Associations Forum National Conference

30 April - 1 May 2024, National Convention Centre Canberra



Andrew McKellar

Chief Executive, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Andrew McKellar is the chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) – the nation’s largest business organisation, representing employers of every size and sector in Canberra, across the country, and around the globe. Under Andrew’s leadership, ACCI champions policies that enable businesses to innovate, invest, and grow, promoting Australia’s economic strength and international competitiveness. His current appointments include membership of the board of Australian Made Campaign, the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration, the Respect@Work Council, and the World Chambers Federation General Council.
Previously, Andrew served as secretary general for mobility at the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, based in Paris; chief executive of the Australian Trucking Association; chief executive of the Australian Automobile Association; and chief executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. Earlier in his career, Andrew worked in government, serving as a senior adviser to successive federal industry ministers.  He also worked in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Commonwealth and Queensland treasuries. Andrew holds a Bachelor of Economics from the Australian National University.

Tanya Barden OAM

Chief Executive Officer, Australian Food and Grocery Council

Tanya Barden is the CEO of the Australian Food and Grocery Council, the leading national organisation representing Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing sector and is an Independent Director of Foodbank Australia. Throughout her career Tanya has worked in government and the private sector on policy, economic, regulatory, strategic and sustainability issues that impact various industries, including the telecommunications and energy sectors. Tanya also previously ran her own online organic grocery business. Tanya holds Bachelor of Economics/ Bachelor of Arts degrees, is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Luke Achterstraat

Chief Executive Officer, Council of Small Business Organisations Australia

Luke Achterstraat is the CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), the only national peak body dedicated exclusively to the interests of over 2.5 million small businesses in Australia.He has advised two federal government ministers and appeared before parliamentary inquiries on behalf of both federal and state industry groups.Most recently he was the NSW Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia and was also appointed by the NSW Government as the inaugural Chair of the NSW Expert Housing Advisory Panel.Luke is passionate about small business, having helped co-found and lead the talent disruption business Commtract. His grandfather emigrated to Australia from the Netherlands in 1951 and started a small business, a legacy that helps inform Luke on the vital role small businesses play in building livelihoods and communities across Australia. 

Alex Robson

Commissioner and Deputy Chair, Productivity Commission

Alex Robson is a Commissioner and Deputy Chair of the Productivity Commission. He commenced in March 2022 for a 5 year term. Professor Robson has a broad range of experience in academia and the public and private sectors, most recently as Associate Partner at EY (Ernst and Young). Prior to that, Professor Robson served as Australia’s Ambassador to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He also served as Senior Economic Adviser and Chief Economist to the former Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, and has held a number of other positions, including Managing Director at FTI Consulting; Director at Deloitte Access Economics; Director of the Economic Policy Analysis Program at Griffith University; Lecturer in Economics at the Australian National University; and as a graduate economist at the Commonwealth Treasury in Canberra. Professor Robson’s teaching and research has been in the fields of advanced microeconomics, game theory, public economics and public choice, law and economics, and macroeconomics. Professor Robson holds a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) from James Cook University and a Master of Arts and PhD in Economics from the University of California, Irvine, USA. His research has been published in several international journals, including Economic Theory, Public Choice, the Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance, and Economic Modelling. His law and economics book, Law and Markets, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012. 

Vase Jovanoska

Chief Executive Officer, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Vase Jovanoska is the current Chief Executive Officer of The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG). Born in Macedonia and migrating to Australia, Vase understands the challenges faced when migrating to a new country and is passionate about social justice and equity. She is committed to improving the quality of health services and community wellbeing. Vase has many years’ experience across the corporate and not-for-profit sectors, including over five years at the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM), two years at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), and until recently, a Board Member of DPV Health and Girl Guides Victoria.

Narelle Clark

Chief Executive Officer, Internet Association of Australia

Narelle Clark is a highly experienced Internet industry expert and is the Chief ExecutiveOfficer of the Internet Association of Australia. Narelle has a broad technical and strategic view of Internet scale ICT delivery, having been a user, builder, operator and researcher ofInternet networks, through her extensive career working with major telcos, research agencies and consumer bodies. Narelle also has a leadership and governance background in the not-for-profit sector and, until recently, held a five-year tenure on the board of thePublic Interest Registry which operates the Org top-level domain.Before joining IAA in 2019, Narelle was the Principal Consultant with Pavonis Consulting where she advised companies in telecommunications regulation, operations and technology. She sits on the engineering advisory board of the University of NSW.

Zena Burgess

Chief Executive Officer, Australian Psychological Society

Dr Zena Burgess is an experienced non-executive Director and Chief Executive Officer with significant experience across commercial and social enterprise organisations. She holds a PhD in OrganisationalPsychology and Master’s Degrees in Business Administration and Education. Zena was awarded Fellowship of the Australian Institute of Company Directors in 2013. Prior to joining the APS in 2020, Zena was the Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) for 11years. During that time she oversaw a transformation of the RACGP to be the largest, most influential and innovative medical college in Australia. Zena has a passion for building human capability in individuals, organisations and systems. Zena has driven new strategic directions and change implementation, achieving a culture of high-performance and innovation in organisations.

Julia Whitford

Chief Executive Officer, Australian Institute of Health and Safety

Julia brings over 20 year's knowledge and experience from membership-based organisations, primarily in the not-for-profit sector. Currently as CEO of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety(AIHS), Julia continues to demonstrate significant achievements in cultural transformation, member experience and loyalty, commercial growth, and customer and stakeholder relationships. She has built and executed business strategy and provides the leadership and vision necessary to effectively grow organisations to ensure their financial strength. She previously held the position of Chief Operating Officer at the Australian HR Institute (AHRI). Julia holds an MBA from the Australian Institute of Business

Kersten Gentle

Chief Executive Officer, Frame and Truss Manufacturers Association of Australia

Kersten Gentle is the CEO of the Frame and Truss Manufacturers Association of Australia, a position she has held since 2009. Kersten has passionately worked in the Forest and Wood Products sector for over 30 years, representing timber communities, forest contractors and over the past 14 years timber frame and truss manufacturers throughout the country. In 2021, Kersten was honoured to be inducted into The Association Forums Hall of Fame which recognised her work with Industry and Community Associations over 30 years. Kersten is a qualified facilitator, mediator and is a Civil Marriage Celebrant in her spare time. She is passionate about addressing our climate crisis by addressing emissions within the built environment through FTMA’s environmental arm, Carbon Warrior. Living in Healesville, in the beautiful Yarra Valley, Kersten is happily married to Scott and has three adult children. Her life changed on the 15 March this year with the arrival of her first grandson Austin Scott Gentle, and she loves being a doting Nan.

Keir Paterson

Chief Executive Officer, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria

Neighbourhood Houses Victoria represents over 400 neighbourhood houses and community centres in metro, regional and rural Victoria, visited by 160,000 community members each week. He joined NHVic as CEO in September 2022, having spent time in senior management roles in public health and mental health, as well as consulting and financial services. He is active in his local community as a volunteer journalist, tutor and advocate, and is a past board member and President of Bicycle Network, the peak body for commuter and recreational cyclists. With 25 years' experience across corporate, government and NFP in management, alliances, business development, stakeholders, community relations and marketing, Keir is focused on improving the financial sustainability of the community sector and its peak bodies through meaningful service innovation for NHVic members and their communities. He holds an MBA from Melbourne Business School. 

Anne Cornish

Chief Executive Officer, Records and Information Management Practitioners Alliance

Anne Cornish is the Chief Executive Officer at RIMPA Global, with over 35 years’ experience in all areas of the records and information management industry. Anne’s ambition is to educate the community in the importance of records management and how it minimises business risks. Making records management sexy has always been Anne’s catch phrase and her endeavours to achieve this continue.

Melissa Brown

Chief Executive Officer, Australian Business Events Association

Melissa Brown is a business development and marketing executive who has been driving performance outcomes for multinationals, not-for-profit, SME and start-up organisations for over 20 years. Her work has spanned multiple industries and geographies in core and growth markets, including roles in the UK, USA and Hong Kong. She has worked with renowned organisations such as Telstra and Talent International; recently returning to Australia to contribute her expertise to a cyber security start-up, Sapien Cyber. She played a pivotal role in managing the Australian Chamber of Commerce in London, where she built a significant associate membership and advocacy program through skilful stakeholder engagement. Melissa prides herself in connecting sales, marketing, brand and product strategies to create value for organisations in their pursuit of growth; whilst her passion for building teams and proven track record in managing diverse stakeholders position her perfectly as a champion for the varied organisations and interests that form the business events industry.

Michael Bell

Senior Associations Advisor, Associations Forum

Michael is a Chartered Accountant, Fellow of the Governance Institute and Graduate of the Institute of Company Directors. He has worked in chartered accounting practices and the banking and finance industry holding General Manager roles in Finance, Strategy and Operations. More recently he has consulted in governance, financial control and risk management to a range of organisations.
He has been an active Committee Member in several Not for Profits and joined the board of Coeliac NSW&ACT before becoming President of Coeliac Australia in 2016. During his time as President he successfully transformed the organisation from a federated to a national company limited by guarantee. Michael brings a broad governance, finance, project management and risk perspective to his roles ensuring this works in a positive way to achieving strategic goals.

Lewis Kaplan

Associations Advisor, Associations Forum

Lewis has over 30 years’ leadership and management experience in public and primary health including over 20 years in CEO roles in peak consumer and health organisations including Diabetes Australia, Australian Red Cross NSW Division and Alzheimer’s Australia NSW. He has governance, management, policy, lobbying and advocacy expertise across a range of sectors including primary health care, ageing, aged and community care, public health, health promotion, community development, international development and mother and child health.
Lewis has a proven track record in initiating new organisations and concepts and bringing together diverse stakeholders to achieve outcomes which individually are unattainable. In addition to his extensive experience leading associations, Lewis has demonstrated consulting expertise as a former Associate Director of boutique consultancy firm Health Policy Analysis. He holds academic qualifications in Social Anthropology (BA Hons1) and Public Health (Master of Health Sciences), as well as being a former Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD) and a Fulbright Fellow.

More speakers to be announced!