The newly elected Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) Vice President, Helen Brownlee, has been awarded the prestigious Special Commemorative Medal, presented by the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee on the occasion of the Pierre de Coubertin 150th Anniversary. The award recognises contributions made by individuals to sport and culture.
Brownlee founded and has been organising the secondary school Pierre de Coubertin award program in Australia for the past 20 years.
"I am very humbled to receive the award," Brownlee said. "It was always intended that my work in Olympic education was for the benefit of school students and the difference they could make in the world by adopting the Olympic values as a footprint for life."
"My greatest joy has been to see past recipients of the AOC Pierre de Coubertin Award go on to represent Australia, with distinction, in their chosen sport at the Olympic or Paralympic Games," she added.
Brownlee was elected unopposed as the AOC's first ever female Vice President. She is one of five women shaping the future of the Olympic Movement in Australia following a massive shift in the gender balance on the AOC Executive Board.
The other female board members are Olympians Kitty Chiller (modern pentathlon), Danielle Woodward (canoe/kayak), Nicole Livingstone (swimming) and Kim Crow (rowing).
"Diversity is a strength in most organisations, and I am pleased the AOC is leading the field in this area", Brownlee said. "Where men and women work together, the sport experience is enhanced for everyone."
Brownlee is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities the role will present. She will continue to promote Olympic education and create a positive environment for women in sport. She also wants to advocate the importance of values and culture at the AOC from the Board to the Team.
"I would like to see the AOC strengthen the values based approach we have embarked on, not only in our organisation, but throughout our representative teams," she said. "This will involve working closely with our sporting members."
Brownlee will draw on her experience at the Board level and through her varied career path to contribute to the AOC Board in a positive way.
"My experience is in strategic planning, building effective teams, interaction with staff, and responding in a positive manner to change," Brownlee said. "I know I am impartial, consistent, show empathy, and bring a different focus to the table on a number of issues."
Brownlee is keen to observe the interaction of the Board and hopes to lead by example.
"I believe the dynamics of the Board will be quite different going forward with five women members."
"I have worked with three of the women members in the past, and know they bring strong qualities and different knowledge to the Board. I hope that I can live up to their expectations as their Vice President."