The NCOSS Board guides and monitors the business and affairs of NCOSS on behalf of the members. The Board is elected from the membership at the annual general meeting and is accountable to members.
Candidates for the Board are drawn from a wide cross-section of expertise within the social and community sector in NSW.
John Robertson commenced full time employment at the age of 16 as an Apprentice Electrician and during his time working as an electrician became an organiser with the Electrical Trades Union.
John moved to the Labor Council of NSW as an Industrial Officer in 1991, culminating as Secretary from 2001 to 2008. His career then took off in the government sector, including his appointment as the NSW Opposition Leader and as the NSW Minister for 11 portfolios.
With over 30 years of experience in stakeholder engagement and strategic development in government, and 7 years of volunteering at Foodbank NSW & ACT, John extended his career to the not-for-profit sector in 2017, being appointed as the Executive General Manager of Foodbank NSW & ACT, then Chief Operating Officer in March 2019 and Chief Executive Officer in November 2020.
John is currently a Director on the Board of the NSW Council of Social Service elected in November 2019.
John was appointed by the NSW Treasurer as Chair of icare in September 2020.
John’s vision for Foodbank NSW & ACT is to build an organisation focused on the most effective and efficient delivery of food to people in need.
Prior to joining the community services sector in February 2017, Brad held executive roles in the private sector and health and medical research. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Board member of the Committee for the Hunter, and a committee member of the Newcastle Poverty Action Alliance. Brad is a passionate advocate for rural and regional NSW, and seeks opportunities to strengthen collaboration across sectors. His focus in advocacy is on rejecting the demonisation of disadvantage and poverty that pervades public discourse and promoting conversations that will support a fair and equitable society in NSW.
Jenni is CEO of the Northern Rivers Community Gateway. She is Chair of the NSW Financial Inclusion Network, Board member of Homelessness Australia, a full member of the Planning Institute of Australia, a Professional member of Australian Human Resource Institute (AHRI), MBA Australasia and the Institute of Managers and Leaders ANZ. Jenni holds a Master of Leadership from Deakin University. She is a graduate of Social Leadership Australia and holds a Bachelor of Social Science from Southern Cross University.
Jenni is a descendent of the Ngemba people, originally from Brewarrina in Western NSW, and now lives in the NSW North Coast. Since 2000 Jenni has worked in leadership roles within the NGO sector as a CEO, Manager, Planner and Community Development Worker. She has a strong commitment to social justice, financial inclusion, ending homelessness and grass roots community services that provide true wrap around holistic services to disadvantaged people.
Mark has been the CEO of the Community Housing Industry Association NSW since May 2019 and has worked for more than 20 years in peak bodies advocating to Government and advising on Government policies and programs.
He is deeply passionate about creating greater fairness and equality in our community and believe that safe, secure, affordable and appropriate housing plays a critical role in securing better social and economic outcomes for communities across NSW.
Wendy Foote is an Associate Professor, teaching and researching in social work and related areas at the Newcastle University. Associate Professor Wendy Foote’s social work research is inspired by years of practice and a profound desire to help disadvantaged children and families in Australia. Her work examines the complex interrelation of welfare decisions and practice, policies and funding regulations, drawing a confronting picture of the current system’s strengths and weaknesses
John has a wealth of experience and knowledge in Indigenous affairs with particular focus on the most marginalised members of society, First Nations children and young people, and members of the Aboriginal LGBTIQ communities. John aspires to see purposeful advocacy for and by community that centres around holistic wellbeing. John knows that there is a need for robust dialogue to unpack systematic barriers and subsequent impacts of poverty and neglect which acutely affect First Nation’s communities. Self-determination provides guiding principles to enable First Nations leadership to lead responses through culturally sound practices and approaches to enable sustainable outcomes.
John is the chairperson of BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation (leading ACCO for First Nations LGBTIQ peoples) and a Director at Gadigal information service (Koori Radio).
Katherine McKernan joined Legal Aid in October 2022. Prior to that she joined Homelessness NSW as the Chief Executive in February 2015 and has been a member of the Homelessness Australia Board since 2016. During that time she oversaw a number of research and policy projects including the Inner City Sydney Registry Week, A Plan for Change: Older Women and Homelessness, Debt, Set, Unfair and the NSW Homelessness Industry and Workforce Development Strategy. Katherine has previous experience in working to end homelessness in NSW through having worked on the NSW Homelessness Action Plan and the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness NSW Implementation Plan as well as overseeing service delivery models such as Staying Home Leaving Violence and Way2Home (and earlier models of this). She also has experience in working more broadly with the NGO sector and has experience in social policy areas such as mental health, preventing violence against women and disability.
Elfa Moraitakis is the CEO of SydWest Multicultural Services, a NFP providing a range of services to vulnerable communities in Western Sydney. Elfa has been involved in the community sector for the past 30 years and has an extensive background in developing services for linguistically disadvantaged communities, with a focus on engaging community and stakeholder participation. Elfa was awarded with the 2017 Blacktown Woman of the Year title for supporting women from CALD background establishing their businesses and was one of the 2020 UNSW Alumni finalists for Social Impact & Service.
Cara Varian brings decades of experience across the not-for-profit, public service, political and corporate sectors. She joins NCOSS from education charity Harding Miller Education Foundation, where she transformed the Foundation over eight years into a charity that has delivered more than $20 million in scholarships to high potential Year 9 girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. Cara is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), a program that equips leaders with governance and strategic skills.
Ben joins us from Stride Mental Health, one of Australia’s largest mental health not-for-profits, where he was General Manager of Strategy, Innovation and Growth. Ben oversaw Stride’s research and evidence work, business development and advocacy activities, strategic and operational planning, marketing and project management. Before joining Stride, Ben worked in the Consulting team of Social Ventures Australia, where he supported organisations across the sector to design and implement new organisational strategies, and to better measure their impact. Ben also has a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies.
Olivia Wright joined NCOSS in 2016 as an accomplished relationship manager with 20 years’ project and business management experience across the Government, private and not-for-profit sectors. In Government, she worked in international market development in the arts for 5 years before transitioning to the NGO sector. Olivia has held management positions in community development and community engagement within the sector for over 10 years. She was General Manager of a small NFP that focused on providing literacy support to disadvantaged students through the lens of poetry.
Megan Nicholson leads the NCOSS Community Sector Disaster Capability project which promotes and facilitates the role of local community services organisations in supporting communities to reduce disaster risk. Megan previously led the NCOSS Building Resilience for Emergency Responses Project which had a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic. Megan formerly worked in managerial and senior policy and program roles with NSW Government agencies for 18 years – in social housing, early intervention and prevention, place-based programs, and ageing – and led the Bushfire Housing Assistance Response Team in southern NSW following the black summer emergency. She has worked in health education and advocacy and program evaluation and design in the non-government sector and holds post-graduate qualifications in social research, policy, history and public sector management.
Neha is an experienced and passionate researcher and policy analyst, specialising in child, youth and families. She has over 13 years’ experience across the non-government, peak body and university sectors. Most recently, she was living in New York where she worked in international development, leading the social impact work for a global advocacy organisation. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Management.
Elyse Cain leads NCOSS’ work on the social determinants of health and health equity, and chairs the NSW Health Equity Alliance. She has ten years' experience in policy and advocacy both in government and non-government settings, including senior policy roles in NSW Fair Trading, the Commonwealth Treasury and the Australian Medical Association (NSW). She holds a double degree in Communication and International Studies from the University of Technology, Sydney, with majors in social inquiry and German.
Francesca joined NCOSS in September 2021. An experienced project lead and manager, she comes from a long career in the not-for-profit sector and local government including community housing, community and cultural development, contemporary and community arts, and women’s services. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre and a Graduate Certificate in Urban Renewal and Housing.
Eleanor is passionate about supporting communities and community organisations to navigate an increasingly complex disaster and climate adaption environment.
Eleanor has a background in disaster management and the community sector with a BA Humanitarian and Community Studies and experience working with communities after bushfires and floods.