Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year nominations open

The Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year nominations open today, 31 October 2023, marking the 13th year of the awards.

Each year, women from across the New Zealand’s food and fibre sector, and who are part of Dairy Women’s Network (DWN), are nominated for this prestigious award.

Jules Benton, DWN CEO says, “these incredible women have a commitment, drive, and passion for the dairy sector as a whole and are positive role models for women in dairying”.  

“We encourage our dairy women across Aotearoa New Zealand to put themselves forward for this award. They can either be nominated or apply themselves. Every day I meet women doing amazing things for their community and country and this award goes a small way to recognising their efforts”, says Jules. 

This year (2023), Donna Cram was named the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year and says, “I was honoured to be nominated and have been overwhelmed at the difference winning this award has made in my life.

Not only does the Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year achieve the coveted title, but this year the recipient will receive a scholarship to the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, which includes the programme fee, travel, and accommodation, mentoring and access to DWN and Fonterra platforms to share their research.

Last year (2022) Vanessa Thomson, Te Awamutu sharemilker, a mum and full-time contracts and commercial advisor, received a scholarship to the programme and said, “It’s been a life-changing opportunity for me, and I am so grateful for the network that I have made through Kellogg, and the tools that it has given me. I am excited for the future, and what my leadership journey might bring.”

Jules reflects on the MacKenzie study that showcases 960 Kellogg alumni have served in over 26,858 leadership roles, playing a direct role in creating an estimate of 33,600 FTE roles. There is a high rate of self-employment in the dairy sector (28%), compared to New Zealand as a whole.

Over the years, the judges have had strong criteria to assess the applicants as the nominees are of such high calibre. The selection panel is led by Donna Smit, DWN Trustee and consists of five judges, including representatives from DWN, Fonterra, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Rural Leaders, and a previous Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year recipient. 

“Our Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year needs to be a strong performer, who is recognised by her peers as a potential leader and who demonstrates leadership within her community and further afield. She is influential in the dairy sector; holding or having held leadership positions on regional or national dairy organisations.  Ultimately, she has a vision to add value to the dairy sectors future and is actively working towards achieving that in her leadership aspirations”. 

All finalists will have a professional video recorded and have conference costs, travel and accommodation paid for to attend the 2024 DWN conference and gala dinner, date and location to be confirmed.

Past recipients include Barbara Kuriger (2012), Justine Kidd (2013), Charmaine O’Shea (2014), Katie Milne (2015), Rebecca Keoghan (2016), Jessie Chan (2017), Loshni Manikam (2018), Trish Rankin (2019), Ash-Leigh Campbell (2020), Belinda Price (2021), Donna Cram (2023).


More information about the award: 

Apply or nominate at:

Photo: Supplied by DWN; Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award recipients, Loshni Manikam (2018), Belinda Price (2021), Donna Cram (2023), Barbara Kuriger (2012), and Trish Rankin (2019).

For more information:
Sarah van Munster
Insights and Media Manager
Phone: 07 974 4852

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