Our people

Our people

As a member-based organisation, we rely on the energy, dedication and generosity of everyday people to carry out our work.

We're powered by more than 30,000 members, thousands of volunteers and around 150 staff nationwide. Our board and leadership team ensure all that people power is fully harnessed.

If you'd like to volunteer, our community organising program, Movement For Life is the best place to start. To see a list of available positions, please see our careers page.

Meet the board

From travellers to childhood tree-planters, from university professors to economists, this group is bound by a life-long love of nature. They volunteer their time and expertise - and lots of it - to support our organisation as we support life. 

All members are encouraged to join us at our Annual General Meeting (AGM), to receive reports from the current Board of Directors and be notified of the results of the election.

The annual Wilderness Society Members’ Forum also provides our Members with the opportunity to be updated on the activities of the organisation.

Leanne Craze AM

NSW and ACT | re-elected 22 November 2018

At the age of 11, Leanne established the Guildford Primary School Conservation Club and spent much time planting native trees, many of which are still standing. She has been a member of the Wilderness Society since the late 1980s, is co-founder of the Glen Alpine Bushcare Group and has contributed to Landcare and similar initiatives for many years. In 2017, Leanne received the award of member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Professionally, Leanne has qualifications in both Social Work (BSW, PhD) and Science (Grad Dip. Climate Change and Resource Management). She has run her own mental health and social policy consulting company since 1990, specialising in multi-stakeholder engagement and consultation, and been engaged by governments to provide advice and guidance with the establishment of a number of government-funded peak bodies.

Leanne has over 30 years’ experience with NGO committees of management—establishing and supporting the development of both fledging and established NGOs. She has experience with non-government sector governance through a number of organisations including the  NSW Association of Mental Health  and Victorian Mental Health Legal Centre.

Leanne is also a Board member of GroundUp, a not-for-profit organisation supporting Aboriginal community development in the Kimberley. She was elected to the Wilderness Society Inc Committee of Management for the first time at the 2015 AGM, and has been a Director of The Wilderness Society Ltd since its establishment in 2016; a Co-Convenor of the Board since May 2018; and a Wilderness Society member since the 1980s, with membership on the Governance Leadership Group, a collaboration of The Wilderness Society governance representatives.

Coral Robinson

NSW and ACT | re-elected 22 November 2018

Coral is an Honorary Life Member of the Wilderness Society and has been a supporter for over 25 years. Her passion for the protection of nature and wild places is the driving force behind her long involvement with The Wilderness Society. 

She lives in Sydney and has 25 years' experience as a senior economist in policy, planning and finance in the NSW water and energy industries, where she was responsible for cost-benefit analysis (incorporating financial, economic and environmental values) for major projects. A key element of this work was embedding environmental values into organisational decision-making, which led to improvements in marine and riverine water quality across the Greater Sydney area. 

She has over seventeen years' experience on various Wilderness Society management committees, providing expertise in finance, planning and governance. Coral is currently a member of The Wilderness Society Ltd Board, and also serves on a number of organisational committees. 

Since being elected to the Committee of Management in June 2010, Coral has worked to build a strong and resilient organisation focused on delivering its environmental purpose. This commitment still stands, and Coral continues to contribute her skills for the benefit of the organisation and the protection of nature as part of the Wilderness Society Ltd Board.

Coral sees great opportunity for the protection of nature through the Wilderness Society’s work in building and sustaining support across the Australian community, in particular through the campaign to revolutionise Australia’s national environment laws and institutions.

Ben Holgate

Vic | appointed 12 September 2017

Born in Liverpool UK and educated at London University, Ben Holgate has lived in Australia for 25 years. He is a skills-based appointed Director with marketing and fundraising expertise. He was Director of Fundraising at Plan International, a global child rights organisation, for six years before moving to Multiple Sclerosis Ltd as Executive Manager, Strategic Fundraising in mid-2017. 

Before this, Ben was a senior leader in advertising and marketing in various for-profit enterprises in the Middle East, Australia, and his native UK. Ben has stood on the boards of Circus Oz, the CRC for the plant-based management of dry land salinity, the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA), and Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA). 

Ben also sits on the resourcing committee of Youth Live for Life, a youth organisation providing mental health training in regional Victoria, Ben is a practicing artist, a dogged gardener, and a keen music-lover. 

Having completed the FIA/AICD not-for-profit board governance course, Ben has enjoyed learning from and contributing to the Wilderness Society Board— the work of which closely aligns with his values and interest in the natural world. This commenced as a child in the Lake District, in the North of England, one of the most beautiful unspoiled places in the UK.

Sam Rando

NT and SA | elected 28 November 2019

A lifelong love of nature and wild places has shaped Sam’s private and professional worlds.

In the late 1970s, he was one of a small group of people who founded the Victorian branch of the Wilderness Society. Over the following five years, Sam worked as a full-time volunteer during the Franklin Dam and Tasmanian forestry campaigns. Upon completing a science degree, he embarked upon a professional career in nature conservation and protected area management that has spanned more than 30 years. This included working with parks and wildlife agencies in Tasmania, Victoria, NSW and and the NT, as well as the Australian Antarctic Division. He has also worked as a consultant, helping manage places and landscapes of national and international significance, including four World Heritage sites.

Sam has worked alongside Indigenous people in every state and territory. For the last nine years, he has been employed by the Central Land Council in Alice Springs. He manages a wide variety of cultural and natural resource management programs and staff, including Indigenous ranger groups and Indigenous Protected Areas. Sam has gained considerable expertise in staff, project and financial management.

Throughout this time, he has remained involved with various NGOs advocating social and environmental change—including the Wilderness Society. Sam hopes to be able to give back to the organisation that was so central in his earlier, formative years.

Sam believes a key challenge for the Wilderness Society is the need to balance working on multiple local fronts whilst also campaigning on global threats to wild places.

Lisa Roberts

VIC | elected 28 November 2019

With an engineering background in catchment management, and experience in public affairs/relations in various sectors, graduation of AICD’s Directors Course and 16 years in the Local Government sector, Lisa adds value to The Wilderness Society with passion, extensive related experience and a strong knowledge of governance. 

Lisa’s long-term goal has always been to work solely for the conservation, care of and protection of Australia’s unique environment and wildlife.  She has a huge respect for this earth and the impact of the environment on everyday lives and The Wilderness Society has always been a committed and vigorous supporter of the things that she considers important.

Lisa has a passion for governance, transparency and legislation and consistently but appropriately pushes the boundaries to achieve best practice results. Her understanding of government at all levels is significant. Through past engineering and civic experience she has an extensive understanding of Australia’s social frameworks, infrastructure development and population growth issues, all of which significantly impact our environment.

Maintaining funding sources and donors into the future, technological change, and the relevance of what we do, along with consistency and focus, to a society saturated with messages and causes are key challenges Lisa sees for The Wilderness Society. She believes that, as a Board, we must maintain a strong and diverse skill set, stay abreast of change and understand our limits.

Amanda Branley

WA | elected 22 November 2018

Amanda spent much of her childhood, and years since, enjoying the Australian wilderness through hiking and kayaking.  She has a passion for this beautiful country of ours, and wants to protect it for future generations. She supports The Wilderness Society through governance and leadership.  

In November 2013, she joined The Wilderness Society WA Management Committee as its Treasurer and sat as Secretary for a short period in 2014, before holding the position of Convenor for three years. Amanda’s contributions delivered a stabilised period for the membership of that Committee, stronger connections to other campaign centres and The Wilderness Society Ltd, and improved governance and leadership through a period of broader organisational change. She is an inaugural member of The Wilderness Society Governance and Leadership group. 

Through paid work, voluntary board roles and professional development, Amanda has developed strong skills in leadership and governance, making her an effective member of The Wilderness Society Ltd Board. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a masters degree in leadership and management.  

Amanda believes that, in the coming months and years, The Wilderness Society has great opportunities to effectively change the laws of the land, leading to better protection of wilderness and management of the long-term and devastating effects of climate change. She sees our challenge as preparing and resourcing our organisation to be a change leader in the environment movement, whilst still delivering on local campaigns and organising.

Gabrielle Appleby

Tas| elected 26 November 2020

Gabrielle brings legal professional qualifications to the Board as well as extensive experience in board governance. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from the University of Queensland, a Masters in Laws from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from the University of Adelaide. Gabrielle is currently a professor of constitutional law at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Law), with a particular focus of her work being on the accountability and integrity of the government, the parliament and the judiciary. 

She has previously worked for Queensland Crown Solicitor's Office and the Victorian Government Solicitor's Office and has significant experience in government and commercial litigation. She currently serves as a member of the advisory board of the Grata Fund (strategic litigation funders) and a member of the Council of the Environmental Defenders Office. She is a strategic adviser to the Centre for Public Integrity. 

Gabrielle has extensive experience on the boards of NGOs, having sat as an executive member, including as Secretary and Vice President, of the Conservation Council of South Australia, the New South Wales Nature Conservation Council and the Australian Association of Constitutional Law.

Gabrielle’s constitutional law experience also extends to constitutional change to give structural power to First Nations. Since 2016, she has advised First Nations to deliver and progress the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament, and ultimately Makarrata, that is, a coming together of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia through treaty making and truth-telling.

As a constitutional lawyer and litigator who is passionate about the environment, Gabrielle has the  greatest respect for the importance of the work of the Wilderness Society in achieving many of the wins for Australia’s unique and beautiful environment.

Andrew Barker

Vic| Elected 26 November 2020

Having been a supporter of the Wilderness Society for many years and a passionate supporter of the Society's purpose, Andrew welcomes the opportunity to help the Society really make a difference in further protecting our environment.

Andrew has worked in senior financial senior management roles for over 15 years including financial services and non profit Board experience, and brings financial, strategic, governance, leadership and analytical skills.

In these changing times, more and more Australians, corporates and other key bodies are recognising the need for immediate action to protect our environment. Andrew believes The Wilderness Society has a unique opportunity to really drive this change and that the challenge lies in being clear on the strategy and plan to do this, and making sure that it is done with careful financial and risk management to ensure that the Society has maximum impact over both the short and long term.

Our leadership

Matt Brennan

Chief Executive Officer

Matt lives in Sydney with his wife Nicky and daughters Rosie and Bridie. He is responsible for enabling the Wilderness Society's creative and communications, membership and fundraising, as well as operational areas including finance, administration, strategic planning, risk management, infrastructure management, governance and compliance. Matt graduated from the University of Technology in Sydney with a Bachelor of Business and Accounting in 1990. He is a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) and has completed courses in leadership and transformational change. Prior to joining the Wilderness Society in 2011, Matt worked for Brookfield Multiplex Ltd for 12 years and held senior national executive roles including CFO Residential Property, and Commercial Manager, Developments. He is passionate about nature and how society can address the challenges required to ensure a healthy and thriving natural world. 

Amelia Young

National Campaigns Director

Based in Melbourne, Amelia has spent her life exploring Victoria's vast stretches of forest with her family, and the last two decades working with the Wilderness Society to protect them from logging and woodchipping. From boardrooms to parliaments and from logging coupes to courts, as Victorian Campaigns Manager, she’s been a tireless advocate for science to inform policy, for business and governments to lead, and for the need to collaborate with communities. 

Amelia has developed visionary proposals that put people at the heart of forest ecosystems and negotiated hard for these ideas to become reality. After years of considered, dedicated campaigning, Amelia helped secure the Victorian Government’s announcement to ban the logging of old-growth forests. 

Her extensive experience working on solutions that secure good outcomes for communities and safeguard ecosystems and the habitat of rare forest animals like the Greater Glider and the Leadbeater’s possum, make her an ideal appointment to the position of National Campaigns Director in 2020. She is now working with campaigners, organisers, volunteers and supporters to deliver the Wilderness Society’s national campaign strategy at what is a critical time for the environment in Australia.

Jen Rowe

Chief Financial Officer

Jen joined the Wilderness Society in February 2020 as Chief Financial Officer. As a chartered accountant she has comprehensive experience in statutory reporting and financial management from positions she’s held in Australia and abroad, including time working for PricewaterhouseCoopers in the Netherlands. 

Jen has a particular interest in strategy and operational improvement, which she combined with a passion for the arts at Sony Music in Sydney. Following this role she joined the charity Support Act, which assists people struggling in the music industry due to a health or personal crisis. There she had sole responsibility for the organisation’s financial operations and saw the charity grow its support base exponentially. At Support Act Jen also managed a project investigating mental health issues in the music industry and the support people need. This resulted in a 24-hour mental health hotline.  

Her family has a personal connection to Crowdy Bay National Park, where her parents live and her children have spent plenty of summers. It has fostered a deep love of the environment and Australia’s unique wildlife in Jen and her family. Sadly, the national park was ravaged by the 2019-20 bushfires, just as she was set to start work at the Wilderness Society. In her new role, it made her even more determined to help the organisation realise a healthy future for Australia’s natural heritage.

Damian Ogden

National Community Organising Manager

Image: Matt Tomkins

Damian is one of Australia’s most experienced campaign strategists. Damian has trained over 8,000 political leaders, candidates, strategists and not-for-profit leaders on best practice community organising, grassroots campaigning and communication strategies. Before joining the  Wilderness Society, Damian was an Advisor to the New Zealand Labor Party and now-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and worked on Barack Obama’s historic 2008 Presidential campaign and reelection in 2012. 

Damian holds a Bachelor of Arts (international relations) and law degree from the University of Sydney, is a fellow with the School for Social Entrepreneurs and graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School leadership program.