Our people

At the top level of our organisation structure is our national Board who guide the strategic direction of Special Olympics Australia. They officially meet at least four times a year but can be often seen at a competition or fundraising event.

Board

Cameron Brownjohn (Chairman) 

Cameron chairs Special Olympics Australia (SOA) and serves on the Board’s Finance, Audit and Risk sub-committee and Governance sub-committee. The founder and CEO of Federation Asset Management, Cameron brings to the Board his lengthy experience in financial services garnered here and overseas. He has competed in sports at state and national level and brings to the Board his passion for sport and the community as well as his fiscal skills. Cameron was appointed to the Board in May 2014 and became Chairman in November 2016.

Michael Hogan (Vice Chair) 

A retired public affairs consultant, Michael chairs the Nomination Committee and sits on the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee. Michael has more than 30 years’ involvement in SOA, as his son has been a long-term Special Olympics athlete. He is a fervent supporter of Special Olympics as a pathway to greater community inclusion for athletes and their families and carers. Michael was appointed to the Board on 9 July 2012.

Tanya Brown 

Tanya is a Director of Hardie Finance Corporation and Entertainment Enterprises, a business comprising commercial property and hospitality venues in Western Australia. A Harvard Business School graduate, she previously chaired the Special Olympics WA Fundraising Committee, a subcommittee of the WA State Sports Committee. Tanya was appointed to the Board on 25 February 2020.
 

Shaun Fraser 

Shaun is a chartered accountant with 30 years’ experience in corporate insolvency and restructuring gained here and overseas. He is a founding partner of corporate advisory firm McGrathNicol, where he established its Perth corporate advisory service, counselling leading businesses on strategy, governance and performance improvements. Shaun was appointed to the Board on 30 May 2015 and chairs the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee.

Ben Haack 

A Special Olympics athlete, coach, volunteer and Athlete Leader, Ben brings a full spectrum of participant experience to the Board. Ben has played sport at all levels and is a member of the Special Olympics Asia Pacific (SOAP) Leadership Council, the Special Olympics International (SOI) International Advisory Committee and the SOI Research and Public Policy Committee. He co-chairs the SOAP Athlete Input Council and is a SOI Board Director. Ben was appointed to the Board on 26 May 2012.

Anna-Louise Kassulke

Anna-Louise is the CEO of Gold Coast Recreation and Sport and has 30 years’ experience in the sport and disability sector. She was instrumental in establishing Special Olympics Australia in Queensland and has served as State Director of Sport and Training and Head of Delegation for the Australian team at the 2007 World Games in Shanghai, 2011 World Games in Athens and 2015 World Games in Los Angeles. Anna-Louise was appointed to the Board on 30 October 2015 and is a member of the Nomination Committee.

Megan Lavender

Megan has 30 years’ experience as a public company director and government board member. She is a University Dean and college director and has previously held CEO and city councillor positions and served as ministerial advisor to the Australian Minister for Sport and the Sydney 2000 Games. Megan was appointed to the Board on 29 April 2016 and is a member of the Governance Committee.

Ruby Lawler 

Ruby is an athlete at Special Olympics’ Gladstone Club and a member at her local swim club. Ruby volunteers at the RSPCA and is a Youth Ambassador with Gladstone Community Linking Agency. She is enthusiastic about representing Special Olympics athletes, alongside Ben and having the opportunity to share ideas, good news stories and opinions of importance to athletes. Ruby was appointed to the Board on 4 November 2016.

Donald (Don) McGauchie AO 

Don is a farmer and businessman who has served as president of the National Farmers Federation and in several advisory positions within government. He has been on the boards of the Reserve Bank, Telstra and Nufarm and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to agricultural industries in 2004. He chaired the Special Olympics National Games Board in 2014 and has a grandson with intellectual disability. Don was appointed to the Board on 7 January 2020.

Anna Mezger 

Anna has 30 years’ experience in human resources, learning development, facilitation and project management.  She is the founder and Director of Strategic HR Solutions. She has a sister with an intellectual disability and a son who is a Special Olympics athlete at Melbourne Inner East Club, of which Anna is the Chair. This first-hand experience motivates Anna’s commitment to promoting healthy, active lifestyles for people with intellectual disabilities and to promoting SOA as a vehicle for achievement, community engagement and inclusion. Anna is a graduate of the AICD and was appointed to the Board in 25 February 2020.

Allison O'Shea 

Allison has a professional background in business development in finance and tourism/technology as well as law, clinical health and sport.  Currently Allison runs her own leadership and wellbeing consultancy and is strongly aligned with Special Olympics’ mission to give people with intellectual disabilities greater physical and mental wellbeing and opportunities to develop the skills and networks to flourish. Allison was appointed to the Board on 17 February 2016.

Jehad Rasheed 

Jehad has a promotional marketing background and has served on the Australasian Promotional Products Association Board. Dedicated to advancing education and coaching and enhancing the community, Jehad was the Chairman of the 2018 Special Olympics National Games held in Adelaide and has held other senior roles within Special Olympics South Australia over the past 10 years. Jehad was appointed to the Board on 31 July 2019.

Dr. Jill Rathborne 

Jill has 20 years’ experience as an astronomy research scientist and exceptional expertise in quantitative and qualitative research and analysis. She helped establish the national program to improve gender equity in STEMM in Australia’s higher education and research sector. She is currently the Director of Research for The Inclusive Organisation Group of companies and brings to the Board her passion for both inclusion and sport. Jill was appointed to the Board on 25 February 2020.

Irena Reiss 

Irena is a lawyer with an extensive background in commercial dispute resolution. She is a member of the NSW Law Society Human Rights Committee and Diversity and Inclusion Committee, serves on the Board of the Council for Intellectual Disability and was as an expert panellist on disability for the Law Council of Australia’s ‘Justice Project’. The parent of a Special Olympics athlete, Irena held previous SOA roles at regional committee level. She brings to the Board her legal skills with a commitment to the advancement of human rights, community sport and inclusive governance. Irena was elected to the Board on 3 May 2015 and Chairs the Governance Committee.

Andrew Richardson 

Andrew is an Australian Institute of Company Directors Fellow and the CEO of disability service provider Aruma, (formerly House with No Steps), which supports and empowers people with a disability throughout Eastern Australia. He has strong ties to Sydney South Club and has a daughter in the Special Olympics program. Andrew has served in a variety of board and leadership roles within the disability sector, where he is a respected thought-leader. He has a passionate commitment to social inclusion and human rights and a personal connection with disability. He has been associated with Special Olympics for 25 years. Andrew was appointed to the Board on 25 February 2020.

Andrew Scipione AO APM 

Andrew was Commissioner of the NSW Police Force from 2007 until his retirement in 2017, before which he was Deputy Commissioner from 2002. Earlier in his career He held positions including Commander of the Special Technical Investigation Branch, Commander of Special Crime and Internal Affairs and Chief of Staff to the NSW Police Commissioner. He is a special expert advisor to The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’. Andrew was appointed to the Board 22 January 2020.

Ross Smith 

Ross is a finance professional who has lead finance and corporate services teams in Australia and across APAC for US multinationals. Ross passionately believes in the benefits that can be derived from sport and physical activity for everyone. Ross is actively involved in numerous community activities, including his local SO Club, and has a keen interest in helping Special Olympics athletes achieve their goals, whether they be in sport or life. Ross was appointed to the Board on 14 September 2018 and is a member of the Finance, Audit and Risk committee.

Corene Strauss, CEO 

Corene is a staunch cause-related marketing and management professional. She was previously the CEO of the Men of League Foundation and the National Marketing Manager for Legacy Australia and is highly regarded as a turnaround strategist who excels in relationship development and management. Corene joined Special Olympics Australia as CEO in February 2016 and remains focused on unifying the organisation and increasing income streams.

Staff

Corene Strauss, Chief Executive Officer

           

SPORT

Terry Visscher, General Manager Sports Development
Terry is responsible for the design and management of sports development and competition pathways across the country.

Yvonne Snell, National Partnerships Manager - Sports
Yvonne is responsible for national sports partnerships and for increasing sports participation and providing access to competition pathways in VIC/SA/TAS.

Ethan Rogers, National Sports Administrator

Susie Bennett-Yeo, Special Projects Coordinator (QLD)

Tom Hancock, Community Development Coordinator (TAS)

Naazmi Johnston, National Young Athletes Manager (NSW)

Kim Lawley, Community Development Coordinator (QLD)

Christine Newberry, Community Development Coordinator (SA)

 

GAMES

Bredette Koen, Games Director
Bredette is responsible for delivering our Junior Games and National Games in Launceston, Tasmania proudly presented by NAB.

 

SCHOOLS

Pierre Comis, Head of Schools and Participation
Pierre is responsible for developing and implementing the Schools Pilot Program and building the program into a desired and indispensable tool for inclusive sport within the education sector.

Leisl Stimpson, Schools Manager
Leisl provides day-to-day expertise to the NSW Schools Pilot Project as well as support and coordination to our national schools strategy work.

FUNDRAISING

Fran Eustace, National Fundraising Events Manager
Fran organises corporate fundraising events on a national scale and works in partnership with over twenty organising committees to help with the implementation of these events.

Mabel Park, Fundraising Events Coordinator
Mabel works with the events manager to facilitate and promote fundraising events throughout the country.

Umesh Paramasivam MFIA,
Manager Fundraising & Partnerships

Umesh is responsible to develop and execute fundraising campaigns and generate revenue through partnerships.

Andrea Phillips, Trusts and Foundations Manager
Andrea manages all aspects of the organisation’s grant-related activities, obligations and relationships and also assists with communications.

 

FINANCE

Patricia Sugita, Finance Manager
Patricia is responsible for all accounting operations, including monthly financial reports, accounting records, budgets designed to mitigate risk and reporting of company results.

Wenham Qi, Accountant
Wenham secures revenue by verifying and posting receipts, resolving discrepancies and performing weekly bank reconciliations.

 

COMMUNICATIONS

Aaron Henry, General Manager
Aaron is responsible for internal and external communications, brand and marketing, media and public relations and digital channels.

Hannah Hong, Graphic Designer
Hannah is responsible for development of all resources and collateral to address marketing and communication requirements.

Chris Bunton, Assistant (p/t)
Chris assists with anything communications-related, including acting as a roving reporter. He is also a Special Olympics Australia athlete.

 

MEMBER SUPPORT

Gareth Hogan, General Manager, Operations
Gareth is responsible for volunteer management, state committees, risk, insurance and compliance across the organisation. 

Maureen Scott, Database Manager
Maureen is responsible for maintaining the accuracy and reliability of all databases and software packages. First level IT Support and administration.

Edward Smith, Database Officer (p/t)
Edward assists in maintaining the accuracy and reliability of all databases. He is also a Special Olympics Australia athlete.