Board and Team
A voluntary Board of Directors with a wealth of experience in the community, business and government oversee the Hands Across Canberra Foundation.
Diane Kargas AM, Chair
Diane has been a tireless contributor to the Canberra community and mentor for people in the charitable and not for profit sector. In her former role as Public Trustee for the ACT, Diane founded the Capital Region Community Foundation known as GreaterGood for the perpetual benefit of Canberra and the region. Diane was the ACT Local Hero in 2004, and in 2007 was recognised by the International Women's Day Award for services to the ACT Community. In 2009 she was awarded Member of the Order of Australia for her services to philanthropy, aged care, people with disabilities and juvenile diabetes research. In 2011 she was listed on the Honour Roll of 100 inspiring women in the ACT.
Charley Cramer is the Head of Industry Banking for St.George Bank in the ACT. Charley has over 18 years' experience in corporate, wholesale and commercial banking, which includes diverse financing, capital markets, advisory, and strategic leadership experience. Charley's career has spanned corporate, private and commercial banking and, before joining St.George and the Westpac Group, Charley held senior roles at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and NAB group of companies. An engaged advocate for Canberra, Charley is an active ACT Business Leader holding positions on the ACT Business Chamber's Innovation, and International Trade Task forces. He is a committed mentor to high potential young people and maintains an active involvement in The Hunger Project - a not-for-profit organisation whose goal is to alleviate hunger and domestic violence through the empowerment and education of women.
Amelda (Mel) Keys, Deputy Chair, GAICD
Chair, The Aspen Foundation
Mel has had an extensive career in Social Work primarily in the child and family, health and disability sectors. She also has qualifications in Business, Pastoral Care and Mothercraft Nursing as is a graduate of the AICD. For several years now, Mel has been involved with and supported many Not for Profit organisations, in particular in the areas of disability, indigenous health, housing and food rescue. Mel is an owner of the BCorp company Aspen Medical, and Chair of the Aspen Foundation. She is passionate about encouraging philanthropy and supporting social entrepreneurship, both within the Canberra community and nationally.
Edward Le Quesne
Ed is a Director at EY Canberra, with experience in the provision of accounting, tax and governance advice to not-for-profit, commercial and Government clients. Ed has experience working with Hands Across Canberra, having been involved in the initial setup of HAC and with ongoing involvement to date. Ed has 15 years commercial experience in Canberra which he will bring enthusiastically to the board of Hands Across Canberra
Partner, Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers
Alice heads Meyer Vandenberg Lawyers, Corporate and Commercial practice. With more than 25 years' experience, Alice leads her team in developing business frameworks for her clients, ensuring that intellectual property and other legal requirements are met.
Alice's philosophy is that creating relationships and strong lines of communication is key to providing tailored advice. Her ability to forge close and collaborative relationships with clients and other advisers ensures that the right solutions are always delivered.
Alice's main area of practice is in corporate advisory and governance. Alice is the Deputy Chair of the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission and a director of The Fly Program. She chairs the risk and audit committee of the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission and is a member of the risk and audit committee of Project Independence.
Peter Vardos PSM
Peter has had a distinguished 38-year career in the Australian Public Service. Peter commenced as a graduate with the former Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) where his experience included serving in Australia's diplomatic missions in the Solomon Islands, Kenya and Zimbabwe as well as on the staff of two federal ministers. Peter joined the Department of Immigration in 1995 and was promoted to Deputy Secretary in 2011, with responsibility for global visa and citizenship services. In the eight months leading up to his retirement in May 2016, Peter led the establishment of the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Taskforce with responsibility for coordinating the government's commitment to re-settle 12,000 persons affected by the Syrian conflict. Peter received a Public Service Medal in the 2002 Australia Day Honours List.
Peter Gordon is the CEO of Hands Across Canberra. He has been with the Foundation since its inception providing valuable leadership and using his extensive network to create change in the community sector.
Peter has established a reputation for assisting organisations to grow, prosper and achieve value for their stakeholders.
As a Senior Public Servant and consultant, Peter has had a distinguished career in economic and business development, entrepreneurship and community engagement. He holds a Master of Education Leadership and is a member of Economic Development Australia.
Peter also plays a significant role in the Canberra community as:
- Board member of the Canberra Area Theatre Awards
- Board member of the Indigenous Marathon Project and SmartStart for Kids.
- Board member of The National Centre for Australian Children's Literature.
- Ambassador One Disease at a Time
- Past President of Duo Australia.
Lesley has lived in Canberra since 1969. She attended Dickson and Belconnen High Schools and graduated from the ANU with BSc (Hons). She worked in the Commonwealth and ACT Public Services for 35 years including over 10 years as a Senior Executive Officer with the Commonwealth. Her career covered policy and operational placements in areas including child care, disability, property, service delivery to indigenous communities and refugee processing. She has extensive community volunteering experience. Lesley worked on the establishment of Hands Across Canberra and has been continuously involved since then. Following her retirement in 2015 Lesley has worked with Hands Across Canberra as a volunteer, assisting with administration, marketing and fundraising.
Grants and Partnerships Manager
Julia leads the organisations community engagement and manages our grant programmes. She joined Hands Across Canberra in September 2018.
Prior to joining Hands Across Canberra, Julia spent over six years in the Middle East working for the United Nations and international for-purpose organisations. Julia has been a resident of Canberra since 2017 and is currently enrolled in a Master of Evaluation with the University of Melbourne.