Our people

Our 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 tribal group in the NT. He is the National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking and Chancellor of the University of Canberra.

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

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

Sharon Davis

Board Member

Ms Sharon Davis is from both Bardi and Kija Peoples of the Kimberley, and the Director of Education at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

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. She has 25 years’ experience in mainstream and Indigenous journalism, communications and management of Indigenous organisations.

Joy Thomas

Joy Thomas

Board Member

Ms Joy Thomas has worked in federal politics, held senior management positions with the Australian Medicare Local Alliance and Australian General Practice Network, and works in the primary health care 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 more than 20 years’ experience leading community engagement, public advocacy, communications and social marketing campaigns.

Damien Coke

Damien Coke

COO

Mr Damien Coke is from the Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba nations, and a Yuin man from the south coast of NSW. He has held senior roles representing Australia with the Department of 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 to design and develop Narragunnawali: Reconciliation in Schools and Early Learning.

Andrew Meehan

Andrew Meehan

General Manager – Policy, Research & Government Affairs

Andy brings a long history of leadership in non-profit organisations, specialising in policy analysis, advocacy and government relations, campaigning, communications, strategy and business development.

Peter Morris

Peter Morris

General Manager – Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program

Peter has international experience in various leadership roles and is dedicated to building a more inclusive society that values and benefits from the resilience and ingenuity of First Peoples.

Photo of Reconciliation Australia Co-chair Professor Tom Calma.
Professor Tom Calma AO
Co-Chair
Professor Tom Calma is Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia, an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group in the NT. 
Currently the National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking and Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Professor Calma previously served as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and the Race Discrimination Commissioner.

Professor Calma has a special interest in Indigenous education, employment and training programs.
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
Kenny Bedford
Board Member
Mr Kenny Bedford lives on and represents the remote island of Erub (Darnley) on the Torres Strait Regional Authority. 
He has held the Executive position of Portfolio Member for Fisheries since 2008 and is President of the Erub Fisheries Management Association, a member of Erubam Le Traditional Land and Sea Owners (TSI) Corporation and sits on Far North Queensland’s Abergowrie College Community Consultative Committee.

Mr Bedford has a Bachelor of Applied Health Science and Diploma of Youth Welfare, received the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship in 2000, and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program.
Sharon Davis
Sharon Davis
Board Member
Sharon Davis is from both Bardi and Kija Peoples of the Kimberley, is the Director of Education at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and 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.
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 also a Board member of Advance.org, The Banksia Project, a Business Champion of the New Colombo Plan, an Advisory Council member of Asia Society Australia and a member of the Business Council of Australia’s International Leadership Group.
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
Ms Kirstie Parker is a Yuwallarai woman from NSW. She has 25 years’ experience in mainstream and Indigenous journalism, communications and management of Indigenous organisations, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, and the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre.

Previously, she was editor of national Indigenous newspaper The Koori Mail, media adviser to a federal government minister and head of public affairs for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).
Joy Thomas
Joy Thomas
Board Member
Ms Joy Thomas comes from a background in federal politics, serving for many years as an adviser and chief of staff to Ministers in the Howard Government.
She previously held senior management positions with the Australian Medicare Local Alliance (AML Alliance) and Australian General Practice Network (AGPN). Her early life began in rural Australia, followed by several years working in remote areas of Papua New Guinea. Joy works as a private consultant to peak industry bodies and the primary health care sector.
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 20 years’ experience leading community engagement, public advocacy, communications and social marketing campaigns.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 Australian Reconciliation Convention.
Ms Mundine holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Technology Sydney and is a Director of the Gondwana Choirs and the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre.
Previous roles include Mary Mackillop Board Director, Deputy Chief Executive and General Manager Communication and Engagement, Reconciliation Australia; Senior Consultant, CPR Communications; senior public affairs and communications roles with federal government departments including Prime Minister and Cabinet and Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Damien Coke
Damien Coke
COO
Damien is from the Yorta Yorta and Wemba Wemba nations of north-central Victoria and a Yuin man from the south coast of NSW. In previous roles with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade he worked in 12 countries representing Australia on issues from human rights to environment, education and health policy.
Damien has also been an activist, mediator and holds degrees in International Relations Theory and Asia History from the Australian National University. Through this education and foreign postings, Damien has negotiated international agreements, such as leading the negotiations for Australia at the UN Economic Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific on the regional implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Outside of Reconciliation Australia, Damien provides cultural motorbike tours for people to engage with a variety of Traditional Owners groups through his own business. By combining his passion for riding motorbikes with opportunities to make personal connections with Traditional Owners groups, lands, science, foods and other aspects of First Nations cultures, Damien’s tours help to improve knowledge of the pre-colonial and post-colonial histories and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
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.
Andrew Meehan
Andrew Meehan
General Manager - Policy, Research & Government Affairs
Andy brings a long history of leadership in non-profit organisations, specialising in policy analysis, advocacy and government relations, campaigning, communications, strategy and business development.
Prior to starting at Reconciliation Australia, Andy was National Director of ANTaR (Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation) – a national, non-government organisation working for First Nation’s Peoples rights and reconciliation. He has previously worked as senior advisor to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, and at Oxfam leading the Indigenous Rights work.
As General Manager – Policy, Research & Government Affairs, Andy leads the organisation’s positioning and responses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy, campaign involvement, government engagement, the Indigenous Governance Program, and research.
Andy has a BA in Social Science, and in International Studies; and a Masters in Social Development.
Peter Morris
Peter Morris
General Manager - Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) program
Peter is a passionate non-profit leader with 15 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.
Peter served for eight years in various 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.
Peter 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.

Acknowledgement of Country

Reconciliation Australia acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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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