I am thrilled to report that on Wednesday I was named by The Australian newspaper as the country’s top emerging leader in education, for the work that I do with girls through Enlighten Education.

As I accepted my award from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at a lunch at Parliament House, I felt deeply honoured — and more important, encouraged by the fact that the work we do with young women has received public recognition. I see my award as proof that it is now widely accepted that we need to equip our girls to make sense of an increasingly complex world and to shape it themselves, so they can move beyond Bratz, Britney and Bacardi Breezers.

The award has also got me thinking about the leaders that I most admire. I am very impressed with Kate Ellis, the federal government’s Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare and Youth, for speaking up about the importance of tackling body image issues among teenagers. Hallelujah, sister! And a significant role model of mine is Elizabeth Broderick, the Sex Discrimination and Age Discrimination Commissioner of Australia’s Human Rights Commission. Immediately after her appointment in 2007, she embarked on a nationwide tour to listen to what people all around Australia had to say about discrimination, and that act really resonated with me. I apply this lesson to my own work: in designing programs for teenage girls, I have learnt that it is vital to listen to them and connect to what they are doing and experiencing in their own lives, rather than assume I know what issues concern them.

Who are the leaders you most admire? What qualities do they possess?

I’d love to hear your reflections on the nature of leadership, too. What makes someone a great leader?

Finally, given the public recognition I have just received, this seems an apt time to acknowledge my Enlighten Amazons – the woman I am privileged to lead. My love and gratitude go to: Francesca Kaoutal (my business partner and Enlighten’s co-founder), Sonia Lyne, Alana Benjamin, Melissa Coutts, Storm Greenhill-Brown, Louise Beddoes, Catherine Stark, Diane Illingworth-Wilcox, Jane Higgins, Kelly Valder, Nikki Dingle, Nikki Davis, Monica Lamata, Kellie Mackereth, Christine Elias and Fiona Ciappara.

A special edition of The Weekend Australian Magazine this weekend (June 20-21) will feature all ten of the winners. At the award ceremony I got a sneak preview, and I can honestly say it is a truly inspiring read; it features interviews with the judging panel and the winners, on the nature of leadership.

Audio from an interview I did on radio 2UE discussing the win can be listened to here: danielle-miller

9 thoughts on “Encouragement

  1. Francesca says:

    Congratulations Danni! This award is so well deserved.
    When attending the Alliance of Girls Schools Conference, I had the honour of hearing Marie C. Wilson speak. (author and founder of the Whitehouse Project, http://www.thewhitehouseproject.org). She spoke passionately about her mission to advance women’s leadership in every sector, up to and including the presidency, changing society from a system built on the labour of women to one led equally by their vision. An inspiring woman indeed.
    As Dannielle’s business partner I have had the honour of seeing her conquer a myriad of challenges, create and achieve goals. The qualities I believe make a good leader I have seen actioned; passion, vision, an ability to inspire others and empower them to follow your vision,to be a good communicator, to think creatively, tenacity, drive to succeed. Some judging criteria listed by one of the members of the Weekend Australian judging panel in this video may be worth listening to also; http://player.video.news.com.au/theaustralian/

  2. Jane says:

    Firstly Danni, a HUGE congratulations on being named as the Top Emerging Leader in Education by The Australian and publicly acknowledged by the PM Mr. Rudd. It is an amazing achievement and one that is well earned!! Yeah!

    Secondly … who do I believe is a great leader? The late Anita Roddick has always been a big idol of mine. I believe in the early years she had a dream and followed it – she stuck to her principals and found ways of bringing a sense of social justice and community into her business and products.

    Germaine Greer (while I don’t agree with everything she says) I think she is one gutsy woman who through her struggles and lessons has been a voice for many women and an inspirational leader of Feminism. She also takes no prisoners!

    Dannielle Miller (CEO of Enlighten Education) who awakened my passion to work with our beautiful adolescent girls. She expects brilliance, offers encouragement, beams confidence, expresses passionately and believes that what we do makes a huge difference in the world of girls and their futures. What a boss!!

    My mum (now deceased) who went back to study women’s and Aboriginal studies in the 1970s. She had such a remarkable imprint on many women who followed her into her interests in book groups, psychology, women’s studies, and creative endeavors. She inspires me to be the woman I am today and to be the best I can in all I do. She believed in me and loved me and she is my hero.
    Again congrats Danni – how WONDERFUL !! Lots of Love Jane xx

  3. Sonia says:

    An enormous CONGRATUALTIONS again Danni. You truly deserve recognition at this level as you, together with Fran, have created an organisation that is making a massive difference in the lives of girls across Australia and New Zealand. Truly inspirational!!!!
    MWA Son XO

  4. Lisa Porter says:

    I admire Ann-marie Furney, currently seconded from her position as School Education Director for the ENTIRE Western region of NSW. She was my Year Adviser in Year 7 and 8, then my English Head Teacher and classroom teacher through Year 11 and 12. She was an incredibly inspirational teacher because she made us WANT to learn, WANT to challenge ourselves and each other. She made us thirsty for knowledge, gave us a map to the pond, let us find it ourselves, and encouraged us to drink deeply. She has been a Deputy and Principal of largem challenging schools, and remains one of the most incredible, intelligent, wickedly-humoured women I know. I love her dearly and aspire to be half the teacher she is!

    I also admire Danni for her ability to light fires in our hearts. She has given me direction and hope in terms of how I work with “my” students, and I love seeing the spark in her ignite the young souls with whom she works.

    I think leadership is a natural gift or talent. You know how some people are naturally good with animals or kids? You can’t fake good leadership. Sure, you can take management courses and so forth but I really think that it is an innate quality in some people. In order to cultivate that talent, people need to find a leadership style that suits them, because people don’t respond to a fake. Leadership comes from within. People don’t follow good leaders because they have to. They follow them because they WANT to.

  5. Selena says:

    Wow Danni, congratulations! I am very proud to know you. You most certainly deserve this award. How exciting!

  6. elisa says:

    Wow, Danni- congratulations! An award well deserved.

    I think that all the work that you and your team are doing is absolutely inspirational.

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