John (JT) Thomas – River’s Gift Board Chairman
JT has been involved in banking, finance and funds management activities for 42 years. After his initial training with a major bank, a building society and then a credit union, JT joined the Howard Group in 1987, where he began managing the Howard Mortgage Trust. After 16 years, including a change in ownership, the assets had risen to a little under $3billion, to become the largest and consistently performing trust of its kind in Australia.
JT continued his success within the mortgage fund sector, and in 2004 he launched the Mariner Mortgage Trust, which experienced enormous growth to become the best performing fund of its type in Australia within 4 years. JT is considered an expert within this space, and in 2010 he set up JT Consultancy and now advises fund managers in the mortgage and property trust space.
Aside of his work, JT also commits a large amount of his time to charity work. He’s a member of a number of Boards and Trusts, with Chairman roles at leading not-for-profit ogranisations. In testament of his dedication to this work, in 2011 JT was awarded a Papal Knighthood, for his charitable work over 20 years for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta.
JT enjoys a busy fulfilling life, and lives by three personal mantras. Firstly “Planning and organisation are the keys to success”, secondly “Always under promise and over deliver” in all that you do, and thirdly “Persistence and determination are omnipotent”. JT instills his mantras within the River’s Gift Board, and is committed to seeing River’s Gift become a leading national charity. He feels connected with River’s Gift, having lived the experience of Alex & Karl.
JT can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew McNeil – Director & Board Member
Andrew has over 27 years of diversified financial services experience across investment management, funds management, real estate advisory, corporate finance and banking. As Founder of the Yarmouth Group of companies, Yarmouth has advised on over AU$300 million of debt and equity transactions since being formed in 2008. Andrew also provides governance advisory services, and advises boards on corporate governance matters including risk management, regulatory compliance and investment mandates in accordance with corporate and trust law.
Career highlights for Andrew include working overseas with Lend Lease in San Francisco, Atlanta and New York; working with group companies including Lend Lease Real Estate Investments, Equitable Real Estate Yarmouth (ERE Yarmouth) and Yarmouth Property Management. Andrew currently represents Australian Financial Licensee fund managers that manage over $3 billion of assets. He thrives on working with clients on creating investment products that help build and protect their wealth.
Outside of his professional career, Andrew’s passionate about sport and has been a foundation corporate partner and member of AFL team, the Greater Western Sydney Giants since 2010. He’s also been a national team rowing coach on the United States, Norwegian and Swiss rowing teams.
“I’m a passionate member of the River’s Gift team, aiming to ‘Stamps out SIDS’, so that in the future, no family will ever have to experience the pain of what Karl and Alex and other SIDS families have gone through”.
Andrew can be contacted at: email@example.com
Craig McGree – Director & Board Member
Craig graduated from Latrobe University with a Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Honours) and is a registered Psychologist with over 10 years’ experience and is a member of the Australian Psychological Society. He has worked in a range of roles in that time, including public mental health, private practice, forensic services and crisis assessment and support to organisations and individuals. Craig is experienced in facilitating group based interventions and has delivered programs targeting depression and anxiety, violence reduction, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Craig is an experienced trainer for individuals and organisations in areas such as Mental Health First Aid, Violence Risk Assessment, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Responding to At Risk Individuals.
Craig is the owner and Managing Director of Home Psychologist, a business providing psychological services to people in their own homes. Craig prides his business on providing affordable psychological services and support to vulnerable people that may not be able to access traditional services.
Craig also works for Deakin University providing counselling and supervision to students, and facilitating training and promoting mental health awareness to fellow staff members.
Craig says “Through my personal friendship with Karl and Alex I shared in part both the joy surrounding River’s birth, and the horrible pain of his loss. As a result I have had a close personal connection with River’s Gift since its inception. I have always had an interest in neuroscience and hope to share in the advancement of knowledge in this field that may ultimately prevent any other families from experiencing such an overwhelming loss”. Craig has three young children, including a son of very similar age to River, and enjoys sharing his love of science, nature and travel with them.
Adam Ruggero – Board Member
Adam is the Marketing Director of Geelong design and branding agency, Frank Lane. Adam provides River’s Gift with extensive experience in marketing, branding, sales and business development.
Over his career he has worked for the Australian Tourist Commission in North America, Kendell Airlines, South Australian Tourism Commission, as a Director of Great Southern Touring Route and CEO of Shipwreck Coast Tourism.
Since joining Frank Lane 14 years ago he has developed and managed campaigns for clients including Air Radiators, Australian Camps Association, Business Events Victoria, Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism, Park Pods, Parks Victoria, Pivot Homes, Tourism Events Queensland and Victorian Caravan Parks Association.
Adam is the dad of three beautiful and extremely busy teenage girls. He is also a keen runner that has represented River’s Gift on numerous occasions.
Heath McCartney – Director & Board Member
Heath McCartney is one of three Directors of WMC Accounting, rapidly moving up the corporate ladder following his graduation from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2000. He has continued building his education and financial knowledge throughout his career and holds post-graduate qualifications with CPA Australia, and a Diploma of Financial Planning. Heath is a registered SMSF Auditor, Tax Agent and an Authorised Representative of SMSF Advisors Network.
Heath specialises in the complex capital gains tax issues arising from property, land developments and large-scale investments. He is proactive in tax minimisation and can be relied upon at the onset of business development to offer innovative advice to support effective strategic planning advice.
Heath and his team have major clients in trade and construction, and provide support and advice to individuals looking to branch out on their own, through the development of business structures that provide asset protection and tax minimisation. This support continues throughout the business life, from start-up, business development and maintaining reporting obligations for taxation compliance.
Heath is a Director of River’s Gift and has spent countless hours providing direction on fundraising efforts and advising on the intricate and very specific reporting requirements of running a not-for-profit registered charity, to fund research into SIDS prevention. Heavily involved with many sporting associations throughout his youth, Heath continues to be immersed in building strong community ties.
Brendan Veitch – Board Member
Brendan, originally from Avoca in country Victoria, gained his Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Ballarat, and spent time in Melbourne before joining WMC Accounting in early 2014. Brendan is a Senior Accountant at WMC and has major clients in the transport, agriculture and farming industries, offering a wealth of expertise in the business and compliance issues specific to these industries.
Brendan joined River’s Gift in 2014 after attending Karl’s presentation at a Geelong Young Professionals breakfast. Being new to Geelong at the time, Brendan joined the River’s Gift running group to meet new people, get fit and give back to the community.
Wearing the blue heart singlet, Brendan has impressively completed 3 marathons (Melbourne, Sydney & New York) as a River’s Gift runner, and has set a personal goal of raising $10,000 for River’s Gift. It’s astounding to consider the time he donates to our cause as Secretary of River’s Gift, one for which we are very grateful. Running and volunteering for River’s Gift has not only given Brendan a real sense of community giving, but has helped ease his struggle with depression as he’s achieved many personal milestones over his journey with River’s Gift.
David Rose – Board Member
David began his career in Melbourne and spent a number of years as legal counsel for a global financial services company as well as a litigation lawyer in a leading law firm servicing clients including the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, AMP, TAL and the Bunnings Group. After gaining enormous experience in the financial services sector, David made a career change to the health sector in recent years to take up management positions with the Primary Health Network, GMHBA Health Insurance, and currently with Medibank Private as Senior Hospital Contracts and Relationship Manager.
David has been an active advisory Board member since early 2015 after meeting Karl and Alex and being inspired by their resilience and passion.
As well as spending time with family and friends, David enjoy racing motorbikes, taking part in mountain bike endurance events, snow sports and being involved in community events.
Dianne commenced as Director, Finance and Human Resources with the Australian Dental Council in September 2012. Previously she has managed the finance, human resources and administration functions of several not for profit organisations in the health and welfare sectors, including the Australian Pharmacy Council, Glastonbury Child and Family Services and Time For Youth.
Dianne’s expertise is in the management of finance, administration and human resources in the not-for-profit sector including legislative compliance, financial reporting, risk management, asset management and management of investments.
Dianne holds a Bachelor of Commerce with majors in Accounting and Human Resource Management, and is a member of the Australian Human Resources Institute.
Natasha Lucas – Board Member
Tash is an active River’s Gift supporter, and is currently employed as Strategy and Engagement with the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG). Tash’s role sees her take a lead role in developing CoGG’s strategic framework and strategy, and implementation of this across the diverse service areas of Local Government.
Tash enjoys collaborating with colleagues to ensure everyone who works for the City knows the value of what they do and can see how they are contributing to the organisation’s overall purpose and strategy. Experienced in performance reporting, Tash is passionate about making sure we all stop to celebrate success along the way.
Tash joined River’s Gift in 2012 as an Advisory Board member. Her affiliation with River’s Gift started when she met Karl and Alex when their own little boy was just four months, the same age as River when he passed. Their story touched her deeply and changed the way she approached parenthood. When she was ready to get back into running she joined her first River’s Gift run training program and has never looked back!.
Tash has now completed six running campaigns and has previously coordinated the Run Program for three years. Tash is a passionate volunteer with River’s Gift and is proud to see it become a professional and sustainable charity that makes a real difference in the lives of parents just like her. Tash and her husband and have two little boys who are six and two, and the reason she’s so passionate about Stamping Out SIDS.
Nicole Stornebrink – Board Member
Nicole completed her studies in a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce (Distinction) in 2011, and has completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice with The College of Law.
Nicole was a commercial lawyer specialising in contract documents, consumer law and self-managed superannuation with Harwood Andrews for six years before transitioning into the role of Manager – Knowledge & Precedents within the firm in late 2018.
Nicole has been with River’s Gift since it first began and provides pro-bono legal support through Harwood Andrews. She joined the charity and is driven by Karl and Alex’s determination to find answers from unimaginable loss. Nicole became a first time mum in March 2017, her son is the light of her life, and she too is passionate about Stamping Out SIDS.
Tez Kemp – Board Member
Tez Kemp is the managing director of La Madre Bakery, one of Australia’s leading and innovative artisan bakeries.
Prior to relocating to Australia in 2005, Tez spent 8 years in Sports Marketing across Europe and Asia representing blue chip brands McDonald’s, MasterCard and Emirates, creating meaningful partnerships and fan experiences.
Tez brings a wealth of business operations and marketing experience to the River’s Gift advisory board and is passionate about delivering exceptional customer service.
Tez wants to help River’s Gift increase its exposure in other markets to support SIDS families and raise much needed funds to SOS.
A regular participant in the River’s Gift running programs along with his wife and four children, Tez has completed 3 half marathons, 2 full marathons and a leg of the Surf Coast Century.
Tez can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org