Isla Winarto is Eurasian, with an Australian mother, and Indonesian father, who was one of the Founding members of the AIA in Sydney, in 1945. She has a BA Honours degree in Indonesian language and literature, and a graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Sydney. For the past 37 years, Isla has lived and worked in Jakarta, Indonesia.
After graduating, Isla taught Indonesian language and literature at the University of Sydney, and later at Griffith University, Australia. For some years, she was also involved in broadcasting Indonesian language lessons over ABC Radio Australia.
From 1985 - 1996, Isla worked at USAID, American Embassy Jakarta, in Indonesian language training, international education and project management. During that period she also acted as the interpreter for Ambassador Paul Wolfowitz, and for Hillary Clinton during the U.S. Presidential visit to Indonesia in 1994.
From 1996 until her retirement in May, 2014, Isla was the Country Director for Indonesia of a global company, owned by the Australian universities. In this role, she managed ten offices across Indonesia and also had short-term assignments in South Africa, and as Acting Country Director in HK.
In 2003, Isla’s autobiography, entitled Kopi Susu, was published world-wide in the book: Australian Expats: Stories From Abroad.
In her spare time, Isla is an active committee member of the Indonesian Heritage Society, Jakarta. She is also the UN Liaison Officer for the Jakarta chapter of Soroptimist International, a global organization for professional women.