Dialog Box

Loading...

Our People

Founder & CEO

Deborra-lee Furness

Founder and Patron

Deborra-lee Furness is an internationally acclaimed actress as well as a passionate supporter of children and defender of their human rights across the globe.

Deborra-lee’s humanitarian work for children is a driving force in her life. It is her passion that children all over the world be given every chance to live a fulfilled life and achieve their full potential.

As founder of National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM) and Adopt Change in Australia, Deborra-lee has been a driving force for improving adoption programs, procedures and legislation, and raising awareness and understanding of the issues of vulnerable children.

She is Patron of the Lighthouse Foundation for displaced children in Melbourne Australia;  World Vision Ambassador, Patron of the Bone Marrow Donor Institute for children with leukemia; Patron of International Adoptive Families of Queensland; she sits on the board of World Wide Orphans Australia and is newly appointed on the board of the UN Women for Peace Association in New York.

Deborra-lee has been honoured extensively both in Australia and internationally for her work to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable children. For her advocacy work she has been honoured by World Wide Orphans in New York, The Joint Council USA and in 2013 was given the prestigious award of Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in Washington DC. Harlem Village Acadamies honored Deborra-lee and her husband Hugh for their philanthropy work in 2012.

She was presented with 2014 International Humanitarian Award in Utah by Mentors International. She was named NSW Australian of the Year 2015. Also in 2015, Deborra-lee was honored in Washington as Advocate of the Year by Kidsave.

Deborra-lee is the co-founder of the newly launched Hopeland organization which is a US based platform driving awareness around the issue of vulnerable children. The mission of Hopeland is to ensure children belong in loving families. Hopeland is about family strengthening and community empowerment and driving creative solutions for vulnerable and abandoned children globally.

Renee
Carter

Chief Executive Officer

Renee Carter is the CEO of Adopt Change, appointed to lead the organisation in advocating for the rights of children to have a permanent, stable and loving home. Renee has a strong background in communications and executive management, along with board level experience in corporate and not-for-profit sectors and is a member of Australian Institute of Company Directors. Her experience includes three years as Chair of charity Child Abuse Prevention Service (CAPS), an organisation focused on early intervention, education and support of families and communities. Renee is also a member of the Institute Advisory Group for the independent research centre Institute of Open Adoption Studies (The University of Sydney). Renee is passionate about influencing policy and practice to deliver timely and effective outcomes for children, by garnering community, sector and government support.


Our Board

Catherine McDonnell

Chair

Catherine has been practising media and entertainment law for over 25 years and has actively served on the Board of various not-for-profit organisations for over eight years. Catherine brings significant corporate governance experience to the Board of Adopt Change and joined the Board to use her skills to improve the future for children needing families.

Victoria Buchan

Board Director

As Director of Communications and Public Relations at the Nine Network Australia, Victoria Buchan has extensive experience in the corporate communications sector. Previously Victoria owned and operated The Lantern Group and still retains a role as Director of the company that specialises in publicity and media relations in the entertainment industry. Victoria began her career as a journalist on the Daily Mirror before joining Network 10 as a publicist during the booming production years in the late 1980s.She has worked with some of Australia’s most influential media groups, including Fairfax, Fox Studios Australia and the Australian Broadcasting Commission where she was Director Of Corporate Affairs. Victoria’s journey with the adoption community began whilst working with Deborra-lee Furness and discovering the injustices families encountered via media stories on the issue. Inspired by those who have the courage to fight for change and the rights of children around the world to have a loving family, she and Deborah-lee have continued along this path together. Since beginning this work she has been touched by so many people, including her own family and friends who have some experience with adoption.



Kerry Chikarovski

Board Director

One of the country’s most respected and admired former politicians, Kerry “Chika" Chikarovski began her career as a solicitor before making the decision to enter parliament. Encouraged by a brief but memorable meeting with a dashing young Robert Kennedy, Kerry knew from an early age that she wanted to be a politician and in 1991 she won pre-selection against the odds for the safe seat of Lane Cove on Sydney’s north shore – one that had been earmarked for a male colleague. In Government Kerry held a number of Portfolios including Minister for Consumer Affairs, Assistant Minister of Education, Minister for Industrial Relations, and the first Minister for the Status of Women appointed in NSW. In 1998 Ms Chikarovski was elected Leader of the NSW Parliamentary Liberal Party, the first woman to lead a major political party in NSW.  Today Kerry is a highly sought after and successful businesswoman.  Chika’s own government relations business, Chikarovski & Associates, advise clients across a range of industry sectors on policy and regulatory issues, as well as in relation to major projects and procurement.Kerry brings to the Board of Adopt Change her strong political background, vast experience in dealing with government and business, and an ability to understand complex issues across a broad sector.

John O'Neill

Board Director

John O’Neill is an adoptee who has reunited with his birth mother Anne. John also has a wonderful son, Joo Sang, adopted from South Korea. He currently runs Sydney-based digital marketing agency Komosion and sits on a number of not-for-profit Boards including Surfing NSW. He is a former Managing Director of Tourism NSW, was Ticketing Communications Manager for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and served as an adviser to the former Treasurer of NSW, the Hon Michael Egan. Prior to that, he had an award-winning career in the media, including working at the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC TV, Network 10 and regional newspapers.

Helen Baker

Board Director

Adopted from the Philippines, Helen is a passionate and determined advocate for adoption who believes all children have the right to grow up in a loving and permanent home. Helen brings her professional and personal adoption experience to the Board. With a background in legal and professional services (currently in senior management at Deloitte), together with owning and operating a legal recruitment company for over ten years, she is a highly motivated and driven individual. When Helen is not running around after her three children, she is running marathons; the Great Wall of China marathon being the highlight so far. Helen is currently in the process of searching for birth family in the Philippines.