Proud Aboriginal woman.
Kristal Kinsela-Christie wears many hats.
The Australian Financial Review featured her in the top 100 Australian women of influence this month.
But not many would know her remarkable backstory.
On the cusp of turning 40 she spoke to the Port News about life and what she has learnt.
She was born in Blacktown and grew up in Doonside in the western suburbs of Sydney.
Her mum was a single parent. They lived in housing commission.
"It was usually the second night before pension day that we would have to walk around to my grandmother's house to get some money for petrol and food," Mrs Kinsela-Christie said.
She didn't know her father. He visited her twice as a child.
"I have this memory of when I was five. He had a red escort wagon and he had opened the doors and I was running up and down and when I ran he would catch me," she said.
"The vision I had was he was this really strong man."
She was untroubled by his absence.
A close, loving relationship with her mother sustained her in those early years.
How did she feel about being Aboriginal?
"I had so much pride," she said.
"I come from a large Aboriginal family, a matriarchal line of strong women," she said.
"My nanna talked to me from an early age about the plight of our people. She was a real storyteller.
"She was part of the establishment of the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs, a real social activist in her day.
"I share a lot of her same passions."
A superb athlete, Mrs Kinsela-Christie dabbled in volleyball, touch football, athletics and even wrestling as a teenager.
Her uncle John, an Olympic wrestler, sparked her interest. She excelled becoming a state and national champion.
And then questions about her father began to surface.
"At wrestling tournaments people knew my father who had also been a wrestler," she said.
"There was just this sense of not feeling complete," she said.
"I just wanted to have a dad."
I didn't want to become how I had grown up.Kristal Kinsela-Christie
In her teenage years she continued to throw herself into extracurricular activities.
She was vice-captain at Plumpton High School. It was during this year she made a promise to herself.
She would never live in housing commission or be a single parent.
"I had a conscious thought my life could go one of two ways," she said.
"I didn't want to become how I had grown up.
"If I stayed there, was I going to get the next housing commission?, was I going to be a single mum?."
She set her sights on becoming a flight attendant with Qantas. In her mind the simplest way to leave her past behind.
Then September 11 shocked a world.
She decided becoming a flight attendant was off the table and through life circumstances found herself working in the education sphere.
Her career in education spanned 10 years, working for TAFE, universities, the Department of Education and later state and federal government.
"Education is knowledge and knowledge is power," she said.
"I have always felt that an education is key to helping unlock opportunities and overcome disadvantage for Aboriginal people."
By this stage her father had re-entered her life seeking contact.
What is it like getting to know your father as an adult?
"Weird," she admitted.
"I initially went through the honeymoon stage of 'I've got a dad and he wants to know me'," she said.
"But as I got to know him I did go through the whole 'storming' period of, why did you leave?, did you ever think of me?, we went through that and developed a place of understanding.
"I always come down to the fact I would rather have him in my life than not at all so I focus on that."
She moved to Port Macquarie with a newly minted husband and two young children in tow.
I hit rock bottom.Kristal Kinsela-Christie
After six years working for North Coast TAFE and a number of restructures she began to find her role unfulfilling.
Whilst looking for new opportunities, a new position working with Indigenous businesses arose, but the catch was the role was in Sydney.
Just as she accepted the role, a calamity, her marriage broke down.
"I hit rock bottom," she said honestly.
For the next two years she lived out of a suitcase between Port Macquarie and Sydney maintaining her job, whilst going through a divorce and custody battle.
"I had a lot of doubts and went through a lot of guilt about leaving my children," she said.
"I faced judgement too."
The vitriol of other mothers particularly stung.
"The whole two years I was away I was made to feel that I was putting work or myself before my children when I was trying really hard to be a positive role model for them," she said.
"I was trying to make sure my kids never end up in the welfare cycle."
She did briefly move back and try to start her own business in Port Macquarie, purely to be near her children, but struggled to find clients.
Yet the time in Sydney proved to be a blessing.
"I was able to just refocus and heal, from the divorce and the custody battle," she said.
"I was very vulnerable."
Fortuitously in Sydney, she formed a business partnership and became a director and owner of the Aboriginal consultancy firm, Indigenous Professional Services.
The business has grown from three to 25 staff and its success allowed her the flexibility to move back to Port Macquarie eventually.
Then an unexpected blessing. She fell in love.
"It was very serendipitous because we met on a plane travelling for work to Perth and we were seated next to each," she said.
"We just instantly connected and we stayed in contact.
"What I loved is that he knew nothing of me, he just got to know the real me as of this real identity I was creating of myself, this reinvention, and he just loved it. He was so encouraging and supportive," she said.
In September 2018, she gave birth to the couple's first child, a little boy Kohen.
And the plaudits kept coming.
Last year she was one of 10 Indigenous leaders chosen as part of the Special Gathering to meet the Prime Minister and state and territory leaders at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting where she spoke about Aboriginal entrepreneurship.
Since the COAG meeting, NSW, VIC and WA have introduced Aboriginal Procurement policies similar to the Commonwealth's policies.
Many would ask, how has she not only survived but thrived in the midst of setbacks?
"I am resilient," she said.
"I have an innate way of if I have a really bad day the very next day I can talk myself out of it.
"No matter what I've always managed to get through the tough times, pick myself up off the floor and keep moving.
"I accept that not every day is perfect and some days you move closer to your goals than others.
"This, coupled with having a mindset that embraces change and reinvention, has been important."
She advises young people to "be the CEO of your life".
"Treat your life like a company.
"Be in charge of your destiny; don't let things happen to you.
"I constantly come back to myself, believe in my abilities, keep asking myself, what is my direction?, what do I need to work on?."
When I was at school entrepreneurship was not a word I knew, I didn't know anyone that ran a business.Kristal Kinsela-Christie
As for her legacy?
"Legacy for me is that any young Aboriginal kid that you go and talk to feels the sense that they have a choice in their direction and destiny, nothing just happens to them," she said.
"Because I am so passionate about business and economic development I hope that any Aboriginal young person thinks business is a possibility and just goes and does it.
"When I was at school entrepreneurship was not a word I knew, I didn't know anyone that ran a business.
"In business there is so much self-determination, you are controlling your affairs, you can make money, you can give people jobs, you can make positive change."
And what advice would she give that wide-eyed 18-year-old desperate to get out of Doonside?
"To think about more than myself and actually look around and think about where I could have an impact," she said.
"Rather than thinking, how can we overcome these issues in my community, I was just trying to escape it."
The Port News series is called In My Life. We meet people of the Hastings and ask them what they have learnt in their lives so far. If you have a suggestion for the series email email@example.com