Dairy Women's Network's recent AGM painted a positive picture for the future with the Network celebrating its 20th year of connecting, educating, and celebrating dairy women in New Zealand.

CEO Jules Benton says the network is in a comfortable position, recording an end-of-year profit of $54,515.

She says the increased profits, which were primarily attributed to higher sponsorship revenue and lower expenses, provides a solid platform for future growth and the ongoing support of its 10,000 members.

Benton particularly thanked the founders, partners, volunteers and members driving the success of the network.

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"We are grateful to four incredible women, Hilary Webber, Robyn Clements, Willy Geck and Christina Baldwin for their passion, foresight and hard work in setting up the Dairy Women's Network in 1998," she says.

"These founding women laid the groundwork for a network that, 20 years later, is 10,000 members strong, hosts thousands of attendees at more than 175 educational events every year and encourages dairy women to thrive through shared knowledge and connection."

AGM attendees also heard updates from the Network's strategic partners. DairyNZ strategy implementation manager Andrew Fletcher discussed the future of the Dairy Tomorrow Strategy, of which Dairy Women's Network is a contributing partner.

ASB's Mt Albert Grammar farm experience centre and development manager Peter Brice also gave an overview of the new MAGS Farm which enables urban children to take part in agricultural education.

Jules says the Network's goals for the future are based on growing and empowering great people to drive the dairy industry.

"Our continued success will be determined not only by how well we connect with our members' minds, but more importantly how we connect with their hearts — and this will be true for the entire dairy industry.

"We've come a long way since 1998 where women were the invisible force on the farm.
"Now, they're business leaders and board members in their own right.

"Our continued focus now is to harness this progress and momentum and use it to continue driving forward."

In her chair report, Cathy Brown reflected on the Network's 20 years of connecting and empowering dairy women, saying the network is just as relevant now as it was two decades ago.

"Our members reflect the strength that exists in the industry, and our ability to walk alongside each other in an always-evolving industry has stood us in good stead," she says.

To mark its 20th year, Cathy says the network embarked on a strategy refresh to ensure it was well-placed to continue to meet the changing needs of its members.

"Our new vision is to enable transformational change in agribusiness, and our new purpose is to empower farm businesses to thrive with knowledge and connections.

"Over the past 20 years we're extraordinarily proud to have developed a great number of role models for members to follow in the footsteps of, and I thank our founders, partners, staff, volunteers and members who together can be proud of the work they're doing to deliver what the dairy industry needs in the future."

Since its inception, Dairy Women's Network has been supported by several industry partnerships, including DairyNZ, with whom the network is a partner in the Dairy Tomorrow Strategy, Ballance AgriNutrients, ASB and Fonterra.

2017-2018 highlights:
• Jules Benton appointed CEO;
• Loshni Manikam named Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year;
• Kylie Leonard named Dairy Community Leadership Award winner;
• Network reaches 10,000 members;
• 3245 members attended over 175 events.