In this episode of Executive with a Cause, host Tammy Ven Dange chats with Kelli Jackson –  Head of Women’s Adventure ACT, avid unicycler, Macpac Ambassador and 2022 ACT Woman of the Year.

With an MBA and background in accounting, Kelli Jackson may not be who you expected to run a women’s adventure group full-time. Kelli initially inherited this ad-hoc Meetup Group and then transformed it into a community of thousands of women in the Australian Capital Territory by running over 460 outdoor events, from canyoning to canoe polo and everything in between.

What might appear to be just a “sporting” group for women, the flow-on effects of introducing women to the outdoors and the related empowerment from developing new experiences and skills have been surprising and immeasurable. And it all started with establishing the organisation’s values upfront.

There’s a lot of exciting content in this episode, including tales of unicycling world records. Still, perhaps one of the most intriguing concepts discussed is utilising ‘futuristic’ tech for grass-roots organisations. Kelli discusses her fascination with thinking big for the future of organisational fundraising and the opportunities DAOs’, or Distributed Autonomous Organisations could provide.

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Topics from this episode:

  • 0.00 | Introduction
  • 1.22 | The beginnings of Women’s Adventure ACT
  • 03.14 |  Bringing together a diverse community
  • 07.30 | The sustainability of running a volunteer group
  • 09.50 | Utilising technology for the future of fundraising
  • 15.30 | Moving forward
  • 18.00 | Switching platforms
  • 19.02 | Personal transformations
  • 22.30 | Thinking big for the future
  • 25.10 | Advice for choosing between creating a business or a NFP
  • 26.47 | Competitors
  • 26.40 | What elements make a community?
  • 28.40 | Resources to develop the organisation
  • 31.00 | Unicycling North Korea
  • 32.52 | Being a Macpac ambassador and 2022 ACT Woman of the Year
  • 35.30 | Finding out more

Quotes from Kelli Jackson in this episode:

“If you didn’t do Duke of Ed as a schoolkid, or do Outward Bound, or had a partner or parents that got you outdoors, our question was, well where would you learn these sorts of skills?”

“Our motto is around participation. And we have a lovely bell curve of experience and skill level. But really we just want women to get out and enjoy themselves.” 

“So we try to fill the gap between experiences, skills and practical opportunities to practise these new skills.”

“Having that casual approach, but also being supported by the values is really what gives it that lovely, supportive flavour.”

“Looking at how we could become a DAO, a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation on the blockchain, which is like a digital committee where you could fundraise through things like a NFT Scout badge.”

“The DAOs that are successful are the ones that are also successful in real life. And there’s currently no other outdoor groups that are on the blockchain as a DAO. So it really got me thinking if this is something we could set up. We could use any funds that we raise towards becoming a Social Enterprise and put that back into the community in the form of the social good activities that we offer.”

“Web3 is the future of where we’re heading. And it’s a bit complex for an outdoor group as that’s not traditionally our space. But anything that helps you fundraise, as a Social Enterprise, or as a club or association is helpful, and I guess it’s just modernising fundraising.”

“It’s your baby and your labour of love, and you’ve made all the decisions. But it’s about giving women those leadership roles, giving women those skills. Giving the community the responsibility for how they want things to be, you’ve got to be able to share this.”

“Women who are looking for something, and looking to connect. And they come into the group having never bushwalked, and they learn to navigate. They buy tents for their families. They take other families camping. It’s that kind of transformation that is really amazing”

“It’s really easy to dismiss it as just a bushwalking group. But it’s way more than that. And that’s really what the heart of that group is about. It’s about supporting women and giving them those skills and confidence. And watching that grow. And then watching the impact and consequence of that new confidence and new skills impact on families and communities that you had never thought about”

“People really like it that I’ve done everything. Because it just means they can turn up, they don’t have to invest any time in admin, they love it! And that’s why it’s worked so far. But now bringing in people and asking them to take that admin on. People will self-select for that I hope”

“It was challenging for me because I was up against all these incredible executives, CEOS. All of these amazing women who had done amazing things with their career. But I think in being awarded (as ACT Woman of the Year), it was a really lovely acknowledgement of the community. When you’re a CEO, there’s all these fantastic things you get to do in your job. When you’re a community volunteer it’s hard work. You don’t have that money. You’ve got to be really resourceful in getting things done. So winning that award for me was kind of an acknowledgment of that community support”


Thanks to our Producer, Nick Whatman, and the entire team at Lonsdale St. Studio. Thanks also to our Digital Content Creator, Laura Kleinrahm.

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