three young people who inspire and challenge her to be better every day.

Feeling Empowered in 5-5-5

PRESENTED BY NADIA DUCA née Vinciguerra (Class of 1994)

In this session, Nadia will be sharing how to apply makeup quickly and easily in 5 minutes, using just 5 products, whilst including 5 (plus a few more) helpful tips and tricks along the way. This approach is perfect for those who have busy schedules, are always on-the-go or even for those who are not confident to use makeup or have been doing the same look since they were young.

By following these tips and tricks and using just 5 products, you will be able to create a polished and put-together look in just 5 minutes and feel empowered and inspired.

As a professional makeup artist, Nadia has travelled the world and worked with celebrities, international fashion weeks, film sets in LA, music videos, TV commercials, productions, keying  runway shows, various publications and magazine covers, worked with Netflix and performed various makeup education. Nadia has been a finalist for Australian Makeup Artist of the Year for the last three years. Nadia has worked in various fashion weeks, including Milan, Paris and London Fashion Weeks where she worked on shows such as GUCCI, Missoni and JW Anderson, to name a few.

You can follow Nadia here: or at Instagram here @nadiaduca

Would you like to sponsor this event?

To support the Iona Past Pupils' Association and this inspiring event for all Iona women please contact Team Leader, Iona Community Relations and Development, Georgia Allen OR 9384 0066

Sponsorship Opportunities are available for all sessions, and will provide your business with a wonderful opportunity to support an event aimed to inspire and empower.

Thank you to our following sponsors . . .