Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit 2019 - Speakers A-L

International Thought Leaders

Karl Zinsmeister
Vice President, The Philanthropy Roundtable

Karl Zinsmeister oversees all magazine, book, and web publishing at The Philanthropy Roundtable in Washington, D.C. In 2016 he produced The Almanac of American Philanthropy, the 1,342-page culmination of a multiyear effort to create the authoritative reference on America's fascinating and culturally seminal tradition of solving public problems with private resources. He also founded and advises the Roundtable’s program on philanthropy for veterans and service members.

Karl has authored 12 books, including two different works of embedded reporting on the Iraq war, a book on charter schools, a storytelling cookbook, even a graphic novel published by Marvel Comics. He has also made a PBS feature film and written hundreds of articles for publications ranging from the Atlantic to the Wall Street Journal. Earlier in his career he was a Senate aide to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the J. B. Fuqua Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and editor in chief for nearly 13 years of The American Enterprise magazine. From 2006 to 2009 Karl served in the West Wing as the President's chief domestic policy adviser and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. He is a graduate of Yale University and also studied at Trinity College Dublin.

Sevaun Palvetzian
CEO, CivicAction

One of Canada’s leading experts on civic engagement, Sevaun Palvetzian has been CEO of CivicAction since January 2014. Under her leadership, CivicAction has focused on building inclusive cities and levelling the playing field of opportunity. Throughout her career, Sevaun has advocated for new voices at the tables of influence including championing the next generation of leaders in her roles with the Ontario Public Service, the University of Toronto, and Presidential Classroom in Washington, DC.

Recently named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women, Sevaun is a voice of influence and advocacy on many urban issues and is frequently called on for media commentary. She has served as a member of the Toronto Police Service Board Transformational Task Force and as a member of Mayor John Tory’s Advisory Panel for International Hosting Opportunities. She also sits on the Board of Directors for NPower Canada, Waterfront Toronto, and is a member of the Ivey Business School Leadership Council.

Speakers A-L

Esther Abram 
Acting CEO, Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) 

Esther is a highly experienced leader in the environmental not for profit sector whose background includes a wide range of environmental issues and climate change and roles in management and advocacy.

From 1996 – 2005, Esther led key environmental NGOs. She was the Director of Environment Victoria and the inaugural CEO at Moreland Energy Foundation. She then consulted on a wide range of environmental / climate initiatives.

Since 2010 Esther has worked with philanthropy. She has been with the AEGN for 5 years, supporting member collaborations, resource development and leading the organisation’s advocacy work. Prior to this Esther was the Executive Officer for Changemakers Australia, a groundbreaking organisation spearheading social change philanthropy. This work culminated in successful advocacy to establish the Charities Act 2013. 

Esther holds a Master of Arts from Melbourne University, a Graduate Diploma of Business and a Bachelor of Arts.

John Anderson
Advocacy Manager, ChangeFest

John Anderson is a Traditional Owner from the Nywaigi People around Ingham and Mamu People around Innisfail in North Queensland with traditional owner connections to the Central West and Central Highlands regions of Central Queensland.

John has over 40 years of Government, corporate and community sector experience both domestically and internationally, where he’s earned a well-respected reputation for cultural and moral integrity – a sought-after quality in establishing Queensland as the premier Australian destination for authentic First Peoples cultural tourism experiences and services.

He is an active domestic and international traveller with professional and customer experience with First Peoples’ cultural tourism products and services and with tourism focusing on health and wellbeing, music and cultural festivals.

Glenn Barnes 
Joint Chair, Citizens for Democratic Renewal 

Glenn is a consultant and company director who has over twenty years of governance experience in banking & financial services, business information, healthcare & wellbeing, body protection, consumer goods and the not-for-profit sector. 

He has had a long term interest in economics and political systems, was a board member and Victorian President of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and Co-Chair (withVerity Firth) of a 2017 Symposium on Trusted Long Term Decision Making (by Government). Glenn was involved in packaged goods and the banking and financial services sectors for over 30 years, as an executive, business leader and director in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States of America, Republic of Ireland, Japan and China. He has also held a number of regional and global leadership roles.

Glenn recently retired as Chairman of Australian Unity Limited and is the Chairman of Ansell Limited an ASX100 company. He is a Senior Fellow of the Financial Institute of Australasia, a Certified Practising Marketer and Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute, the AICD and the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Anna Brown OAM
CEO, Equality Australia

Anna Brown OAM is a human rights lawyer and founding Chief Executive Officer of Equality Australia - a national voice for LGBTIQ+ people. Anna played a crucial role in achieving marriage equality through her work at the Human Rights Law Centre and as Co-Chair of the Equality Campaign, and has been instrumental in battles to secure federal LGBTI discrimination protections, remove discriminatory laws across the country and right historical wrongs by establishing schemes to erase historical homosexual offences. Anna’s legal work has helped to ensure that young trans people can access vital hormone treatment without the cost and delay of going to court and furthered recognition of sex and gender diversity.

Anna also has expertise in discrimination law, police use of force and protester rights; was previously a ministerial advisor to the former Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls; a senior associate at Allens Linklaters and a federal court associate. 

Catherine Brown
Board Member, AEGN and CEO, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

Catherine Brown is regarded as one of Australia’s most influential leaders in philanthropy.  With more than 20 years-experience in philanthropic strategy, governance, charity law and grantmaking, Catherine is also well known for introducing global philanthropic trends to the Australian sector.

As Chief Executive Officer of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation in Melbourne since 2011, Catherine has led the transformation of the Foundation to become a contemporary community foundation focused on the key challenges facing the community: climate change and sustainability, homelessness, youth unemployment and social cohesion. LMCF has an annual grants program of $9.8 million and runs several programs and Initiatives in its areas of interest. Catherine is well known for promoting and applying all the tools in the philanthropy toolbox to achieve LMCF’s vision.

As a lawyer, Catherine has held legal and senior management roles in the not for profit sector and has extensive governance experience on not for profit and government Boards. She joined the Board of Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network in 2017 to help grow environmental philanthropy.

Liz Chapman OAM 
Deputy Chair, Tomorrow Today Foundation and Convener, Education Benalla Program 

Elizabeth (Liz) Chapman was the founder and inaugural Chair of Tomorrow Today Foundation and is the Convenor of the Foundation’s Education Benalla Program. Formal qualifications in agriculture and rural development back up 20 years of working at a local, regional and national level with private businesses and industry groups, government agencies, regional authorities and community organisations.

Liz is a former Director of Goulburn-Ovens TAFE and YWCA Victoria.  In 2017 Liz was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to education and the community.


Jackie Coates
Head of Telstra Foundation

A seasoned community investment leader, Jackie is passionate about enabling social innovation underpinned by digital. Self-described as “analogue at birth but digital by design”, Jackie advocates for the transformative power of tech to solve social problems.

As head of the Telstra Foundation, Jackie manages a multi-million dollar community partner portfolio to improve social inclusion outcomes for young people in the areas of mental health; disability; digital making; cyber-safety; and remote, regional and Indigenous communities. Feminist, mother, geek, and grant-maker Jackie juggles many balls and tries hard not to drop the glass ones! Find out more at


Craig Connelly
CEO, The Ian Potter Foundation

Craig Connelly commenced as CEO of The Ian Potter Foundation in December 2015. Craig is an accomplished financier and businessman, now dedicated to contributing to the community sector. He spent 25 years working in a variety of roles in the Australian financial services sector, initially with respected chartered accounting firm, Price Waterhouse, followed by 11 years as a leading Australian equities analyst and partner with JB Were.

Over the past 15 years, Craig has spent time supporting personal philanthropic pursuits, most notably his Swim For Life campaign in December 2005 and December 2006; raising funds for new day beds at the Royal Melbourne Hospital 5 West cancer day ward, and more recently devoting his efforts to the advancement of a large community club in the north west region of metropolitan Melbourne. 

Craig is currently an external member on the Advisory Committee for the Sustainable Farms Initiative, ANU and is the Founding Trustee of the Parks Australia Trust.

Matthew Cox
Director, Logan Together

After chairing the working party that established the Logan Together initiative during 2014/2015, Matthew Cox was appointed its Director in July 2015. Prior to this role, Matthew spent a decade at the Australian Red Cross, heading the organisation’s human services and community and economic development program in Queensland.

Earlier Matthew had a career in local government and in communications and marketing. He is also the current Co-chair of the Logan City of Choice Leadership Team.



Sarah Davies
CEO, Philanthropy Australia

Sarah has had a broad and wide ranging career from executive roles in tertiary education in Australia to private sector consulting in HR, marketing and strategy in Australia, Europe and the Middle East, and back in the dim dark ages in airport management. But for the last 10 years, her focus has been exclusively in the for purpose sector: in philanthropy and social change.

In October 2015, Sarah joined Philanthropy Australia as the CEO. Philanthropy Australia’s purpose is to champion, enable and support the growth and evolution of philanthropy throughout Australian society – in simple terms, to foster and achieve more and better philanthropy. It is the peak body and membership organisation for all individuals and organisations who are engaged, or want to be, in planned and thoughtful giving to bring about effective, positive social and community change.

This is not her first role in the philanthropic sector as she was the CEO of the Australian Communities Foundation for four years. The Australian Communities Foundation is a non-profit charitable foundation which enables accessible philanthropy and matches its donors’ interests to emerging social issues and needs of communities.

In between these two, prior to joining Philanthropy Australia, Sarah had an exciting and highly rewarding time as the CEO of The Reach Foundation, a for-purpose organisation working to improve the wellbeing of young people so they can get the most out of life.

In addition to her professional roles, Sarah has also served on a number of diverse Boards and committees. Her current community roles include Director of Kids Under Cover, board member of the Centre for Social Impact, Council Member of the National Museum of Australia and Board Member of the Australian Advisory Board on Impact Investing.

Sarah is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, a Member and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of the Williamson Community Leadership Program and a Victorian JP.

Hugh de Kretser
Executive Director, Human Rights Law Centre

Hugh de Kretser is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre. Hugh has led legal action and advocacy to advance human rights in Australia for over 15 years as Manager of the Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre, Executive Officer of the Victorian Federation of Community Legal Centres and since 2013 at the Human Rights Law Centre.

Hugh is a Director of the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council and previously served as a Commissioner of the Victorian Law Reform Commission. In 2018, Hugh played a key role in the successful Hands off our Charities campaign which defeated attempts by the Federal Government to suppress advocacy by civil society.


Michelle Deshong
CEO, Australian Indigenous Governance Institute

Michelle Deshong is from Townsville, North Queensland and draws her connection to Kuku Yulanji nation. She is the CEO of the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute, and is currently working on her PhD (on the participation of Aboriginal women in public and political life) at James Cook University. 

Michelle has worked in both the Government and NGO sectors, and has held many senior leadership roles and she currently holds a number of directorship roles in the Not for Profit sector, including the Supply Nation Board, Thirrili and the OXFAM Indigenous Advisory Council. In 2013 Michelle was named in the Australian Financial Review/Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards, and has also been an NGO representative on many occasions at the United Nations forums on the Commission on the Status of Women and Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. 

Richard Eccles 
Deputy Secretary, Department of Communications and the Arts

Richard Eccles is the current deputy secretary for the Department of Communications and the Arts with a focus on content, arts and strategy. 

Previously, Ricahrd was the deputy secretary for Indigenous Affairs, where he worked under associate secretary, Andrew Tongue, in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.





Natalie Egleton
CEO, Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

Natalie is passionate about facilitating effective responses to issues facing rural communities. She was appointed CEO of FRRR in November 2015, after joining FRRR in 2012 and is responsible for shaping FRRR’s strategy, designing new programs and developing and nurturing new funding partnerships. Before joining FRRR, Natalie consulted with Matrix on Board, working with numerous not-for-profit organisations in program evaluation, undertaking research analysis and developing business plans. Natalie has also held in-house roles at Evolve (Typo Station) and at ANZ Banking Group, implementing projects that made a tangible difference to the lives of people living in rural, regional and remote Australia. She lives in the small rural town of Maldon in central Victoria. 

Bruce Ellen
President, Country Press Australia

President of Country Press Australia, an industry body that represents the interests and advocates for over 125 independent regional and rural newsmedia publishers.

Bruce has also served as a board member of Victoria’s newspaper industry body for over 20 years.

He has been part of the media industry for over 40 years and has been the publisher of the Latrobe Valley Express and Gippsland Times newspapers for over 25 years.



Natalie Elliott 
CEO, MaiTri Foundation

Natalie’s career has spanned across senior roles in public health, finance and philanthropy. She has specialised in the advice, development and implementation of philanthropic strategies and practice models for some of the largest private philanthropists and philanthropic institutions in Australia.

Having managed the effective distribution of more than $500m in support of strategic philanthropic interventions which have had a measurable impact in the communities they serve, Natalie now works exclusively for the PJ Cooper Family Office. The operating businesses span Funds Management, Private Investment, Philanthropy, and Dramatic Arts.

Natalie serves as a voluntary Director on the Board of Habitat for Humanity, Victorian Chapter and the 16th Street Foundation. At home Natalie is surrounded by education specialists at home, her father John, partner Rohan and daughter Maddison have greatly enhanced her passion for understanding of the value of teaching & lifelong learning. Natalie is also an advocate for reform in the mental health care system in which too many Australians do not have access to appropriate care and treatment. 

Professor Mark Evans
Director, Democracy 2025, Museum of Australian Democracy

Professor Evans is the Director, Democracy 2025 at the Museum of Australian Democracy and Professor of Governance at the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis. 

Formerly Director of the Worldwide Universities Public Policy Network and Vice President of the Joint University Council for the Applied Social Sciences, he specialises in the study, design and delivery of democratic governance. He has managed research and evaluation projects for 26 countries, including Australia, Afghanistan, Brazil, China, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Libya, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, the European Union, the United Nations and the World Bank. 

Professor Evans is the author, co-author or editor of numerous books, including Social Science and Evidence based Policymaking – Methods that Matter (Policy Press, 2016) and Trust and Democracy in Australia (2018) as part of Democracy 2025.

Ben Gales 
Executive Director, Economic Policy, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet

Ben Gales is an Executive Director at NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC).  Ben brings a wealth of experience in economic and social policy as well as impact investing.  In his current role he is responsible for the Strategic Coordination, where his focus is on driving improved social outcomes for people in NSW.  He recently moved to DPC from NSW Treasury, where he was responsible for the Economic Strategy Division, which includes the NSW Office of Social Impact Investing. 

Prior to return to NSW Government, he was the CEO, Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA), a commercial social lender to a diverse range of social enterprises in Australia.  His public sector experience includes roles in NSW Family and Community Services, and HM Treasury in the UK.  Ben has commercial investment experience from his time working in venture capital in the UK and the US, and has held a number of Non-Executive Board seats.  He was on the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership between 2014 and 2016. 

Dr Jane Gilmour OAM
Chair, The William Buckland Foundation

Dr Jane Gilmour OAM is Chair of the William Buckland Foundation and has been a Trustee of the Foundation for a number of years. She was the CEO of Earthwatch Institute and has held a number of non-executive directorships, including Councillor of RMIT University, Deputy Chair of the International Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management, and Board Member of Parks Victoria and Orchestra Victoria.

She has a long-standing interest in the arts, having worked at the Australian Council for the Arts for ten years. She lived and studied in France and her continuing interest in France and French culture finds expression in her current roles as President of the Bastille Day French Festival and co-editor of the French Australian Review. 

Professor Darren Halpin
Professor of Political Science, Australian National University

Darren Halpin is Professor of Political Science at the Australian National University. His research examines the role of interest groups and organised interests in the policy process, with specific emphasis on the political representation provided by groups, the level of (and necessity for) internal democracy within groups, and in assessing group organizational development/capacity.

He has undertaken research in several countries, including Australia, the UK, Denmark and the US. These themes are explored in his two recent books, Groups, Representation and Democracy (Manchester University Press) and The Organization of Political Interest Groups (Routledge).

Professor Halpin is co-convenor of the Political Organisations and Participation section of the Australian Political Studies Association. Along with Bert Fraussen (Leiden) and Herschel Thomas (University of Texas), he founded the Policy Advocacy Lab, which is a research lab seeking to leverage fundamental research for practical insights.  Professor Halpin is Co-editor of the journal Interest Groups and Advocacy and the Foundation Series Editor for the book series Interest Groups, Advocacy and Democracy (Palgrave). Prior to his current position at the ANU, he held academic posts in Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Virginia Haussegger AM 
2019 ACT Australian of the Year

Virginia Haussegger is Director of the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, at the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA), and Chief Editor of BroadAgenda, Australia’s leading research based Gender Equality blog. 

Virginia’s extensive media career spans 30 years, in which she has reported from around the globe for leading current affair programs on Channel 7, the 9 Network, and ABC TV. From 2001 she anchored ABC TV News in Canberra for 15 years. A former weekly columnist for the Canberra Times, she remains a regular contributor to Fairfax media. 

Virginia is the 2019 ACT Australian of the Year. In 2014 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to the community, gender equity, and the media.

Virginia is Patron of the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre. She has served on a number of boards and committees including; UN Women National Committee Australia; the Snowy Hydro SouthCare Trust; Our Watch, Media Advisory Committee; and Women in Media. She currently sits on the Board of the ACT Government’s Cultural Facilities Corporation.

Patricia Hepworth
Director of Policy and Research, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE)

Patricia is Director of Policy and Research for the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, an independent, not-for-profit organisation working to stop the harm caused by alcohol.

She leads the Foundation’s research, policy development and advocacy programs. A public policy specialist with a legal background, 'Trish' has worked across non-for-profit, government and corporate sectors in five countries, and has consulted widely on strategic policy, government relations, research and analysis.


Stuart Howie
Founder, Flame Tree Media

Stuart Howie is a Canberra-based communications and media consultant. A former editorial director of Fairfax Regional Media, he oversaw the editorial operations of 180 titles and a newsforce of 800 staff.

In a 35-year media career, he has worked as a reporter, executive and strategist. He is a former editor of the Illawarra Mercury, The Courier (Ballarat), and deputy and acting editor of The Canberra Times.

Today, he is known for helping transform newsrooms and media business models, consulting to publishers and others in Australia and NZ. He is the author of The DIY Newsroom, a communications handbook that shows organisations and leaders how to cut-through in the Attention Economy, drawing on the principles and practices of the world’s best newsrooms. 

Senator Jane Hume
Assistant Minister, Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology

Jane Hume is a Liberal member of the Australian Senate representing Victoria. She was elected at the 2016 election. Prior to her election.

Hume held various senior positions in the financial services industry, working for the National Australia Bank, Rothschild Australia, Deutsche Bank and, immediately prior to her election, as a senior policy adviser at Australian Super.



Nicole Ireland 
General Manager, Partnerships and Advocacy, QCoal Foundation

As General Manager – Partnerships and Advocacy for Queensland-based QCoal Foundation, Nicole is responsible for managing the Foundation’s social venture initiatives and supporting these through effective engagement with external stakeholders.  In particular, Nicole has supported the transition of the Foundation’s flagship social venture partnership – the RFDS Dental Service – from fully funded by the Foundation’s philanthropic contribution to long-term, sustainable Government funding.  Both professionally and personally as a volunteer, she is a passionate advocate for programs that make a real difference.

Advocating for both the Foundation’s partners and programs and, on behalf of the rural and regional communities they collectively support, Nicole brings to the Foundation over 20 years experience in communications, Government relations, stakeholder engagement and strategic planning.  Having worked for some of corporate Australia’s largest companies and for Government through to serving on not-for-profit Boards, Nicole is well-regarded for her strategic and business-case driven approach.

Ann Johnson
Co-chair, Philanthropy Australia 

Ann Johnson is a director of the W & A Johnson Family Foundation. Ann and her husband Warwick established their PAF in 2006. She is Chair of the Sydney Theatre Company Foundation and Deputy Chair of the Sydney Theatre Company. Ann trained as a lawyer and has worked for law firms in Sydney and Tokyo.





Mark Kenny 
Senior Fellow, Australian Studies Institute, Australian National University

Mark Kenny joined the Australian National University in 2019 after a high-profile career in journalism, culminating in 6 years as chief political correspondent and national affairs editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Canberra Times.

Throughout his career Mark has covered bilateral talks around the world, as well as summits such as APEC, G20, G8, ASEAN/East Asia Summit, NATO, and the infamous Copenhagen climate talks in 2009.

Kenny was made a Visiting Fellow at ANU in 2018 before taking up a full-time academic post as Senior Fellow with the Australian Studies Institute in January, 2019.

His research interests include national politics, comparative studies, democracy in flux, and the threat of populism.

A regular columnist, he is also a sought after commentator on radio and television programs across the country.

Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP 
Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities

Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Prior to being elected in 2010, Andrew was a professor of economics at the Australian National University. He holds a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard, having graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in Law and Arts. Andrew is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and a past recipient of the 'Young Economist Award', a prize given every two years by the Economics Society of Australia to the best Australian economist under 40.

Andrew is the father of three sons - Sebastian, Theodore and Zachary, and lives with his wife Gweneth in Canberra. He has been a member of the Australian Labor Party since 1991.


Eytan Lenko 
Lenko Family Foundation

Eytan Lenko is a technology entrepreneur and long running advocate for strong action on climate change. He is a founder of Outware, one of Australia’s fastest-growing software development companies which was acquired in 2017. 

Eytan is a director of the Lenko Family Foundation which focusses almost exclusively on Climate Change advocacy and solutions. In particular it seeks out campaigns and programs at an early stage where seed funding and active involvement can make a big difference.

He is Chair of Beyond Zero Emissions, an internationally recognised climate and energy solutions think tank that brings engineers and scientists together to research and plan for Australia/s transition to zero emissions across each sector of the economy.

Eytan is also a director of the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network.

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