Our skilled volunteer board oversees our strategic direction.

Ingrid Svendsen
Board chair and co-founder

In 2010, I had just returned from a holiday to Timor-Leste when I read a news story about a cardiologist who undertook pro bono work there. The story was about the plight of two teenage girls whose lives were at risk because of a lack of funds to bring them to Australia for heart surgery.

It seemed unconscionable to me that a kid the same age as my own son could die from an eminently fixable heart condition, so I tracked down Dr Noel Bayley to send him money. It turned out, I was one of many, many donors that week. With my background in media and communications, it became clear that my skills would be worth more than my money. Along with Glyn Palmer, the then CEO of St John of God Warrnambool, Noel and I established East Timor Hearts Fund.

As the organisation has grown and moved to a more professional footing, my role has changed. In the early days, I was involved in recruiting sponsors to assist with travel and other costs and communications activities such as creating a website and social media properties, and securing media attention for our patients. Now, I am the inaugural board chair, so my role is a broad one of oversight of the governance of the organisation. We are growing rapidly and I’m excited to see where the future will take us.

Katrina Thurston
Board director and chair of finance and audit committee

Working in the aged care sector for the majority of my career, I knew that I wanted to volunteer in the health sector. Wanting to expand my horizons and try something new, I wanted to combine my passion for anything around health or children and work on a board which helped both. Of course, volunteering in a finance space was very important to me as I feel it is in this area that I can add the most value to the organisation.

I have also been inspired by my eldest daughter, who recently spent two weeks during year 12 volunteering overseas in the Philippines, where she taught children at local and Indigenous schools. Her passion for social justice has made me want to follow in her footsteps, and carry on this work for change in a developing organisation such as East Timor Hearts Fund.

I am chair of the finance and audit committee, which is a space where I feel that I can add value and enhance the processes and reporting capability of the executive to the board. With time, I hope to flourish in my role and expand it as East Timor Hearts Fund too progresses and evolves.

Vijaya Joshi
Board director and chair of development committee

I have had a long association with Timor-Leste, since living there between 2001- 2003. After returning to Australia I have travelled to Timor-Leste annually, for personal and professional reasons. I am passionate about building the capacity of the health system in Timor-Leste, and contributing to better wellbeing outcomes for Timorese people.

Through work on the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease in Indigenous communities, I realised how debilitating heart disease can be, especially in resource poor or remote environments. When an opportunity to join the board came up, I thought it would be a good way to support Timorese people in a very constructive and tangible way.

I joined the board in May 2017 and have since become the chair of the development committee, where I use my professional experience in business development to support the organisation in achieving its fundraising goals.

Belinda Macdonald
Board director

Since I first heard about East Timor Hearts Fund, I’ve been an admirer of the work the organisation does to improve cardiac care for our closest neighbours. Having had open heart surgery myself, I’ve always considered myself very lucky to live in a country with excellent (and accessible) health care and this drives my commitment to work for better health outcomes for people who aren’t in such a privileged position.

I’m passionate about improving cardiac care and support for young heart patients, and currently sit on the Safer Care Victoria Cardiac Clinical Network governance committee and volunteer for the Heart Foundation’s Supporting Young Hearts program. By joining the board, I hope to contribute my professional skills and experience in change management and events, as well as my understanding of a patient’s experience of cardiac care, to enable East Timor Hearts Fund to achieve its strategic aims and improve the lives of heart disease patients in Timor-Leste.

David Mayne
Board director

I was inspired to offer my services to East Timor Hearts Fund because of my passion for the country and people of Timor-Leste, and because of the opportunity to help improve the health outcomes of the people of Timor-Leste.

After many years’ experience in senior corporate positions within telecommunications and infrastructure sectors and service on several Boards, I hope to bring a broad range of skills and experience, particularly in the areas of finance, governance and strategic planning to help strengthen East Timor Hearts Fund’s ability to reach more Timorese and reduce the prevalence of rheumatic heart decease.

I live in country Victoria and enjoy hiking and mountain biking. I have completed in several Tour de Timor mountain bike races and the Trans-Timor Trek for East Timor Hearts Fund

Professor Andrea Driscoll
Board director

I am a heart failure nurse practitioner and have cared for people with heart disease for more than 20 years. I am very passionate about improving people’s heart health. We are very lucky here in Australia with a high-quality health service and access to specialists. I decided to join the board to provide support and leadership to help build capacity in Timor-Leste to improve health outcomes and access to heart specialists for the Timorese. I believe in the ideal of optimising ‘health for all’.

I am chair of the clinical governance committee where l will use my clinical and governance expertise to ensure that the organisation provides high quality care for our patients.

Dr Will Wilson
Board director

My association with East Timor Hearts Fund began in 2016, as an interventional cardiologist performing procedures for patients in Melbourne. Having witnessed first-hand the impact this organisation could make, I was motivated to increase my involvement.

I now travel to Timor-Leste annually as part of the clinical team. I am also a member of board clinical governance committee, and I joined the board in 2019.

My spare time currently is largely devoted to my kids (I have children including a baby!) as well as research (I am undertaking a PhD). Otherwise, I enjoy golf and snow skiing.

Professor Peter Barlis
Board director and acting chair of clinical governance committee

Profile coming soon!

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