Victoria Marles, Chair
Victoria is currently the CEO of Trust for Nature (the Victorian Conservation Trust), a position she has held since late 2009. Prior to assuming this role, Victoria was Victoria’s Legal Services Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Legal Services Board. As a lawyer, Victoria specialised in media and communications law and policy and was the Deputy Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and prior to that the Deputy Director of the Communications Law Centre. Victoria has a background in the arts, having graduated in drama from the Victorian College of the Arts. She has held various board positions including the Arts Centre, the Victorian Women’s Trust and the Melbourne Writers Festival. Victoria was chair of the Circus Oz Board for 14 years and is currently a board member of the Consumer Action Law Centre and a Director of the Australian Advertising Standards Council.
David Laidlaw, Deputy Chair
David Laidlaw is a partner with a major Melbourne law firm. In his practice David acts in a wide range of large-scale tort, contract and corporate litigation matters. His board appointments have included Asian Law Centre Board University of Melbourne, Law Institute Council, the Federal Attorney General’s International Legal Services Advisory Council, the ADVOC Asia Board and Inter-Pacific Bar Association Council. He is also a current board member of the Melbourne Prize Trust. David has a keen interest and involvement in the arts, which stretches back to his days as a national student arts leader. David has served on a number of arts boards and was instrumental in fostering his law firm’s support of Australian artists, including its sponsorship of artists selected to represent Australia at the Venice Biennales. He was also responsible for the establishment of the Maddocks’ Art Prize for emerging artists in the visual arts. He and his wife Megan also run black cattle on their farm property in Western Victoria.
Diana Heggie has extensive executive and non-executive experience. In addition to being a Director of the Abbotsford Convent Foundation, she is also currently Chair of Peninsula Health, President of the National Heart Foundation (Vic), Director of Toorak College and a Foundation board member of the Heide Museum of Modern Art. Her previous executive roles included CEO of the Heart Foundation (Vic), CEO Of Scope, a major provider of services to people with disabilities, and CEO of the EW Tipping Foundation. Diana originally qualified as a physiotherapist in 1987 from Trinity College Dublin, but quickly moved into people management roles in the not-for-profit sector. Diana believes strongly in the development of staff and volunteers, and that leadership is about empowering others to do great things.
Ruth Jones is an independent non-profit/philanthropy consultant. She recently returned to Australia after more than 12 years in North America, 10 of these as CEO of the Social Venture Partners Network, the largest network of engaged donors operating globally. Previous to this, Ruth held senior roles at Community Foundations of Canada and Philanthropy Australia. She was Chief Executive of the Australian Film Institute before moving to the field of philanthropy.
Stuart Kells is an author and antiquarian books authority. His published work includes the critically acclaimed biography of Kay Craddock, ‘Rare’, ‘Penguin and the Lane Brothers’ and ‘Australian Book Collectors’. He speaks regularly and enthusiastically on the history and value of printed books, including at Clunes Booktown, Melbourne Rare Book Week and Duneira. Beyond the field of rare books, Stuart has written on regulation and business performance, and has had a diverse career in government, academia and the private sector, including as Victoria’s Assistant Auditor-General, as head of the Office of Manufacturing, and in roles at the Melbourne Institute, Potter Warburg and KPMG. Stuart was an economic adviser to three consecutive Premiers of Victoria and was formerly on the board of the Industry Capability Network (Vic); the Victorian Government’s Gateway Supervisory Committee; the Advisory Panel on Employment Services Accountability and Administration; and the Defence Reserves Support Council (Vic). Stuart has a PhD in Law from Monash University, and a B.Comm and an M.Comm, both with first class honours, from the University of Melbourne.
Michael Sokulski is a chartered accountant and finance professional currently leading the financial accounting team at Medibank. Michael previously worked with Ernst & Young for 10 years where he accumulated significant experience in the accounting field, including delivery of financial assurance projects, internal audits, compliance work, financial reporting analysis and accounting advice across a broad spectrum of private and public clients. He has advised on a variety of transactions including IPOs, acquisitions and business divestments. Michael has also chaired the Young Professionals’ Panel for the Institute of Chartered Accountants, promoting the interests of young members and driving engagement with the broader community.
Antonia Syme AM
Antonia Syme AM is the Director of the Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW) in Melbourne. She has worked for many years in the arts and cultural sector as a director, consultant, conservator and curator. She is Director of Syme Dodson Consulting and was Director of Artbank for over 10 years. Her experience has spanned both the private and public sector, in Australian cultural institutions and as Co-Director of the Syme Dodson Gallery in Sydney. Antonia was the Chair of Craft Australia from 2009 to 2011 and was on the Board from 2007. Board and committee memberships include the NSW National Trust’s Museums and Collections Committee, the Federal Government’s Taxation Incentives for the Arts Committee, the Heritage Council (NSW) Maritime Archaeological Advisory Panel, the Sydney College of the Arts Board and the Camden Park Preservation Committee.
Judy Williams has extensive arts management experience, having previously worked at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) for almost two decades. From 2004 – 2014, she was Head of Foundation & Fundraising, where she was responsible for the development and implementation of the NGV’s fundraising strategy, including bequests, legacies and annual giving. As part of her role, she developed and implemented the NGV’s 150th Anniversary fundraising campaign – Masterpieces for Melbourne. Prior to this role, Judy was the NGV’s Manager of External Relations & Events, where she oversaw the planning and delivery of events for the opening of the Ian Potter Centre and the re-opening of NGV International.