If anyone deserves to be called a trailblazer, it’s Kath McNeilly.
Decades spent breaking down barriers has seen the Cleveland Manor resident become a much-loved and respected community leader in Brisbane’s Redlands district.
While working in her first job as a typist in a Cleveland real estate office, she was asked to take on a new role, becoming the first female salesperson in the Redlands.
From there, Kath established her own real estate business and was elected the first female president of both the Real Estate Institute of Queensland and the Redland Chamber of Commerce.
“In those years, it was men who pushed me to take on new positions, and then I gave it my best shot,” she said.
“When we had a meeting, I’d look out over a sea of male faces, but I was accepted and I think they respected the position I held.”
She was also president of an unemployment program and helped found STAR Transport — a service helping the elderly attend medical appointments and maintain social connections.
Kath’s efforts have seen her awarded an Australia Day Community Award in 1998, the Redlands Citizen of the Year and the Premier’s Award for Queensland Seniors in 2004, and the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2006.
She was also awarded the Rotary Club’s top honour, the Paul Harris Fellow, in 2008, which came as a complete surprise.
“I was busy getting an elderly lady a cup of tea when they announced my name and asked me to come to the stage!” she said.
Kath’s contributions have benefitted thousands of people in her community, but she remains steadfastly humble about her accomplishments.
“It’s been a very interesting life and living peacefully at Cleveland Manor caps it all off.”
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