Chief Executive Officer, Australian Koala Foundation
Deborah Tabart OAM, aka 'the Koala Woman', is Australian Koala Foundation’s fearless leader. Recognised around the world as the Koala’s most passionate advocate, she works with government, individuals and the community to deliver on AKF’s vision for a future where humans live in harmony with Koalas and their habitat. Since taking on the role of CEO in 1988, Deborah has transformed the Australian Koala Foundation into an internationally recognised scientific organisation and leading voice for Koala conservation.
In recognition of her outstanding service to society, in 1998 Deborah accepted a Computersworld Smithsonian Award on behalf of the AKF, and in 2008 she received one of Australia’s highest individual honours, the Order of Australia Medal (OAM). She believes the country's decision to award her with an OAM signals a positive shift in community awareness of the indispensability of healthy, functioning ecosystems to sustain all life.
“This recognition shows the increasing importance of protecting our koalas and the world’s natural environment. I plan to use the honour to raise the profile of our cause further and encourage the community, the government and businesses to do everything they can to lend a hand.”
In her lifetime, Deborah is determined to see the enactment of a Koala Protection Act and the establishment of Koala conservation zones where people live respectfully with neighbouring Koalas and other wildlife. With the courage of communities, individuals, and our political leaders, Deborah is convinced AKF’s vision is achievable.
An accomplished communicator (in 2011 Deborah received the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) EXCEL Award, becoming the first Australian, first CEO of a Not-for-Profit organisation, and first woman to do so) Deborah believes the Koala has a significant role to play in showing us all how to deliver on a new sustainability paradigm where environmental, social and economic values are finally in balance, for the benefit of people and the planet.