We've announced 40 of our 50 most influential women on the Northern Rivers.
We've announced 40 of our 50 most influential women on the Northern Rivers. Contributed

Meet 40 of our most inspiring (and influential) women

ALL this week we've been unveiling our list of the top 50 most influential women on the Northern Rivers.

We've had a great response to the list so far, which has included high profile women excelling in their respective fields, to the quiet achievers who deserve some recognition.

What do you think of the list?

Send us an email at news@northernstar.com.au and share your thoughts -- also, let us know who you think should be in the top 10.

Tomorrow we will unveil the top 10 most influential women in our region. 

In the meantime, here's a recap of the 40 women we've announced so far:

11. Liz Ellis

Liz Ellis with husband Matthew Stocks and their children Evelyn and Austin.
Liz Ellis with husband Matthew Stocks and their children Evelyn and Austin.

THE Booyong resident is an Australian netball legend who this year became an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to netball as an elite player and coach, through support and advocacy for young women, as a contributor to the broadcast and print media industries, and to the community. Ellis has also written a book in that time which deals with frustration, disappointment and heartbreak of infertility.


12. Jane Laverty

Jane Laverty.
Jane Laverty. Francis Witsenhuysen

THE regional manager for the NSW Business Chamber on the Northern Rivers, Jane Laverty, stepped into the job shortly before the 2017 floods hit the region, courtesy of ex-Cyclone Debbie. She was one of the eight people on the Lismore Business Flood Recovery Taskforce and worked tirelessly to support local business owners, workers and staff to overcome the devastating challenges.


13. Tamara Smith

INCUMBENT: Ballina MP Tamara Smith
Ballina MP Tamara Smith. Suze McLeod

AS THE first non-National MP to represent the seat of Ballina, Tamara Smith has held her seat since 2015 thanks to her hard-line campaign against coal-seam gas industry. She is also the first Greens member elected to a regional seat in any Parliament in Australia. A solicitor with a background in social justice and energy law, the fourth generation Northern Rivers resident is also a trained teacher and has worked in Ballina for almost 15 years.


14. Justine Elliot

MP Justine Elliot speaks to Ballina mayor David Wright about the need to upgrade the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport runway.
Justine Elliot. Marc Stapelberg

THE six-term federal Richmond MP Justine Elliot continues to advocate for the issues residents in Ballina, Byron and Tweed coastal areas. After winning the strongly held National seat in 2004, the former police officer has held a number of positions when Labor was in government, including the Minister for Ageing from 2007 to 2010. Ms Elliot recently retained her seat again after a strong battle against the Nationals over the newly announced location of the Tweed Valley Hospital in Cudgen, despite it being a state issue.


15. Cate McQuillen

Cate McQuillen.
Cate McQuillen. Sassy Lane Photography

Dirtgirl co-creators Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace's passion for educating and encouraging people to love and respect their environment is bigger than ever, as they prepare to celebrate 10 years of the popular character launching into screens across the world, later this year. The launch of their show Dirtgirlworld on the ABC in 2009 had an immediate impact as children's eyes were opened, and in turn their parents, to the fun that could be had outdoors, getting grubby in the garden. It went on to be broadcast in 128 countries and Dirtgirl and her friends continue to amass a green army of followers worldwide through social media.


16. Jenny Dowell

Jenny Dowell.
Jenny Dowell. Lyn McCarthy

JENNY Dowell was Lismore's mayor from 2008 to 2016. But the end of that tenure didn't see her become any less involved in the local community. She was awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2017 for her services to the Lismore community and to local government.


17. Mieke Bell

Mieke Bell.
Mieke Bell. Marc Stapelberg

WHETHER it's her work with the Lismore Soup Kitchen or as part of the blueberry industry, there's plenty of sweet stuff in Mieke Bell's life. Ms Bell's philanthropic family have been huge supporters of the Lismore community for decades and have also invested millions to help bolster health and education systems in Northern Uganda. She and husband, Ridley, own Mountain Blue Farms and she personally named their highly acclaimed blueberry variety, Eureka.


18. Narelle Gotting

Narelle Gotting.
Narelle Gotting. Supplied

AS THE Country Women's Association Far North Coast president, Narelle Gotting's influence far exceeds scones, jam and handicrafts. A member of the Old Bonalbo branch since 2013, Ms Gotting credits her career as a rural and remote nurse and midwife which helped hone the skills she needs to liaise with the group's 18 branches and hundreds of members.


19. Toni McCaffery

Toni McCaffery.
Toni McCaffery. Contributed

TONI McCaffery and her husband, David, became a strong pro-immunisation voice after the heartbreaking loss of a child to whooping cough. They lost their daughter, Dana, to the preventable disease at just one month of age in 2009. In a bid to ensure others understood the dangers of diseases for which vaccination is available, and to push back against the anti-vaccination scare campaigns, the couple joined a national campaign to raise immunisation rates. Dana's death sparked a review from NSW Health and pregnant mothers in NSW can now receive a free booster shot.


20. Knitting Nannas

Some of the Northern Rivers Knitting Nannas.
Some of the Northern Rivers Knitting Nannas. Javier Encalada

THEY were there for Bentley, formed their own coastguard and sprinkled coal dust on their breakfast. The Knitting Nannas are a force to be reckoned with; not only are they impressive crafters, their peaceful protests have become a big part of the fabric of the Northern Rivers. The group formed as The Knitting Nannas Against Gas on the Northern Rivers in June, 2012. At that time, it was sparked by a growing concern for gas exploration on agricultural land. But they've since taken a stand against other issues.


21. Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith.
Sarah Smith.

IN AN industry traditionally dominated by men, Lismore Toyota co-owner Sarah Smith is an innovative leader. Her passion grew as she worked her way up within the industry from sales roles, to business management, to group business management, general sales manager and now a partner in the Lismore Toyota business. She has also been recently elected as co-president of the Lismore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


22. Eddie Lloyd

Eddie Lloyd.
Eddie Lloyd.

EDDIE Lloyd has been a powerful voice in the criminal justice system on the Northern Rivers. Ms Lloyd is a Lismore City councillor - a role in which she chairs the Lismore Social Justice and Crime Prevention Committee - and also a solicitor for the Aboriginal Legal Service. She has been advocating for change that would see criminal offences that are linked with substance use disorder to be dealt with as a health, not criminal, issue.


23. Roxie Rose Burlesque

Roxie Rose Burlesque and Pole Studio was devastated by the Lismore flood.
Roxie Rose Burlesque and Pole Studio was devastated by the Lismore flood.

ROXIE Rose Burlesque was the brainchild of founders and teachers Megan Phillips and Cherie Small and continually shows the resilience and strength of the women who work and train there. The sole focus of the studio is female empowerment, said Ms Phillips in 2018. She said happiness, confidence, fitness, self esteem and body confidence are all attributes the studio's instructors aim to instil in students.


24. Tracey Everingham-Armstrong

Tracey Everingham-Armstrong.
Tracey Everingham-Armstrong. Doug Eaton

SHE'S a fundraising dynamo who has plenty of style. And Ms Everingham-Armstrong's efforts over about 20 years have helped children with disabilities in Ballina Shire. She has been behind two fundraising campaigns to buy buses for Biala Special School and Ballina Coast High School's support unit, she has raised money for equipment for Biala school and also fundraised for the wheelchair-accessible swing to be installed at Ballina's Missingham Park. All up, she has raised more than $350,000.


25. Dr Sally Towns

Sally Towns.
Dr Sally Towns.

DR Towns moved into Ballina less than a month ago but with 17,000 children under her care, and given the work she has ahead of herself, she is bound to be one of the most influential women in the area. Bishop Homeming confirmed her appointment as Diocesan Director of Catholic Schools and Chief Executive Officer of the Diocese of Lismore Catholic Schools Ltd. From her Lismore office, Dr Towns is now in charge of 46 Catholic schools from the Tweed to Port Macquarie.


26. Emma Lane

Emma Lane.
Emma Lane.

Emma Lane is one-half of the force behind one of the most ambitious food enterprises the Northern Rivers has ever seen - The Farm Byron Bay. Emma gave up her city life and career advertising and grew a business that is well-loved by the community and a tourist draw card - helping put Byron Bay on the map for foodie delights. Emma has helped to create a thriving community at the 80-acre working farm and multi-faceted operation. It's a legacy project with community at heart, educating people about sustainability, and delivering locally-grown food through the 'paddock to plate' philosophy.


27. Anna Ludvik

Anna Ludvik.
Anna Ludvik. Marc Stapelberg

LISMORE'S 2018 Citizen of the Year, Anna Ludvik, is the founder of an organisation dedicated to the protection of women, children and companion animals at risk of domestic violence. Ms Ludvik established Lucy's Project in 2013 after the stillbirth of her daughter Lucy, when she saw the need to connect the many organisations across Australia working in isolation on the issue of companion animals and domestic violence, and created the country's first peak organisation, in her own time from her home in Lismore.


28. Betteridge sisters

Lismore's Betteridge sisters.
Lismore's Betteridge sisters. Marc Stapelberg

THESE twin sisters are beloved Lismore residents who together raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service. Emily sadly passed away on October 24. The twins started raising funds to get a rescue helicopter established in Lismore in 1982.


29. Belinda Jeffery

Belinda Jeffery.
Belinda Jeffery. Photo- Blainey Woodham

AWARD-winning cookbook author and television presenter Belinda Jeffery has called Mullumbimby home since 2002. Inspired as a child by Margaret Fulton's eponymous cookbooks, Ms Jeffery's enthusiasm for creating delicious food saw her work in restaurants before owning a cafe, and then writing eight best-selling cookbooks herself. She also reached millions of people through the six years she presented cooking segments on the Better Homes and Gardens television show.


30. Beth Trevan

Beth Trevan.
Beth Trevan. Sophie Moeller

BETH Trevan is a very busy woman. Her community work has included a range of disciplines including children's health, the development of cancer prevention and working to reduce flooding in Lismore. Earlier this year she was recognised as Lismore's Woman of the Year, which adds to her accolades. In 2017, she teamed with fellow alumni, Keith Alcock, Ros Irwin, Tony Madden and Peter Thorpe to co-ordinate Lismore Citizens' Review of the 2017 Flood.


31. Delta Kay

Delta Kay.
Delta Kay. Lyn McCarthy

DELTA Kay is a proud Arakwal woman of the Bundjalung nation. Over the years, she has been generous about sharing insight into the culture of Aboriginal people from the Byron Bay. She has done this through her work as an education officer for the National Parks and Wildlife Service in the Byron Shire. She was also outspoken about controversial plans for West Byron residential developments, citing the cultural connections the Bundjalung people have with that area.


32. Toni Childs

Toni Childs.
Toni Childs. Contributed

BORN in California, Northern Rivers resident and musician Toni Childs run away from home aged 15 to become a Blues musician. The decision paid off, as the Emmy winner and three-time Grammy-nominated recording artist is currently on a marathon 56-date Australian tour, celebrating 30 years of the release of her album Union.


33. Katrina Kaentani

Katrina Kanetani.
Katrina Kanetani from TOWN Restaurant and Café. Contributed

WORLD-RENOWNED pastry chef and part-owner of Bangalow's Town, Katrina Kanetani, knows a thing or two about flavour. Having bought the business alongside her husband, Karl, Mrs Kanetani spent five years at Sydney's Pier as the head pastry chef, before making the move back to Bangalow. Having appeared on Channel 10's MasterChef, Mrs Kanetani has also worked in London, New York and Hawaii alongside some of the best chefs in the world, including Gordon Ramsay.


34. Katrina Beohm

Katrina Beohm.
Katrina Beohm.

THIS Richmond River High School alumni founded her eponymous real estate agency several years ago after working in the industry since 2000. Katrina Beohm Real Estate now has two offices, one each in Lismore and Byron Bay where she is representing a range of properties from mid-range to high-end. Recognised for her dedicated support of local charities including Our Kids and the 2019 Byron Bay Surf Festival, Ms Beohm has also participated in Dancing With the Stars and was a judge at the 2019 event.


35. Fauna Fetchers

The Fauna Fetcher team Sophie and Bridget Thomson.
The Fauna Fetcher team Sophie and Bridget Thomson. Marc Stapelberg

THESE young, identical twin sisters have made it their life mission to ignite a passion in people to help our native wildlife. Known as the Fauna Fetchers, Bridget and Sophie Thomson use their impressive cohort of native animals to educate the public about what they can do to protect them.


36. Lynne Weir

Lynne Weir.
Lynne Weir. Alison Paterson

AS NORTHERN NSW Local Health District's Clinical Operations Director, Lynne Weir is responsible for all the hospitals on the Northern Rivers. Her role includes management of the MPS (Multi Purpose Service) Network at Kyogle, Nimbin, Urbenville and District, Bonalbo and the Community Health Services at Tweed, Byron, Murwillumbah, Pottsville, Banora, Kingscliff, Mullumbimby, Lismore, Casino, Ballina, Evans Health, Coraki and Goonellabah.


37. Sonya Lopes

Sonya Lopes.
Sonya Lopes. Doug Eaton

LISMORE Symphony Orchestra director Sonya Lopes began playing trombone at the age of 9. She completed a Bachelor of Music in Performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 2000, and completed Jerry Novak's Summer School Conducting Course. As a freelance musician and teacher in the Northern Rivers region, Sonya has enjoyed playing with big-bands and rock-bands,as well as with the Lismore Symphony Orchestra.


38. Jesse Blackadder

Jesse Blackadder.
Jesse Blackadder. Contributed

SHE'S a screenwriter and public speaker, but Dr Jesse Blackadder is best know as an renowned author. The international award-winning author of fiction and has been on Byron Writers Festival board since 2011. She's written several novels for adults and children, an emerging screenwriter, an inspiring public speaker and a creative writing teacher and youth literacy advocate.


39. Salome Gallagher

Salome Gallagher.
Salome Gallagher.

BY DAY she's an auditor with WCA Chartered Accountants. In her spare time, she helps to run the Northern Rivers Roller Derby, where she's been described as an "all around badass". The roller derby is an inclusive and supportive venue for full contact sport. Ms Gallagher is an ambassador for the sport, travelling all over the country with her family, who are officials, attending national level roller derby tournaments and providing the highest level of officiating professionalism.


40. Anne Thompson

Anne Thompson.
Anne Thompson. Cathy Adams

FOR MORE than two decades Anne Thompson has tirelessly helped to organise drought relief for farmers. The long-standing cattle farmer Anne Thompson know herself what it's like as a woman on the land, and is one of the reasons why she is such a saviour to drought-stricken rural farmers in the country's interior. Now in it's 26th year Food for Farmers - North Coast Drought Appeal aims to send Hampers toiletries and toys, as well as fodder to farmers doing it tough in drought.


41. Trudi Luke

Trudi Luke.
Trudi Luke. contributed

CREATOR and sole owner of KidzKlub Australia, Trudi Luke, juggles running a small business and being a mother like a boss. In 2003 KidzKlub Australia was born and Trudi had found her calling, creating opportunities and experiences for children to enjoy. It is with these foundations of passion and knowledge that Trudi has built a thriving enterprise, now backed by a highly skilled team of professionals and a future filled with unlimited potential.


42. Dr Ros Irwin

Ros Irwin.
Ros Irwin. Marc Stapelberg

SHE was the first female Lismore mayor, she was a councillor and a former lecturer in political science at Southern Cross University. But now you'll likely know her as one of the determined faces behind dedicated local organisation, Friends of the Koalas. Her unfaltering commitment and current work with Friends of the Koalas has seen them become the lead organisation fighting for koalas on the Northern Rivers.


43. Shirley Smith

Shirley Smith.
Shirley Smith. Salty Dingo

SHIRLEY Smith has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Casino residents. In 1999 Ms Smith noticed many residents were unable to attend vital medical treatment, and created a volunteer team to provide affordable transport to and from medical facilities. From there she slowly built a team of volunteer drivers to create the Uniting Care Transport Team. More than 2600 people have been able to get access to -- at times, life saving -- care thanks to Ms Smith and her team of volunteers, clocking up nearly 86,000 trips across the Richmond Valley, Lismore and Kyogle regions.


44. Rebecca Fagan

Rebecca Fagan.
Rebecca Fagan.

A REGISTERED midwife with more than 14 years of experience, Ms Fagan is now developing a stellar reputation on the Northern Rivers as a calmbirth educator. She is now the mum of three kids and now helps other couples through some of life's biggest toughest but most rewarding experiences -- pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. Ms Fagan, through her program Empowering Birth Journeys, delivers calmbirth classes to "empower couples to birth with confidence".


45. Nicqui Yazdi

Nicqui Yazdi.
Nicqui Yazdi. Christian Morrow

HER work with the young people of Byron Bay earned Nicqui Yazdi the Byron Shire's Citizen of the Year award in 2010, and she hasn't stopped since then. Ms Yazdi has been an active community worker for more than 20 years and is well known for her work to make Schoolies a safer time for youngsters coming to Byron. As the Schoolies hub co-ordinator Ms Yazdi organises local volunteers to staff the tent at Apex Park in Byron Bay, where they help link young people up with services, provide information and education.


46. Ros Derrett

Ros Derrett.
Ros Derrett.

ROS DERRETT is the woman behind local community events that bring people together. Ros was the Head of the Office of Regional Engagement at SCU, were she worked across all campuses to enhance the University's connectivity with its regional footprint. As an academic Ros' research interests are in the area of regional development, cultural tourism, life wide learning and community consultation. She has worked extensively in education, tourism, community cultural development and arts administration in Australia and overseas.


47. Elsa Pataky

Elsa Pataky.
Elsa Pataky. Abraham Caro Marin

ALTHOUGH married to Australia's biggest heartthrob, Elsa Pataky has made a name for herself in her own right. The better half of Chris Hemsworth and mother-of-three has an acting portfolio many would envy, having been a massive TV star in her native Spain. Having studied journalism, Elsa is fluent in a number of languages including Spanish, Romanian, English, Italian, Portuguese, and French. With construction on their $35 million Byron Bay home nearly complete, Elsa is keeping busy in her most important role yet - simply being a mum.


48. Beth Shelley

Beth Shelley.
Beth Shelley. Marc Stapelberg

ASIDE from potholes, there would be few infrastructure issues that would get Northern Rivers residents more fired up than trains.Northern Rivers Railway Action Group chairperson Beth Shelley has been unwavering calling for rail transport to be returned to the Murwillumbah to Casino rail line.


49. Sarah Rosborg

Sarah Rosborg.
Sarah Rosborg. Marc Stapelberg

CO-FOUNDER of Lennox Head-based charity Rafiki Mwema Sarah Rosborg is inspired, determined and unstoppable. Rafiki Mwema, started 10 years ago, is a charity that operates in Kenya but co-ordinated in Lennox Head and specialises in creating a safe, empathetic and therapeutic environment for children who have been abused and assaulted in Kenyan district of Nakuru, not only assisting them to survive the court process but also to heal, to process and to ultimately thrive beyond the traumatic pain enacted upon them by those who lack such grace and courage. Since then the charity has raised $2 million in five years.


50. Kelly Nelder

Kelly Nelder.
Kelly Nelder. Marc Stapelberg

SUGARSHINE Farm Sanctuary has become a safe place for pigs, goats, calves, sheep, roosters, chicks, foxes, cats, dogs and rabbits. Kelly Nelder started the organisation, which prides itself on not only taking care of the animals' physical needs, but also their need to be treated as individuals - to be accepted, and to be loved unconditionally.