Kiama resident Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey has empowered women across Australia and the Asia-Pacific, but her role model was much closer to home.
Dr Rodgers-Healey - one of six finalists in this year's NSW Premier's Woman of the Year Award - founded the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women in 2000 as a legacy to her late mother Shirley.
"My mother died in 1999 before my work in this area really began, but she did get to hear a radio segment I did where I interviewed nine women leaders and she was so proud of what I was trying to achieve," she said.
"It was like she gave me her blessing to carry on this work before she passed away, and so the centre of leadership was really started as a legacy in her name, although I haven't promoted it as such.
"She remains my biggest inspiration - her gentle and caring leadership style is something I have always aspired to."
Dr Rodgers-Healey, an honorary fellow of the Australian Institute of Business Well-Being at the University of Wollongong, said she created the virtual centre to empower women to be leaders through accessing information and gaining skills.
"When I founded the centre in 2000 I felt that there was not much information and support available for women to access to develop their leadership potential," she said.
"I wanted to provide a resource the community could use freely to showcase what women, and men, do in leadership positions and provide some leadership theory.
"It's also become a research tool to find out what women think about gender equality and the issues they encounter."
Dr Rodgers-Healey has also helped many women get recognition for the contribution they make to society by establishing national leadership awards for female community leaders in 2006.
Now she's in line for her own award, and she said she was both humbled and proud at being named a finalist in the state awards.
"The other women who have been nominated are just so admirable - I'm honoured to be amongst them," she said.
Dr Eman Sharobeem, a campaigner against forced marriage, and Dr Cathy Foley, one of Australia's foremost scientists, are among the other finalists for the awards, which will be announced on March 7.
The next day, International Women's Day, Dr Rodgers-Healey will mark another milestone when she launches her book Women's Activism - insights for empowering women from global women activists at UOW.
"A world where women and men can co-exist with respect and are valued in all dimensions of life is possible if we reflect and learn from our thoughts and actions," she said.