Pioneer Awards

Congratulations to the winners of 2021 Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WEDO) Pioneer Awards Australia! 

Winitha Bonney OAM

Author of #ColourFULL
WEDO Pioneer Award – diversity

Winitha Bonney is the leading expert in helping corporates build inclusive cultures and Australia’s first and foremost thought leader in leadership for Women/People of Colour. In 2021 she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her extensive work in diversity and inclusion. Winitha has over 22 years of experience in executive roles and has successfully founded several businesses. She has worked with Boards responsible for billions of dollars, coached large corporate organisations to test and validate projects using a six figure budget instead of an eight figure budget and directly supported Commissioners, CEO’s, Senior Executives and Pro Vice Chancellors to excel and not just succeed. 

Winitha has an incredible amount of unique insights, experiences and expertise to help Women/People of Colour advance, and to support executives, Boards, government and businesses to create inclusive, connected and engaged communities.

You can connect with Winitha at: 

-Melissa Widner

Co-Founder and Chair, Heads Over Heels
WEDO Pioneer Award – leadership

Heads Over Heels is a not-for-profit on a mission to increase the representation of women leading high growth companies. Heads Over Heels facilitates quality personal business connections to carefully selected outstanding Australian female entrepreneurs. The results deliver game-changing outcomes for the female entrepreneurs and their growth ready businesses. Heads Over Heels was founded in 2010 and has accelerated the growth of 100 Australian female entrepreneurs over the last 11 years, through over 4500 offers of connection.

Heads Over Heels was established by four women, including Melissa Widner, who had been a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur in the 1990’s. She successfully exited her business and believes that a lot of her success came down to connections made at a women’s forum that she frequented at the time. Melissa then worked in US Venture Capital for a decade and says : “There was a dearth of women receiving growth funding. As a VC in the US, I rarely had females pitch me. Women start businesses but can have trouble scaling them. This is partly due to a lack of access to the established networks required for success.” 

Arriving in Australia in 2009, realizing that Australian female entrepreneurs needed the same help, Melissa co-founded Heads Over Heels – which proved a success from its very first event – and has thrived in the decade since. Warmly welcoming both men and women business leaders as Connectors has been key – and has become easier as Heads Over Heels has grown and bias towards female founders has reduced.