Our Management

wizo diane symonds

Diane Symonds

President of WIZO NSW

Diane Symonds, President of WIZO NSW has been involved with WIZO for the past 23 years.

With a master’s degree in Special Education, Diane has always been passionate about helping and educating youth. This, alongside her love of Israel and commitment to making change, has allowed her immerse herself into an organisation that she truly feels connected to. Diane ran her WIZO Tova group for over 20 years and had enormous success in creating amazing events with her committee. 

benita kam wizo board

Benita Kam

Vice President

Benita is the founder and owner of a 20 year-old wedding and events planning company called BNT Management.

I like to create magic, make memories anywhere in the world.

First and foremost, though I am a wife, mother and recently have become a grandmother

I have a huge knowledge and love of Israel and due to the fact I have a Speech Pathology and Audiology background and worked with children and adults from lower socio economic backgrounds, as well as having immigrated from South Africa, I have a true passion for the underprivileged and needy.

I have hence been a long standing member of WIZO and joined their board of Management a few years ago hoping I could assist with events of all kinds and size, as well as encourage those around me to donate and contribute to this meaningful and wonderful organisation.

julie ross wizo board

Julie Ross

Treasurer

My passion for WIZO began when I was in my 20’s.

I went to a WIZO meeting early on, and before I knew it I was hosting WIZO functions in my home! We were a true sisterhood back then.  Can you imagine, no mobiles, no internet, no computers, just a telephone…and if you weren’t home, you missed out!

Seriously, I became President of my group, WIZO Yaffa – we developed an amazing reputation for producing fantastic and entertaining events which were well attended and raised lots of money for WIZO.

In the old days, we would literally set up the functions ourselves, cooking and taking the food to wherever the event was held (usually at Hakoah Club!)  The decorations committee met and thought through what would be appropriate for each event.  Rehearsals, laughter, friendship and an abundance of passion for Israel.

In essence, not much has changed.  The passion, the stories, the fundraising…but now we all do it via our mobile phones.

Now as State Treasurer, it is my pleasure to give hours each week to this incredible movement.  Usually fabulous and sometimes challenging, being together as a board, and having known each other for many years, we talk, we brainstorm, we laugh, we act.

rony bognar oam wizo board

Rony Bognar OAM

Management

Rony became the youngest ever President of WIZO NSW and then consecutively the youngest President of WIZO Australia.

Born in Israel, and the child of Holocaust survivors, Rony has constantly worked and volunteered in Jewish organisations for the betterment of the Sydney Jewish community and Israel. But it was in WIZO’s raison d’etre where she found her passion; a dedication to supporting those in Israeli society that need it most.

Rony became the youngest ever President of WIZO NSW and then consecutively the youngest President of WIZO Australia. She took both roles very seriously and worked consistently with strength, determination and pragmatism.

She has been honoured as an honorary Life Member of World WIZO, Honorary Life Member of WIZO Australia and last year an OAM for her work with WIZO and within the Jewish Community.

Today Rony sits on the Board and Executive of WIZO NSW which benefits from her experience and wise counsel.

She has and will always continue to support her passions, and is always grateful for the opportunities that living in Australia gives her to speak up for and help others less fortunate than herself.

wizo gilla liberman board

Gilla Liberman

Management

World WIZO Honorary Life Member; Honorary Life Member of WIZO Australia; WIZO Australia Federal President 2010-2016; WIZO NSW State President 2002-2007 and Gilla sits of the Board of WIZO NSW.

Gilla Liberman was one of the foundation members of NSW WIZO Yaffa in the late 70s. A teacher by profession, her interest in children’s wellbeing and her love of Israel made her the perfect WIZO woman. She has been a dedicated and active leader for over 40 years, a dedication for which she is renowned throughout our community.

When it comes to WIZO, Gilla is not one to shy away from taking responsibilities.

World WIZO Honorary Life Member; Honorary Life Member of WIZO Australia; WIZO Australia Federal President 2010-2016; WIZO NSW State President 2002-2007 and Gilla sits of the Board of WIZO NSW…quite the resume!

Gilla’s leadership has been inspirational, her leadership style has always been by example. Gilla has worked tirelessly all her life as well as being a devoted wife, daughter, sister and loving grandmother to 5 beautiful children.

Gilla is a role model to future generations of WIZO women who can look at her and benefit from her years of wisdom and experience.

esther wakerman wizo board

Esther Wakerman

Management

Esther’s 40-year career within WIZO has been filled with so many highlights. 

From being President of her group WIZO Yaffa for many years, to producing innovative and creative events and continually exploring new methods of fundraising.  Esther is forward looking, a visionary and always sees the bigger picture. She helped produce Fiddler on the Roof at NSW University for WIZO and was also Producer on a joint Production of West Side Story with Moriah College. Esther’s love of music and theatre as well as an audience encouraged her to be involved and participate in many WIZO comedy Reviews, fashion parades, fabulous guest speakers, panel discussions, New Years’ Eve parties, bagel brunches, dances, seminars…….How busy she was!  In these early years she was recruited by Leila Share  to join the Executive of WIZO NSW where she has remained ever since.  She has been President WIZO NSW twice and has led with passion and positivity   Esther exudes enthusiasm and excitement and her wisdom, experience and knowledge of WIZO is to be admired.  She has always used this knowledge to inspire and mentor new and emerging groups. Esther instigated and facilitated educational retreats to inspire WIZO groups. 

Esther has been a recipient of WIZO’s highest accolade, the Rebecca Sieff award.

The young man who escorted her to her first communal event has been her supportive husband for 49 years, they have 3 sons, 5 grandchildren and Esther is still as busy as ever.

gloria newhouse wizo board

Gloria Newhouse

Management

My name is Gloria Newhouse and I am a previous, previous past President.

I was busy in my younger years, I ran a very successful  business for 25 years with a dozen staff which really gave me a good groundwork for understanding the wants and needs of being a team player, a leader, a listener, a learner and a contributing member of a larger community to which we all belong.   They say you ask a busy person to get the job done, and I believe there is never a truer word said.  An intelligent woman can pack so much under her belt when required and put her immense skills to good use. 

nilly berger wizo board

Nilly Berger

Management

Born in Israel, Nilly’s bond with her homeland even as a young child was fostered by family and her Zionism always strong. 

She effortlessly chose WIZO as her connection to the Israeli people and now 40 years later it is still an integral part of her life.

Nilly joined WIZO Yaffa, a newly formed group of likeminded women and lifelong friendships were quickly formed.   In her quiet manner, Nilly soon showcased her sensible, pragmatic approach to the group’s planning and operation.   She caught the eye of President Leila Share (zl) who brought her into the NSW Executive where she still has a position today.   She contributed to many successful events which saw Yaffa become one of the highest achieving groups for many years and then continued to do the same on a State level.

With her total commitment and passion for the work of WIZO she infuses those around her and hence has brought in many new members and donors.   To help the people of Israel she is strong, unwavering, committed and dedicated.   She has a calm, practical voice when times have been tough and a constant reassuring presence within our leadership.

michelle spiro wizo board

Michelle Spiro

Management

Coming from a  prominent community minded family, Michelle embraced the idea of becoming involved in a communal organization and the one she chose was WIZO.

Michelle joined WIZO Yaffa about 36 years ago. She soon took on the role of group treasurer. When Michelle finished school, she spent one year in Israel doing the mechina program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. When she returned to Sydney, she went to Sydney University and studied Pharmacy and in 1982 she bought her pharmacy in Bondi. Michelle did all the bookkeeping for the pharmacy so to be treasurer of her group was a natural thing for her to do.

In 1999, when WIZO NSW needed a new treasurer, Michelle was offered the position. Michelle modernized the WIZO NSW office by getting a computer program to manage the finances of the organization. She also became honorary bookkeeper.

As well as running her own pharmacy, being a board member of the Pharmacy Guild of NSW for 3 years, and being a WIZO treasurer, Michelle also managed to have three beautiful children. So life was very busy for her. Today her children have children of their own so she is also a very happy grandmother.

Michelle continued as NSW Treasurer for 16 years – until 2015. In 2010 Michelle also became WIZO Australia Treasurer, a position she held until 2016 when the Federal office moved to Melbourne.

In 2008 Michelle was awarded the Rebecca Sieff award for her dedication to WIZO, and in 2015, when she retired as NSW treasurer, she was made a Life Governor of Ahuzat Yeladim and an Honorary Life Member of WIZO Australia.

Since July 2016, Michelle has been a director of the newly formed WIZO Australia Pty Ltd – the entity that can receive tax-deductible donations. Michelle was one of the people involved in getting WIZO the DGR status.

She is also currently on the board of management of WIZO NSW and next year, when the Federal office moves to Sydney, she has been asked to take on the Federal presidency.

And so her wonderful WIZO journey continues.

Observers

This year, we are delighted to welcome six amazing women to become Observers on our Management Committee – these women have varying professional abilities and we are thrilled to have their input and expertise to help WIZO go from strength to strength.

miki hendler wizo observer

Miki Hendler

Observer

I am honoured to be joining the WIZO Observership program as a third generation WIZO supporter, following in the footsteps of my grandmothers and mother, whom have instilled in me a love and passion for Israel, and demonstrated to me what it means to help others and work towards a greater good.

After graduating from Moriah College, I completed a Bachelor of Business at UTS and spent 2 years in Israel, where I witnessed firsthand the work of nonprofit organisations and their ability to have an extraordinary impact on civilians in distress. Following my passion for helping those in need, I completed a Masters of Science in Nonprofit Leadership in New York, which enhanced my skills to be an active leader in our society and empowered me to make a difference.

In my spare time, I love cooking and entertaining friends at home, socialising and meeting and introducing new people.

WIZO is an organisation that I feel deeply connected to and I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to learn from, and be mentored by, the remarkable women working in the organisation.

terri benda wizo

Terri Benda

Observer

Terri Benda is a Chartered Accountant with over 6 years of professional experience working in the Assurance practice at both Deloitte Australia, and Deloitte UK. Her career at Deloitte has seen her nominated for the Aspiring Women’s Program, a career acceleration program focused on empowering women within the firm to develop skills, to enable them to step up as future leaders. Working in a predominantly male dominated industry, Terri is often at the forefront of initiatives within the firm to empower and support women to be able to achieve both their personal and professional goals. Growing up, the value and importance of charity was always reinforced in Terri’s household, and this is something she strives to do whenever possible. Terri’s mother, Benita Kam’s involvement in WIZO NSW, was the driving force that inspired her to join together with a group of young Jewish women to form WIZO Chai. In her personal life, Terri and her husband Sam welcomed a baby boy Zac in May 2020, and she is determined to try and make the world he grows up in a better one. Having a child of her own, has further reinforced to Terri, why WIZO NSW is an organisation that she wants to be involved with and is incredibly grateful to have been invited to be a Board observer in 2021.

kira brandt wizo observer

Kira Brandt

Observer

Kira is a qualified and experienced Social Worker, graduating from UNSW in 2012. Having attended a Sydney Jewish Day School and building strong roots within the Sydney Jewish Community, it is no surprise that she has worked within this same community (JewishCare NSW) for the past 8 years as a Caseworker in Youth Services. Her passion for Israel led her to live in Tel Aviv for a year in 2017 but ultimately she decided to come back to Sydney to be with family and pursue her career as a Social Worker. Kira is passionate about supporting people through difficult times and helping to build a strong Jewish Community for now and future generations to come. Kira has coordinated mentoring programs for young people, educational parent seminars and Love Bites – an in-school prevention program for domestic violence and sexual assault. She not only works within the community, but also volunteers with WIZO NSW and other philanthropic organisations. Kira is thrilled and proud to be joining the board of WIZO NSW as an observer in 2021. On a personal level, Kira enjoys being social and has strong friendships in Australia and overseas. In her down time, she is a creative soul who designs, makes and sells costume jewellery.

lisa salkinder wizo observer

Lisa Salkinder

Observer

Lisa was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and after completing a Bachelor of Business Science, double majoring in accounting and finance honours at the University of Cape Town she moved to Sydney in 2011.

Starting out in assurance at Ernst and Young she specialised in the Technology, Communications and Entertainment industries. In 2014 she completed her Chartered Accountant qualification and moved to London to do an internship at a Private Equity firm, Grovepoint Capital LLC.

In 2015 Lisa moved back to Sydney and worked as a senior analyst at Monash Private Capital for several years before taking a role at Guardian Early Learning Group as the senior acquisition analyst in charge of assessment of acquisitions and greenfield development sites for their childcare centres.

In 2017 Lisa started working at NAB, initially as a senior associate in the Corporate Bank looking at portfolio management and more currently as an Associate Director in the Strategic Business Solutions team managing a portfolio of distressed or insolvent customers.

When Lisa isn’t working she is with usually on the golf course or travelling.

olivia templeman wizo observer

Olivia Templeman

Observer

Olivia is an investment banking analyst at Macquarie Capital in the Private Capital Markets team, having also worked in MacCap’s team covering Tech, Media, Entertainment & Telco companies, with a focus on M&A transactions and capital raisings for companies in the digital infrastructure, media and technology spaces. Prior to joining MacCap, Olivia worked in early-stage venture capital in Australia and equity crowdfunding in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, covering autonomous transport, artificial intelligence, and smart cities.

Olivia completed a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons.) at UNSW, and studied transitional justice at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She was a founding member of Startup Link, a student-run organisation with over +1,000 members that connects students with startups, and has remained as an advisory board member to the student exec committee. She is also a member of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce’s Young Business Forum committee. Olivia is passionate about Jewish life and the community, having converted to Orthodox Judaism through the Sydney Beit Din as a young adult.

alexa zeh wizo observer

Alexa Zeh

Observer

Alexa is currently completing her final year of a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Previously, she has also completed a Business degree at UNSW and a Nutrition Science degree at UOW. During her school years, Alexa was continuously involved in community service, attending Jewish events and always striving to build a strong Jewish community. A few years ago, Alexa felt that she would like to become more involved in the community and decided to join UIA. Besides helping to raise money for those less fortunate in Israel, she also tried to involve as many of her friends and family as possible in supporting Israel. Last year during COVID, Alexa felt like she needed to help out in the community in some way and began volunteering for COA Meals on Wheels. Recently, Alexa attended a WIZO cooking event and was inspired to join this incredible organization. From that moment Alexa knew she wanted to join WIZO Chai. On a personal level, Alexa is enthusiastic, loves to be part of a team and meet new people. She loves to cook and enjoys anything that is centred around food. Nutrition and dietetics is about helping people to feel good about themselves and enjoy their life. This is what epitomizes Alexa, always striving to help and support people who need it. Alexa is very excited and grateful to be joining the board of WIZO as an observer in 2021. 

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WIZO NSW, The Women’s International Zionist Organization, is a worldwide non-profit organization that operates over 800 social welfare projects in Israel.

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