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Inaugural Winner to CEO: how a string of pivotal moments changed Han Worsley’s life

Han Worsley standing in front of Parliament House Canberra

Story by Lara Stimpson

When Han Worsley became an inaugural winner of the 2014 Country to Canberra Leadership Competition, they had no idea the opportunities that lay ahead. A pivotal, two-day Power Trip would change their life, in ways seen and unseen, for years to come.

Key Points:

  • A 2014 Power Trip to Canberra set Han Worsley on a trajectory for leadership success
  • Han is the new CEO of Country to Canberra, succeeding 2019 ACT Young Australian of the Year Hannah Wandel
  • Han hopes to continue the growth and success of the organisation, remaining open-minded about the organisation’s direction

From first winning the Leadership Competition, known as the ‘Power Trip’, to moving to Canberra after a complete shift in plans, to coming out to family and friends, Han’s life has been a flow of pivotal, defining moments. Now, as they transition into the CEO role with the organisation that started it all, Han reflects on what has led them here.

“It’s been such a natural progression,” Han reflected, noting that through a continued drive to work within the organisation, becoming CEO will allow them to champion the cause that is so close to their heart.

Growing up on a grazing farm just outside of Nullamanna, NSW, Han’s desire to return to the bush to work has been at the forefront of their decision making. “Country to Canberra really revolutionised the way I saw my country upbringing – it was like, that’s an asset, that is such a strength, you have such a wealth of experience,” they said.

Country to Canberra was founded in 2014, by founder and former CEO Hannah Wandel. Born from a desire to empower young women to reach their leadership potential, the organisation works through multiple programs, including the Leadership Competition, a nationwide road-trip and mentorship program to reach its goals.

Stepping into the CEO role, Han hopes to build on the platform of success and reach that Country to Canberra has developed over the past six years.

“I see us being able to do more in the space of using our quite privileged voice for the underprivileged people in the communities we want to represent,” Han said. “That’s something we’ve historically done, but you can always do better.”

The CEO transition marks another important step for Country to Canberra. As a proud queer leader, Han is paving the way for more young women and femininely identifying non-binary people.

“My experience of that intersectionality, of being rural and something else that’s marginalised, has changed the way I sought opportunities when I came to the city.

“We have an obligation to provide opportunities for young women and femininely identifying non-binary people because those are the people we want to support.”

Moving forward, Han wants to keep an open mind about the direction of the organisation, hoping to be pushed out of their comfort zone and gain confidence back.

“I have no idea where it will take me,” Han said. “I hope Country to Canberra can continue on for many, many years – past me, past Hannah. That’s the main place I want to see it go.”

As Han’s life pivots again, one thing is clear: Han is stepping out with confidence, backed by a strong legacy and ready to lead the next chapter of Country to Canberra.

To hear more of Han’s story, listen to the audio interview here: https://soundcloud.com/lara-stimpson/interview-with-han-worsley/s-JiTFBA911jp 

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