Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Catherine Walter AM - Chair

Catherine Walter AM - Chair

Catherine Walter was appointed a trustee of Helen Macpherson Smith Trust in 2014 and Chair in November 2020.

Catherine Walter has over 20 years’ experience in finance, governance, corporate and for-purpose sectors. Catherine is Chair of Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance and is a director of the Reserve Bank’s Payments System Board, Export Finance Australia, and Australian Foundation Investment Company.

A former Managing Partner with Clayton Utz Melbourne, Catherine has previously been a director of: ASX, National Australia Bank, Orica, Melbourne Business School, Victorian Opera, Australian Ballet School, and Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. She is a past Chair of Creative Partnerships Australia, Federation Square, Australian Synchrotron and Equipsuper, and a past Commissioner of the City of Melbourne. In 2003 Catherine Walter was honoured as a Member of The Order of Australia for service to business, particularly as a director of a range of public companies, to the arts, to the law, and to the community through the Melbourne City Council.

Alexandra Gartmann

Alexandra Gartmann

Alexandra Gartmann was appointed a trustee of Helen Macpherson Smith Trust in 2018.

Alexandra is a passionate advocate and champion for rural and regional Australia, having grown up and grown her career in rural and regional Australia. She has a Bachelor of Science (Resource and Environmental Management) ANU. She is the Managing Director & CEO of Rural Bank, a member of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership and a member of the Victorian Agriculture Advisory Council.

Between 2011 and 2015 Alexandra was CEO of the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR), a charitable foundation based on a partnership between philanthropy, community, government and business supporting the economic prosperity of rural, regional and remote communities across Australia. Prior roles include the CEO of the Birchip Cropping Group for 10 years — a not-for-profit agricultural research organisation based in the Mallee Wimmera region – and Community Landcare Coordinator in the wheatbelt of WA.

Alexandra has been appointed the inaugural Chair of the new Victorian Agriculture and Climate Change Council. She was Chair of the CSIRO Agriculture and Food Advisory Council, a member of the Australian Landcare Council, Crawford Fund, National Rural Advisory Council, Victorian Flood Disaster Appeal Panel, National Centre of Excellence for Civil Society Advisory Committee, Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee, Victorian Women in Primary Industries Advisory Panel and RIRDC National Rural Issues Consultative Group.

Alexandra has been an active Ambulance Community Officer with Ambulance Victoria and continues to enjoy sports such as hockey, mountain biking and stand up paddleboarding.

Claire Higgins

Claire Higgins

Claire Higgins was appointed a trustee of Helen Macpherson Smith Trust in 2017.

Claire grew up in Victoria’s Wimmera region and lives in the Surf Coast Shire. She undertook a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne, is a Fellow CPA, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Claire has over 26 years’ experience with Australian listed companies OneSteel Limited and The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and Belgian major corporate NV Bekaert SA, and her governance experience is extensive. She is the current Chair of REI Superannuation, Chair of Northwest Healthcare Property Management, Chair of GMHBA and a Director of Ryman Healthcare Limited, RT Health Fund Ltd, Pancare Foundation and Margin Clear Pty Ltd.

Previously held directorships include Director and Immediate Past Chair – Victorian State Emergency Services, Chair – Victorian Country Fire Authority, Director – Portland District Health, Ambulance Victoria, Barwon Health, Barwon Water and Committee for Geelong.   Ms Higgins was a member of the Expert Panels for the Victorian Health Service Management Innovation Council and Victorian Health Service Board Development Program Reference Group.

Bruce Parncutt AO

Bruce Parncutt AO

Bruce Parncutt was appointed a trustee of Helen Macpherson Smith Trust in 2018.

Bruce’s career spans over 40 years in investment management, investment banking and stock broking. He is Chairman and a principal of investment banking group, Lion Capital, a member of The Australian Ballet board, the University of Melbourne Campaign Board, and the University of Melbourne Centre for Positive Psychology Strategic Advisory Board.

Previous roles include: Managing Director of McIntosh Securities, Senior Vice President of Merrill Lynch, Director of Australian Stock Exchange Ltd, President of the Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Board Member and Chairman of the NGV Foundation, member of the Felton Bequest Committee, Council member of Melbourne Grammar School, and Director of a number of listed public companies.

Bruce’s experience includes extensive involvement in financial analysis, merger and acquisition transactions, capital-raisings, and investment in companies across a broad spectrum from early stage to mature public companies. He holds a Bachelor of Science, an MBA, and is a Senior Associate of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia.

Bruce was recognised as Officer in the Order of Australia in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for distinguished service to the community as a philanthropist, particularly in arts and education, and as an advocate and supporter of charitable causes, and to business and commerce.

Jan Robins

Jan Robins

Jan Robins was appointed a trustee of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust in 2020

Jan brings to the Trust more than 30 years’ experience in executive roles across funds management, private banking and philanthropy.

Between 2005 and 2018, Jan held leadership roles in philanthropy as the CEO of the Colonial Foundation, the Jack Brockhoff Foundation and the RACV Foundation. These roles, in addition to her part-time and voluntary work with a number of Victorian-based youth focussed charities, have underpinned Jan’s commitment to championing the social purpose sector with a special interest in children and youth.

Over the two decades prior to her philanthropic roles, Jan held Executive or Director roles in funds management and private banking with leading international banks including Macquarie Bank, UBS, Bankers Trust, and Citicorp.

Jan is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and of the Harvard Business School – Managing for Competitive Advantage.


Andrew Sisson AO

Andrew Sisson AO

Andrew Sisson was appointed a trustee of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust in 2020.

Andrew has over 40 years investment management experience and in 1988 founded Balanced Equity Management to manage portfolios of Australian shares. In 2011, Balanced Equity Management was acquired by Franklin Resources Inc, a funds management company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Prior to establishing Balanced Equity Management, Andrew worked at National Mutual Life Association as a Portfolio Manager, progressing through various roles. Andrew also completed a secondment to the UK merchant bank Samuel Montagu as a Corporate Finance Manager.

Andrew holds a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics & Statistics) from The University of Melbourne and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD).

Andrew has been a director of Opera Australia since February 2017, and a member of the Council of the University of Melbourne since January 2020.  He has recently been a Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria (2010-2019) and a Director of Save the Children Australia (2008-2014).

In 2018, he was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the finance and investment sector, as an adviser to financial regulatory bodies, and through philanthropic support for cultural and charitable groups.

Danielle Toon

Danielle Toon

Danielle Toon was appointed a trustee of Helen Macpherson Smith Trust in 2020.

Danielle has nearly 20 years experience in strategy, policy, research, design and implementation projects for schools, early learning providers, for-purpose organisations, education systems and large corporations. Danielle transitioned to the not-for-profit sector in 2009 after seven years in management consulting for IBM Global Business Services.

Danielle is currently an Associate Director at Social Ventures Australia. Over the last eleven years, Danielle has led local, state, national and international education reform projects in various roles for organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to this, Danielle was the founding CEO and company secretary of a not-for-profit in Indigenous education and served on the board of an Indigenous boarding school.

Danielle has a first class honours bachelor degree in business and technology from the University of New South Wales and a Masters of Instructional Leadership from the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education. In 2013, Danielle was an Australian Institute of Management State Finalist for Not-for-Profit Manager of the Year and in 2011 was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship.

Danielle is a passionate advocate for rural, regional and remote Australia having grown up in regional Australia and worked in remote Indigenous communities for many years.