Kim McKay AO
International Marketing & Communications Expert & Social Innovator; Sustainability Advisor; Inspirational Speaker & Media Commentator; Co-Author, True Green book series; Co-founder, Clean Up Australia & Clean Up the World
Kim McKay’s international career in media, social & sustainability marketing and communications spans over 25 years and every continent. A highly skilled communicator and entrepreneurial marketer, Kim has created and managed many visionary and large scale international projects. Social innovation projects she has helped create cover a range of areas from the environment to population genetics and futures research.
In June 2008 Kim was recognised by the Australian government for distinguished service to the environment and the community and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), one of Australia’s highest civilian honours.
She is currently managing director of Momentum2, a social & sustainability marketing and communications agency she founded in 2005 and has worked on local and global projects for National Geographic Society, Qantas and Harpo Productions among other clients. Kim will also commence as the Director of the Australian Museum in early April 2014.
Kim has worked consistently in support of the local and global environment for over two decades starting when she co-founded Clean Up Australia and then later Clean Up the World, a project held in conjunction with UNEP. The group of friends who founded Clean Up were on a mission to raise awareness and take positive action in support of the local environment.
She is the co-author with Jenny Bonnin of the award-winning True Green series of five books published in Australia (ABC Books) and in the United States (National Geographic Books)
*True Green Kids won the USA’s AAAS/Subaru Book Prize for Best Hands On Science Book and has been featured in the journal, Science Magazine-awarded in Chicago, February, 2009. Other awards for the True Green series are from Friends of the Earth (Aust) and Santa Monica’s Library Green Prize.
To mark the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day 2011, Kim was included in the Westpac-sponsored book ‘The Power of 100…One hundred Women who have shaped Australia’. That same year she was named as a founding Luminary at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). In 2012/3 she received an AICD Board scholarship.
Kim is a regular media commentator on practical environmental action and is an inspirational public speaker addressing businesses and conferences as well as not-for-profit and community groups on sustainability as well as women’s leadership and her rich life and business experiences.
In the past few years Kim has appeared as a panelist on the top-rating Gruen Planet program on ABC TV; MC’d Oprah Winfrey’s only media conference in Australia; presented a series of on-camera ‘True Green Tips’ for Sky News in Australia (part of the weekly Eco Report in 2009); co-authored a weekly ‘True Green’ column for the Sunday Telegraph ‘Body and Soul’ newspaper in 2007; and was named in G Magazine’s Top 20 Australian Eco Heros list in the November 2009 issue. From 2006-2011 she presented a weekly True Green spot for ABC regional radio in NSW.
In 2010 Kim and Momentum2 teamed up with Eckfactor to manage the local media and stakeholder relations for Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure on behalf of Harpo Productions – one of the largest and most highly acclaimed media and tourism events held in Australia in recent years.
Kim returned to Australia in 2004 after almost seven years working in the United States in cable television for two of the most respected non-fiction channels, Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channels International. She joined NGCI as Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications in June 2000.
Since then, Kim has co-created The Genographic Project for National Geographic with population geneticist, Dr Spencer Wells. One of the largest and wide-ranging projects in National Geographic’s 125 year history, the five year+ global study traced humankind’s migratory history during the past 60,000 years.
The Genographic Project has actively involved the general public in citizen science through the purchase of a DNA cheek-swab test kit to identify an individual’s deep ancestry. Kim conceived the project with Dr Wells and secured global corporate support from IBM. To date, some 500,000 test kits have been sold raising millions of dollars for the Genographic Project’s Legacy Fund to benefit cultural preservation and education projects in indigenous communities around the world. She is now involved in the launch of Geno2.0, the new second phase of the ongoing initiative.
Kim’s career has been peppered with extraordinary adventure pursuits and the environment – she was a project manager on all four BOC Challenge solo around the world yacht races in the 1980s and 90s; a media representative on the APSA World Pro Surfing tour in the 1980s; executive director of Discovery Channel Eco-Challenge in Australia, Morocco and Argentina in the late 1990s; and in recent years, part of National Geographic research and filming expeditions to Peru, Egypt and India. She is currently working with famed adventurer Tim Jarvis AM on the 2013 Shackleton Epic expedition which successfully recreated Sir Ernest Shackleton’s history making voyage of survival a century ago.
In 1989, after staging the historic Clean Up Sydney Harbour Day, Kim co-founded Clean Up Australia with Ian Kiernan AO and served as Deputy Chairwoman for 20 years (1989- 2009), helping direct the growth of the organisation in its early years. During its first decade, Clean Up Australia became one of the largest community environmental projects in Australia annually attracting more than half a million volunteers. Following the success of this effort, in 1992 she co-founded Clean Up the World, securing partnership with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and international corporate support. At its peak, the program operated in 120+ countries and annually involved over 30 million participants.
Kim’s current not-for-profit roles include: Trustee of the Australian Museum, Chair, Editorial Advisory Committee, CSIRO’s ECOS Magazine (Australia’s oldest environmental publication); Board member of the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) Foundation; Board member of the RANZCO Eye Foundation; steering committee member of the National Business Leader’s Forum on Sustainable Development; and a member of the Genographic Project Legacy Fund. She is also an Advisory Board member and Ambassador for the 1 Million Women campaign and has recently joined the board of Fair Trade Australia.
In the past she served for 20 years on the Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World boards; was a board member of the Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies at Georgetown University, Washington, DC, a communications advisory committee member of the National Breast Cancer Foundation; a member of the Community Relations Committee for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Bid; voluntarily helped coordinate the Million Mom March in Washington DC in 2000; and was one of the co-founders of the Short-handed Sailing Association of Australia. In January 2008 she traveled to Antarctica as part of the Expedition Team, lecturing on board the Australian-based cruise ship, ORION.
She holds a BA (Communications) from UTS (University of Technology, Sydney) and has won numerous Australian and international awards for her work in the environment and communications including a PRIA National Golden Target Award, a United Nations citation for Clean Up the World and IPRA’s Golden World Award for Excellence in Environmental Communication. She was awarded the University of Technology, Sydney Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in 2010 – the highest honour awarded to former Alumni.
She has lived in the USA, UK, Morocco and Argentina for extended periods and now lives in her hometown, Sydney, Australia.
Phot credit: Ross Coffey