Greek Australian women to celebrate on International Women’s Day



Kayla Itsines – Entrepreneur and Fitness Influencer

Kayla Itsines is an Australian personal trainer, author, and entrepreneur. After gaining a huge Instagram following of more than 12 million from uploading before and after shots of clients she trained, Kayla decided to launch her Bikini Body Guide in 2014. Her primary aim when developing the BBG program was, and still is, to educate and support women throughout their health and fitness journey and help them to feel stronger and more confident in themselves. In 2017, Forbes named her the top fitness influencer on the Top Influencers list.

Kathy Santikos: Partner – Clayton Utz

Kathy leads domestic and offshore arrangers, financiers, sponsors and professional trustee companies on a broad range of financings, primarily in construction and property finance transactions across all sectors of the industry. An experienced property finance expert, Kathy has established a reputation for delivering clear advice, commercially astute solutions and seamless transaction management. Kathy is a Fellow of the Australian Property Institute and is a member of their Australian Property Standards Committee.

Marika Calfas: CEO of NSW Ports

Marika Calfas has over 18 years’ experience in the port sector including in her previous roles with Sydney Ports Corporation. With a strong belief that ports are crucial to our wellbeing and essential for the Nation’s economy Marika enjoys working in the industry. Prior to working in ports, Marika worked in water resources with Sinclair Knight Merz. She graduated with a Bachelors Degree at UNSW, completing a Masters in Engineering Management at UTS and a Masters in Environmental Law at University of Sydney.


Suzane Peponis-Brisimis: Director of White Pearl Foundation and The Brain Cancer Group, Care2Cure

Founder and organiser of all White Pearl Foundation awareness and fundraising events, Suzane Peponis-Brisimis, joined the Board of The Brain Cancer Group in February 2016. Since 2016, her foundation has raised and donated over $1 million dollars. Suzane is a dedicated and passionate volunteer for the White Pearl Foundation and The Brain Cancer Group. The White Pearl Foundation continues to raise awareness and highlight the challenges of all who have been diagnosed to brain cancer, those who are currently struggling and all their loved ones.

Sue Ellen: Little Legs Foundation

The Little Legs Foundation, was set up by Sue-EllanVasiliou, in honour of her daughter Alegra, who lost her battle with brain cancer at  6 years of age. In her first fundraiser last year,  $483,563  was raised for the Little Legs Foundation, with proceeds going to The Charlie Teo Foundation- Funding Brain Cancer research.


Mrs Efrosini Stefanou-Haag: Head of St Spyridon College

Mrs Efrosini Stefanou-Haag has been the Head of College at St Spyridon College 20 years, and has played an influential role in thousands of Greek Australian families during this time. Retiring in July this year, Efrosini has displayed dedication, passion and a strive for excellence. During her time, the school has expanded significantly, and most recently the unveiling of the new junior school later this year.

Jenny Zegas: Principal of Lucas Gardens School

Jenny Zegas is the principal of the Lucas Gardens School, a school that educates children with special needs. Jenny Zagas has dedicated much of her life to helping children with special needs, describing the school as; “A school with a strong teaching and learning culture, we foster student learning so that students can take their skills beyond the class room walls and into the wider community.”

Dr Elizabeth Kefallinou: Head of Modern Greek Studies, Macquarie University

Dr Elizabeth Kefallinos has served as the head of Modern Greek Studies for 2 decades. She has played an instrumental role in delivering a Modern Greek syllabus, and educating thousands of students over the years. Retiring this year, to focus on her research papers, Dr Kefalinou has been engaged in a wide area of Education, language studies, Literature (especially poetry), intercultural and intergenerational studies; Oral history testimonies, concepts of trauma, memory, and silence relating to Holocaust (Shoah) in Greece; etymology and deep word knowledge interacting to medical terminology applications.

Art and Culture

Ada Nicodemus: Actress

Ada Nicodemou is a Greek Australian actress who began her acting career in 1994 playing Katerina Ioannou in Heartbreak High, yet was more notably recognised for her role as Leah Patterson in the soap opera Home and Away. Born in Carlton, her parents were both migrants, with her Greek Cypriot family coming from Limassol. Since 2005 Nicodemou has been an ambassador of the PixiFoto Foundation that raises funds for a Childhood Blindness Prevention program in Africa.

Diana Rouvas: Singer

Diana Rouvas is an Australian singer-songwriter who won The Voice (Australia) in 2019. She was born in Sydney to Greek father and Australian mother. In December 2019, Rouvas was announced as a participant in Eurovision – Australia Decides; in an attempt to represent Australia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2020. Her song “Can We Make Heaven” finished 7th in a field of 10.

Esther Anatolitis: Executive Director of The National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA)

Esther Anatolitis fosters local, regional, national and international perspectives on contemporary arts issues as one of the nation’s leading advocates for the arts. Her practice rigorously integrates professional and artistic modes of working to create collaborations, projects and workplaces that promote a critical reflection on practice. With a strong background in visual arts, design, architecture and media, Esther has held leadership roles including Craft Victoria, Melbourne Fringe, SBS and Express Media, and most recently with Regional Arts Victoria.

Science and Medicine:

Professor Maria Kavallaris: Childhood Cancer Research

Recognised as NSW Woman of the year for 2020 by Premier Berijiklian, Maria is an exceptional researcher, whose own journey with cancer, at age 21, led her to dedicate her career to developing treatments for aggressive childhood cancers. As founding director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine at UNSW, as well as head of the Tumour Biology and Targeting program at Children’s Cancer Institute, Maria has made key advances in our understanding and treatment of neuroblastoma; the most common cancer in babies and the third-most common cancer in children. Maria was awarded the highly prestigious 2019 Lemberg Medal from the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Helen Salouros: Deputy Director of the Australian Forensic Drug Laboratory

Dr Helen Salouros is the Deputy Director of the Australian Forensic Drug Laboratory (AFDL) of the National Measurement Institute. With over 15 years’ experience in the analysis and chemical profiling of illicit drugs, she has established herself as a strong leader. She is alos the author of over 20 peer-reviewed scientific publications, conference papers and international presentations. Dr Salouros received a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Sydney in 2009. 

Politics and Law

Melissa Anne Perry: Federal Court Judge

Melissa Anne Perry is a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. Perry attended Walford Anglican School for Girls, then graduating from the University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Laws with first class Honours. She studied at the University of Cambridge where she was awarded an LLM and PhD in public international law. Her doctorate on State succession, boundaries and territorial regimes was awarded the Yorke Prize. Perry was appointed as a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia on 23 September 2013.

Ms Sophie Cotsis MP: State Member for Canterbury

Ms Cotsis has been an active part of the many diverse multicultural communities that are found throughout NSW for many years and has a proud history of being involved in many community campaigns and causes. Ms Cotsis graduated from Macquarie University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts and the University of Technology, Sydney in 2001 with a Master of Legal Studies. Ms Cotsis has a range of employment experience in both the public and private sectors, including working at Sydney Airport while a student at university. Ms Cotsis has played key roles in the establishment of the Inquiry into Affordable, Social and Public Housing and the Inquiry into Elder Abuse.

Fiona Martin MP: Liberal Party Member for Reid

Fiona is a mum, psychologist and small businesswoman, who has spent her life working to better the lives of people, supporting some of the most vulnerable children in our community. Fiona was elected as a Liberal Party politician at the 2019 federal election. Her parents and maternal grandparents were born in Australia, while her paternal grandparents were Greek migrants to Australia from the island of Kastellorizo. Fiona’s work has improved the social functioning of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and she has also developed a resilience program for children.

HE Martha Mavrommati: High Commissioner for Cyprus in Australia

Mrs Martha Mavrommati is the High Commissioner for Cyprus in Australia as of 27 June 2017. Mrs. Mavrommati has been a prominent figure in the Greek Cypriot community, acting as a well respected and highly acclaimed representative of Cyprus for Australia.

Katia Gkikiza Greece’s Trade Commissioner in Australia

Katia Gkikiza was appointed trade commissioner in Australia for Greece in 2016. Since then she has championed and promoted economic  ties, and stronger relationships between the Greek and Australia business community. This includes opportunities for growth, and promotion of Greek made products.

Maria Vamvakinou MP: Federal member for Calwell

Born on the island of Lefkada Greece, Maria Vamvakinou was educated at Brunswick South Primary School and Princes Hill High School.  Maria  entered politics as an electorate officer in 1988 for Dr Andrew Theophanous. Maria has been Calwell’s elected Federal Member of Parliament for six consecutive terms winning the 2004; 2007; 2011; 2013 and 2016 Federal elections. She is the Deputy Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration, and is also member of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade – which includes the Human Rights Sub-committee. Maria is the co-convener of the Parliamentary Friends of SBS; Multiculturalism – which hosts the largest interfaith dialogue at Parliament House each year; the Heart and Stroke Foundations and Palestine.

Jenny Mikakos: Victorian Health Minister

Jenny Mikakos was the first woman of Greek descent elected to an Australian Parliament, growing up in Northcote, her electorate, to a migrant working-class family. She currently acts as a an Australian politician for the Labor Party, working as the Minister for Health and the Minister for Ambulance Services. Mikakos was first elected as the Member for Jika Jika Province in the State of Victoria in September 1999, representing them from 1999 until 2006.

Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson SC: Supreme Court Judge

Chrissa Loukas-Karlsson SC was called to the bar in 1989 and appointed senior counsel in 2012. She has worked for Legal Aid, the Aboriginal Legal Service, and appeared as counsel before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague. In 2017, Ms Loukas-Karlsson won barrister of the year award from the Women Lawyers Association of NSW.

Ms Eleni Petinos MP: State Member for Miranda

The Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads, Eleni Petinos was elected to the NSW Parliament as the Member for Miranda on 28 March 2015. She holds a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and Bachelor of Laws from UNSW, and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. She previously served as Chair of the Legislative Assembly Committee on Transport and Infrastructure, along with being a member of several other committees. As a lifelong Sutherland Shire resident, Eleni has continued to deliver improved local infrastructure and services for her Miranda electorate.

Angela Vithoulkas: Councillor of City of Sydney

Angela Vithoulkas is an Australian politician, business owner and media personality, who was made a Councillor in the City of Sydney in 2012, being re-elected in 2016. She has owned and operated VIVO Cafe for over 25 years, established Eagle Waves Radio, and was elected Deputy Chairperson of the City of Sydney Economic Development and Business Sub-Committee. Angela Vithoulkas is the daughter of Greek Migrants to Australia, leaving school in year 11 to go into the family business with her brother Con Vithoulkas.

Maria Dimopoulos AM: Deputy Chair, Victorian Multicultural Commission

Maria Dimopoulos AM is a nationally and internationally recognised executive leader and expert on multicultural affairs. Maria has over 25 years of experience in cultural diversity, gender equity justice and human rights. She has worked with government and community as a policy adviser and strategist, community advocate, speaker and mentor. In 2020, Maria was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her service to cultural diversity and the prevention of domestic violence. 




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