award-winning Australian researcher and strategist

Communities need leaders as diverse as they are

Elise is a creator, characterised by her love of hands-on projects and atypical projects. She has travelled by road over 75,000kms over the past four years chasing her passion for empowering women and driving social change, resulting in her being at the forefront of many ‘first of their kind’ initiatives across Australia and the Asia Pacific.

Working from the heart of the Western Desert in the Northern Territory, to the Sydney foreshore and all across the region, she continues to bring her strength in communication, leadership, practical foresight, and the ability to be empathetic and connect with others to help wildly varying projects that are making the most social impact and leverage across Australia and Asia.


PhD (gender, international affairs, diplomacy & national security)

BAsIntSt (Asian Studies), BComn (Intercultural Communication), BGovIntRelHons(I)

3x medalist: Chancellor’s Medal, University Medal, & Politics, Asian Studies and International Relations Medal

Research Fellow

Australian National University

Research for the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (GIWL), focused on inclusive leadership (gender and sexuality), foreign policy, diplomacy, soft power, national security, entrepreneurship, intergenerational justice, climate justice and gender.

More on this research and research profile can be found here.


Recent Publications include:

New Dimensions of Gender and Political Leadership During Covid-19SAIS International review, 2021

Invisible While Visible: An Australian Perspective on Queer Women Leaders in International AffairsEuropean Journal of Politics and Gender, 2020

Domestic Challenges and International Leadership: A Case Study of Women Leaders in Australian International Affairs, Australian Journal of International Affairs, 2019



Founder & Board Director

Focusing on public diplomacy, research, strategy and social impact across Australia and Asia Pacific.

The Social Good Outpost (SGO) is a national strategic design, communications and strategy studio. Social Good Outpost works with government, startups, non-profits, social enterprises and change-makers across Australia and the Asia Pacific. SGO’s public diplomacy and events branch, Curates, leads some of Australia’s leading people-to-people engagement, events, incubators and creative projects.


More on this work and design profile can be found here.

Consultant and speaker

Capturing her research and practical experience across government and entrepreneurship in Australia and the Asia Pacific.

Elise is a multi-award winning strategist, researcher and entrepreneur, and is a sought-after consultant on women’s leadership, gender equality, next generation leadership, social change and social marketing.

Elise currently sits on the following boards and committees:

    • Australian Feminist Foreign Policy Steering Committee
    • Brisbane City Council – Inclusive Brisbane Board
    • Queensland State Government LGBTI+ Roundtable
    • Social Enterprise World Forum Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee
    • International Studies Association LGBTIQ+ Caucus

And formerly:

    • LGBTI Human Rights in Asia and the Pacific – Roundtable
    • Griffith Pride Committee
    • Griffith Equity Committee


Curating programs for Australia’s largest a public diplomacy program, Australia now, and the Australia-ASEAN Council’s flagship youth leadership program throughout Southeast Asia.

Working with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Elise conducts research and runs public diplomacy events, panels, workshops, festivals and partnerships across Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei and Malaysia, and more.

Elise also leads strategy on next generation leadership in international affairs.

For more information on her programs, or to get involved, visit the Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders Program (A2ELP) or the Young Entrepreneurs & Leaders Speaker Series website.


Awards & Recognition

Young Leader 2020

Elevate+ Social Entrepreneur 2018

Community Award 2016

University Medal 2016

New Colombo Plan Scholar 2014

Top 50 LGBTI+ Leaders 

Overall Outstanding Young Alumni 2020

30 Under 30 LGBTI+ Role Model Awardee 2019

Young Achiever of the Year Finalist 2015

Australian Representative 2018/2019

Top 50 Outstanding LGBTI+ Leaders

Outstanding Young Alumni for Griffith Business School 2020

Politics, Asian Studies & International Relations Medal 2014

Associate Fellow 2015

Role Model of the Year Finalist 2015

Chancellor’s Medal for Excellence in a Research Thesis 2020

Award for Excellence in a Research Thesis 2020

Impact25 Awards nominee 2019

'Young Woman to Watch' in International Affairs 2019

Shanghai Regional Finalist 2015

Publications & Appearances

Selected Publications

Gender Politics: Am I Ambassadorial Enough? in Z Ghazarian & K Lee-Koo, NewSouth Publishing, 2021.

European Journal of Politics & Gender: Invisible While Visible: An Australian Perspective on Queer Women Leaders in International Affairs, 2020

Lowy Interpreter: Youth-led Diplomacy: Big Opportunity for Big Impact, 2020

Australian Journal of International Affairs: Domestic Challenges and International Leadership: A Case Study of Women in Australian International Affairs, 2019

Australian Strategic Policy Institute: Women in Security and Defence Network Profile of Elise Stephenson, 2019

Lowy Interpreter: As Julie Bishop Exits, How Far Have Women Come in World Affairs? 2019

Lowy Interpreter: A Slap in the Face for Diverse Diplomacy, 2018

BroadAgenda: Breaking the Barriers: Women in Diplomatic Leadership, 2018

BroadAgendaWomen of the World: The Power of Stories, 2018

Machinery of Government Blog: Foreign Policy in an Uncertain World, 2018

Machinery of Government Blog: What’s Missing From Australia’s Foreign Policy? 2018

Griffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity: Climbing the ‘Staircase’: Do EEO Policies Contribute to Women Achieving Senior Leadership Positions in Universities in Australia and Hong Kong? Elise Stephenson, Kaye Broadbent, Glenda Strachan, 2017

National Council of Women of QLD: Young Women’s Thoughts on Gender Equality and Increasing Participation Rates, 2015

Griffith News: Women’s Leadership in Universities in the Australia and Hong Kong, SAR, 2015

The recent regression for reproductive rights in the US necessitates international communities to step-up sub-national diplomacy. As a norm-setter internationally, even US domestic issues affect internationally, & we as international community must be vigilant to backsliding.

I don't know what to write about US justice and Roe v Wade. Legally entrenching white cis male power, removing health care, dismissing bodily autonomy, targeting womens' and trans rights, etc...in ways that will go way beyond the US. It's so far from justice

And finally, our fantastic last panel, ‘Women in Diplomacy: Breaking the Glass Ceiling’, featured the expertise of (L-R) Her Excellency Ma. Hellen De La Vega, Dr. Elise Stephenson (Moderator), Elizabeth McGregor, and Emi Tagi. @NSC_ANU [7/8]

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Griffith News: Incredible Alumni Recognised at Outstanding Alumni Awards

Griffith News: Griffith Leads Gender Inclusion Program in Laos, 2021.

Griffith News: Griffith Celebrates 2021 International Women’s Day

Young Australians in International Affairs: Young Women to Watch in International Affairs, 2019

Impact Boom: Brisbane’s Top Emerging Social Entrepreneurs Join Impact Boom’s Elevate+ Program to Grow & Scale Impact, 2018

The Legal Forecast: Interview with Elise Stephenson (Social Good Outpost), 2017

Australian Ally Conference: LGBTIQ Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Prevention and Education (Presenter), 2016

Griffith News: Griffith team into $1m Hult Prize regional final, 2015



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