Our people

Board and CEO

Photo of Reconciliation Australia Co-chair Professor Tom Calma.

Prof Tom Calma AO

Co-Chair

Professor Tom Calma is an Aboriginal Elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja and Woolwonga tribal groups in the NT. He is currently Senior Australian of the Year.

Melinda Cilento

Melinda Cilento

Co-Chair

Ms Melinda Cilento is a company director, economist and experienced senior executive. She has been on the Reconciliation Australia Board since 2010, and Co-Chair since 2011.

Kenny Bedford

Board Member

Mr Kenny Bedford lives on and represents the remote island of Erub (Darnley) on the Torres Strait Regional Authority and has held the Executive position of Portfolio Member for Fisheries since 2008.

Sharon Davis

Board Member

Sharon Davis (pronouns: they/them) is from both Bardi and Kija Peoples of the Kimberley, and is a respected education practitioner and researcher.

Doug Ferguson

Doug Ferguson

Board Member

Mr Doug Ferguson is a Partner with KPMG and has held leadership roles in Australia and Asia since 1997. He is currently the NSW Chairman and Head of Asia and International Markets, based in Sydney.

Bill Lawson

Bill Lawson AM

Board Member

Mr Bill Lawson AM is a retired Engineer and former Principal of Sinclair Knight Merz. He has worked across Australia in both Local Government and Indigenous sectors.

Kirstie Parker

Kirstie Parker

Board Member

Ms Kirstie Parker is a Yuwallarai woman from NSW. Ms Parker has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, advocacy and management of Indigenous organisations.

Joy Thomas

Joy Thomas

Board Member

Ms Joy Thomas has worked as an adviser to Federal Government Ministers, has held senior management positions across the primary health care sector and currently works with and advises rural and regional industries and the energy sector.

Blaze Kwaymullina portrait

Blaze Kwaymullina

Board Member

Dr Blaze Kwaymullina is a Palyku Traditional Owner from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. He is an academic, writer, children’s author and business owner.

Executive Leadership Team

Karen Mundine

Karen Mundine

CEO

Ms Karen Mundine is from the Bundjalung Nation of northern NSW. She brings to the role more than 25 years’ experience leading community engagement, public advocacy, communications and social marketing campaigns.

Tessa Keenan

Tessa Keenan

General Manager – Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education

Tessa joined Reconciliation Australia in 2015 as part of a team of early learning, primary and secondary to design and develop Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning.

Dark haired woman in dress and blazer

Katie Moore

General Manager – Policy, Research & Strategic Programs

Katie is a proud Wiradyuri woman with belonging to Central NSW. She has extensive experience in managing research and strategic initiatives and is passionate about creating meaningful change.

Peter Morris

General Manager – Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program

Peter has dedicated his career to building a more inclusive society that values and benefits from the resilience and ingenuity of First Peoples. His experience includes international leadership roles.

Liz Willis

General Manager – Communications and Engagement

Liz Willis brings decades of experience in a wide range of workplaces and positions to Reconciliation Australia.

Photo of Reconciliation Australia Co-chair Professor Tom Calma.
Professor Tom Calma AO
Co-Chair

Professor Tom Calma is an Aboriginal Elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja and Woolwonga tribal groups in the NT.

He is Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia (2011 to present), and lives on Ngunnawal country in Canberra.

He is currently the National Coordinator, Tackling Indigenous Smoking (2010-present), Professor of Practice (Indigenous Engagement) at the University of Sydney (2015-present) and Patron of the Poche Centres for Indigenous Health (2010 to present). 

He was a former Chancellor of the University of Canberra (2014-2023) and he previously served as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner (2004-2010) and the Race Discrimination Commissioner. (2004-2009).

He  has a special interest in Indigenous and non-Indigenous health, education, aged care, economic development and social justice.

Professor Tom Calma is the 2023 Senior Australian of the Year.

Melinda Cilento
Melinda Cilento
Co-Chair
Melinda Cilento is a company director, economist and experienced senior executive. She has been on the Reconciliation Australia Board since 2010, having been Co-Chair since 2011. 
Currently, Ms Cilento is the CEO of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) and a Non-Executive Director of Australian Unity. She is also a member of the Parliamentary Budget Office panel of expert advisors.
Ms Cilento was previously a Non-Executive Director with Woodside Petroleum; Commissioner with the Productivity Commission and Deputy CEO and Chief Economist with the Business Council of Australia. Melinda was responsible for establishing the Business Council’s Indigenous Engagement Taskforce and Business Indigenous Network. She has also held senior roles with the Federal Department of Treasury, Invesco and the International Monetary Fund.
Kenny Bedford
Board Member

Kenny Bedford is a Traditional Owner of the Meuram Tribe of Erub (Darnley Island) Torres Strait. Kenny has served his community and region as the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) Member for Erub and held the Fisheries Portfolio on the TSRA Executive for almost a decade.

Kenny was also a Councillor and Deputy Mayor of the inaugural Torres Strait Island Regional Council. As President of the Erub Fisheries Management Association (EFMA) Kenny re-established the only community owned and managed commercial fishing operation in the Torres Strait.

Kenny Bedford is an Owner Director of his own business, Indigenous Initiatives and Innovation and is an establishing Board member of Zenadth Kes Fisheries. He is also a Director of the My Pathway Group and Board Member of Reconciliation Australia.

Kenny will graduate with a Masters of Indigenous Business Leadership from Monash University in 2024.

Sharon Davis
Board Member

Sharon Davis (pronouns they/them) is from both Bardi and Kija Peoples of the Kimberley.

Previously the Director of Education at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Sharon has a deep professional and personal commitment to social justice, equity, inclusion, and respect for all.

Sharon holds a Bachelor in Education (K-7) specialising in Aboriginal education, graduating with a number of honours, including the Vice Chancellor’s Medal for the University of Notre Dame’s School of Education. In addition, Sharon graduated from the University of Oxford with a Master of Science in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition.

Sharon believes that enhancing educational experience for Aboriginal students, families and communities’ benefits all.

Doug Ferguson
Doug Ferguson
Board Member
Doug Ferguson is a Partner with KPMG and has held various leadership roles in Australia and throughout Asia since 1997. He is currently the NSW Chairman and Head of Asia and International Markets, based in Sydney.
He holds graduate degrees in business and leadership, is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants ANZ and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Sydney Faculty of Business. 
Mr Ferguson is a Board member of The Committee for Sydney, the Shore School and is Co-Chair of the American Chamber of Commerce in NSW. He is also a member of the Business Council of Australia’s International Leadership Group, Trustee of CEDA, Chairman Emeritus of Asia Society Australia and a Business Champion of the New Colombo Plan.
Doug was raised in Mackay, North Queensland and enjoys spending time at the family farm in Bathurst, Central West NSW.
Bill Lawson
Bill Lawson
Board Member
Mr Lawson AM is a recently retired Engineer. He was the Principal of Sinclair Knight Merz where he was the Manager of the Indigenous Sector and Group Manager of the Company’s global Corporate Social Responsibility Program.
Mr Lawson was awarded the 2003 Australian Professional Engineer of the year, and has worked on major projects in Tasmania and the Antarctic. He has worked across Australia in both Local Government and Indigenous sectors. From 2011 to 2012 Mr Lawson was the Tasmanian representative on the Prime Minister’s Expert Panel for the Recognition of Indigenous Australians.

In 2006 he was also awarded an Order of Australia for his development of the national youth assistance initiative, the Beacon Foundation.
Kirstie Parker
Kirstie Parker
Board Member
A Yuwallarai woman from northwest NSW, Ms Parker is Strategic Adviser to the Uluru Dialogue, UNSW.
She was previously the Director of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation with the Attorney General’s Department (SA), CEO of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, and Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.
Ms Parker has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, advocacy and management of Indigenous organisations, including as the Editor of the Koori Mail.
Joy Thomas
Joy Thomas
Board Member
Ms Joy Thomas has worked as an adviser to Federal Government Ministers, has held senior positions across the primary health care sector and currently works with, and advises, rural and regional industries and the energy sector.
Joy has served on the Board since 2012.  
Blaze Kwaymullina portrait
Dr Blaze Kwaymullina
Dr Blaze Kwaymullina is a Palyku Traditional Owner from the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
He is an academic, writer, children’s author and business owner.
Blaze is currently a business owner and entrepreneur, having established a small group of profit for purpose, social enterprise and not-for-profit entities that create value with customers, support community members into work and the mainstream economy, and also deliver social and economic impact back to communities
He was previously Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning and Associate Dean of Research for the School of Indigenous Studies at the University of Western Australia (UWA).
He is also an Advisory Committee Member for the Dilin Duwa Centre for Indigenous Business Leadership.
Karen Mundine
Karen Mundine
CEO

Karen Mundine is from the Bundjalung Nation of northern NSW. As the CEO at Reconciliation Australia, Ms Mundine brings to the role more than 25 years’ experience leading community engagement, public advocacy, communications and social marketing campaigns. An architect of the landmark Australian Reconciliation Barometer, Ms Mundine works with governments, the business sector and civil society to advocate for change.

Over the course of her career, she has been instrumental in some of Australia’s watershed national events including the Apology to the Stolen Generations, Centenary of Federation commemorations, Corroboree 2000 and the 1997 and 2021 Australian Reconciliation Conventions.

Ms Mundine holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and was the winner of the 2021 Indigenous Australian UTS Alumni Award. In 2023 she was declared the National Winner of the Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership.

She is a Company Director of Gondwana Choirs, Sydney Festival, the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC), and Australians for Constitutional Recognition, and is a Member of Chief Executive Women.

Previous roles include: membership of the Australian Government’s Referendum Engagement Group; Director, Mary Mackillop Foundation; Deputy Chief Executive and General Manager Communication and Engagement, Reconciliation Australia; Senior Consultant, CPR Communications; and senior public affairs and communications roles with federal government departments including Prime Minister and Cabinet, Communications IT & the Arts, Health and Ageing, and Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Tessa Keenan
Tessa Keenan
General Manager - Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Education
Tessa joined Reconciliation Australia in 2015 as part of a team of early learning, primary and secondary teachers brought on board to design and develop Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning.
A qualified secondary teacher, Tessa has over a decade of experience in higher education, teaching and research. Tessa sees the role of teachers and educators as vital to the process of reconciliation in Australia.
As General Manager of Narragunnawali, she leads a team that is passionate about supporting educators to develop teaching and learning environments that promote reconciliation and that are inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, cultures and perspectives.
Tessa holds a Bachelor of Arts (with distinction) in Sociology and Gender Studies, a Master of Indigenous Studies from the University of New South Wales, and Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary Teaching) from the University of Canberra.
Tessa was born and raised on Ngunnawal and Ngambri Country. She currently lives on Gadigal Country.
Katie Moore
General Manager - Policy, Research & Strategic Programs

Katie is a proud Wiradyuri woman with belonging to Central NSW, while having lived mostly on Darug country in Western Sydney.

She is passionate about creating meaningful change that improves the lives of people. In the five years prior to joining Reconciliation Australia, she project managed strategic initiatives at the University of Sydney within the Research and Indigenous portfolios.

As General Manager Policy, Research and Strategic Programs, Katie leads the organisation’s key strategic policy and research initiatives, including the Community Truth-telling Pathways, Indigenous Governance Program, and research outputs, State of Reconciliation in Australia and the Australian Reconciliation Barometer.

Katie was the University of Sydney’s first known Indigenous MBA graduate and is currently a Master of Philosophy (Science) candidate, exploring research in Wiradyuri governance. She holds a Bachelor of Business in International Tourism Management, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Peter Morris
General Manager - Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program

Peter is a passionate non-profit leader with over 20 years of international experience in partnership development, communications, and public policy analysis. He has dedicated his career to building a more inclusive society that values and benefits from the resilience and ingenuity of First Peoples.


Since early 2019, Peter has served as the General Manager of the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Program, Reconciliation Australia where he leads a team that works with a network of over 2,900 organisations driving social change across Australia. The RAP network directly impacts over 35 percent of the Australian working age population advancing reconciliation by building relationships, respect, and opportunities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and the broader community.

Prior to his role at Reconciliation Australia, Peter served for eight years in various executive leadership roles at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the representative body of tribes and Native peoples in the United States. During his time at NCAI, he led engagement with the Obama White House to implement the annual Tribal Nations Summits, strengthened partnerships with corporate and civil rights organisations, directed a tribally-driven think tank, and oversaw strategic communications and national campaigns.

Peter serves on the advisory committees of Welcoming Cities and Federation University’s Centre for Reconciliation, Truth and Justice. He has served in various staff and board roles in higher education, youth and children’s policy, and community development. He holds a Bachelors in Aboriginal Studies from the University of New South Wales and a Masters in American Indian Policy from the University of Arizona.

Liz Willis

General Manager Communications and Engagement

Liz has worked in a number organisations focussed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, culture and achievement including, National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

She also has experience working in government, corporate, and community organisations in related areas.

Liz has been with Reconciliation Australia since March 2020.

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Paul House with gum leaves and smoke
Paul Girrawah House

Paul Girrawah House has multiple First Nation ancestries from the South-East Canberra region, including the Ngambri-Ngurmal (Walgalu), Pajong (Gundungurra), Wallabollooa (Ngunnawal) and Erambie/Brungle (Wiradyuri) family groups.

Paul acknowledges his diverse First Nation history, he particularly identifies as a descendant of Onyong aka Jindoomang from Weereewaa (Lake George) and Henry ‘Black Harry’ Williams from Namadgi who were both multilingual, essentially Walgalu-Ngunnawal-Wiradjuri speaking warriors and Ngunnawal–Wallaballooa man William Lane aka ‘Billy the Bull’ - Murrjinille.

Paul was born at the old Canberra hospital in the centre of his ancestral country and strongly acknowledges his First Nation matriarch ancestors, in particular his mother Dr Aunty Matilda House-Williams and grandmother, Ms Pearl Simpson-Wedge.

Paul completed a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University, and Graduate Certificate in Wiradjuri Language, Culture and Heritage and Management from CSU.

Paul provided the Welcome to Country for the 47th Opening of Federal Parliament in 2022. Paul is Board Director, Ngambri Local Aboriginal Land Council, Member Indigenous Reference Group, National Museum of Australia and Australian Government Voice Referendum Engagement Group.  

Paul works on country with the ANU, First Nations Portfolio as a Senior Community Engagement Officer

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing  connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website contains images or names of people who have passed away.

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