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Our people

Board of Directors

Phillip Cave AM - Chairman

Phillip is a merchant banker beginning his career as an Executive Director of Macquarie Bank Limited. He is an accomplished Chief Executive Officer, Director, Chairman, and Board Member and has over 40 year’s experience with a proven track record in major corporate turnaround projects, structured finance and corporate advisory services within Australasia. Phillip is Executive Chair and Founder of Anchorage Capital Partners and through this investment vehicle, was formerly Chairman of Golden Circle, Bisalloy Steel Group and Dick Smith Electronics Limited and is current Chairman of GBST and Executive Director of David Jones. Prior to Anchorage, Phillip held major shareholdings and Director/Chairman roles of Parbury Limited, Wormald, Sunbeam-Victa and Hygienic Lily. Phillip is also currently Chairman of Excelsia College.

He has been involved in Disability Services for over 30 years and was Chairman of Northcott Disability Services for seven years. He has participated in 25 Variety ‘bashes’ and in 2006 was admitted into the Hall of Fame of Variety, for the Children’s Charity. In 2007 Phillip was awarded by the Australian Government, a Member of the Order of Australia (A.M.) for service to the community, particularly through the provision of support services to Children and Young Adults with Disabilities and to business as a Company Director.

Andrew Rowley - CEO

Andrew joined Ability first Australia as Managing Director in 2012. Andrew comes with over 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit, education and commercial sector. He has extensive experience in strategy and establishing and securing revenue streams. While being passionate about helping those less fortunate, he is focused on ensuring accountability and outcomes whilst maintaining core values and mission.

Under Andrew’s leadership, Ability First Australia (AFA) has established itself as the only strategic alliance in the disability industry.  AFA is playing a critical role in supporting 14 large service providers transition into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), one of Australia’s largest social reforms since the introduction of Medicare in the 1980s. Andrew is a fellow of ADAPE Australia, a member of the CEO Circle and is the Chair of WeFlex.

Jacquie Thomson

Jacquie joined Ability WA as Chief Executive Officer in September 2018. She has held a wide range of senior strategic leadership roles for the past two decades at Lotterywest. She is committed to the not for profit sector and developing our community as one that is inclusive, strong and socially rich.

Jacquie holds a Bachelor of Arts (Social Sciences) from Curtin University, a Graduate Certificate in Management from Deakin University and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Guy Cowan

Guy Cowan has been a non-executive Director for the past 9 years. He is currently Chairman of Queensland Sugar Limited and a Director of Santos Ltd. He is also a Director of two private companies. Previously he was a Director of Coffey International and Ludowici Limited. He was a Shell appointed alternative director of Woodside between 1992 and 1995. Guy had a 23 year career with Shell International in various senior Commercial and Financial roles.

His last two roles were as CFO and Director of Shell Oil US and CFO of Shell Nigeria.Guy was CFO of Fonterra Co-operative Ltd between 2005 and 2009. He holds a BSc ( Hons ) Engineering from the University of Sussex and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Geoff Lovell

Geoff Lovell has more than 25 years of experience in the corporate and for-purpose sectors, across real estate, investment management, banking, risk management, corporate governance, education and Indigenous Australia.

Geoff is currently a Director of Sydney Community Housing Ltd, a senior executive with Citta Property Group and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Previously, Geoff has held senior executive roles at Lend Lease (1997-2001) and at Macquarie Group (2001-2015), where he was Chief Executive Officer of ASX-listed Macquarie ProLogis Trust and Head of Commercial Property Lending. In addition, Geoff has had extensive voluntary involvements in for-purpose enterprises, including as: Chairman of the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), Chairman of the Investment Committee of the Indigenous Real Estate Investment Trust (I-REIT), Chairman of the Council of St Paul’s College, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore), and a member of the Investment Committee of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC).

Geoff holds first class honours degrees from the University of Sydney (in Civil Engineering) and the University of Oxford (in Philosophy, Politics and Economics), where he was the inaugural Bradman Scholar.

Alison Quinn

Alison is a professional non-executive director with more than 25 years’ experience as a CEO and senior executive in the property development and aged care / seniors sectors.

Through her roles with public, private and government organisations, Alison has developed valuable operational and commercial expertise in the areas of property investment, funding, infrastructure and development. Uniquely, Alison has significant expertise on the impacts and challenges of Australia’s ageing population and has been at the forefront of thought leadership regarding meeting the housing, care and other service needs of the baby boomer generation.

Alison brings to the board a depth of experience in developing strategies that drive sustainable growth, a strong customer perspective and a passion and understanding of how property as an enabler can deliver both financial and holistic outcomes.

Liz Forsyth

Liz is a skilled CEO and Senior Executive with experience leading at scale in a not-for-profit context, including in the child and family, and disability services sectors. As a social worker with management and governance qualifications, Liz has had an extensive career in human services. She is passionate about social justice, innovation, and leading for impact in the social and community sector. With an early career in child protection services, Liz spent over a decade working in disability for Northcott during the transformation of the industry through the NDIS. She then moved into the child and family sector as CEO of CareSouth, and returned to Northcott in 2020 as the CEO and Managing Director. Liz is a Director of The SpineCare Foundation, Northcott Innovation Ltd, Northcott Therapy ACT Pty Ltd and Montrose Therapy and Respite. Liz is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Northcott is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit disability service organisations, employing 2,600 staff and providing services to over 16,700 people with disability, their families and carers across NSW and ACT. In 2022, Montrose Therapy and Respite became a wholly owned subsidiary of Northcott.

Rhys Kennedy

Rhys has been Chief Executive Officer of CPL since December 2016.  Under Rhys’ leadership, CPL has grown from an organisation with turnover of $84 million and 1,100 employees operating in Queensland, to a $189 million organisation with over 2,900 employees spanning Queensland and Northern New South Wales.  Rhys brings a unique combination of knowledge, skills and experience to the role, many of which have been acquired from within the organisation.

After joining CPL as an occupational therapist in Rockhampton, Rhys held a number of local management roles before taking a leadership role in the organisation as General Manager – Strategy, a position which would ultimately lead him into the CEO role.  Rhys is well known and respected in the human services sector, through his roles on a number of advisory groups and as the current Chair of Cerebral Palsy Australia. Rhys is also Chair of Cootharinga and Access Arts Boards, subsidiaries of CPL.

He holds a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy, Master of Business Administration and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Callen O’Brien

Callen is an experienced board member and corporate adviser with over 25 years’ experience across a broad range of industries in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US.  

Callen joined Anchorage Capital Partners in 2014 and was appointed Managing Partner in 2022.  He is currently chairman of Specialised Linen Services, Access Community Health (NZ) and Evolve Education Group (NZ) and was recently a council member of the Australian Investment Council.  He was formerly chairman of Contract Resources and executive director of Affinity Education and RailFirst. 

Prior to joining Anchorage, Callen was a senior partner at Minter Ellison where he advised many of Australia’s leading private equity firms on their investments in the region. 

Callen has also worked for a number of years with leading law firms in London and New York advising on international M&A transactions.

Callen holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of NSW and had been admitted to practice law in Australia, England and New York. 

Ability First Australia Executive Committee

Andrew Rowley – Ability First Australia

Jacquie Thomson – Ability WA

Cheryl De Zilwa – Annecto

Martin Laverty – Aruma

John van Ruth – CARA

Annie Rily – Carpentaria

Rhys Kennedy – CPL and Cootharinga North Queensland

Natalie Forsyth-Stock  LiveBetter

Liz Forsyth – Northcott

Greg Ward – Novita

Michael Tait – Rocky Bay

Kate MacRae  Scope

Honni Pitt – St. Giles

Terry Symonds – Yooralla

Ability First Australia Team

Andrew Rowley – CEO and Managing Director

Jennifer Luff – Chief Operating Officer

Michael Bink – Executive Manager, Service Development & Analytics | Chief Operating Officer, Ability Roundtable

Jessica Hempton – Government Relations and Communications Manager

Sarah Mantarro – Executive Assistant to CEO

Deborah Hoffman – YPIRAC Program Director

Peter Hartnett – CEO, Ability First Australia Community Housing Ltd

May Cheung – COO, Ability First Australia Community Housing Ltd

Rodney Langdon – Property Manager, Ability First Australia Community Housing Ltd

Garry Simpson – General Manager, Ability Roundtable