Board of Governors
John van Ruth
Richard Dennis AM PSM
Stacey Thomas is one of Australia’s most respected leaders in philanthropy. Her deep knowledge of the sector, together with her personal values of equity and social justice, and a preternatural instinct for collaboration, underpin her leadership at Wyatt.
“The opportunity to lead an organisation with such a long history was very appealing,” Stacey says of her decision to join the team in 2019. “I have strong social justice principles, and with Wyatt focusing on poverty and inequality it was a perfect match.”
While philanthropy is often described as a balancing act between head and heart, Stacey knows that creating lasting impact requires both.
“Working in the sector exposes you to so much you would never have normally had the opportunity to see,” she explains. “Sometimes it is very confronting, and other times it’s incredibly heart-warming; either way it’s an absolute privilege.”
“At Wyatt we aim to generate the highest impact possible for the people who need it most. I’m very fortunate that in my role I get to work across all areas of the organisation,” Stacey says.
“I love listening to the stories of individuals we support, seeing the impact and plans of our organisational partners, working with our Board to increase our impact via our investments. I plan to do even more listening and learning from our partners so that we continue to grow our impact together.”
Stacey previously held roles at the Fay Fuller Foundation, Myer Family Company and Telstra Foundation. She is a Director at Philanthropy Australia and Community Foundations Australia, the country’s peak bodies for philanthropy and community foundations respectively.
With a background in administration and finance, Leanne Crisp has worked across a range of sectors including publishing, engineering and consumer goods, as well as running her own bookkeeping business.
At Wyatt, Leanne takes care of payroll and assists with various finance functions. Working with the team at Wyatt, she says, provides a deep sense of purpose and satisfaction.
“I love the passion and purpose of the people at Wyatt and the way that they care so deeply about helping those less fortunate,” Leanne explains.
“I love knowing that my time and knowledge contribute to keeping the support frameworks of day-to-day operations ticking along for staff, as well as suppliers and grant recipients.”
As Wyatt continues to innovate and re-imagine its work in order to help more South Australians who are experiencing poverty and inequality, Leanne says she is looking forward to playing her part in the organisation’s evolution.
“It warms my heart to be a small part of Wyatt’s future growth and success,” she says.
One of the things Jo Edwards loves most about her role as Grants Manager is witnessing philanthropy’s catalytic power.
“It’s that alchemy where community interest, a proposal and an injection of resources and connections can create such positive energy,” Jo says.
Before joining the team at Wyatt, Jo dedicated 15 years to working across disability, youth, higher education and health in a range of programs and services.
“Philanthropy was new and a bit foreign to me,” she explains, “but the scope of this role at Wyatt just sang to me and it all felt so right.”
Jo works closely with Wyatt’s non-profit partner organisations to help every South Australian live a life free from poverty and disadvantage.
“As Grants Manager, I value my daily discussions with partner contacts across South Australia,” she says. “They are solid gold.”
Community-mindedness and positive impact are the hallmarks of Sophie Doyle’s career. Even while working for one of the country’s biggest law firms, Sophie’s left a lasting legacy by establishing the company’s SA/NT Foundation, workplace giving and staff volunteering programs. She is also a co-founder of MumKIND, a SA-based charity that supports families experiencing family violence.
During her time at Philanthropy Australia, Sophie managed the peak body’s membership programs in SA and WA, developing strong networks within the non-profit and philanthropic sectors.
“I love that working in philanthropy gives me the ability to get people thinking about giving,” Sophie says. “Everyone can make an impact, but often people don’t know how to start.”
In her role at Foundation SA, South Australia’s state-wide community foundation, Sophie intends to help even more people experience the rewards of giving.
“I can’t wait to share the opportunities our new community foundation creates for donors and the non-profits supporting our community,” she says.
“Inspiring people to think about giving back to their local community and seeing the joy this brings is why I do what I do.”
Julie Maguire has been a stalwart of the Wyatt team for more than a decade and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It has always been a priority for me that people have access to life’s basic necessities: a safe home, education, and a feeling of self-worth,” she says, adding that many people use the word ‘fair’ as one of her strongest personal attributes.
“The knowledge that we are helping people who are often not given a fair go in life through no fault of their own is why I love working here,” she explains.
As Grants and Administration Officer, Julie plays an integral role in the assessment and processing of the thousands of grant applications Wyatt receives each year.
“Assessing direct grants for individuals and families in need and knowing that they are receiving items, or services or training that is important for their wellbeing at that time is the most rewarding part of my work.”
Angela Meegan’s natural empathy and deep commitment to community service has shaped her career. She has worked across the public, private and non-profit sectors including disability services, project work in Kakadu and Uluru Kata Tjuta National Parks and most recently, as a financial counsellor.
“Working as a financial counsellor, I developed a deep understanding of the extent of disadvantage in our community, with all of the complexities and often related issues such as trauma, mental health, addiction and homelessness,” Angela says.
“I learned that the Wyatt Trust was often there to fund specific needs for clients where other funding was unavailable. The Trust is widely respected and fills a real funding need.”
Angela seized the opportunity to join the Wyatt team, which she says is “passionate about service delivery and better outcomes” in early 2019.
“As Grants Manager, I enjoy hearing about the back stories of the applications we receive,” Angela explains. “Clients share very personal and real details of their lives and it’s a constant reminder of why we are here and why we do what we do. It is very humbling and grounding, as well as rewarding.”
Before joining the team at Wyatt, Gavin Reid, a self-described ‘passionate South Australian’, worked in finance and accounting for large corporates for more than three decades.
“I wanted a change in direction from the corporate world where I could use my skills to benefit another sector or organisation,” Gavin explains.
“I love the ‘vibe’ of the philanthropic sector and the fact that you have people who are doing great things to support people in need. I enjoy knowing that our work is making a real difference to people’s lives.”
As Business and Operations Lead, Gavin ensures Wyatt’s business and operational systems including investments, accounting, IT and admin are as effective and efficient as possible. He takes particular pride in ensuring the systems “are always improving so they can more effectively support all those who rely on them.”
Supporting people to be their best has been a defining characteristic of Jo Saies’ professional career. Having spent the early part of her life working in rehabilitation counselling and high performance and ethics in sport, Jo spent the last 15 years in human resources and organisational development before joining the Wyatt team.
The unique role philanthropy plays in the social change sector is what drew Jo to her role as Small Grants Lead at Wyatt.
“I’ve been involved as a voluntary director of a number of philanthropic organisations over the last 10 years, and have been amazed and inspired by the contribution, often unrecognised, of this sector,” Jo explains.
“I love that philanthropy is able to make a real and immediate difference through funding tangible outcomes, while also having the flexibility to get involved in new and innovative projects that wouldn’t otherwise be considered or tackled,” she says.
“My role as Small Grants Lead allows me to align my work with my core purpose of making a difference and supporting others to be the best they can be, regardless of circumstances. I love the fact that Wyatt has such a strong and important history and is stepping into the future with innovative and forward-looking ideas and practices.”
With her sights set on a career in philanthropy and social impact, Mary Shaw’s background in international development and her curiosity about philanthropy drew her to the role of Office Coordinator at Wyatt.
“Philanthropy is a bit of a hidden industry, so when the chance came to work for such a well-established philanthropy organisation in South Australia, I wanted to make the most of it,” Mary says.
Mary’s natural friendliness together with her excellent communication and organisational skills have made her a valuable addition to the Wyatt team.
“My role includes a lot of communication between like-minded individuals from organisations not only in SA, but nationwide and I find it humbling to know that there are a lot of people out there trying their very best to reduce inequality,” Mary explains.
Driven by her values and strongly aligned with the work of Wyatt to reduce poverty and inequality, Mary says the opportunity to “consider the world through a different lens” is one of the privileges of working in the philanthropic sector.
“I have always been really interested in big picture questions such as how we can make positive impact in more efficient and effective ways and how can people invest in social equality in everyday ways. I think it’s an exciting time to be in philanthropy as it’s growing and more individuals, communities and organisations seem to be getting involved in unique and inspiring ways.”
Dana Shen has worked across the public and non-profit sectors in the areas of health, families and child protection for more than 20 years.
As an Aboriginal/Chinese woman descended from the Ngarrindjeri people in South Australia, Dana has extensive experience working with Aboriginal communities and brings a unique skill set in facilitation, Aboriginal cultural consultancy, mainstream service delivery and systems change. Dana’s current work includes supporting organisations to plan for the future and improve service delivery.
“As an organisational mentor I have been privileged to provide advice and support to Wyatt across multiple areas and systems,” Dana says.
“The Wyatt team has a genuine desire to deliver the best outcomes for the people they serve. They are willing to explore the organisation’s history, their ways of thinking and doing.
“When teams are willing to listen and reflect, this gives me a unique opportunity to draw from a wide set of experiences and skills including systems thinking. I look forward to continuing to walk alongside the Wyatt team as a friend.”
Listening and respecting lived experience have been core tenets of Yasmin Sinclair’s entire career.
With a background in social work, Yasmin’s professional start was in community health working with First Nations and newly arrived communities. Her focus deepened to families and children while working at the Department of Human Services where she helped develop a lived experience network for families with experiences of trauma.
“Community development has always been an important focus for me,” Yasmin explains.
“I’ve always valued how powerful the voices of lived experience are and how critical they are to achieving systems change. People with lived experience have so much wisdom to share in designing services and meeting community needs.”
In the newly created role of Linker Program Coordinator, Yasmin ensures that the voices of lived experience inform Wyatt’s co-design program.
“I was drawn to this role at Wyatt because of the approach the organisation is taking, which is ‘Let’s listen and learn from the community’,” she explains.
Working closely with seven partner agencies, Yasmin oversees the development and prototyping of a new Linker Service that is being designed from the ground up to truly meet the needs of two of South Australia’s most disadvantaged groups.
“The people we work with are the experts of their own lives and what we’re hearing from women over 50, sole parents and carers is that they face so many service barriers and they are not getting the support they need,” Yasmin says.
“This program is not only about helping people navigate the service system and linking them with supports that meet their needs, but really finding ways to build capacity and help people thrive.”
Keren Sutton brings a wealth of valuable experience to Wyatt in her role as Data, Insights and Learning Lead. Beginning her career as a primary school teacher, Keren went on to work for the South Australian State Government in community and industry engagement programs before switching to donor engagement and governance for non-profit groups providing access to healthcare and education for people living in poverty in Uganda.
The alignment between her own personal values and the organisational focus of Wyatt made Keren’s decision to join the team an easy one.
“Wyatt’s focus on making a difference to people in my community who are experiencing poverty and inequality really spoke to my passion for social justice,” she explains.
“The team here works to empower our South Australian community to address poverty compassionately, with clear actions that bring positive change and hope to families and individuals.”
Working with like-minded people across the philanthropic sector to create positive impact is one of the things Keren enjoys most about her role.
“Having the opportunity to influence change and see people-focused approaches developed and actioned is very important to me,” she says. “I’m looking forward to engaging with people across all walks of life, and listening and learning to enable Wyatt to have greater long-term impact on people experiencing poverty.”
Carmen Tong has been helping others since she began volunteering with the Red Cross in primary school. Giving back to society and helping the most vulnerable members of our community are deeply ingrained traits that have underpinned Carmen’s academic and career choices since.
After moving to Australia from Hong Kong to pursue a master’s degree in social work, Carmen continued her volunteering and then paid work here with the Red Cross before joining Uniting Communities as a Financial Inclusion Community Worker.
“My upbringing shaped me to be who I am,” Carmen explains, “and I want to use my skills and knowledge to assist others because I believe every one of us has the power to make a difference.”
As Grants and Administration Officer at The Wyatt Trust, Carmen brings both her passionate humanity and deep sense of purpose to the role.
“Wyatt’s focus on challenging inequality and eradicating poverty on both systemic and individual levels strongly aligns with my personal values and principles of social justice and equity,” she says.
“I am very excited to be working with likeminded people and to be a part of a change agent organisation in the philanthropic sector that is making the world a better place.”