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: [email protected]
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.
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 Life Insurance and the Bunnings Group. After gaining significant experience in the financial services corporate legal sector, David made a career change to the health sector and in more recent years, has taken up senior management positions with the Primary Health Network, GMHBA Health Insurance, and currently with the ASX Top 50 company Medibank Private as a Senior Hospital Contracts and Relationship Manager.
David has been an active Board member since early 2015 after meeting Karl and Alex and being inspired by their resilience, passion and unrelenting drive to eradicate SIDS.
As well as spending time with family and friends, David enjoys racing motorbikes, participating in mountain bike endurance competitions, snow sports and being involved in community events.
Jessica Cotter brings over twenty years marketing and communications work experience to the River’s Gift Advisory Board having worked across multiple sectors including corporate, government, small-large business and not-for-profit organisations. An energetic and solutions-focussed marketing communications specialist, Jess is skilled in strategic planning, campaign management, professional copy writing, event planning, project management, social and digital media and traditional media/PR.
Tertiary qualified with a Graduate Certificate in Marketing (RMIT) and under-graduate degree majoring in Public Relations and Management Communications (Deakin University), Jess is a true “people person” who relishes working collaboratively and always aims to exceed others’ expectations in all she delivers. Jess is determined to help River’s Gift find the cause of SIDS so to eradicate it so families won’t feel the pain and loss of a beautiful, seemingly perfectly healthy and happy baby like Karl and Alex did.
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.
Rebecca is a NED/ executive leader in health innovation and commercialisation, and is mission-driven to create real impact through evidence translation in health, disability and ageing. As a specialised health strategist, Rebecca brings together cross-disciplinary teams from across extensive and influential industry networks, and manages multiple and complex projects, stakeholder relationships (and competing priorities) without losing momentum. She thrives in dynamic, ambiguous and changing work environments.
Martha is a senior leader in the technology sector having successfully navigated her career through a diverse range of sectors from Telecoms, Insurance and Retail industries where her current focus on modernising software delivery and optimisation ways of working. She currently holds the title of Group Head of Technology Supply Chain for the Kmart Group where she is accountable for the teams providing technical solutions for Kmart, Target, Catch and Anko Brands.
One of a family of eight and the eldest girl growing up in idyllic countryside of rural Ireland she developed her leadership skills early on in her life, corralling a rambunctious group of siblings from an early age. Martha loves to travel, and she decided a trip to Australia would widen her horizons further and a three-month trip in 2003 saw her make Australia become home to this day.
She met the love of her life Lucy in Melbourne in 2007 and they made the move to Geelong in 2009 and have since been lucky enough to move to Ocean Grove where they live with their two adorable dogs, Charlie and Corky.
A lifelong learner she is a graduate of the University of Ireland Graduate of Arts, Martha went on to complete a Post Graduate Diploma in Information Technology and is a Certified Project Manager via the Project Management Institute, a AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner and a founding member of the Pride Network across the Kmart Group focusing on the representation, education and engagement of LGBTIQA+ team members and their families across the stores, distribution centres and support offices. She is also a champion of Women in Technology where she focuses on the ongoing engagement of female participation, retention, career development and progression within the sector.
Martha has a knack of building relationships in organisations with clients, vendors, project personnel and business executives alike and relishes the opportunity to work with diverse backgrounds and learning about people’s cultures and traditions.
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.