Equality Researcher. Australia-Asia Pacific Strategist. Creative Entrepreneur.


Research and entrepreneurship intervening at critical junctures to ensure equality, justice and regeneration in international affairs.

Outer space.

International affairs.

National security.

Climate justice.

Social enterprise.


Dr Elise Stephenson’s career is littered with seemingly unrelated projects and pursuits. Only, they are related. Elise seeks to find critical junctures across industries and portfolios – all for the sake of research, practice or policy interventions that can help to ensure equality (gender, sexuality, cultural, etc.) in various aspects of international affairs. 

Elise’s projects push for synergistic partnerships, the development or leverage of deep evidence bases, and creative solutions. She has travelled by road over 75,000kms over the past five 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, Asia and the Pacific.


Regional expertise including: Australia-Asia Pacific; Australia-US; Southeast Asia; Indo Pacific.

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

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

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

New book out now!

The Face of the Nation: Gendered Institutions in International Affairs by Elise Stephenson


With foreword by Professor Ann Towns and interviews with Australian former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and over 50 other women leading international affairs, this book is an essential read to understand gender and international affairs – from diplomacy to defence, policing, development, border protection and beyond.

Read onlineBuy now


– women’s leadership
– diversity in international affairs, diplomacy, intelligence, (outer) space & national security
– public diplomacy & foreign policy
– social entrepreneurship and impact entrepreneurs
– gender equality
– LGBTI+ rights and inclusion
– creative problem-solving
– climate justice
– circular economy

Deputy Director

Australian National University

Deputy Director and research for the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (GIWL), founded and chaired by Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, 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:

The Diplomatic Glass Cliff: Women’s Leadership and Diplomacy’s DeclineThe Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 2022

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

UN Women 30 for 2030 Member

Fulbright Scholar 2022

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

Broad Agenda: Towards a Feminist First Nations Foreign Policy, 2022.

Lowy Interpreter: The Future is Female, but Women in Diplomacy Still Under-Represened, 2022.

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

Twitter feed is not available at the moment.


Google Arts & Culture: Women of the World profile on education, Elise Stephenson, 2021.

Griffith News: Incredible Alumni Recognised at Outstanding Alumni Awards, 2021.

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

Griffith News: Griffith Celebrates 2021 International Women’s Day, 2021.

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.


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