Talking courage with a Community Organising Fellow

Liz Foley

“When I look at my girls and the climate crisis they are on track to inherit, I realise that – for me – parenting needs to be bigger than just ‘the day to day.’ 
I need to vote for the climate now, because they can’t.”

(4 minute read.)

Liz Foley, Community Organising Fellow, Australian Conservation Foundation, has worked across a broad range of industries in both corporate and consulting roles to connect people to an organisation’s cause.  She has well over ten years’ experience in organisation development – developing leaders and teams, and providing thought leadership, communications and change management for large scale people and change programmes. She’s passionate about inspiring and enabling thoughtful action at work, home and in the community.

Join us as Liz speaks up with courage, respect and empathy for what is important.

How would you describe workplace courage?

Workplace courage is acting on your values even when it’s difficult – this might be speaking up to provide thoughtful input in a meeting, asking for what you need, challenging the status quo, or giving honest and fair feedback.

Often, it’s having the courage to risk being wrong or risk being seen to be wrong until others change and grow too.

It’s doing what matters, having a go, often in the presence of uncomfortable feelings, and in the pursuit of something bigger and more important.

What does courage look like in your workplace? 

I’m currently a Community Organising Fellow at the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF). Having spent most of my career in the corporate world, I am finding it refreshing to work in social change and be part of a workplace that really embraces people having a voice and making change happen.

Liz 2⌐Annette Ruzicka - 021-scrEveryday at ACF we are asking Aussies to join us in having one million conversations to stop climate damage  – on the phonedoor knocking, as part of a local community group at a market stall, over the dinner table at home, by the coffee machine at work, or while chatting with families and friends at festivities over summer.

We want ALL political parties to come up with better climate policies and to do so we are building a powerful community of people who care and are courageous enough to take even the smallest step out of their comfort zone to make a difference. We are doing this now, in the lead up to the next federal election, because it’s clear we are facing a climate crisis.

We have clean energy solutions  and we need to have the courage to bring them to life on a big scale.  One of the toughest conversations in our country when it comes to making the changes required to limit global warming, is about coal. Australia needs to stop the digging and burning of coal to play our role in stopping climate damage, as we are the world’s biggest coal exporter. But, having this conversation requires courage – big time!  Many of our politicians don’t have the courage to do this yet.  It also requires a lot of empathy and respect – there are very good Australians who work and live in coal communities and they will need to be supported as we undertake the necessary and increasingly urgent global transition to renewable energy.

The initial conversations ACF campaigners and supporters are having about these changes require courage – change is essential but can be tough, so having courage is essential.

Please describe 1-2 examples in which you have been courageous.  What did you do?  Who/what enabled you to be courageous?  What was the outcome?  

I am working on ACF’s climate election campaign – asking people to have the courage to use their voices and be climate voters to protect the planet for the people we love. When I started to understand more about the climate crisis through attending a Climate for Change dinner party conversation, I realised that parenting for me needed to be bigger than the day to day and that protecting my kids included protecting our planet for their future.

Changing the course of my career to help our country accelerate the big scale changes that are required to deal with climate change, has required me to step out of my comfort zone. I too am having many climate conversations and I have also created a beautiful 1 minute video with ACF to share my story and inspire others.

It takes courage to ask others to join with me in nagging our politicians to get their act together and ramp up renewable energy! But as a community we need to be courageous – we can model the courage we are asking our politicians to have. They need to be courageous as they look into the eyes of big polluters and say on behalf of all Australians, “no more.”

From your point of view, to what extent are our world leaders leading with courage? 

There is definitely opportunity for our leaders to step up. There is no doubt we see our world leaders being brave enough to say what they think, but from my perspective, their comments are sometimes biased and ill-informed and I think the public is tiring of this type of leadership.

From my perspective, our leaders need to be brave AND thoughtful – we need leaders who see our planet as our home – a society, not simply an economy.  We also need leaders who are courageous enough to think beyond the short term – beyond the single election cycle – to future generations and the future of our planet. Big transformational changes to our energy system, to industry, transport, agriculture, etc., take courage.

NOW is the time that we can ask all leaders to act with more courage – our kids and future generations will thank us for it.

Liz-⌐Annette Ruzicka - 013-scr


If you’d like to connect with Liz, you can do so via LinkedIn.

Photo credits in order:

1.  Rachel Wiley

2. & 3. Annette Ruzicka

I am really lucky to call Liz a close friend who has time and again, shown tremendous courage.  We first met in the corporate world, where we had the chance to work and play together.  On learning of Liz’s current work with ACF, it did not surprise me at all as I known how passionate and caring Liz is about her family, her community, all of those with whom she interacts, and the world.  She also courageously and respectfully speaks up about what is important.


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