Meet the Emerging Leaders of our 2022 Executive Leadership Program!
Katrina Taylor is a freelance Social Worker, Writer and Tactile Artist based in Horsham, Western Victoria. Having lived in rural and regional areas most of her life, she is passionate about country life and all that it has to offer. Katrina is keen for other country people who are blind or vision impaired to get the most out of where they live and to have their voices heard. She has worked in disability and mental health in Queensland and Victoria, focusing on advocacy, community development, groupwork, and project initiatives.
Katrina is also a first time president of the Women’s Branch, and is enthusiastic about women’s empowerment and leadership.
Katrina is making inroads in the local arts scene as a dancer, writer and tactile artist. She is also increasing accessibility for both artists and audiences with disability through her work with the Art Is Festival and the local council’s arts and culture plan.
Kristy Fitzgerald is a BCA and NSW/ACT State Division Committee member of 3 years, and has been an Australian Public Servant of 16 years. She is passionate about advocating for the employment of people who are blind or vision impaired in the public service and believes the development of leadership skills for people with disability will create the role models of the future.
Tess Whelan enjoys getting out of bed each morning and creating real tangible impact in the lives of individuals and on a large scale. She currently works for the Australian Network on Disability, a for-purpose not for profit which works to build Disability Confident Employers across Australia. In addition to delivering national internship and mentoring programs, Tess is the co-chair of their Disability Employee Network and works on a range of other external projects. Tess has a background in innovative employment programs, training and facilitation and projects in the youth sector. Tess provides unbiased advice to the Vision Australia Board as part of their Client Reference Group. Tess loves reading, spending time at the beach and is currently getting into rowing on the weekends.
Lee Chong has a background in accounting and finance, working across the public practice, publication. and infrastructure industries for 20 years. Three years ago Lee made her career move into the disability sector, where she currently works for a technology company. Her current role involves project management, internal audits, and assurance in the risk and compliance space. She also supports the senior management team with strategy planning and execution.
Lee is passionate about disability employment and would like to see more people with disability being accepted and welcomed into the mainstream workforce.
Outside of work, Lee enjoys being a peer support person to people with disability, walking alongside them as they embrace their challenges, identify their potential and build their capacity.
Ryan Honschooten has worked for VisAbility for over 20 years in a variety of roles, starting on reception and moving across to running weekend programs for children. Ryan has also previously taken roles in the Marketing and Communications team, and as a trainer in the Industry Skills Centre. In 2013 Ryan returned to working with children as a Youth Support Worker, where he thrived on helping others within the disability sector. Ryan promotes independence, educational goals, finding one’s identity, self-advocacy and the all-round general bettering of life by mentoring in this position.
Ryan has enjoyed many sporting opportunities over the years, including being a part of the Australian Blind Sailing Team since 2006 and winning the world Blind Match Racing Championships in 2014. In 2015 Ryan sailed on his first Sydney to Hobart trip. In 2022, Ryan was named and received his baggy green when he represented Australia in International cricket. Ryan is also the current Chair Person of Goal Ball Australia. Alongside his dedication to sports, Ryan produces and hosts a weekly Rock Program on 107.3hfm.
Roberta Wright’s lived experience combined with her project management expertise offer the opportunity to promote a better understanding of life for people who are blind or vision impaired.
Roberta lost her sight nine years ago from a benign brain tumour and the surgical complications that followed. This occured while going through an adoption process, where she had to legally fight in the High Court of England and Wales to keep her child. Since then, Roberta has returned to Australia from the UK with her adopted daughter.
Currently, Roberta is the 2022 Women On Board’s disability and inclusion champion. Roberta brings a wide range of skills in project management, business development, positive collaboration, team work, and the need to get things done safely and efficiently.
Annette’s passion for leadership in the blind or vision impaired community stems from the support and encouragement she has received herself from other leaders with disabilities and her desire to follow in the footsteps of people who have raised the bar and taken us from oppression to expression and inclusion. As people who are blind or vision impaired, we often don’t have role models or blueprints showing us how we can shine in a world built for sighted people. Annette believes that stepping into the mainstream and sharing your voice as a minority is both scary and exciting at the same time and has the potential to break down barriers and facilitate inclusion. Annette has shown her ability to lead in being a founding member of the Albinism Fellowship of Australia, creating the Adults with Albinism Facebook Group which has been running for over 11 years and in her role as Connections Coordinator at Guide Dogs Victoria.
Madison Braim is a Behavioural Science graduate with demonstrated skills and experience in leadership, strategic planning and staff development. Madison’s experience includes thriving in growing organisations which are fast paced, dynamic and service oriented with geographically dispersed teams.
Katie Butler works to advance equality, opportunity, and inclusion. She concurrently focuses on improving organisational policy and practice for inclusivity while working directly with diverse communities to foster capacity and community connectedness. Katie brings a unique approach to her work by applying a community development lens to all work undertaken. She brings people together who share a common purpose to support, empower and mobilise one another to realise their full potential and power to make a difference. Katie has extensive experience in project management and evaluation, adult education, community development and engagement, advocacy and strategic planning across the local government, not-for-profit and higher education sectors. Katie holds a Bachelor of Social Science and Master of Disability Studies. She is currently undertaking her PhD at the University of Sydney. Utilising action research, Katie is investigating an innovative method to strengthen capacity for disability inclusive practice and planning in a local government setting.