Cheryl Koenig is a Sydney-based writer and motivational speaker.
She was named 2009 NSW Woman of the Year for her fundraising and community work and in 2014 received the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to people with disabilities, their families and carers.
Her involvement within the disability sector arose out of caring and advocacy for her son who was severely injured in a motor vehicle accident.
That story was beautifully captured in her award-winning third book PAPER CRANES – A Mother’s Story of Hope, Courage & Determination.
Her fourth book – With Just One Suitcase – is Cheryl’s homage to her father, Frici, and her father-in-law, Istvan - and her belief in the importance of history to understanding ourselves.
Her books have been published in Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, India, with a short story published in the USA.
They each contain recurring themes of hope, inner-strength and resilience, and how these qualities affect one’s endurance and even survival.
Cheryl’s embrace of life shines through as she delivers inspirational presentations on a variety of issues of which she feels passionately about.
Some recent topics she was asked to speak on were: ‘You Can Change the World’; ‘Let’s talk about Caring’; ‘Women and Leadership’; ‘The Benefits of Writing’. Generally, Cheryl loves speaking about the backstory to her published books, about her amazing family journey of surviving against all odds, her multicultural background and the importance of sharing stories in keeping history alive.
She has been a keynote speaker all around Australia as well as at a medical conference in Brazil, South America.
In Cheryl’s own words: “Reaching or inspiring people via my speaking roles or published works is the most rewarding gift I can give myself and others.
I am passionate about sharing stories – everybody has a story to tell.
Words and stories bridge the gap between past and present, and connect us to our common humanity by giving us empathy for what others have endured.
I’m also committed to raising awareness of, and giving voice to, society’s marginalised – from Carers, to People with Disability, to Migrants, to the homeless etc – all of whom are socially isolated, financially fraught and effectively exiled from mainstream society.”
As a member of Cheryl’s audience, expect to be moved, and expect to relive her words for a very long time
It is with great pleasure that I endorse Mrs Cheryl Koenig OAM.
Carer Support Service is a community based, Not for Profit (NFP) organisation providing support to family carers. We support carers across South East Sydney and the Illawarra.
Mrs Koenig engaged our service some years as a full time carer of her son Jonathon.
Jonathan was hit by a speeding car when he was 12 years old and sustained a serious brain injury.
Over the years Mrs Koenig has shown incredible resilience in her caring role and developed a passion and commitment to advocating for carers in the community.
This commitment was recognised formally with Mrs Koenig receiving an OAM for service to people with disability and their carers.
Carer Support Service has engaged Mrs Koenig as our guest speaker on many occasions and in a variety of capacities and audiences including: Regional Carers Week opening ceremonies, Carer Support Service 20-year anniversary event, local carer support groups and other regional carer awareness engagements.
Mrs Koenig’s humble approach and heart felt messages are why the community engage and respond so well to her. Her speeches are always well thought out, articulated, emotive, relevant and engaging.
Mrs Koenig, who herself now has her own health demands, is incredibly generous to our organisation.
With the release of her latest book, with just one suitcase Mrs Koenig hosted a corporate book launch with over 300 people in attendance.
The launch was visited by the then Minister for Disability and other local dignitaries.
Mrs Koenig donated all profit raised from the launch to Carer Support Service. We also often receive periodic donations from Mrs Koenig as a result of sale from her books.
Mrs Koenig’s generosity extends to the time she offers our organisation and our carers also. I will often call on Mrs Koenig for support at special community events as she offers a lovely presence and often attracts media attention.
Due to Mrs Koenig’s high profile within the Carers space we approached her to be our organisations ambassador and were thrilled when she accepted. Mrs Koenig was later awarded life membership at our 20-year anniversary.
I consider Mrs Koenig to be one of my mentors, I respect her work ethic and her ability to set goals and achieve them, regardless of the obstacles placed in front of her.
Cheryl was invited to annecto’s AGM 2016 as the keynote Speaker.
Her presence at The AGM and Awards and introducing an award winner was designed to provide a focus on the importance of all the Carers in the audience- and there were many.
Cheryl has the knack of getting to the essence of an issue or a cultural problem and turning it on its head in a way that helps the audience see it differently.
Cheryl can also turn a conversation of terrible gut-wrenching adversity around to one of resilience, enablement and a deeper understanding of oneself.
Many from the audience came up to me weeks after the event and told me how much they had connected with Cheryl’s speech from that day.
She wove in to her speech annecto’ s purpose, principles and values, and this helped the staff and the audience connect better with annecto while listening to her story.Di Erlichman - Marketing and Communications Manager - Annecto