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AEGN 2015 Conference: Speakers and Moderators

Keynote speakers

Jennie Curtis – Garfield Foundation

Jennie Curtis is the founding executive director of the Garfield Foundation, a US-based private foundation initiated in 2001. In 2003, Jennie proposed that the Garfield Foundation apply a systems thinking approach to at least one sector to better understand and solve a specified entrenched problem, and to build stronger collaborative partnerships within philanthropic and advocate communities.  The selected project, advancing renewable energy in the Midwest, evolved into the RE-AMP Network now a coalition of 170 organizations collaborating to drastically reduce global warming pollution. Jennie serves on the RE-AMP steering committee, and co-chairs its executive committee. To replicate RE-AMP’s successful systems framework and network approach for solving complex problems, in 2012 the Garfield Foundation established its Collaborative Networks program. Jennie serves on the boards of the New Economy Funders Network and The Story of Stuff Project and, various committees of the Environmental Grantmakers Association.  She is an avid outdoor enthusiast enjoying hiking, camping and meandering explorations with her two Labradors. Jennie lives in Colorado.


Robert Tanner – Climate Nexus

Bob brings to his role as Managing Director of Climate Nexus, a career that spans investigative reporting to congressional policy-making, from hearing rooms on the Hill to the Katrina-flooded streets of New Orleans. Now he fuses strategy with tactical execution and oversight of all operations including editorial content, digital and social strategy, messaging, partnerships and finances. Previously, Bob served as senior investigator for the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee during the climate change debates of 2009-2010 and the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Prior to that, as a national editor and reporter for the Associated Press, he helped launch the National Investigative, National Reporting, and Disaster Response teams. Earlier in his 20-year journalism career, he reported for news wires, local newspapers and public television in Maryland, New York, New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. Bob is a recovering surfer with a persistent rock-climbing habit, but mostly he reads and watches AYSO soccer games and Marx Brothers movies with his wife and two children.


Danny Almagor – Impact Investment Group and Small Giants

Danny is the CEO of Small Giants, a company he started with Berry Liberman (who is also his wife) to effect social and environmental change through business and Australia’s first B-Corporation. He was the inaugural Social Entrepreneur in Residence at RMIT, the founder and former CEO of Engineers without Borders Australia and is the co-founder and chair of the Impact Investment Group. He has served on numerous commercial and non-profit boards and is currently serving on the boards of Stand Up, B Labs Australia, Australian Jewish Funders, Beyond Family Office, The Cape (eco village), and the advisory board for the Gross National Happiness Centre in Bhutan. He loves to read, talk about philosophy, garden, travel and jump on the trampoline with his kids.


Oliver Yates – Clean Energy Finance Corporation

Oliver Yates is the CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which invests using a commercial approach to overcome market barriers and mobilise investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emissions technologies. Mr Yates has over 20 years of global experience in corporate advisory, financial structuring, project finance, debt structuring, equity raising and listings, with extensive experience in clean energy. At Macquarie Bank he was involved in establishing new businesses and growing operations internationally, and leading the Bank’s initiatives in wind, solar, biofuels, carbon credits and other renewable businesses. Mr Yates has played key roles in clean energy, terrestrial and bio-sequestration and other solutions to the climate change challenge over many years. He established BioCarbon, a leading international project developer which invests forestry, land-use and sustainable energy service projects, as a joint venture between Global Forest Partners LP, the International Finance Corporation (IFC)  and Macquarie Group. He is an investor in and has held board positions on a number of innovative energy ventures. He  participated in the South Australian Government’s Green Grid study to look at unlocking renewable resources on the Eyre Peninsula and the Victorian Government study into carbon capture and storage (CCS) for the Latrobe Valley.


Sue Matthews Sue Mathews – Mullum Trust and AEGN Public Officer & Secretary

Sue Mathews became a trustee of the Mullum Trust in 1996. Her mother, Rivkah, established Mullum in the 1980s to fund environment and education. In 1998 Sue’s brothers Steve and Danny joined as trustees, and collectively they decided to focus the trust exclusively on environmental issues – as they share an awareness of how under-funded environment is compared to other areas funded by philanthropy, and how urgent is the need for more funding for climate change and biodiversity in particular.  Climate change is Sue’s particular focus – but she also thinks it’s important to keep a sense of humour and hope at the same time as focusing on these sometimes frightening and depressing issues. Sue convenes the AEGN’s Climate Change and Energy Funder Group.


John McKinnon Dr John McKinnon – McKinnon Family Foundation

As well as running his family foundation, John sits on a number of other non-profit and social enterprise boards utilising his experience in both the finance and international development fields. From 2005 – 2012 John worked in international development for TEAR Australia. During this time he completed his doctorate in development and social enterprise.  John joined the AEGN board in 2013. He is a strong believer in collaboration and mutual learning among environmental grant givers and hopes to assist AEGN as it continues to help members be more effective in their giving. John’s particular interest is impact investing and he is keen to see more members using their investment corpuses to achieve environmental outcomes in addition to those achieved through granting.


Kerry Graham – Collective Impact Australia

Kerry has worked in social change for over 20 years.  She has held executive roles within national non-profit organisations (Inspire Foundation CEO; Good Beginnings Australia, COO); and advised governments on social policy (Australian Social Inclusion Board, NSW Treasurer’s Advisory Body).  She holds qualifications in public policy, law, social work and community management.  Kerry currently consults to communities, corporations, governments and non-profit organisations on collaboration and innovation in social change.  She is an Associate and Lecturer on collaborative practice with University of New South Wales and Convenor of the Australian community of practice on collaboration. Her purpose is to evolve the way social change happens in Australia.


Dermot O’Gorman – WWF-Australia

Dermot O’Gorman (@DermotOz) has played a leadership role in the global conservation movement for over 20 years. Since joining WWF-UK in 1998, he has been the CEO of WWF in China, Pacific and since 2010, of WWF-Australia. He has an MBA from IMD, Switzerland. Dermot has chaired WWF’s Global Conservation Committee and WWF’s Asia Pacific CEOs Group, was a member of the China Green Entrepreneurs Club, the 2014 Australian C20 Committee and in 2015 helped form the Australian Climate Roundtable. Under Dermot’s leadership, WWF-Australia has undertaken a unique combination of on-the-ground field projects, strategic partnerships with business, and powerful advocacy campaigns. Dermot has a keen interest in the growth of digital technologies and has overseen substantial growth in WWF-Australia’s supporter base and digital footprint. In 2015, Dermot led a global campaign to protect the Great Barrier Reef that engaged tens of millions of citizens from across 177 countries.


Beth Mellick – Norman Wettenhall Foundation

Beth has been the Executive Director for The Norman Wettenhall Foundation since 2007. The Foundation funds nature conservation projects throughout Australia, with a specific focus on supporting small community and environment groups where the grants will have the greatest impact. The Foundation also has a larger funding stream which focuses on community-driven landscape restoration in Victoria. Beth has worked in the environment movement for nearly 20 years, on issues as broad as transport, climate change, international gender and trade, sustainable aquaculture, sustainable development, and natural resource management. She lives in the bush in Central Victoria.


Amanda McKenzie Amanda McKenzie – Climate Council

Amanda McKenzie is an environmental leader and CEO of the Climate Council, which was launched following Australia’s largest ever crowd-funding campaign. She is Chair of the Centre for Australian Progress and on the Board of Plan International Australia. In 2014, Amanda was recognised as one of Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence. Previously, Amanda founded the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.


Paul Sheridan – The Pew Charitable Trusts

Paul is the Communications Manager for The Pew Charitable Trusts. Paul has 20 years experience in journalism and environmental communications, much of which has been spent working with environment groups, private sector consultancies and government agencies.  Paul has devised and managed national campaigns for respected organisations such as The Wilderness Society, CSIRO and the peak association for scientists, Science & Technology Australia. He has also developed communications strategies for the Australian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Clean Up Australia, and Indigenous organisations. Paul has also worked with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and NSW Environment Protection Authority as a media and communications officer and speechwriter, as well as senior press secretary for the NSW Environment Minister. He has also directed communications and media activities for former NSW Greens MP Ian Cohen.


Jacquie Jacquie O’Brien – Zoos Victoria

Jacquie O’Brien is General Manager of Communications and Stakeholder Relations at Zoos Victoria. She is passionate about wildlife conservation, animal welfare and about exploring the human/non-human animal relationship. Her work at the Zoos involves helping all Victorians fall in love with their lesser known wildlife such as the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, Southern Corroboree Frog, and Helmeted Honeyeater, while still appreciating the iconic endangered species such as the Sumatran Orang-utan and Tiger. She has also worked in the advertising, music and film industries but has now settled in the place she loves most; being amongst wildlife. Jacquie has just completed her Masters in International Development and Environmental Analysis at Monash University and is planning a PhD project about zoo animals.


Jill Reichstein – Reichstein Foundation and AEGN Board Chair

Jill has been on the Board of the Reichstein Foundation since the early 70’s; first as a trustee and then as Chair. Jill was involved in the earlier version of Philanthropy Australia, the Association of Philanthropic Trusts, holding the role of chair for two years. Jill is very active in trying to grow social change philanthropy and has supported many versions of women donor groups. Jill is passionate about the environment and knows that other donors are also, but can find it hard to know where to start. She hopes the AEGN can be a source of information and inspiration to other donors interested in the environment. Jill is also on the board of the Trust for Young Australians, Igniting Change and the Australian Women Donors Network.


Tara Hunt Tara Hunt – Hunt Family Foundation and AEGN Board

Tara started The Hunt Foundation in 2005 after inheriting money from her father. She decided to set up a family foundation instead of giving individually in the hope that it may continually inspire and influence her children and others around her. The Hunt Foundation gave to critical Indigenous and environmental projects within in Australia. In 2011 Tara and her family decided that the foundation would focus on funding projects specifically in the area of climate change as they feel it is the most serious and urgent issue of our time and one that will primarily affect our future generations.  Tara is also interested in encouraging others who have more than they need to find areas that they feel passionate about and give back. She is keen to encourage others to not only give their money but also their time and expertise to environmental projects and to join the AEGN to help build a strong community of Australian Environmental Grantmakers.


Nick Lilley Nick Lilley – Embark and The Nature Conservancy

Nick is a seasoned corporate finance executive with over a decade of experience in financing utility scale renewable energy projects in Australia and internationally. In 2014, Nick made the decision to pursue his interest in social and environmental impact investing, in order to get closer to the ‘green face’.  Nick now juggles roles as Associate Director at Embark Australia – an Australian not for profit supporting community renewable energy projects, and  Associate Director, Impact Investing at The Nature Conservancy – the world’s largest environmental organisation. Nick is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Bjarne K Dahl Trust, and was previously a director of the Victorian Indigenous Nursery Cooperative (VINC).


Rich Gilmore Rich Gilmore – The Nature Conservancy

Rich is the Country Director at The Nature Conservancy Australia, prior to that he was the CEO of Balibó House Trust. In that role, Rich worked with aid agencies, donors and the Government of Timor-Leste to drive sustainable, community-based economic development in the western region of that country. For the five years prior to that, Rich was the CEO of Earthwatch Australia. During his time as CEO, Rich oversaw rapid organisational growth and in 2009, Earthwatch was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Australian Environmentalist of the Year. Rich’s working life began in the financial markets, as a derivatives trader with Ord Minnett Jardine Fleming.  Rich also held a number of roles at the global packaging firm Amcor, including national relationship management, business development and community relations. Rich is passionate about mangrove conservation and about bringing together financial markets, science and social entrepreneurship for the empowerment of traditional communities.  He is a Member of the Institute of Company Directors and a Board Member of the US-based NGO Mangrove Action Project.  His daughters, Charlotte, 8 and Harriet, 7 also love getting muddy in the mangroves.


Rob Fowler Rob Fowler – Climate Bonds Initiative, Australia and Asia Pacific

Rob is part of the Advisory Team within CBI and has recently played a major role in the development of Version 2.0 of the Climate Bond Standards. His role is to work with issuers, verifiers, intermediaries and regulators to accelerate the take-up of the Climate Bonds Certification Scheme and the issuance of certified climate bonds. Rob has over twelve years of experience in low-carbon and green investment, and a heritage of top-tier strategy consulting and finance with LEK Consulting, Booz & Company and his own firm. His clients have included major corporations, international banks, the UNFCCC, national and provincial governments, service providers, industry associations and non-profit organisations.  Rob is based in Australia, and during his professional career he has lived and worked in Melbourne, Sydney, Shanghai, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Boston, Bangkok, East Kalimantan and country Victoria.


Will Richardson Will Richardson – Impact Investment Group

Will oversees Impact Investment Group’s investment portfolio and investor relations. He has over 13 years experience in the private equity, property and corporate finance sectors, and has provided investment advice to organisations, families and high net wealth individuals. Will was previously the Investment Manager and Executive Officer at the CVC Group, after beginning his career at Ernst & Young. He is a Director of the Responsible Investment Association of Australia and a Director of Right Now, a not-for-profit human rights media organisation.


Hayley Morris – Morris Family Foundation

Haley is the Director of the Morris Family Foundation. She is passionate about using both business and philanthropic dollars to invest in projects that support the environment, with a focus on a fairer and more environmentally sustainable food system. Hayley is a member of the AEGN Board, as well as being a convener for the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funder Group. She is the Co-Founder of an environmental non-profit Sustainable Table and a boutique software and sustainability consultancy, Impact Sustainability.


Dee Madigan 2 Dee Madigan – Campaign Edge and The Gruen Transfer

Executive Creative Director at Campaign Edge, Dee has almost 20 years experience in the marketing industry and has been a finalist for most major advertising awards, including Cannes, New York International, Caxtons and Folio. As well as consumer brands, Dee has a strong background in social and political marketing. Most recently she was Creative Director for the ALP at the recent Queensland election. Dee is also a regular guest panelist on ABC’s The Gruen Transfer – a look inside the business of persuasion.


Catherine Brown – Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

Catherine has been the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation CEO since October 2011. Prior to joining the Foundation, Catherine worked in legal and management roles in not for profit organisations for eleven years and then held a variety of government Board roles and consulted to philanthropic foundations and not for profits across Australia, including community environment groups and Indigenous land management organisations. The Foundation’s Sustainable Melbourne impact area focuses on water, food security and transitioning to a low carbon economy.


Dr John Spierings – Reichstein Foundation

John was appointed as the Reichstein Foundation’s Executive Officer in 2013 after nearly five years experience as a senior adviser to Julia Gillard, as Education Minister and Prime Minister. He worked as a researcher and policy advocate in education and training with the Dusseldorp Skills Forum between 1998 and 2008. John has a PhD in Australian economic history, focused on business management in Australia between the wars. He has a long standing interest in social justice, community development and social policy issues.


Esther-Abram-x-150 Esther Abram – AEGN

Esther is the Giving Green Adviser for the AEGN. She has over 20 years experience in the not for profit sector, working in senior leadership roles for environmental and philanthropic organisations. For the past three years Esther was employed by Changemakers Australia, where she initially undertook research and advocacy to remove the legal barriers to philanthropy funding advocacy.  At the conclusion of this project she was appointed Executive Officer and she worked with the Board to pursue a progressive philanthropic agenda.  Esther also focused on developing resources to inspire and support grantmakers to adopt social change philanthropy practices.  This includes the establishment of Australia’s first social change philanthropy training program.


Dr Barry Traill – The Pew Charitable Trusts

Dr Barry Traill is a leading Australian environmental campaigner and has also worked extensively as a donor and philanthropic adviser on environment issues.  He is Australian Director of Pew Charitable Trusts and leads their work in protecting the Australian Outback and its adjacent remote seas.  A wildlife ecologist by training he has worked primarily as a conservation advocate for the last 25 years.  During that time he has led or co-led many major successful campaigns and initiatives in Australian conservation, including the establishment of the Australia’s federal marine park network, the world’s largest, the establishment of the Great Kimberley Marine Park and major controls on land clearing in Queensland and New South Wales.  He has been a donor and adviser on philanthropy through the Tracker Foundation, his family’s PAF, through Pew’s work, and as an adviser to other Australian foundations and individual philanthropists.


Sue McKinnon Sue McKinnon – McKinnon Family Foundation

Sue is the other half of the McKinnon Family Foundation, sits on the board of Solar Citizens, and uses her background in economics, finance, education and grassroots political campaigning to select projects for support. Within its climate change and energy focus, the Foundation has allocated funding to a range of NGOs to cover areas as diverse as core administrative costs, particular staff positions such as campaigners or economists, media and communications strategies, legal cases, research projects, collaboration, publications, training programs, equipment, community development and events as well as support via impact investments. Sue is planning to add the delightfully oxymoronic descriptor “vigilante litigant” to her business card next week.


Annie Grindrod Annie Grindrod – Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal and AEGN Board

Focused on nature conservation, community responses to climate change and alternative energy technologies Annie Grindrod has been a board  member of AEGN for four years. Annie recently stepped down as Chairman of the John T Reid Charitable Trusts having been a trustee for fifteen years. She has been active in the not for profit sector though out her career with a particular interest in early intervention and early education. Annie has been committed and active in the environment movement as a volunteer, donor, activist and board member for a range of organisations. Recently appointed to the board of the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, Annie looks forward to continuing to focus on the impacts of climate change on rural and remote communities in Australia.


Rob McLean  Rob McLean – McLean Foundation

Rob McLean is a private equity investor in ventures in media and entertainment. Rob had a long career with McKinsey & Company where he led the Australian and New Zealand practice of the Firm, served as a member of the Director’s Committee and remains a Senior Advisor.   He is a member of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Payment Systems Board, appointed by the Treasurer. He served as Dean and Director of the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales from 2003 to 2006. Rob encouraged The Nature Conservancy to have a presence in Australia 10 years ago and has actively supported this endeavor and currently Chairs its Australia Program Advisory Board and the Public Fund of the Nature Conservancy in Australia. He is co-founder and Chairman of Social Ventures Australia, a social NGO enterprise. He is a director of the Centre for Independent Studies, a policy think tank. In 2011, Rob was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his great contributions to social welfare, to conservation and the environment, and to business.


Amanda Martin Amanda Martin – AEGN

Amanda Martin is the CEO of the AEGN. She has worked in philanthropy for nearly a decade, having worked as Executive Officer for the Poola Foundation for four years before helping to establish the AEGN in 2009. She has specialised in environment and Indigenous grantmaking and more recently on building the skills and knowledge of funders on environmental issues as well as building different forms of collaboration. Amanda is a trained and skilled facilitator of groups and regularly uses this in her current role. Amanda has a background in biodiversity and protected area advocacy and management working in both the public and community sector. She was the Executive Officer of the Victoria National Parks Association, and the Head of Policy and Planning at Parks Victoria.  She has a degree in Zoology, post graduate qualifications in Environment Studies.


Louise O’Halloran Louise O’Halloran – AEGN

Louise is the AEGN’s Finance Sector Specialist. Louise was the group executive director of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) and RI Academy for 11 years until November 2012 when she relocated to Leura in the world heritage listed Blue Mountains, just outside of Sydney. During her time at RIAA Louise guided the creation of the Responsible Investment Academy, the world’s first web-based e-learning curriculum devoted entirely to responsible investment and funded by the Australian Government Treasury. She now consults across a range of disciplines including corporate responsibility, responsible investment, e-learning, story-making, business ethics and futurism.