Program speakers


Heather McLean-Thomson

Chief Operating Officer – Global Sisters

Heather’s 25+year career has been dedicated to social and economic justice for women. Her work in microfinance with Opportunity International spanned the Philippines, India, Indonesia, and Timor Leste. Back in Australia, she worked on the establishment of one of the first microfinance programs in Australia, now called Many Rivers Microfinance. Her time at Sydney Community Foundation shaped her understanding of collective impact and place-based philanthropy, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of gender-based poverty in a high income country context. 

In 2014, Heather joined Founder Mandy Richards to establish Global Sisters, subsequently supporting over 6000 Australian women on a pathway to self-employment. She is deeply committed to seeing women’s economic security achieved at scale and ensuring the systemic, structural barriers are dismantled so that gender equality can be realised in our lifetime. 

Her qualifications include a Masters in Development Administration from ANU and studied social entrepreneurship at INSEAD Singapore.

Heather is a Trustee of the McLean Foundation, a philanthropic foundation that invests into conservation, education, Aboriginal justice and women in Australia. Heather is a passionate advocate for Treaty, Truth and Voice for First Nations peoples of Australia. And last but not least, she is a mum of three awesome little humans.