Our Team - Deaf Connect

Our Team

The Deaf Connect management team represents the breadth of the organisation’s service arms, as well as the corporate services teams and the Deaf Lottery.

Executive Leadership Team

Brett Casey – Chief Executive Officer

Brett has been the Chief Executive Officer of Deaf Connect since 2010. Prior to this appointment, Brett worked as General Manager overseeing the operational management of the organisation. Brett has been integral to the strategic and operational direction of the organisation. From 2011-2014 Brett was appointed as the Independent Chair for the Queensland Disability Advisory Council providing strategic and policy advice to the Minister of Disabilities in Queensland. In 2013, Brett travelled to Geneva as part of the NGO parallel group to represent people with disabilities from Australia at the United Nations. Brett holds a Bachelor of Laws LLB, a Bachelor of Arts and is admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland as a lawyer.

 

Craig McDonald – Chief Operating Officer

Craig currently holds the role of Chief Operating Officer and is responsible for all services across Deaf Connect. Appointed in 2013, Craig has assisted the organisation to grow and diversify income streams, whilst expanding the quality and breadth of services on offer.  The role has a strong focus on the expansion and delivery of high quality services to our community as the organisation continues to expand to meet needs. Prior to his role at Deaf Services, Craig worked in Life Sciences where leading, negotiating and executing in excess of $170M of commercial transactions..  Craig holds a degree in Molecular Biosciences (B. Sc., Hons I, QUT) and an MBA (University of Queensland).

 

Sarah Page – Chief Financial Officer

Sarah joined Deaf Connect in early 2021 as the Chief Finance Officer (CFO). This role is responsible for providing leadership, direction and management of the organisation’s financial and IT strategies and includes providing strategic recommendations to the CEO and members of the Executive team to inform decision making and support strong organisational performance and growth. Sarah has a wealth of experience in both the commercial and community services sectors most recently as Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary in a large State based not-for-profit. Prior to joining Deaf Connect, Sarah’s senior leadership roles have focused on the organisational financial health and sustainability, and driving the organisation’s commercial success. Sarah enjoys developing and coaching teams and is driven by the integration of both corporate strategic success and people’s achievements.

 

Isabelle Guaran – Chief People and Culture Officer

Isabelle joined Deaf Connect in early 2021 as Chief People and Culture Officer and is responsible for supporting the people, safety, risk and administration functions. This includes continuing to foster a culture and workplace where people can do their best work to support our community. Belle has over 10 years’ experience in employee relations and human resources, most recently as HR director in a national community services organisation. Prior to joining Deaf Connect, Belle has worked in leadership roles in both the government and NFP sectors with a focus on major organisational change, commercial turnarounds, political advocacy and transitioning to an employee relations culture built on trust and transparency. Belle has been profoundly deaf since childhood and uses a cochlear implant. Belle believes in leading with vulnerability, compassion and courage and is passionate about Deaf Connect being a place where people can bring their whole selves to work.

 

Brent Phillips – Chief Impact Officer

Brent joined Deaf Connect on 31 May 2021, coming from the National Disability Insurance Agency where he was Branch Manager – Assistive Technology & Employment Outcomes. He was formerly Chair of the Ministerial-appointed Victorian Disability Advisory Council and Director – Language, Partnerships & Innovation at Expression Australia. Brent previously worked with Sport & Recreation Victoria, Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission and Deaf Victoria, and was President of Deaf Sports Australia for eight years. Brent is a third-generation Deaf person, married to a Deaf person and is the proud father of two children.  He has BA (Criminology) and MBA degrees and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Brent brings a track record of success, experience and energy to his role in driving the organisation’s ability to positively impact key community, sector and political stakeholders to ensure full access and inclusion for Deaf Australians.

 

 

General Managers

Michelle Stark – General Manager, Education

Michelle joined Deaf Connect as the Education Manager in April 2014 and oversees the delivery and development of both accredited training and non-accredited classes for the organisation. Michelle is a qualified teacher of the deaf and a professional level sign language interpreter. She has worked across all stages of education from early years through to tertiary level, in both public and private sectors. Michelle was involved in the development and delivery of training around linguistics, literacy and deaf children as part of the Transition to Auslan Project from 2009 – 2012 and taught the Graduate Certificate of Auslan Studies course at Griffith University in 2015. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Teaching, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Linguistics (Literacy) and a Master of Arts (Deafness and Communication) and has a particular interest in language, learning and literacy.

 

Jen McKee – General Manager, Early Intervention

Jen joined Deaf Connect in 2014 as Manager, Hear for Kids (formerly Hearing Impaired Children’s Therapies). She was part of the team that negotiated the merge with Deaf Connect, and managed the subsequent organisational change for the Hear for Kids team. Prior to her role at Deaf Connect Jen worked for many years as a technical writer for various IT security companies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and is a qualified English as a Second Language Teacher. In her role as General Manager, Early Intervention she leads a team of over 30 dedicated speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, teachers of the Deaf, allied health assistants, a psychologist, and family support specialists.

 

Kristen Mason – General Manager, 1:1 Support

Kristen joined Deaf Connect in June 2014 and held the role of Manager, Lifestyle Support Services from 2015 until her mid-2021 appointment as General Manager, 1:1 Support. This role is responsible for leading the strategic direction of individualised support service provisions, developing and enhancing service quality while supporting the team leaders and managers of the division delivering day-to-day service. In Kristen’s tenure with the organisation, she has implemented operational changes of its individualised direct support services in the transition to NDIS, enhanced and lead its operational efficiency, and has overseen the expansion of 1:1 Supports services across multiple areas. Prior to joining Deaf Connect, Kristen lived in the USA and worked in various roles within community services and higher education and has held roles in the finance and accounting fields. Kristen has a Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology) from University of California, Santa Barbara.

 

Leena Vuorinen – General Manager, Ageing Well

Leena holds the role of General Manager, Ageing Well. In this role, Leena has set up Ageing Well services for Deaf seniors across Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. She has worked in service development and reform readiness, quality and continuous improvement, policy development, information, training and education, case coordination and care management in aged and community care sectors. Leena’s passion lies in high quality care and services for older adults, who need support in their independence, quality of life, wellbeing and social participation. Leena holds a PhD of Social Sciences and a Masters of Social Sciences from the University of Helsinki, Finland, both of which focus on social gerontological matters. Her research interests include ageing in various settings; formal and informal care; the quality of life and lifestyles among older adults; and the social problems that vulnerable older people may face in society today.

 

Andrew Wiltshire – General Manager, Information Services

Andrew joined Deaf Services in February 2011 and managed both the Employment Services and Community Services prior to the advent of the NDIS. After a six month hiatus in 2016, he returned as a Support Coordinator before taking on the role of Manager, Support Coordination in 2019. Part of the preparations for the merger on 1 October 2020, Andrew took on the management of the Family Support Service, Hearspace and Living Well teams and is now the General Manager, Information Services. Andrew started his career in interior design in the UK, before returning to Australia and has been involved with various management committees and boards in the Deaf sector including roles in retail management, advocacy, community services, NDIS, employment, interpreting, translating, language consulting, and telecommunications. Having come from a large deaf family has brought Andrew a lifetime of experience with the deaf community and a deep understanding of its needs. Andrew is committed to ensuring that the services we provide to the community allows our clients to reach personal goals.

 

Rebecca O’Brien – General Manager, Interpreting

Rebecca currently holds the role of General Manager, Interpreting Services and is responsible for the end to end service delivery of all Interpreting Services, nationally. As a NAATI Certified Interpreter for over 15 years, Rebecca uses her experience within the profession to drive her decision making, to ensure customers receive high quality access throughout their lives. She has a particular passion for interpreter mentoring and a strong focus on the continued skill development of the interpreting team. Joining the Management Team in 2017, Rebecca has been leading the growth of service delivery, overseen the implementation of a new booking system and the establishment of NSW and ACT Media Interpreting Teams for both state and federal press conferences. Rebecca holds a Diploma of Interpreting and a Bachelor of Arts (Languages and Linguistics).

 

Paul Stockwell – Head of Fundraising and Operations

As Head of Fundraising and Operations Paul leads the teams responsible for delivering the organisation’s marketing, sales and charity lottery functions. His focus is on creating authentic, impactful and valuable connections with the community and our stakeholders. Paul joined Deaf Connect in 2019 as an operations consultant to lead transformations in the organisation’s systems and processes, with a particular focus on the Deaf Lottery. He previously worked in the science industry managing commercial research contracts and in a range of innovation policy roles with the Australian Government. Paul holds a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology and is currently completing his MBA.

 

Ian Harvey Ross – Head of Marketing and Sales

Ian has worked with Deaf Connect since 2015  in a range of senior marketing roles. As Head of Marketing and Sales he is responsible for the leadership, management and delivery of these areas for both the organisation’s services for the Deaf community, and of the Deaf Lottery. This portfolio also includes the organisation’s brand management, Auslan translations and communications functions. Prior to his time with Deaf Connect, Ian held political advocacy roles with the Property Council of Australia as well as freelance writing, digital marketing and content creation positions. Ian holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Creative Writing Production / Journalism), as well as post graduate qualifications in Business (PR / Economics).

 

 

Managers

Jim Gordon – Manager, IT

Jim currently holds the role as Manager, IT at Deaf Connect since 2005. Prior to this he worked in various managerial roles at Deaf Connect including the former employment service, Sign On Employment, and Community Services. He is a long term employee at Deaf Connect and one amongst a few IT Managers in Australia who is also fluent in Auslan. Prior to joining the Deaf Sector Jim has worked in both Government, and the private sector. Jim has academic qualifications in the area of Humanities that includes graduate and post graduate qualifications in Psychology, and the Social Sciences. A career shift some years ago necessitated university qualifications in Information Technology and has participated in numerous industry IT courses and certification as a Project Manager.

 

Kate Matairavula – Manager, Accredited Training

As well as lived experience as a deaf person, Kate has over 18 years of experience in the deaf and disability sectors. She has 9 years of management experience encompassing advocacy, youth services, community engagement, customer service and education. She was convenor of the 2nd International Conference of the World Federation of the Deaf in 2013. Kate has post graduate qualifications in rehabilitation counselling as well as not-for-profit management. She comes alive when teaching, presenting and imparting her knowledge. She is passionate about equity for deaf people and supporting people to have full choice and control in their lives. She lives by values of connection and service.

 

Pauline Tanzer – Manager, Interpreting Services

Pauline has worked for the organisation for 20 years in a variety of roles. As Manager, Interpreting Services she coordinates the daily operation of the service by leading the Customer Bookings Team and mentoring new interpreters. Pauline is a NAATI Certified Interpreter who has been interpreting for 30 years and has strong connections in the Deaf community. Her experience allows her to deliver services that directly contribute to the empowerment of the Deaf community. Pauline’s approach to growing the interpreting workforce means she is well-poised to continue to assist in the development of mentoring services for new interpreters and believes that fostering this growth is a crucial driver in ensuring that fair access is given to all Deaf and hard of hearing people.

 

Rachel Lai – Manager, Growth and Impact

Rachel has worked for Deaf Connect since 2012 in several management positions including overseeing Language Services and the commUNITY team (now known as Interpreting Services & Information Services); as well as holding the position of Manager, Service Design and Growth. During this time, Rachel led the establishment of Australia’s first on-demand Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) service and the first on-demand emergency VRI service which was implemented across several public hospital emergency departments. The work Rachel has undertaken in service design and growth has been pivotal in the success of Deaf Connect being awarded several notable State & Federal Government contracts. In addition to this, Rachel led the transition of the CommUNITY team through the advent of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and expanded the organisation’s service offering and its geographical reach into regional, rural, and remote locations across the country. Rachel has an extensive background working on largescale strategic ICT and business transformation programs having worked in Senior Management and Director roles locally and abroad. Rachel holds a Masters in Project Management (CSU), a Diploma in Interpreting (Auslan/English), is a NAATI certified interpreter, a member of the Australian Sign Language Interpreters’ Association (ASLIA) and a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults).

Nicole Byerley – Manager, Finance

Nicole joined Deaf Connect in 2013 and took the role of Manager, Finance in 2014. Nicole is responsible for all aspects of financial management of the organisation including the Deaf Lottery. She has been involved in some key growth activities during her time with Deaf Connect such as the mergers with HICTI and the Deaf Society of NSW, service expansion into aged care and establishment of an RTO. Prior to joining Deaf Connect, Nicole held various roles within the accounting and finance field. She has a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance).

Michelle Crozier – Internal Consultant

Michelle leads several externally and internally funded programs as an Internal Consultant within the Office of the CEO. This includes ongoing internal NDIS implementation, oversight of State and Federally funded programs and hosting internal process and planning activities with managers and teams in the organisation.  Michelle came to Deaf Connect in 2016 with over 20 years’ experience in service management in the disability and community services sector, academic research, consultancy and project management, as well as lived experience as a parent of children with unique needs at the hands of different service systems (e.g. health and education). “My calling is to work with people who are curious about each other and changing the way things currently get done in organisations and the world”.

Vanessa Alford – Community and Sector Impact Manager

Vanessa joined Deaf Connect in 2021 as Community and Sector Impact Manager and is responsible for developing and leading the key national initiatives including Deaf Youth, Deaf Leadership, Deaf Ecosystem and Deaf History and Cultural Recognition Program. Vanessa works collaboratively across the organisation, sector, and community to ensure stronger community capacity building and engagement within our community and sector. Prior to joining Deaf Connect, Vanessa held various roles at National Disability Insurance Agency, Deaf Australia, National Relay Service. As well as lived experience as a Deaf person, third generation in the family and mother of three Deaf children, Vanessa is also a NAATI provisional certified Deaf interpreter and has extensive experience as an Auslan Translator and Language + Cultural Consultant [English-Auslan].