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March 8, 2024

For International Women’s Day NBCF CEO Cleola Anderiesz shares how to ’Inspire Inclusion’

International Women’s Day (IWD) is an important day in the calendar. It is a day of collective global activism and celebration that belongs to all those committed to forging equality.  

Each year a theme is chosen for IWD – this year’s theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion.’ We asked our CEO Associate Professor, Cleola Anderiesz a few questions about her career in the hope of inspiring readers to ’Inspire Inclusion.’  

1. What does ‘Inspire Inclusion’ mean to you?

It’s important to understand, value and actively seek out the inclusion of women and girls. Everyone everywhere can ‘inspire inclusion.’ 

’Inspire Inclusion’ means a couple of things to me:  


As leaders its incumbent on us to help nurture, grow and include the next generation of female leaders in all our endeavors. Our inclusion actions need to be intentional and visible. We need to involve, advocate and support female talent, allowing them to contribute, progress and excel.    

Modelling good leadership and active inclusion is essential. Women and girls need to see and experience females in leadership positions supporting the inclusion of other women. It inspires, sets a standard, and promotes a virtuous cycle of future engagement and inclusion.   


When women aren’t present, we must ask: “If not, why not and how do we facilitate inclusion?” Representation matters. It adds value and enriches outcomes. And it is the responsibility of all of us, to singularly and collectively, advocate, drive and facilitate inclusion.  


2. What has led you to your role as CEO of the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF)? 

I have over 20 years of experience across the academic, not-for-profit, and public sectors.      

Early on in my career, I was a medical researcher in the field of reproductive biology.  Here I was able to witness firsthand why funding research is critical to achieving developments and breakthroughs that shape longer term solutions and improve health outcomes.     

After my time in health and medical research, I worked in the not-for-profit sector and the Australian Government in a range of national leadership roles where I was able to establish and implement a range of national cancer initiatives in research, clinical trials, data, service development and clinical practice.  In that time, I was able to see the importance of research through a different lens – the importance and centrality of research in informing policy and best practice clinical care.  

Health and medical research matters – it is the critical foundation on which assemble knowledge and it’s the catalyst to drive improvements in health outcomes.   

It’s only through research, and its application into clinical practice and adoption into health policy that we can drive significant and sustainable changes in the health of individuals and communities. 

To lead such a highly regarded organisation such as NBCF and play a role in helping to improve the lives of people affected by breast cancer is a great privilege.  


3. What does inclusivity look like at NBCF?  

At the National Breast Cancer Foundation, we value diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organisation and in all that we do.  

With extensive and uniquely qualified experience, our team consists of a range of talented industry professionals, with 85% female representation including the majority of our senior leadership team and department leaders. Our Board of Directors is 66% female represented, led by a female Board Chair.  

Our culture and workplace policies at NBCF support flexible and hybrid working models, with a generous parental leave offering and internal career development opportunities available.

It is worth noting that the charity sector attracts a high percentage of females, and we are fortunate to have an extraordinary female led team at NBCF, who are committed to achieving our vision of Zero Deaths from breast cancer.

4. What’s one motto you live by? 

Be the change you want to see in the world.  


5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?  

 I am truly inspired by individuals who dedicate their lives to helping others. Their compassion and selflessness remind us of the immense impact that we can all have on the world. 


6. What advice do you have for young women who are starting their careers – especially careers in STEMM?  

My advice to young women starting their careers is, be brave, be resilient, be kind, and be extraordinary! Your journey may not always be easy, but you don’t need to travel through your career alone. Find and surround yourself with great women, and men, to support, inspire and include you and in turn, support, include and inspire others.   

The equal participation and leadership of women and girls in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) disciplines is more important than ever and supporting women in STEMM is vitally important to helping us achieve our vison of Zero Deaths from breast cancer.  

At NBCF, we fund the very best breast cancer research in Australia by awarding grants via an open national, competitive and rigorous peer review process. We are extremely proud that around 50% of NBCF-funded researchers are women. The funding we provide has meant many female scientists have been able to forge a career in science and make remarkable progress in breast cancer research.  These amazing women scientists continue to inspire the next generation of female talent and NBCF looks forward to supporting many more female researchers into the future to help end deaths from breast cancer.  


Associate Professor, Cleola Anderiesz has been our CEO since 2022 and is looked up to by many as a strong woman in leadership. To find out more about her and her inspiring career, read her bio.