Anti-bullying stalwart selected as Woman of the Year finalist
A Central Otago anti-bullying stalwart who prefers to operate under radar has found herself in the national spotlight.
Karla Sanders, co-founder and director of Sticks 'n Stones, is a finalist in NEXT Magazine's 2017 Woman of the Year Awards, in association with Elizabeth Arden.
Thirty "successful and inspiring" women from around New Zealand have been selected from a range of categories, including community; arts and culture; sport; health and science; business and innovation; and education.
Sanders is one of five in the Education category and has been selected for standing up to bullying through her by-youth, for-youth movement Sticks 'n Stones.
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"It's super exciting and incredibly humbling but it's not somewhere I feel totally comfortable. Under the radar is a far better place for me," she said.
The Alexandra-based mother-of-two said a group of students had nominated her.
"The application was a collaborative effort which I think is fitting. I never expected to be a finalist I'm really quite surprised. The women featured are a really great inspiration and to be featured alongside them is really cool."
Sticks 'n Stones was formed in 2012 and the point of difference was it was "student led", Sanders said.
"If you told me five years ago we would be where we are now, I would have laughed in your face. There is no way we could have foresaw where we would be, the opportunities we would have and support we would get. There is few people who know I have anything to do with it. Organisations work with young people mostly. For me that is really important. Sticks 'n Stones is an organisation of young people and I am incredibly proud to have the role of supporting them. It is certainly not about me. I am quite happy in the background. The spotlight is not somewhere I feel totally comfortable so this is kind of weird and scary."
Other nominees are:
- Arts & Culture: Catherine Chappell, founder of inspirational dance company Touch Compass, in which dancers with disabilities perform alongside non-disabled dancers; Mary Ama, a leader in preserving Pacific arts and culture in New Zealand; and Auckland Arts Festival director Carla Van Zon, who ensured the success of the city's 2017 event while battling chronic kidney disease.
- The Business & Innovation: Blanche Morrogh, founder and director of thriving export business Kai Ora Honey; Kaz Staples, who started her now hugely popular Pure Delish brand from scratch and without investors; and PledgeMe co-founder Anna Guenther, whose crowdfunding platform has redefined the way New Zealand companies do business.
- Community: Kristine Bartlett, whose victorious fight for equal pay for 55,000 female care workers was a news highlight of the year; Diane Vivian, founder of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, a trust that provides support to 6000 grandparents and whanau caregivers; and Dr Assil Russell, who through Revive a Smile is delivering free dental treatment to more than 1500 vulnerable Kiwis.
- Education: Dorothy Burt, whose Manaiakalani Education Trust is helping children in lower socio-economic communities fare better at school; Wendy Pye, who has devoted the past 30 years to helping millions of children learn to read; and Karla Sanders, who's standing up to bullying through her by-youth, for-youth movement Sticks 'n Stones.
- Health & Science: Dr Rosalind Archer is Auckland University's first-ever female Engineering Department head and a respected expert on oil, gas and geothermal reservoirs. Dr Melanie Cheung leads a world-first project aimed at delaying and potentially reversing the cognitive decline associated with Huntington's disease. And Dr Siouxsie Wiles is working hard to resolve the crisis of antibiotic resistance by searching for new antibiotics.
- Sports: Fiona Allan, a driving force behind Paralympic sport in New Zealand for more than 10 years; New Zealand's leading triathlete Andrea Hewitt, who successfully competed in the Rio Games despite losing her fiancé not long before; and Heather Te Au-Skipworth, co-founder of the world's only annual indigenous triathlon.
Each of the finalists is profiled in the October issue of NEXT magazine and the NEXT Woman of the Year will be announced at an awards event on October 12.