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 our community of volunteers, members, donors, supporters and staff around Australia. Our board and management team ensure that people power works effectively to protect the places we love.

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 25 November 2021

In the 1980s, having been passionate about flora, fauna and our environment since a small child, Leanne found her homebase when she became a member of The Wilderness Society.

Professionally, Leanne holds 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.

After 30 years experience working with NGO committees of management—establishing and supporting the development of both fledging and established NGOs—Leanne was elected to The Wilderness Society Inc Committee of Management at the 2015 AGM. She has been a Director of The Wilderness Society Ltd since its establishment in 2016 and a Co-Convenor of the Board from May 2018 to November 2020, and Convenor since then. She has also been a member of The Wilderness Society Convenors’ Committee, a collaboration of Wilderness Society governance representatives.

Leanne has accepted a further term so she can assist The Wilderness Society to launch from the Collaborative Agreement and the inaugural whole-of-organisation Campaign Plan to ensure collaboration is the way our organisation breathes, walks and talks. She also wishes to lend support as a governor to build upon the Movement For Life people’s movement and see The Wilderness Society evolve into an inclusive organisation where First Nations people, people from diverse cultural and faith backgrounds and people of all ages, including children, can also experience The Wilderness Society as a homebase for protecting nature and the environment.

Jacqueline Mills

NSW and ACT | Elected 25 November 2021

Having spent a lot of time in the beautiful Blue Mountains when she was younger, Jacqui was shocked to learn that wild places around Australia were being destroyed. The Wilderness Society campaigns to end old-growth logging connected with her in the 1990s and spurred a lifelong contribution to the environment movement.

For Jacqui, it’s about taking on powerful interests to fight collectively for a better future: for our wild places, our climate, animals and social justice.

She was hands-on in building up The Wombat Foundation to conserve the critically endangered Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat for about nine years. She worked with the community and pushed decision-makers to make the right decisions to conserve the species and to end threatening processes.

Jacqui leads strategic campaigning across different countries in her day job where she works for a global animal protection NGO. She therefore provides The Wilderness Society with a strong background in advocacy, campaigning and strategic thinking.

She also has governance experience having sat on the board of a small environmental organisation and an industry skills council.

Jacqui was awarded a scholarship and has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors course on governance for not-for-profit directors and has tertiary qualifications in environmental management, as well as sociology and social policy.

Junita Mushenko

Appointed 23 September 2021

With 15 years' worth of HR Leadership experience in For Purpose, Enterprise and ICT organisations, Junita brings a people-centric skillset to the Wilderness Society. Junita is a former volunteer Board Member for the Taj Foundation, which raised over $300,000 in funding for children and young people in Australia and South Asia. As a result, her skills include talent management, HR, event management and fundraising, not-for-profit governance and associated reporting. Junita currently runs Xpand Coaching and Consulting.

In her work with corporate clients and alliances, Junita conducts deep analysis on the state of representation within their organisations. She brings a lived diversity perspective to the conservation movement, which will help the Wilderness Society with forward thinking approaches that support staff, volunteers and the leadership team with sustainable solutions.

Karl Tischler

Appointed 1 August 2021

With qualifications including a Bachelor of Business (UTS), Grad. Certificate in Public Relations and an MA in Communications Management, Karl brings a wealth of skills to the Wilderness Society. In 2019, he also completed the Australian Progress Advocacy and Campaigning course.

Over the years he has become fascinated and consumed by conservation and environmental issues. In particular, how the Australian public values and views all aspects of nature.

In terms of action to protect nature, Karls believes that, "We know what to do and we know what needs to be done. We know the science, the ecology, the sociology and the mechanics of nature conservation and environmental protection programmes. We even know what is required politically.

"In my view, none of this is really a key challenge. What is the fundamental challenge is creating the kind of political, economic and social will to make such changes happen. That requires creating our audiences to care—because once they care, once they see themselves and their self-interests as part of their story—then the kind of social change that we want happens."

He believes the key issues that the Wilderness Society faces are:

  • Maintaining clarity of the agreed purpose and mission.

  • Acting on that mission with resolve, determination and discipline.

  • Defining a stand, and knowing what compromises are acceptable.

  • Ensuring that all supporters see themselves, their identity and what they do, feel and believe as an important part of their story.

  • Persuading individuals to forgo their personal self-interest, and align themselves to acting as a collective.

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 | Re-elected 25 November 2021

Amanda has been a Director on The Wilderness Society Ltd Board for three years, and prior to that held roles of Convenor and Treasurer for The Wilderness Society WA Management Committee for three years. In both roles, Amanda maintained strong relationships within The Wilderness Society to drive common purpose and collaborative working between Campaign Centres and The Wilderness Society Ltd.

Amanda is passionate about the Purpose of The Wilderness Society and the role it has in protecting nature. She wants to make sure as an organisation we continue to be a recognised leader (in environmental NGOs).

In her day job, Amanda is head of procurement for the Public Transport Authority in WA. She holds a Masters in Leadership and Management and has graduated from the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Company Director Course. Together, her skills; academic study; voluntary and work experience provides The Wilderness Society with a rounded Board Director who can translate strategy, build relationships and facilitate opportunities to deliver against The Wilderness Society Purpose.

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, 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.