Hailing from Florida (via Italy), it was love that brought Rae Knopik ‘down under’ in 2018. An enthusiastic creative, it didn’t take long for Rae to find her entrepreneurial purpose through a not-for-profit that would inspire and support Canberran women.

When she first moved to Canberra, Rae worked remotely for a Silicon Valley EdTech Startup that was operating from California, whilst working with a manager in Spain. This meant living in one time zone (GMT+10), communicating in a second (GMT+1), and delivering in a third (GMT-8).

“I just worked around the clock to appease all three, waking up to a flurry of tasks and feedback from California, using the quiet time from the afternoon to work on tasks, and then meeting with my manager at night,” said Rae.

Short on time and a little exhausted, for months Rae attended Meetups to make new friends and meet like-minded people. She found the groups were often focused on a specific activity that required an element of ‘proof’ you were in the right room, or had intentions for romantic connections.

“What I needed was a group for women that didn’t centre around one particular activity; I wanted a ‘gal group’ that didn’t require I show up to every pre-determined meeting in order to have friends.”

Rae was seeking a group that didn’t exist yet in Canberra. So, she created it. In November 2018, Rae made an Instagram page called the CBR Gals Network and hasn’t looked back since.

“The CBR Gals Network gives a gal what she puts into it"

The CBR Gals Network is a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on enabling every Canberran woman to be more in her personal and professional capacities, and to connect the broader ACT community through inclusive events.

With a network of thousands of local women, it’s a platform for connections, collaborations and growth.

“The CBR Gals Network gives a gal what she puts into it, and I personally think that it returns more than what you give.”

Responding to COVID-19, the CBR Gals Network, took this time of home isolation to boost their initiatives and draw the community closer.

“There has been a great deal of commentary on how women have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. So, we knew we needed to be there for our community through some sort of event, but Zoom exhaustion is real, so our Board knew that if we were to do an online event, it would have to be mindful.”

CBR Gals have partnered with over 20 local, women-run companies recently through their events, supporting and amplifying businesses within the community. Their virtual happy hour gained attention last month as goodie bags full of local products were delivered to the doors of their guests.

“While we can’t wait for the days of in-person events, we’ve found that our virtual events are here to stay because they allow for more inclusivity.“

A natural networker, you can often see Rae’s smiling face at the Canberra Innovation Network’s flagship event, First Wednesday Connect.

“It’s one of my favourite networking events because of how friendly and inclusive the culture is. This pleasantly surprised me, as entering a room (let alone pitching to a room) of 200+ people can be pretty daunting.”

Rae recently pitched the CBR Gals Network’s Directory in 60 seconds at a virtual version of First Wednesday Connect last month.

CBR Gals are encouraging Canberra women to register their businesses in The Directory, an initiative for women-run business owners to support each other and foster a community.

You can keep up to date with CBR Gals on their website and across all social media channels (InstagramFacebookTwitterLinkedInYoutube).


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