Jill Ker Conway and James Crawford receive the AC

Patrick Moran / June 11, 2013 04:46 PM

Two Australians living abroad were awarded the nation’s highest civilian honour on Monday. Author and businesswoman Jill Ker Conway and international law expert James Crawford both received the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, with Ker Conway receiving hers from her longtime home of the USA, and Crawford from his post as the Whewell Professor of International Law at University of Cambridge.

Ker Conway Crawford

Source: Canberra Times/ La Trobe University

Although Jill Ker Conway has lived in North America for over 50 years, she is still a remarkable Australian woman. She grew up on a remote sheep station in western New South Wales, graduating from the University of Sydney in 1958, and moving to study history at Harvard in 1960, eventually obtaining her PhD. In 1975, she became the first female president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. Her achievements during her 10 years at Smith saw her appointed to the boards of several major American companies over the next thirty years, including Nike, Colgate Palmolive and Merrill Lynch.

But in the middle of her academic and business career, Ker Conway achieved new found fame as an author, most notably publishing her autobiography, The Road from Coorain, in 1989, in which she told her amazing story. Ker Conway has become a prominent philanthropist and trustee of various projects, while receiving dozens of honorary degrees. She even finds time to practice horticulture, which she told Who’s Who in Australia is her favourite recreation. Jill Ker Conway is herself the living proof of her quote from The Road from Coorain that “An adult life...is a slowly emerging design, with shifting components, occasional dramatic disruptions, and fresh creative arrangements.”

James Crawford S.C. is one of the world’s most respected and prominent practitioners of public international law. He grew up in Adelaide and was appointed to his first academic posts at The University of Adelaide in the 1970s. Crawford became Dean of the Faculty of Law at The University of Sydney in 1990, before being appointed Whewell Professor of International Law at University of Cambridge in 1992.

From that post, Crawford has taken on such positions as member of the United Nations International Law Commission from 1991-2001, and after being a counsel in over 20 cases before the International Court of Justice, he was nominated by the Australian government for election as a Judge for that body in 2012. Crawford told Who’s Who in Australia that his recreations are reading, music and cricket. 

We offer our congratulations to both individuals on their prestigious award.


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