Media Release
“One of those people we should all watch” – Emily McDaniel wins Emerging Leader gong
16 September, 2021

Media contact

Matt Levinson

A deep love for Sydney has sustained “superstar in the making,” and inaugural winner of the Committee for Sydney’s Emerging Leader Award, Emily McDaniel.

“I’ve often spent time thinking why I didn’t move internationally, why I didn’t travel. I think one of those reasons is I’m just too in love with Sydney,” she said.

“When I see Sydney, I think of a place with an ancient memory, and as you walk the harbour walk, you start to understand more about that place, and yourself in the same moment.

“I think of myself predominantly as a storyteller. I wanted people to know what it feels like to walk Country. The edges of the harbour, the way the water moves, the way the wind activates the city. It’s about the way you introduce yourself to Country, so that it can introduce itself back to you.”

Emily McDaniel, a Wiradjuri woman, and a curator, writer and educator, has been awarded the inaugural Emerging Leader Award at the Committee for Sydney’s Sydney Awards today.

She has a growing reputation across the city for telling the stories of Indigenous place history in a way that’s accessible and empowering. Her influence is seen in major public art commissions, in the way Barangaroo is being shaped, and even in the way the city’s cultural leaders speak about Aboriginal culture.

Emily was instrumental in the development of the Eora Journey: Harbour Walk Story Telling Report, which resulted in the 9km ‘Yananurala’ harbour walk from Pirrama Park in Pyrmont around to Woolloomooloo.

“I first began working with the City of Sydney in 2018 and I was brought on board to start to lay down the foundations and the curation of the harbour walk. Country is a web of stories, of language, and we can learn so much from that.”

“By me being represented in this award, it’s also a recognition of the leaders who inspired me, who have mentored me and supported me. It’s an absolute honour to accept the award for Emerging Leader.”

With a career spanning some of Sydney’s major institutions, including the MCA, Art Gallery of NSW and Sydney Living Museums, she was recently named as the inaugural Director, First Nations, for the Powerhouse Museum.

Gabriel Metcalf, CEO of the Committee for Sydney, said: “We’re so thrilled Emily McDaniel has won the Emerging Leader Award. Her impact across the city is already substantial. She’s one of those people that we should all watch, she’s going to be a real superstar.”

Designed to celebrate people whose efforts make Sydney the greatest city in the world, there are six categories: Global Sydney Culture and Business, Western Sydney Champion, City Visionary, Emerging Leader, and Unsung Hero.

The eminent judging panel for the inaugural awards include:
• Ann Sherry AO – Chair Unicef Australia and Enero Australia
• Wesley Enoch – former Director of the Sydney Festival
• Sara Mansour – Founder Bankstown Poetry Slam, Lawyer Allens
• Cameron Adams – Founder and Chief Product Officer Canva
• Brian Tyson – Managing Partner Newgate Communications, Director Committee for Sydney
• Mike Baird – CEO HammondCare and former NSW Premier.

The Sydney Awards are supported by Major Partner Newgate Communications, Award Sponsors Investment NSW, Mirvac Design, DXC Technology, and Coles.