Leigh has been a Soroptimist since 1980, when she was a charter member of the South Pine Club (Queensland) ,  Currently  Leigh is a member of SI Brisbane. Leigh has held many positions at Club, Region, Federation and International level.  Leigh is a passionate Soroptimists, with a strong focus on membership.   Leigh reflects on her time as SISWP President 2008-2010 – “MDG’s +10” 

Leigh's profession is as a Gemmologist, Leigh donated an Australian sapphire and diamond for the South Pine Chain of Office.


Taking the Chair as President of the Federation in 2008 as the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), engulphed the globe, it brought a new focus to the way we as Soroptimists worked and operated. During that time major disasters also struck our Federation such as floods in Fiji, Solomon’s & Nth Qld & extreme bush fires in Victoria. The Financial downfall gave us a purpose to change, create, and implement everything we could to be more effective, have less costs and be more productive. We aimed to be as inclusive as possible using a broad cross section of members & Past Presidents in various committees & taskforces. We purchased our current SISWP HQ at G1/11A Lachlan St Waterloo, NSW and we moved HQ on 20th December 2008, we then placed our Inner-City Office on the market.

During this time, we were still grappling with Electronics, and some of our members were requesting that our ‘’kit’’, which consisted of our Governing Documents, as well as other admin, still be retained and available in hardcopy as well as electronic form, it was certainly a changing time. We then launched a new SWP Website on 8th Mar 2009 and still supplied hardcopies if needed to members.

It is always humbling and an honour to visit Projects & Clubs within our SISWP Countries with such diversity and rich cultures. With Education a priority, I provided relevant information on SI, SISWP, our Programme & Admin areas at every opportunity. I was privileged to Charter SI Ipoh & SI Sentul in Malaysia, SI Ramu in PNG & SI Maylands Peninsula in WA. SI Phnom Penh in Cambodia was to be Chartered in Feb 2010, however, there was a delay & it was Chartered after the Conference of Clubs.

“Hands Across Borders” (HAB) Project, Sampovloun, Cambodia continued as the Federation Project for 2008-2010. The day I went to visit the project, a ‘disruption’’ occurred at the border which was then subsequently closed, so I did not get to visit HAB. Other Soroptimists in the group at the time did wait and then continued over the border from Thailand to Cambodia each day to help the school. Project 5-O (5 Organisations) was still operating in Samoa and PNG as well as other countries around the world. I realised how important the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) meeting in NY was to our Soroptimist work, so we organised for SWP Programme Director Jenny Hughes to attend one year and myself the next year,  SWP Federation attendance at CSW has been a constant since then.

In 2009 to build Leadership & Capacity, we held the SISWP Interim Board Meeting (IBM) in Kuala Lumpur, (KL), Malaysia. This was very successful as we organised Leadership Training & had approx. 20 - 30 Malaysians & Singapore Members as observers each day. The Minister for Women YB Dato Ng Yen Yen generously hosted a Gala Dinner for us, she changed her portfolio that day to the Minister for Tourism, she was very happy to host so many Women from different countries. It was after this dinner that I first challenged & discussed with Siew Yong and the Malaysians the idea of holding the SI Convention 2019 in KL, having the belief that our Malaysian members could host this SI Convention very well, they proved us right and did an exceptional job on behalf of SISWP.

SISWP Conference of Clubs (CoC) in 2010 was held at the Gold Coast, taking into consideration frugal costings. Themed around the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s +10). We had the honour of hosting a delegation from the All China Women’s Federation (ACWF) as well as our SI President Hanna Jensbo and other International visitors from other Federations.

THE 2008 - 2010 SISWP Team/s worked so very hard during this biennium, as did the HQ Staff with our Administrator Rosheen working with me for 40 -50 hours per week out of hours and weekends to make things happen during the GFC. We collectively did the ground work & positioning that paved the way for SISWP to Incorporate and become a member of UN ECOSOC, and much more.

Leigh Ellwood Brown

SISWP delegation Conference China 2010 resized

Leigh and delegation of Soroptimists visiting China for the membership extension.    3 past SI International Presidents, 5 Past SISWP Federation Presidents.  L to R Siew Yong Gnanalingam, Leigh Ellwood Brown, Hanna Jensbo.  L to R Jane Zimmerman, Lorna Mead, Yvonne Simpson.

leigh and hanna resized

Nothing like a bit of entertainment on Friendship nights.