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 eleven Directors as Board members, and eight Associate Directors who support the working Sub Committees. NRCF is also grateful to be able to employ two staff: an Executive Officer who manages the organisation, supported by a part time Administration & Finance Officer.


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

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 Investment Committee, Chair of the 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

Rea Francis

Rea Francis | Director

Relevant experience: Rea has worked as a liaison officer and publicist across federal, state and local government departments, agencies, statutory authorities, commissions and ministerial offices.  Her skills have been applied to many Northern Rivers projects across tourism, hospitality, property, publishing, film and television, and food produce, including Jules Hunt Gallery, The Farm Byron Bay, Duck Creek Macadamias and Linnaeus Estate. Known affectionately as the ‘doyenne publicist’ she has an extraordinary wealth of contacts valuable to the Foundation’s donor sector, event organisation and to multi-media applications.

Why I joined: To be a productive member of the Northern Rivers community.

What I do: PR

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: Member of the Investment committee and the Finance & Audit 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 here in the 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: Johan is Chair of the Fundraising Committee

Maggie Brown

Maggie Brown | Director

Relevant experience: Maggie has spent 27 years in community development planning and capacity building. Her results based approach has seen her involved in several major community projects in the Byron Shire. Over the past 10 years she has been working for Local Government in Eastern Sydney. She is a seasoned community worker who has a deep belief in social justice and equitable outcomes for the whole community.

Why I joined: I have a strong attachment to the Byron Shire having lived here since 1981. I care deeply about the social outcomes of the region in a time of rapid change. I like working with NRCF as I see other fun, caring and generous people, all united in a common goal of making a positive difference in people’s lives through our small grants program. 

 What I do: Chair of the Grants Committee.

David McGrath

David McGrath | Director

Relevant Experience: David has lived in Myocum for 27 years with his wife Cathie-Anne. Before that he was born, educated and worked in Sydney.

David has a Degree in Building (Project Management) from the University of NSW. He worked for two years in London on the Harrods Banking Hall and also has project management experience in Sydney, Gold Coast, Northern Rivers, Townsville and Port Moresby. He now concentrates on project managing housing projects for the Community Housing sector with particular emphasis on housing for the disabled.

David is currently providing probono advice for the development of Papua New Guinea’s first purpose built village for abused women & children. The Australian Government is providing $A6,000,000 for this desperately needed facility.

Why I joined:

I was educated by the Jesuits – who have a very strong emphasis on social welfare. Help those who are not as fortunate as you are and seek similarities not differences. The Northern Rivers region is fairly unique in regional Australia – it has some of Australia’s wealthiest and poorest living together and it can be fractious – NRCF strives to bring those communities together.

The more exposure I have to dozens of charities over the years the more convinced I am that charities that provide a ‘hand-up rather than a hand-out’ are the sustainable model. NRCF epitomises this philosophy, plus we have a laugh and a wine or two along the way.

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

Michael Murray

Michael Murray | Associate Director

Relevant Experience: Michael has been a Byron Shire resident for nearly 35 years. He is a property buyers’ agent and the principal of Byron Property Search which has been helping people settle in the Northern Rivers area for over 17 years. Prior to this he was a successful TV documentary producer delivering many hours of programming to all Australian and international TV networks. He is deeply involved in community activities and NFPs. He is currently involved in the Mullumbimby Masterplan Guidance Group and Creative Mullumbimby. This includes interest in affordable housing development and Creative Industries.

Why I joined: I see the NRCF as the peak charity in the region. Community building is important for the ongoing strength and cohesive interplay in the Northern Rivers.

What I do: Michael is part of the Marketing & Events 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 Marketing & 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 Events Committee and write articles for NRCF’s newsletter.

Lynne Stephens

Lynne Stephens | Associate Director

Relevant Experience: Lynne began her working life as a Pre-school Teacher and established the Brunswick Heads preschool in 1982. She also has a vast hospitality background and was the owner of the original “The Balcony” restaurant in Byron Bay in the late 80’s to early 90’s. A variety of roles with TAFE Qld, spanning 15 years, saw a move to the Whitsundays, then Wide Bay and finally to Sunshine Coast, where she established the “Centre for Leadership Strategies” and followed her passion for leadership, change and project management in the corporate sector.

In July 2010, Lynne founded the Australasian Leadership Academy (ALA) which is a multi-disciplined National Registered Training Organisation (RTO) that combines expertise in leadership and culture development.

Why I joined: In 2016 I relocated back to Byron Bay and set up a new office in Brunswick Heads. I am looking forward to giving back to the community which I love so much and becoming involved in this amazing foundation, who are making such a wonderful difference in people’s lives.

What I do: Associate Director

Lynne Stephens

Adam Gibson | Associate Director

Relevant Experience:

I spent 17 years as a gym owner in Brisbane, where I think the secret to our business success was the incredible sense of community and belonging that came with being a member of our gyms. Regular member social events, small group fitness training, and a culture of encouragement and inclusion meant that people stayed as active members for years, despite the fitness industry typically being known for its high rates of member attrition.

Over the last 13 years I have applied this concept to a business coaching community of natural health practitioners and had a similar experience. In short, I have learnt the value of creating a deep sense of connection and belonging within businesses and communities. I am currently involved in launching a business incubator to encourage innovation in the organic food industry, with a broader goal of putting fresh, affordable organic food on every dinner table.

Why I joined:

I love the fact that NRCF can help so many different organisations and people in our region, meeting such a variety of needs. I like the idea of “small hinges swinging big doors” and NRCF uses its resources and funding as a great example of this. Plus  I was keen to connect to a community of influential and well intentioned people!

What I do: Events and Fundraising

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: Allison is helping NRCF articulate and promote its impact in the Northern Rivers.

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.


Our other Directors and Associates

Peter Dean, Zenith Virago, Lynda Dean, Dione Green & Nathan Luke

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