Top Blokes founder Melissa Abu-Gazaleh was recognised for her work with young adults last week when she was named a finalist in the Unsung Hero category of the 2014 HESTA Community Sector Awards.
It coincided with the former youth worker being invited to speak at the INSPIRE Women's Conference in Wollongong on June 6.
Ms Abu-Gazaleh established the Top Blokes Foundation as a youth-led organisation to combat anti-social behaviour in 2006.
"Now Top Blokes works with 1000 young guys a year," she said.
HESTA named Ms Abu-Gazaleh as one of the top five finalists for its national community sector awards because of her role in developing peer-mentor and training programs aimed at challenging young men and teenage boys.
Her goal was to encourage them to feel good about themselves by helping them make a positive contribution to their local community while developing qualities of integrity and self-respect.
Ms Abu-Gazaleh was prompted by negative stories in the media around alcohol-fuelled violence, gang-related crimes and vandalism involving young men.
INSPIRE organisers Margaret Biggs, of TIGS, and Virginia Wren, of Illawarra ITeC, asked her to speak at the women's conference because they saw her as a fine example of what a young female leader in the Illawarra could achieve.
"To have her share the story of where she has come from in the Illawarra and where she is going, we think is incredibly inspiring for women from all walks of life," Mrs Biggs said.
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