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Our People

Our Ambassadors

Dr Lisa Chimes
Dr Lisa Chimes
Dr Lisa Chimes is a practicing Australian veterinarian who works in the emergency and critical care department at the Small Animal Specialist Hospital. She is also the creator of DOG, an Australian business providing eco-friendly, biodegradable, recyclable and vegan luxury skincare and lifestyle products for your dog. Dr Lisa has starred in popular TV shows Bondi Vet and Dr Lisa to the Rescue. She has made regular appearances on morning television shows, as well as newspaper, magazine, digital and radio appearances. You can also find her as a regular guest and MC on the pet expo circuit. She is the author of two children’s books by Penguin - My First Puppy and My First Kitten. Dr Lisa is a proud supporter of a variety of pet rescue organisations.  
Dr Geoff Wilson
Dr Geoff Wilson
Dr. Geoff Wilson is a world-class polar explorer, dynamic keynote speaker and entrepreneur. He’s living a vast and varied life split between being a family man, veterinary surgeon and expeditionist – constantly squeezing every drop out of life. Geoff holds numerous world records including the longest solo, unsupported Polar Journey in Human History and his next feat will involve what he hopes to be the fastest unsupported dual crossing of Greenland. Geoff also founded VetLove in 2015, which is a family-run and Australian-owned company of 12 state-of-the-art animal hospitals across Northern NSW and South East QLD. 
Dr Garnett Hall
Dr Garnett Hall
Dr Garnett Hall is veterinary surgeon in Perth, Western Australia, with over 14 years of experience in small animal, beef, dairy and equine veterinary services. He is the co-owner of two veterinary practices and is the founder of VetChip, a biotechnology company developing the next-generation of smart animal healthcare products. Dr Garnett has extensive experience working with Military, Police and other Government agencies in Australia and overseas, including experience in emergency management and disaster relief, with roles in ADF responses to Brisbane Floods 2011, Cyclone Yasi 2011, Bushfires 2020 and more. He regularly conducts advanced skill training in canine tactical casualty care for organisations across Australia.Dr Garnett is the current President of the Australian Veterinary Association WA Division, and he was elected the Greyhounds As Pets (GAP) WA ambassador in 2019. He also works with various media organisations to promote key veterinary messages to the community. 

Our Board

Dr Jeannet Kessels - Board Chair
Dr Jeannet Kessels
Board Chair
Jeannet is responding with conviction and commitment to growing alarm at the effects of climate change on animals and the environment. She leads Greater Springfield Veterinary in Queensland, engages in business consulting, and dearly enjoys her family. A driving force behind our organisation, she dedicates substantial time and forward energy to VfCA.
Dr Angela Frimberger - Deputy Board Chair
Dr Angela Frimberger
Deputy Board Chair
Angela is a biologist, veterinary oncologist, mother, small business owner and climate advocate. She brings years of experience in small-scale climate advocacy, ranging from her Climate Reality training, to regular speaking engagements, to founding Climate Vets, a global network of animal health professionals concerned about climate change.
Dr Helen Scott-Orr AM PSM - Board Director
Dr Helen Scott-Orr AM PSM
Board Director
Helen comes from an extensive career in public service, including being the first female Chief Veterinary Officer of NSW, and is deeply passionate about climate and the potential for the veterinary community to advocate for and achieve emissions reductions. Helen compliments her great sense of energy and humour with a wealth of experience in governance and strategy.
Dr Jonathan Happold - Board Director
Dr Jonathan Happold
Board Director
Jonathan graduated as a veterinarian from the University of Sydney in 1998, he completed a Masters Degree in Epidemiology at the University of London and is a Fellowship Candidate of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists.
Professor Mark Howden - Board Director
Professor Mark Howden
Board Director
Mark has worked on climate variability, climate change, innovation and adoption issues for over 30 years in partnership with many industry, community and policy groups. He is currently the Director of the Institute for Climate, Energy & Disaster Solutions at The Australian National University and has experience in issues including agriculture and food security, the natural resource base, ecosystems and biodiversity, energy, water and urban systems.
Steff Goldring - Company Secretary
Steff Goldring
Company Secretary
Steff has worked with a number of not-for-profit clients in areas as diverse as compliance assessments, policy frameworks, governance, government submissions, and event management. Early in her career she was a lawyer with the Australian Government Solicitor but followed her passion for travel to Flight Centre Travel Group. From travel agent to working in various senior roles, Steff brings a creative and innovative problem-solving approach to environmental and social justice.
Nick Williamson - Treasurer
Nick Williamson
Treasurer
Nick is delighted to have joined the VfCA board, growing up somewhere between a zoo and a vet school and having been surrounded by animals large and small for most of his life. He has a background in law, healthcare and for-purpose organisations, and is the father of two kids deeply concerned about our climate.
Ben Tyler - Board Advisor
Ben Tyler
Board Advisor
A proud Bininj man, Ben co-authored Walking In Gagudju Country and owns and operates Kakadu Kitchen, a proudly 100% Indigenous company producing wholesale beverages infusing Kakadu native botanicals for Australia's hospitality, tourism, and Indigenous bush food sectors. Ben supports the Board as as our Indigenous Advisor.
Kelly Douglas - Board Advisor
Kelly Douglas
Board Advisor
Kelly is the General Counsel at Médecins Sans Frontières for both Australia and for New Zealand. Having previously managed the legal function for Lifeline and its related entities, she has also spent over a decade in the private sector as a legal advisor to some of the most recognised brands in Australia and worldwide. She was appointed to the board of Word Travels in the first half of 2020, and has worked in an advisory role for VfCA since early 2022.

Our Staff

Tara O'Connell - CEO
Tara O'Connell
CEO
Tara brings over 25 years of diverse experience including 6 years as CEO of a national environmental NFP; Chairman and Director on regional tourism boards; Head of Digital Transformation for a national NFP; and as a consultant to Government Departments and NGOs. Tara has also developed and sold her own technology company, and enjoyed guest lecturing at University during the past 20 years. Tara says she feels honoured to work with so many talented people in such a values-aligned organisation.
Katie Sheehan - Project Coordinator, Climate Care Program
Katie Sheehan
Project Coordinator, Climate Care Program
Katie has worked in the not-for-profit sector for the last 15 years. She has previously worked at Climate Action Network Australia providing membership and admin support, and project coordination for the Better Futures Australia initiative. She was also a member of the Policy & Advocacy Team at Cancer Council NSW, contributing to the planning and execution of state-wide advocacy campaigns. Katie is passionate about uniting people and purpose to create positive change.
Jesse Fox - Community Engagement Manager
Jesse Fox
Community Engagement Manager
Jesse is a veterinarian who has previously worked as a mixed practice veterinarian in rural NSW. They also have experience working in community organising for a variety of causes. They are passionate about climate action and the power of communities to make political change. They love working closely with our volunteers to create meaningful impact!
Mel Harwin - CIO
Mel Harwin
CIO
Mel has a BA in Community Development and for the last fifteen years has been working across the international development, social impact, culture and community sectors, working to understand, influence or change issues affecting people and the planet with a broad range of stakeholders in the private, government, non-government, and community sectors. Mel is naturally drawn to communicate, engage, facilitate, research, write or storytelling.
Steff Goldring - COO
Steff Goldring
COO
Steff has worked with a number of not-for-profit clients in areas as diverse as compliance assessments, policy frameworks, governance, government submissions, and event management. Early in her career she was a lawyer with the Australian Government Solicitor but followed her passion for travel to Flight Centre Travel Group. From travel agent to working in various senior roles, she has done everything from persuading airline ground crew to board stranded passengers at the gate, to developing and executing strategies to grow sales. She brings that same creative and innovative problem-solving to environmental and social justice.
Liz Malcolm - Product Development Manager, Climate Care Program
Liz Malcolm
Product Development Manager, Climate Care Program
Liz’s broad range of skills and experience stems from a foundation in education, and an innate drive to engage, inspire and inform. As a Diversity Consultant, Liz created and facilitated training programs embedding workplace equity and inclusion, and is now excited to bring her love of instructional design to the passionate VfCA team.

Our Patron

Prof Peter Doherty AC FRS FMedSci
Prof Peter Doherty AC FRS FMedSci
Peter Doherty shared the 1996 Nobel Medicine Prize for his discoveries about transplantation and “killer” T cell-mediated immunity, an understanding that is currently translating into new cancer treatments. The first veterinarian to win a Nobel, he was also Australian of the Year in 1997. Peter is still active in research and also maintains a public profile. His twitter feed mixes his outspoken views on the need for urgent climate action with his fantastically dry sense of humour.

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