2022 Fulbright Scholar and Overall Outstanding Young Alumnus for 2020, Dr Elise Stephenson is a researcher-practitioner with expertise across diplomacy, national security, government, entrepreneurship, and diversity and inclusion.

Dr Stephenson is the Deputy Director of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, founded and chaired by former prime minister Julia Gillard. She is a multi award-winning gender researcher with an entrepreneurial background, whose work focuses on intervening at critical junctures to ensure equality in ‘frontier’ international affairs and grand challenges. She is a collaborative leader dedicated to excellence and innovation, recognized by Google as one of Australia’s Top 50 Outstanding LGBTIQ+ Leaders, the United Nations Australia Association as a  Community Awardee, and myriad other external and academic awards, including being recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Excellence in PhD Research, the University Medal for Excellence in Honours/Masters Research, and the Politics, Asian Studies and International Relations Medal for Excellence in her Undergraduate Studies.

Elise’s research focuses on gender, sexuality and leadership in frontier international relations, from researching space policy, to diplomacy, national security, intelligence, security vetting, international representation, and the Asia Pacific. She is interested in how Australia engages with the world – as well as whom is at the forefront of that engagement. 

Elise has international experience across Sweden to the United States, Hong Kong, China, Japan and ASEAN. Elise has published internationally, lead multi-scaled research and engagement projects in public diplomacy and national security, and has a deep embedded understanding of the Australian context for leadership, governance, and international affairs. 

In collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, she was the curator of the Young Entrepreneurs & Leaders Speaker Series throughout the Asia Pacific, and co-director of the Australia-ASEAN Council’s flagship program, the Australia-ASEAN Emerging Leaders Program (A2ELP). She was awarded the Foundation for Young Australian’s Spotlight Award for policy change, and is currently working on projects around women’s leadership in Vietnam and Japan, as well as inclusion practices security vetting in Australian national security and intelligence. 

Prior to joining the ANU, Elise was a researcher in the Policy Innovation Hub and $5 million Climate Action Beacon at Griffith University, working around climate justice and climate adaptation, particularly focusing on women, youth, rural communities and the Asia Pacific. She is the board director of design and strategy studio, Social Good Outpost Pty Ltd.