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VDB Committee Member receives prestigious international award

Congratulations to VDB Committee Member Dr Varuni Kulasekera for receiving the prestigious Mission Australia Award for Leadership Excellence.

Dr Kulasekera was presented with the award by the United States Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, during the 2023 Fulbright Scholar Gala Presentation Dinner event at Parliament House, Canberra on February 23.

During her remarks, Ambassador Kennedy noted Dr Kulasekera’s career as a leading public health scientist in New York, as well as the key role she played in the governance of Fulbright Australia over the course of her time on its Board of Directors.  

“I want to recognize one of the leaders of the Fulbright Program, without whom it would not be so successful – Dr Varuni Kulasekera.

“Varuni served eight years on Fulbright Australia’s Board of Directors, securing big donors and partnerships, participating in the selection of scholars, and creating new transformative opportunities for Australians and Americans. She has dedicated her life here to promoting and facilitating people-to-people connections between our two countries, and this award recognises the value we place in these achievements.”

On receiving the honor, Dr Kulasekera said that her service to the Alliance was motivated by the limitless opportunities created through bilateral cooperation.

“I have been proud to serve as a messenger, and facilitator for bilateral relations for close to a decade, because I truly believe that Australian-American collaborations change the world for the better. In a world rife with uncertainty and change, this is a constant that we can trust and rely on, regardless of political allegiance.

“I will continue to foster these connections wherever and whenever I can.”

The Eleanor Roosevelt Award was established in 2018 in honor of the 75th Anniversary of Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to Australia during the darkest days of the Second World War. Produced by the Royal Australian Mint, the medal accompanying the award carries the words “The Next 75 Years,” aiming to inspire the next generation of women leaders in both the United States and Australia.

Dr Kulasekera has been a member of the Van Diemen's Band Committee since May 2021, having been a keen VDB supporter ever since attending our first-ever performance in 2017!