Our Structure

The Northern Rivers Community Foundation is a Public Ancillary Fund (PAF) registered as a charity with the ACNC and the Australian Taxation Office and it has Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status.

Our professional Board and Associate Director members donate their expertise and experience to the governance of a well-run, ethical and trustworthy organisation which we hope will give donors confidence that their donated funds will be carefully managed and divested.

The NRCF volunteer team comprises ten Directors as Board members, and four Associate Directors who support the working Sub Committees. NRCF is also grateful to be able to employ three staff: an Executive Officer who manages the organisation, supported by a part time Administration & Finance Officer and a Marketing, Development & Engagement Officer.

I feel very strongly that we all should give back to our community in some way.

– John Callanan, Chair


Our Team

John Callanan

John Callanan | Chair

Relevant experience: With over 4 decades of international real estate and property experience, John has developed great insight into property trends.
His hands-on, practical approach has enabled him to build a privately funded and diverse property development portfolio. He understands how markets and the commercial world works and applies this to how any good charity should be run.

Why I joinedI love the Northern Rivers and feel privileged to live in such a beautiful place. I feel very strongly that we all should give back to our community in some way. I want to work to create a more balanced region and I love the idea of community and the connectedness we all share.

What I do: Chair of NRCF, Member of the Investment Committee


Lynda Dean

Lynda Dean OAM | Deputy Chair

Relevant experience:

After an early career in child welfare and community development Lynda with her husband Christopher, spent thirty years building and running TP Health, founding the Australian Tea Tree Industry.  They took this from a two person operation in a tractor shed.to an international marketing and manufacturing company, selling in 32 countries .

Why I joinedI have always believed that we need to create the community we want to live in., that no joy or success has meaning if it isn’t shared with those around us. I have lived in the Northern Rivers for 40 years, its my privilege to give back to the community that has nurtured me.

What I do: Deputy Chair of NRCF, Chair of the Grants Committee


Nick Rose

Ninian Gemmell | Treasurer

Relevant Experience: Ninian (FCPA, GAICD, JP) has over 30 years corporate financial experience across a range of industry sectors, spanning mining & resources, construction, higher education and not-for-profit. He has well developed knowledge base in financial management and analysis, governance, policy and processes which he brings to NRCF. His understated manner and very dry sense of humour has allowed him to build a network of relationships beyond the traditional financial cohort. Ninian is also a writer with a range of writing credits for regional newspapers.

Why I joined: Having visited the area over many years since the 1970’s, but on a more regular basis since 2011, my wife and I made the sea-change from Sydney in late 2016. My intention was always to connect with the local community up here, something I felt was missing in Sydney. I feel as if NRCF allows me to do this and make a professional and social contribution to a region in which there is a huge need.

What I do: Treasurer, Chair of the Audit &  Finance Committee


Lisa Daw

Lisa Daw | Secretary

Relevant Experience: Lisa has worked in the business advisory and taxation area for a number of decades. She brings her strong skill set to the Foundation to help ensure funds are managed well and the governance is up to date.

Why I joined: I’ve always felt the strong desire to give back to the community. I have been part of a not for profit or charity board ever since I became a qualified accountant. Being part of the NRCF covers so many of the deserving not for profit organisations in the area.

What I do: Board Secretary, and Chair of the Governance Committee


Emily Berry

Emily Berry | Executive Officer

Relevant experience: Prior to NRCF Emily was the Executive Producer and General Manager of NORPA (Northern Rivers Performing Arts). Emily has over 20 years experience in business and financial management, operations and production; in theatre, documentary film, events, hospitality, and humanitarian aid. Namely St.George OpenAir Cinema Sydney, RICE restaurants & events New York, Broad Oak film production in Brisbane and Paris, Operations Consultant for RiverGarden Hotel Cambodia, and Logistician for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Why I joined: I am passionate about helping others to help themselves. After working in small communities in Cambodia and Africa, I was delighted to land in the Northern Rivers and find a group of like minded people who believed in the importance of giving back.  Local philanthropy can make a real difference in the battle against disadvantage in regional areas.  


Rita McIlwraith

Rita McIlwraith | Director

Relevant Experience: Rita is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and an Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Security Consultant with over 25 years of global industry experience spanning across Australia, UK, Asia, and Europe.

Rita is also a keen supporter of community. Since 2007 she has been volunteering, producing and presenting a weekly literary radio program for the local community radio station, BayFM, and the National Community Radio Network. Rita works with various community groups for positive change. Additionally, she is a qualified Yoga teacher and Somatic Intelligence Trainer.

Why I joined:  I’m passionate about community. Community grows from community. Without the involvement and investment from within the community there is no community. NRCF helps to provide a financial source to address pressing needs, wants and desires of those living in the Northern Rivers. I am thrilled to be part of such a dynamic and inspiring team.

What I do: Member of the Governance Committee


Luke Barker

Luke Barker | Director

Relevant Experience: Luke is an experienced Investment Advisor at Macquarie Wealth, the Wealth Management Division of Macquarie Bank. Luke provides investment advice to private investors, retirees, businesses and institutions in Australian and International markets. Luke’s experience extends to investment analysis, investment portfolio management, risk management and client relations. Luke has completed a Masters of Business Administration (MBA), Bachelor of Commerce and an Advanced Diploma of Financial Services.

Why I joined: Having lived in Bangalow, I have spent a lot of time in this great region and wanted to give back to the community which I have enjoyed so much. The NRCF is a great group of like-minded individuals in the region working together to provide benefits for many people for years to come.

What I do: Chair of the Investment committee


Johan Kortenhorst

Johan Kortenhorst | Director

Relevant Experience: Johan graduated from the University of Queensland with honors first class in 2015. He focused his studies on Ethical Leadership Development and Social Entrepreneurship and worked on a number of startup businesses in the Social Enterprise sphere.

While at University Johan spent his spare time organising events for a committee led volunteer group, and brings five years of event management experience to the NRCF team.

Why I joined: I grew up in the Byron Shire and have been fortunate enough to be able to return and work for my family’s business. But I wanted more out of my time here, I have seen so many friends return and leave because they didn’t have a connection to the community. I guess I was searching for something that would allow me to have an impact on the community that I know and love so much.

What I do: Chair of the Fundraising Committee, Member of the Grants Committee


Cara Austen - NRCF Director

Cara Austen | Director

Relevant Experience:

Cara is a Northern Rivers local with 15 years legal experience working with and in businesses to help them achieve their goals. She’s experienced in corporate and commercial law both in Australia and across Asia, and has worked with start-ups and multi-billion dollar companies.

After 15 years in the corporate world Cara established Twine because she believes that business can make significant positive change in our world. Twine focuses on supporting food and agriculture as they are at the heart of who we are as humans and it’s fundamental we get it right.  Cara is a founding member and current Committee Member of Clarence Valley Food Incorporated.

Why I joined: I joined the NRCF because I see the value in strengthening the relationship between the southern and northern parts of the Northern Rivers region. There are significant differences across the Northern Rivers, but the more we can work together, the stronger we will be as a region. In addition, I love the long-term vision of the NRCF, it is not about band-aid solutions, it is about long term improvement and enhancement of our wonderful community.

What I do: Director of NRCF


Vicky King - NRCF Director

Vicky King | Director

Relevant Experience:

Vicky has extensive international experience in the field of organisation development. Her change management expertise, facilitation skills and communication planning supports the NRCF Board, Operations team and the wider NRCF community to engage and build mutually beneficial relationships.

Why I joined: In an increasingly global world, it is refreshing and energising to work for NRCF where my local community is the focus. We live in a diverse region with many benefits and many needs, and it is great to support partnerships which bring these together. I believe strongly in the power of community to build resilience and find practical solutions to the challenges of volatile times.


Marc Sofer - NRCF Director

Marc Sofer | Director

Relevant Experience:

Marc is a co-founder of the business advisory and impact investor Byron Ventures. He is experienced in various asset classes and establishing, developing and exiting a number of businesses during a career of over two decades in the UK, Australia and the Caribbean. Marc is a board director of the regional impact angel group, mentor at Sourdough Business Pathways and LEAD, and a passionate educator and PADI Course Director training SCUBA Professionals since 2001.

Why I joined: I attended the 2019 annual fundraiser and was inspired by the organisation’s achievements and the support it had within the community. Looking further into the Foundation’s model, the idea of investing donations to accelerate the growth of that capital, making the giving process more sustainable, really appealed to me. I felt that with my investment background and the work I do running a regional impact angel group, I could help the Foundation grow and give back to the community.

What I do: Member of the Investment Committee.


Jane Hanckel

Jane Hanckel | Associate Director

Relevant experience: Community building, social policy research and innovative educational programs in socially disadvantaged communities are among Jane’s wide ranging experiences. She is a published author and brings to the Foundation a practical knowledge of working at the cutting edge of social change with some of the most challenging communities. Her breadth of understanding of how not for profits can significantly make a difference is a valuable asset to the Foundation.

Why I joinedI love the fact that the Foundation can help those striving to be part of positive change as well as make more visible the needs of those doing it tough in our region. It’s all about our community and our connectedness. That is what makes the Northern Rivers so special.

What I do: Member of the Investment Committee and Fundraising & Events Committee.


Dione Green

Dione Green | Associate Director

Relevant experience: Dione is a radio presenter and journalist for local community radio station Bay FM. Her show ‘Make a Change’ aims to inspire people to make positive changes in their local community, to the environment and within themselves. Dione has spent many years volunteering for local community organizations including the Byron Community Centre, the Mullumbimby Neighborhood Centre and the Brunswick Heads Visitors Centre. She also taught Primary Ethics at Brunswick Heads Public School.

Why I joinedI am a passionate advocate for social justice and environmental protection. There are so many caring and enlightened people in our community who are striving for positive change, and I would like to be able to help these people achieve their goals. My mission is to help make the world a better place in whatever way I can.

What I do: Member of the Fundraising & Events Committee


Lynne Stephens

Allison Henry | Associate Director

Relevant Experience:

Allison has more than two decades of experience in politics, law, public policy and advocacy, having led national organisations and campaigns across a range of issues. Allison is the Executive Officer of Northern Rivers Food and is a PhD candidate in UNSW’s School of Law.

Why I joined: I moved to the Northern Rivers from Sydney in 2014 and have loved getting to know the area and community. I’ve had some exposure in my work to the value of philanthropy and wanted to offer my experience and expertise to some of the fantastic initiatives offered in this region, while also embedding myself personally more in the Northern Rivers.

What I do: Member of the Grants Committee and the Governance Committee


Felicity Stening

Felicity Stening | Associate Director

Relevant Experience:

As CEO of Enova Energy, Felicity is leading the transition to a renewable energy future. With over 25 years in sustainability, renewables, innovation and energy markets, Felicity is passionate about creating resilient and sustainable communities, powered by renewable energy, generated locally and keeping monies flowing in local economies. Felicity’s expertise is in leading purposeful and sustainable businesses in complex and changing markets.

Why I joined:

I moved recently to the Northern Rivers and love living in such a vibrant, socially aware, sustainable and connected community. I wanted to contribute to our community by giving back in a meaningful way. I’m proud to be a part of the positive and sustained impacts that the NRCF has delivered and will continue to deliver to people and communities.

What I do: Associate Director, Member of the Governance & Grants Committees


Lynne Stephens

Lydia Plowright | Marketing, Development & Engagement

Relevant Experience:

Lydia has over ten years’ experience in the Finance industry, working across senior communications, corporate analyst and customer relationship roles at the Westpac Institutional Bank. More recently, Lydia provided business development, marketing and communications support to not for profit BackTrack Youth Works.

Why I joined:

I am passionate about equality and driving positive social change. I see my role as an important opportunity to help raise awareness of the NRCF and continue to build our reach and impact in the Northern Rivers. I’ve been really inspired to see some of the awesome work our Community Grant recipients are doing on the ground and can’t wait to meet with more of our partners and work with donors to discuss how they can make a difference in building long term resilience in our community.


Lynne Stephens

Juanita Keen | Administration & Finance Officer

Relevant Experience:

Juanita graduated from the University of Wollongong, Bachelor of Commerce in 1994. She has 6 years client service management in an Advertising Agency in Sydney and over 17 years in the Hospitality & Tourism industry in the Byron Shire supporting various local businesses and business owners, some of which are NRCF Donors, in areas of: Private Wealth Administration, Business Administration, Bookkeeping, Finance and Management Reporting, Guest Relations & Holiday Property Management.

Why I joined:

I have spent a long time in the Byron Shire supporting businesses that target the luxury holiday market with a focus on showcasing the area’s luxury homes, and luxury local fashion brands, homewares, dining and experiences that would lead some to think this is a region of immense wealth and opportunity. Which is true for some, but it often hides the surrounding rural and regional disadvantage. The Northern Rivers Community Foundation network of philanthropic donors,  supporters & volunteers have created an organisation that gives back to those in need in the Northern Rivers. When I attended the first Board meeting and the first point of business was to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which we live and work and to pay respect to Elders past & present, I knew I had found a group of like-minded individuals with a strong sense of social & environmental values.  I am constantly inspired by the people connected with NRCF and everyone’s commitment, generosity and willingness to give.