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 65,000kms 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 in Australian international affairs)

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

University Medal & Politics, Asian Studies and International Relations Medal

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Policy Innovation Hub, Griffith University

Research for leading Policy Innovation Hub, focused on 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:

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 creative projects, strategy and impact across Australia and Asia.

The Social Good Outpost is a national strategic design and communications studio. Social Good Outpost works with government, startups, non-profits, social enterprises and change-makers across Australia. 

– Digital maturity and strategy

– Service and communication design

– Extra-ordinary festivals and events

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

Emerging Leader

Capturing her research and practical experience across community, business and government 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:

    • Brisbane City Council – Inclusive Brisbane Board
    • Queensland State Government LGBTI+ Roundtable
    • LGBTI Human Rights in Asia and the Pacific – Roundtable


Curating programs for Australia’s largest a public diplomacy program, Australia now, and the Australia-ASEAN Council throughout Southeast Asia for 2019-2021.

Working with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Elise 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 the program, or to get involved, visit 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

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


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

Powerful & challenging perspectives on community, custodianship, & leadership. These are the stories that matter on the road to @COP26. @ukinaustralia @federalfuture @DFATQLD @ForumSEC @CainTess @StefArmbruster @kenofl #ClimateAction https://twitter.com/GriffithUniVC/status/1402530916220641283

Griffith University VC@GriffithUniVC

Important stories about the impact of climate change in Australia and the Pacific with a focus on women’s voices. Thanks to Climate Change Beacon and the UK consulate.

Come join me at this amazing free event on Sunday to hear how #Australia is making progress on the #sustainabledevelopmentgoals including #ClimateAction @citysmartbne @DavidRissik @PaulBertsch4 @nay_edwards #SDG13
@federalfuture @GriffithBiz https://www.citysmart.com.au/showcase/sri2021 https://twitter.com/qldmuseum/status/1391613032518782977

Queensland Museum@qldmuseum

🍃🌱 Hear Queensland scientists including, Queensland's Chief Scientist Prof. Hugh Possingham, and eco-specialists chat all things sustainability on Sunday 13 June at the museum! Learn more: https://bit.ly/3tsM5nS @HugePossum

Kicking off our #RoadtoCOP26 event for the @Griffith_Uni #ClimateActionBeacon with @ukinaustralia, let us listen to #FirstNations & #Pacifika women's voices & activism #ClimateAction #G7Cornwall @StefArmbruster @caitebyrne @CainTess @federalfuture @GAIGriffith @GriffithGender1

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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

Griffith News: Students striving for socially inclusive change in the Asia-Pacific, 2015

The Pie News: International internships: how is this sector evolving?, 2014

The Australian: New Colombo Scholars Favour Hong Kong for Study and Internship, 2014

Griffith News: A Course of Action to Prevent Violence, 2013


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