Our Board

Anthony Mitchell (Chair)

Anthony Mitchell is the co-founder and Chairman of Bendelta, an advisory firm specialising in strategic planning, leadership development and organisational design.

Anthony is also a member of the Amnesty International Australia 2020 Council, and has a special interest in Indigenous rights. From 2011-16, he was Chairman of Amnesty International Australia.

Lilly Brown

Lilly has lectured at the University of Melbourne since 2012 and currently teaches first year Indigenous students within the University of Melbourne’s pathway program while completing her PhD in youth studies and Indigenous education. In 2012, Lilly was awarded a Charlie Perkins scholarship to attend the University of Cambridge, where she completed an MPhil with distinction in Politics, Development and Democratic Education. As an interdisciplinary researcher and educator, Lilly is motivated to attend to both the possibilities education presents, but also the role the education system has played in the subjugation of minority and Indigenous peoples. These motivations have underpinned her work with young people, community organisations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. Lilly belongs to the Gumbaynggirr people of the mid north coast of eastern Australia.

Julie Coates

Julie is the National Managing Partner of PwC Australia’s Priority Clients and Segments Practice and a member of PwC Australia’s executive board. She is also the financial Services Industry leader and a member of the global Financial Services extended leadership team. Julie has a Bachelor of Arts (Accounting) degree from the John Moores University in Liverpool, England and is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and England. She is a member of the professional services taskforce at committee for Sydney and a member of Financial Executive Women.

Anna Collyer

Anna is a partner and the Head of Innovation at Allens.  She has more than 20 years' experience in the energy sector. Her practice covers a broad range of work for government, industry participants and key market institutions, and has included significant privatisations, mergers and acquisitions, and project development, particularly in renewable. Anna has also acted as an adviser to Australia's peak energy body - the COAG Energy Council - as well as State Governments and key market institutions on significant industry reform. Anna is also a member of the Allens Executive Committee.

Helen Dalley

Helen is a Walkley Award-winning journalist and broadcaster with decades of experience in television media and journalism. Helen was a reporter and presenter for almost 20 years on the Nine Network, including on the award-winning Sunday show, and was an inaugural reporter on Business Sunday. Most recently Helen was host, presenter and interviewer of several politics and business interview programs on Sky News Australia and Sky Business Channels, including The Dalley Edition and Late Agenda, and was a senior anchor of news programs like News Now with Helen Dalley, over 11 years.  She’s reported on a wide range of issues, including Indigenous affairs, and has interviewed many political,  business and community leaders.

Helen is a Governor on the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation. She is also Patron of Osteoporosis Australia.  Helen has a BA Hons from the University of Sydney, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mark Heiss

Mark is a Wiradjuri man from south western NSW, born and raised on Gadigal land in Sydney. Mark holds a Bachelor's Degree in Human Movement and Health Education (USyd) and holds a Masters in Educational Leadership (ACU). He is passionate about physical activity and education, integrating Indigenous studies into the school day and creating quality professional learning for teachers. Mark attended the Harvard School of Education’s Project Zero course in 2017 and in 2018 was awarded a ‘New Voice Scholarship’ from the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL). He is the Chair of the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) Board. Mark has represented NSW in Masters Athletics and enjoys various sports at a recreational level.

Charles Prouse

Charles is a Nyikina man from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Charles has worked across Australia and has been involved in the delivery of various Federal programs including Environmental Management, Employment and Youth and Education Programs for Aboriginal communities. Charles has broad experience in Community Capacity Building, Business and Governance. He has recently retired as Chairman of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre. He provides leadership at Lendlease in the infrastructure and construction sector to support Indigenous suppliers. In 2017, Charles was awarded a Roberta Sykes Scholarship to undertake a Masters of Public Administration at Harvard University.

Craig Ritchie

Craig Ritchie is the Chief Executive Officer of The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies’ (AIATSIS).

Craig has held senior positions at AWABAKAL Newcastle Aboriginal Co-operative, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), ACT Health, the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and the Australian Government Department of Education. Craig Ritchie is a Dhungutti/Biripi man.

Joanne Spillane

Joanne Spillane is an Executive Director and Global Head of Private Capital Markets. Jo is responsible for Macquarie Capital’s relationships with significant investors in real assets, including superannuation funds, foreign pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and specialist fund managers. In her roles she also drives cross divisional opportunities with these clients for the wider Macquarie Group.

Jo has been at Macquarie for 20 years, spending her first 12 years in Equity Capital Markets where she was responsible for the origination and execution of equity capital raisings for listed entities and Initial Public Offerings. Following this she joined Macquarie Group’s Investor Relations team, liaising with the Group’s own shareholders and banking analysts before re-joining Macquarie Capital in her current role.

Jo has a BA Communications from UTS and MBA from the Australian School of Management at University of NSW.

Damien Miller

Mr Miller is currently the Assistant Secretary of the Soft Power, Partnerships and Research Branch at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.  He is co Faculty Head of the “Understanding Australia” Faculty at the Australian Government’s Diplomatic Academy.  In 2017 he joined the inaugural cohort of Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity.  From May 2013 to May 2017 he was Australia’s Ambassador to Denmark, with non-resident accreditation to Norway and Iceland.  He was the first Indigenous Australian to be appointed head of an overseas mission.  Mr Miller previously served overseas as Australia’s Deputy Ambassador to Germany (2010-2013) and at the Australian High Commission in Malaysia (2000-2003).  He joined the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 1995.  Mr Miller holds a Graduate Diploma in Foreign Affairs and Trade from Monash University and a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales.  He was selected "Aboriginal Scholar of the Year" by the National NAIDOC Committee in 1993.  He is a descendant of the Gangalu people of central Queensland.

Our Leadership Team

Leila Smith | Chief Executive Officer

Leila is the CEO of the Aurora Education Foundation and has experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education sectors, in policy development, organisational growth, and program delivery in the not-for-profit sector, private sector, federal government, and academia.

Leila is a Wiradjuri woman whose family is from central New South Wales. Raised in Canberra, Leila holds a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor’s degree with first class honours in Sociology from the Australian National University.

Prior to Aurora, Leila was the Knowledge Translation Manager at the Lowitja Institute, and a Senior Management Consultant at Nous Group. She also led the Policy and Programs team at the Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association, and worked in data analysis and research roles at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Australian Social Science Data Archive, and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Carol Lewis | Organisational Development Manager

With a background as a human resources practitioner and a consultant, Carol has extensive experience in the not-for-profit sector, working to help organisations deliver outcomes for their clients and communities. At Aurora, Carol’s focus is on sustaining the capacity and capability to enable strong delivery on all programs. She is responsible for leadership and career development, talent management, and organisational learning.

Carol’s qualifications include a master’s degree in Business (Employment Relations) from the University of Technology, Sydney. She holds memberships with the Australian Human Resources Institute (Certified Professional), the Career Development Association of Australia (Professional Member) and The Australian Workplace Practitioners Network.

Kirsten Campbell | Finance & Operations Manager

Kirsten has worked in the Not-for-Profit and SME sectors in Finance and Operations for over 25 years. Kirsten has a track record of bringing stability and sustainability to the entities she works with through a combination of commercial acumen and strong financial management. Kirsten’s commitment to the not-for-profit sector has seen her work across a broad range of for purpose organisations including health, children’s services, environmental and community services. Kirsten is a CPA with a Bachelor of Applied Science and Graduate Finance & Accounting qualifications from the University of Technology, Sydney. She has held Not-for-Profit Board and Association positions in Children’s Services and Financial Counselling.

Kim Barlin | Internships Manager

Kim has managed the Aurora Internship Program since June 2006. The program benefits from her strong organisational skills, stakeholder relationships and ability to coordinate the various components of the program. Kim’s experience as a senior administrator and project manager has seen her successfully undertake roles in a range of organisations in both New York and Sydney, as well as establish and operate her own educational business.

Brooke Shepherd | Head of Programs

Brooke has worked with and for Aboriginal communities throughout her career. She has a strong passion for addressing system inequity and achieving sustainable and meaningful change, particularly in areas of health and education. Prior to joining Aurora, Brooke worked for a consortia of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, leading the development of a range of population and primary health care strategies. She has held senior policy positions at the NSW Ministry of Health focusing on Aboriginal health and population health. Brooke's qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Social Inquiry) from UTS and a Master of Public Health from University of Sydney.

Sharon Kumar | Scholarships & Outreach Manager

Sharon is originally from Fiji and of Indian descent.   She assists and administers the Charlie Perkins Trust Scholarships and the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation Scholarships and Bursaries.  She also facilitates and coordinates the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour and accompanies the contingent on the five-week Study Tour to the US and UK. She has an extensive background in management and operations with more than 18 years’ on-the-job experience in a variety of roles, both in Fiji and Australia, concentrating in the not-for-profit sector for the last 5 years.  She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing from Western Sydney University and has completed a Graduate Diploma in Management from Central Queensland University.  

Kate Whitney | Development Manager

Kate joins the Aurora team with over 15 years’ in relationship management and fundraising. Her experience has always been within the education sector both in private and not for profit institutions supporting students across NSW and in regional and remote areas of NT and WA. Kate believes knowledge creates a future and is passionate about advocating to government and philanthropy to support children and youth to realise their potential.   Kate supports Aurora’s work by partnering with a range of generous funders who help us achieve of our vision.  Kate holds a Diploma in Business (Management).

Our Staff

Anna Bachmann | Executive Officer

Anna’s career has been driven by her belief that education provides opportunities for everyone to fulfil their potential. As Executive Officer, Anna supports policy development and strategy implementation across Aurora. Anna is a lawyer and education policy specialist whose career has spanned the private, public, international development and not for profit sectors. Anna holds a BA and LLB from the University of Sydney and an MPhil in Social and Political Science from the University of Cambridge. She completed her PhD in development and microfinance at King’s College, Cambridge, with Lord Rowan Williams and Sir Arthur Richard Jolly as the Cambridge Australia Poynton Scholar for 2010.


Anne Clatworthy | Office Manager

Anne has been with Aurora team since 2011 and is responsible for the smooth running of our day-to-day operations as well as coordinating our human resources activities.  Anne’s background includes extensive experience in office management, having worked previously in recruitment, office manager and EA roles. She has a Certificate IV in Human Resources.

Jessica Crawford | Executive Assistant to CEO

Jess grew up in Wagga Wagga in southern NSW and provides high level administrative and logistical support the CEO. She has previously provided support to C-suite executives across a variety of industries, ranging from fashion to finance, and has a passionate interest in Australian art, music and history. She was drawn to Aurora because of its strong commitment to education and its desire to develop the next generation of Indigenous leaders. Jess is currently completing a Bachelor of International Studies at the University of New England, majoring in Sociology and Languages, and looks forward to developing her skills to give back to the Indigenous community and to act as a positive non-Indigenous ally.

Ashanti Fogden | Program Officer - Internships

Ashanti is our Internships Program Officer, with responsibility for all day-to-day program activities and is a key point of contact for our interns and host organisations. Working previously in arts management and the higher education industry, she has experience in delivering client-focused events and projects, and establishing and maintaining stakeholder relationships. Ashanti completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) majoring in Art History & Theory from the University of Sydney, and is committed to continually developing her skills to an ever-higher level. She has prioritised learning, understanding and embracing Indigenous knowledge, culture and histories and has completed Cultural Competency and Awareness Training with Nura Gili and Your Mob Learning.

Taylor Wild | Support Officer - Internships

Taylor is a Wiradjuri/Darug woman from Cowra, NSW who has recently joined the Internships team as our Internships Support Officer. Taylor's previous role with Aurora was as a High School Program mentor over the past year. Taylor is currently studying her Bachelor of Education and although her degree focuses on primary education, she is keen to further her knowledge and embrace the work of Aurora more broadly. Outside of work, Taylor recently launched her own performing arts company in the Western Sydney area.

Natalie Foster | Western Sydney Program Coordinator - High School Program

Nat is a Bidjigal, Yuin woman with family connections to the La Perouse and the Jervis Bay areas. Growing up, Nat was surrounded by people that connected her to community, but as a child never realised that this was her culture.  Sharing of stories, participating in the school Aboriginal dance group and listening to community elders share their own personal experiences and knowledge are fond memories she hopes younger generations can enjoy. Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is her passion; and so, she decided to complete a Bachelor of Education (Primary), realising that knowledge and education is the key.Nat sees education as a way of providing choices and fantastic opportunities to Indigenous Australian youth.

Samara Hand | Indigenous Education Leader - High School Program

Samara is an Awabakal woman of Worimi and Biripi descent. She graduated from UNSW with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws. Samara was a participant on the 2015 Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour. Samara received a Roberta Sykes Scholarship in 2016, and completed a Masters in Understanding and Securing Human Rights at the University of London in 2017. Samara previously worked at the Department of Education developing and managing programs to enhance early childhood education outcomes for Aboriginal children and families in NSW. Samara is also a founding member of the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition. As Indigenous Education Leader, Samara oversees the curriculum development of Aurora's High School Program.

Lara McArthur-Dowty | Academic Support Officer – High School Program

Lara provides administrative and logistical support to various teams.  As a non-Indigenous Australian living on Indigenous land and working in the Indigenous sector, Lara is driven by a desire to use education to support and make visible the narratives and histories of country Indigenous Australia to the broader Australian population. This interest has led her to various work and volunteer roles in the Indigenous sector including Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages and Right People for Country.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Indigenous Studies & Media Communications) from the University of Melbourne, a Diploma of Education from the University of Southern Queensland and is currently undertaking a Masters of Education at the University of New South Wales. 

Tamara Murdock | Regional Leader, WA - High School Program

Tamara is a Noongar woman, raised in Geraldton and whose family is from the southwest of Western Australia.  She holds a Masters of Philosophy in Geography and the Environment from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s degree with first class honours in Environmental Management from Edith Cowan University. Tamara was a participant on the 2013 Aurora International Study tour, a 2014 recipient of Charlie Perkins Scholarship and 2015 Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation’s Murray Chapman Scholarship. In 2017, she was a mentor on Aurora’s International Study Tour.  Tamara has worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and government organisations in the environment, health, education and native title sectors. Prior to Aurora, Tamara was a Senior Management Consultant at Nous Group and has experience in program development, delivery, evaluation and strategic reform.   

Tamara is responsible for leading Aurora’s High School Program in Western Australia.

Tiana Allen | Program Support Officer, WA – High School Program

Tiana is a descendant of the Bundjalung tribe whose family history includes one of the first Aboriginal members of the NSW Bar and an advocate for justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. She completed a Certificate III in Business Administration and prior to Aurora, worked as an Administration Officer at a private Psychology Practice, Tiana has ongoing experience working with people from all walks of life and experiences.

Ashley Humes | Community Engagement Facilitator, WA - High School Program

Ashley is a Nyoongar woman, who is also of Sri Lankan descent, born and raised in Perth WA. In 2012 she joined Aurora’s pilot of its High School Program as a student and went on to graduate from the program in 2017, becoming a member of its Alumni. In 2018, she returned to the Program as a mentor to current participants and now works as a Community Engagement Facilitator, working with students and families. Ashley is currently studying an Undergraduate degree in Criminology and Justice, majoring in Family and Child Support. Ashley is passionate in helping our young people become our next generation of leaders and believes that education is the key to fulfil that.

Shayna Daniels | Community Engagement Facilitator, WA - High School Program

Shayna Daniels is of Aboriginal and African American descent who was born in Hawaii and raised in the Perth to Geraldton area. Shayna is Aurora’s Community Engagement Facilitator for the South West region of WA and has extensive community engagement experience through her work with the defence force where she developed and executed engagement strategies throughout WA. Shayna is passionate, forward thinking and dedicated to assisting our young people and their families to strive for and build sustainable futures for themselves and our community through education and leadership.

Tracey-Joy Francis | Academic Support Officer, WA - High School Program

Tracey-Joy maintains and manages relationships with key tutoring companies and ensures students receive the support they have requested through accessing their personalised academic support plan.  She also gathers and collates data to identify improvements in teaching, learning and service delivery to ensure all Aurora students receive optimum support.  Tracey-Joy was drawn to Aurora by her solid belief that knowledge is power, a belief which has underpinned her previous roles across student support, corporate partnerships, community development and East Africa mining. Tracey-Joy holds a bachelor of Business majoring in Marketing and a bachelor of Arts double majoring in Sociology and Community Development.  She also obtained a Bachelor of Arts Honors which delved into ecology of youth living in high density government housing conditions.

Bianca Roberts | Program Officer - Outreach

Bianca is a proud descendant of the Gomeroi, Wiradjuri and Gumbaynggirr people and has called Gadigal land home for over fifteen years. Bianca has brought her skills in administration, communications and event management to the Aurora Outreach team where she plans and facilitates workshops to link up high performing Indigenous academic role models with high school students around Australia.  

Brittany Coe | Program Officer - Outreach

Brittany is a proud Wiradjuri woman from Cowra, NSW whose family has always had a large involvement in community and activism. Brittany is committed to the advancement of Indigenous rights and advocating for her people. She is a Program Officer for our Outreach Program, a role which focuses on building the aspirations of First Nations youth. Brittany’s background includes working at The University of Sydney, in student recruitment, both for international and Indigenous students. Brittany is currently undertaking her studies in the Bachelor of Education: Secondary Studies Humanities and Social Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sydney. She is driven to give back to her community and empower Indigenous youth wherever possible.

Sarah Cameron | Program Officer - Scholarships

Sarah supports the Scholarships Team administering the Charlie Perkins Trust Scholarships, the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation Scholarships and Bursaries, and the Lorna Earl and William Woodberry Scholarship.  She also assists in the coordination of the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour.  She has 15 years’ experience teaching and managing academic departments across three countries.  From classrooms in Oxford, to Cambodia and back to Sydney, Sarah has witnessed the transformative and self-perpetuating power of education on students and their communities.  She holds a Bachelor of Art Education from the University of New South Wales.

Bronwen Andrews-Baxter | Development Coordinator

Raised by two teachers on the Central Coast of NSW, Bronwen has appreciated the importance of education from an early age.  Bronwen was drawn to work at Aurora as she is passionate about social justice and reducing societal inequality. As the Development Coordinator, she aids the CEO and Development Manager with writing, organisational and administrative tasks. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Communications Social Inquiry) from the University of Technology, Sydney.

Raquel Duron | Digital Scholarships Program Coordinator

Raquel is responsible for coordinating the ongoing maintenance and coordination of the Indigenous Scholarships Portal including strategic planning, program development, content coordination and engagement with stakeholders.  A former Aurora intern, she has experience working with Indigenous and other community-based organisations in Australia and Internationally. Some of her previous work experience includes working at Institute for Social and Sustainable Development (IDDES) in Mexico, Cape York Institute (CYI) in Cairns, Aboriginal Legal Services (ALS) in Sydney and APY (Anangu Pitjantjara Yankunytjatjara) lands in Umuwa.  Raquel holds a Bachelor in International Business fromTEC de Monterrey, Mexico, a Master in Commerce and a Master in Development Studies & Culture Change from Macquarie University, Sydney.

Rosa Hall | Marketing and Communications Officer

Rosa has responsibility for a variety of marketing and communications activities including internal and external comms, social media, merchandise and brand strategy. She also coordinates the communications for our Indigenous Scholarships Portal and its newsletter. Rosa has great knowledge across all social media platforms and has strong written and communication skills and has a passion for humanitarian and Indigenous education issues.  She has previously worked as a Communications Coordinator at NGO Recruitment and Legacy Sydney. She holds a Bachelor of Communications and Media from the University of Wollongong and a Diploma of Communications and Media from Petersham TAFE.

Khyati Thakrar | Finance Manager

Khyati has extensive experience in accounting and finance management, with particular expertise in the not-for-profit sector. She has a track record of bringing finance process efficiency and improved reporting system. Khyati is very passionate to work for the organisation making real positive impact to people’s lives, specially connected to education as she believes an investment in education yields the best interest to the society. Khyati is a CPA, CA and holds Bachelor of Commerce qualification.

Judy Zhang | Finance Officer

Judy is our Finance Officer in our Corporate Services team.  Judy holds a Masters in Professional Accounting and brings extensive experience to her role.  Judy strongly believes that education is key to making a difference in someone’s life and is committed to supporting Aurora’s purpose through her role.