Jen Shaw – Founder

Hi there!

I’m glad you’ve dropped in to find out more about the story of Emerge.

I’ve always been deeply passionate about helping young people reach their potential and while the concept of Emerge is somewhat new, the vision to create something that reaches out to young people doing it tough has been stewing inside my temple forever.

I spent a long time as a young person out of school, out of my family home and on the streets of Toowoomba. My parents were dealing with their own trauma and subsequently I did a lot of surviving out there on my own. By the time I was 16 I was a single teenage mum, hadn’t completed any high school and had no idea where my future was going. The world had me written off as a street kid destined for a lifetime of disadvantage but instead, with the help of amazing mentors who believed in my potential and a support network that helped me push through some uncomfortable times I’ve been able to live a happy and positive life writing cook books, touring the country sharing my love of good food, growing a family of future change makers and in turn become a mentor for young people doing it tough.

Statistically I’m supposed to be in prison, addicted to drugs, welfare dependent, homeless or even dead. But because a few caring adults stepped in, turned up and gave a shit my life has changed dramatically for the better.

I founded Emerge after my grandmother passed away in 2016. She was someone who accepted everyone around her at face value, and the first to show up for someone who needed her. She fiercely protected the underdogs in life and truly believed in the potential for anyone to turn their life around. In this raw and beautiful moment in her death, I promised to carry on that legacy and truly do something that mattered for young people.

In 2017, I was joined by Sherry McDowell an amazing chef and all round human being who allowed us to trial the program in her food van and it wasn’t long before Sherry was on board with Emerge bringing along her knowledge and skills in the industry and her passion for helping the community.Sherry gave us the opportunity to purchase the food van at a less than cost price and allowed Emerge to really start to grow into a complete social impact business.

I’ve teamed up with amazing and passionate people to bring about something new in a dedicated food van and youth hub for the young people in our community that provides life skills, mentorship, opportunities in workplace training but most importantly believes in the potential of the forgotten.

I truly believe in takes a village to raise a young person and a project like Emerge is no different.

Outside of founding Emerge you’ll find me nestled in with my gorgeous 7 kids, my flock of chickens and creating something delicious in my kitchen.

Want to hear more from me about Emerge? 

Lisa Corduff Podcast 

Building Better Humans Podcast


Get in touch with me

Instagram: jen_shaw_official


On The Web:




Jen Shaw - Founder

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