Liz Dawes
Speaker. Founder. Force of Nature



About Liz

A savvy businesswoman and passionate about helping her community, Liz Dawes founded the Robert Connor Dawes foundation after her son passed away from brain cancer in 2013. Five years on, she has grown the charity to be the biggest paediatric brain cancer foundation in Australia. 

As CEO and Chairwoman of the board, Liz now manages Connor’s Run, the country’s largest paediatric brain cancer event with 4000 participants, and has been crucial in lobbying the Federal Government to secure funding for a disease which kills more young people than any other cancer.

Liz has also participated in round tables with the top minds in paediatric brain cancer globally and was behind the AIM Brain Project (co-funded by the Federal Government), which ensures every child diagnosed in Australia and New Zealand has access to world-class testing technology. 

LIZDAWES3 copy.jpg


Nominated for Australian of the Year Award 2017

Local Hero 2016 – Electoral Division of Goldstein

Australia Day Award 2015 – Bayside Citizen of the Year

The Story

From a small town in Wisconsin U.S.A, Liz Dawes has gone on to travel the world, lead multi-million dollar sales and marketing accounts and even start her own business. But in October 2011 Liz’s world was turned upside down with the brain cancer diagnosis of her eldest son, Connor.

What followed was the complete unknown for Liz and her family, but now, five years on, Liz has created the biggest paediatric brain cancer charity in Australia to ensure one day, no family has to go through what hers did.


Growing up in small town America, Liz majored in finance and marketing at the University of Wisconsin. She then went on to hold a number of high profile roles in sales and marketing across the United States before eventually moving across the world. After settling in Melbourne in 1999, Liz was not only raising three kids and running her own business, she also managed fundraising initiatives for the American Women’s Auxiliary – raising significant funds for the Royal Children’s Hospital. These were skills crucial to the founding and success of her own charity, the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation.

Now, Liz has turned her greatest tragedy into her greatest purpose and has inspired countless others to make a real difference to a relatively unknown disease. Throughout her career she has fought ageism, sexism and the stigma of being ‘just a grieving mother’, but has taken it in her stride. Now, she believes anyone can utilise the coping and business strategies she’s mastered, whether they've lived through such tragedy or not.