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Women at Work: Lisa LaMaitre

Eilish Rehwinkel

Businesswoman, Visionary and Founder of Canberra Wise Women.

The second of December marked the one-year anniversary of Canberra Wise Women (CWW); a community of Canberran women who come together to connect with, confide in, and celebrate each other. Lisa LaMaitre is the woman behind CWW, with the enrichment she has experienced in her life serving as the driving force behind her concept.

Lisa has been in local business in Canberra for the last twenty years, and in this time, she has seen many of her friends, colleagues and clients face challenges, overcome difficulties and achieve success. She too has been no stranger to adversity. In 2010, the business Lisa shared with her husband closed after it was targeted for crime. This was one of 18 incidents in three and a half years. Following the business closure, Lisa endured 18 months of treatment for PTSD, while also adapting to life with a career ending injury. Throughout this time, Lisa had some revelations.

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“I realised to create change in my world I had to fully accept what we had experienced, and find the lessons in all the difficulties we had faced. I made a commitment to myself, to prioritise my self-care and healing so that these experiences wouldn’t define or limit me.”

Not only did Lisa create change in her own world, but remarkably, she put to use all that she had learned throughout her experiences, and went on to proactively inspire change in the lives of others.

Canberra Wise Women was created as an uplifting space to share positivity and inspiration with others. In the busyness of today’s world, it is easy to get caught up in work, deadlines and life in general. Lisa has realised, “without the flash of excitement, a word of encouragement or that spark of insight, we stay where we are. Positive inspiration enables each of us to gain awareness, believe in ourselves, be connected to like minded people and have hope that we can create change in our lives.”

Launch of Canberra Wise Women

Launch of Canberra Wise Women

In its first year, Canberra Wise Women has held five evening events, two private movie screenings, a joint event with Country to Canberra and a first birthday luncheon. In the various Oprah-esque forums, 22 inspirational Canberran women have shared their stories.

Catherine McGregor being interviewed on the CWW stage

Catherine McGregor being interviewed on the CWW stage

These women include businesswomen, entrepreneurs, CEOs, creatives and activists. Despite their different backgrounds and experiences, they have all offered their respective wisdom, positivity and advice.

Audiences have been exposed to first-hand accounts of gambling addiction, foster care and adoption, suicide, disability inclusion, transgender issues, gender equality, domestic violence, body acceptance, the environmental impact of the fashion industry, animal welfare and survivors of assaults, eating disorders, vicarious trauma and depression.

Over 500 guests have attended the functions throughout the year, and there has been a massive growth in media reach. Suffice to say, Canberra Wise Women has been received by the Canberra community with open arms. Lisa says her dream ‘wise woman’ is “really any woman who has been through difficulty and challenges and who is transformed – centred and empowered to create change and live well despite the experiences she has been through.”

Canberra Wise Women's August 2016 event

Canberra Wise Women’s August 2016 event

Lisa has big plans and dreams for the future of Canberra Wise Women. 2017 will be a year of expansion and growth, with plans for eight events, several joint events, and projects with other organisations. Lisa recognises that whether people are male or female, everyone needs inspiration in their lives. Subsequently, the new year will also see men taking centre stage at the gatherings, with the introduction of ‘Men of Wisdom.’

Lisa’s long-term goal for Canberra Wise Women is to create a media channel of positivity and connection.

“I believe that we have so many wise and inspiring women here in Canberra. There are so many stories to share, some we are already aware of, but there are many more that are hidden away. I know how much my world has changed since I’ve taught myself to focus on the positive. I look forward to seeing what we can create through collaboration, connection and inspiration!’

Find out more about Canberra Wise Women here

All photography by Tracy Lee Photography

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Eilish Rehwinkel

Eilish is a home body who loves tea, art, pot plants, DIY projects, spontaneous singing, her rascally dog Tai and her football fanatic partner. She’ll never pass up the opportunity to go for a road trip and enjoys discovering cute cafes and boutique shops with her besties. Having grown up on the outskirts of Canberra, she has a deep appreciation for the natural world around her. She has also lived in the beautiful city of Wellington, and a piece of her heart still lives across the Tasman Sea. More about the Author

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