MEET THE TEAM
Our team consists of a Board of Management, Head Office Staff, Camp Kokoda Staff and an army of loyal volunteers; all working towards our mission to change lives through the Spirit of Kokoda. Read a bit about us all below...
View our annual reports below:
BOARD OF MANAGEMENT
Kokoda Youth Foundation is a Public Benevolent Institution. To join Kokoda Youth Foundation, you must be nominated by a current foundation member and ratified at a general foundation meeting. If you're interested in joining Kokoda Youth Foundation, please contact us to receive an application for nomination form. Kokoda Youth Foundation's board of management meets quarterly to ensure all activities and future developments are in line with the foundation's constitution and mission statement.
DOUG HENDERSON OAM
Doug is a Vietnam Veteran who served as a medic with 6th Battalion RAR in 1966-67. He was seriously wounded in service and medically discharged from the army due to the injuries he sustained. He went on to own and operate a successful insurance assessing company and Express Courier business in Sydney before retiring to the Gold Coast in 1994. Doug has served on the Australian government’s National Suicide Prevention Committee and Department of Veterans Affairs' National Operations Working Party. In 2004, he resigned from his 10 year tenure as a Veterans' Advocate to pursue his interest in Kokoda and supporting young Australians as founder of Kokoda Youth Foundation.
Lynley has been involved with the KYF since 2006 both as a competitor and a volunteer. Since 2009, she has been a leader and group leader with the youth program, walking the Kokoda Track for the 8th time in 2018. In 2021 Lynley was elected Chair of the Kokoda Youth Foundation. Professionally, Lynley works in IT and facilities management for the Brisbane office of a global medical indemnity group.
Eric joined the board of the Kokoda Youth Foundation in October 2021 and has been assisting the Foundation as a volunteer prior. Eric is a chartered accountant with over 15 years’ experience in business and taxation advisory and has been working with a wide range of businesses from varying industries and non-for-profit organisations. Eric is eager to put his knowledge and expertise to work for the KYF.
Sophie is an original 2005 Kokoda Kid, and has been involved with KYF ever since. Sophie has a background in health and education, with interests in working with the community. Sophie works as a paramedic and has qualifications in community service, education, small business management and health science (Hons). She travelled to PNG as Doug Henderson's medic and walked alongside him for the entire trek, tending to his medical needs and ensuring he completed the bucket list Kokoda Track in good health. This experience bonded Sophie to Doug and the Foundation more than she ever thought possible.
Belinda joined the KYF Board in November 2022. As a mother two 2 young boys, she knows all too well how critical the KYF values are to supporting young Australians in their journey into adulthood. Belinda has been practising as a property and commercial lawyer on the Gold Coast since 2006. She looks forward to using her experience to support the KYF team continue the vital work they do in the community.
HEAD OFFICE TEAM
Chief Executive Officer
Johllene was part of the founding team of the Kokoda Youth Foundation being our first part-time employee back in 2006. In her first 5 years, Johllene experienced every role within our organisation from Association Secretary to Event Manager and even volunteer Youth leader. Johllene has first-hand knowledge of what it is like to take on the ‘Challenge’ having completed the 96km Gold Coast course in 2008 and leading 28 of our Kokoda kids in PNG later that year. In 2011 Johllene took a break from the Foundation to pursue her own business, enabling her to spend more time with her then young family. Johllene has returned to the Foundation in 2021 as Chief Executive Officer and brings a wealth of knowledge and skills in business management and Government relations. In her spare time Johllene enjoys fishing, boating and spending time with family.
Event Operations Manager
Andy has a background in the logistics and supply of equipment for major events in England that include the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge and the Queens Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. After relocating to Australia in 2005, Andy worked on local events including the Gold Coast 500, Roxy Pro, Splendor in the Grass and Gympie Muster. In his spare time, Andy is a keen Liverpool FC fan and has mentored young players over the past 20 years to help them work towards their own footballing aspirations. In his spare time, Andy enjoys watching the (English Premier League) football and spending quality time with his wife, 2 daughters and, very importantly, Alfie the family pet dog.
Jessica moved up to the Gold Coast at the start of 2020 after spending time volunteering in an animal shelter in Peru. She was brought on board to help grow the number of participants in the Kokoda Challenge events and reach a new audience to in turn, help more young people. She has an extensive background in marketing, as well as a creative background in graphic design and photography/videography. Jessica joined the Kokoda Youth Foundation as it has always been a life goal of hers to work for a registered charity that gives back to the community and the people within it.
Youth Services Manager
Joel comes to the Foundation having previously worked as a Manager at an Outdoor Education centre, organising camps for local and interstate schools. Prior to that, he had a long career as a Physical Education teacher, Coordinator of Outdoor Education and Head of Sport in several Independent and State High Schools in South Australia and Queensland. He has also undertaken roles in Sport Development. Joel is looking forward to guiding teenagers through the various programs run by the foundation to facilitate lasting changes in their lives and he is a firm believer that the best education happens in the outdoors. In his spare time, Joel loves watching live sport, surfing and spending time with his family.
ADMINISTRATION & HR MANAGER
Nikki has nearly 30 years’ experience of office administration and management within the corporate, small business and political environments. She has a wealth of knowledge in developing and implementing systems and processes that enable offices and teams to achieve the highest performance and produce excellent results. In her spare time Nikki enjoys hanging out with her young family going camping, and attending and cheering on their sporting efforts. Most weekends you will also find her down at the local netball courts where she is a passionate advocate for the sport, and volunteers her time as a Coach and is President of a netball club she founded.
OTRT PROGRAM MANAGER
Keith has joined the Kokoda team having come from an experienced background in Youth/Community Development with PCYC Working exclusively with Indigenous Communities throughout Queensland with a focus on community development, facilitated through capacity building initiatives, lead to his passion for social inclusion. His desire for personal development with Indigenous youth was enhanced through the development and delivery of the Deadly Duke’s program; a Cultural variant of the internationally acclaimed Duke of Edinburgh Award Australia, to which many honours were claimed. The program gained local, national, and international recognition to where Buckingham Palace was made aware of the young people influencing their community during a NAIDOC Celebration. Their aspiring leadership, return to Country and positive Role modelling lead to some participants having an exclusive engagement with His Royal Highness Prince Edward in recognition and celebration in 2014. Keith has worked closely with QPS to achieve this outcome and has managed several Indigenous PCYC Clubs within remote and or discrete Communities including Mornington Island, Palm Island and Doomadgee. one of his most memorable times was at Lockhart River where he was invited to travel and camp with the community during the Laura dance festival in 2015. In 2019 Keith transitioned to Project Booyah to work with disadvantaged and high-risk youth caught in the criminal youth justice system as an alternative strategy to reduce or prevent recidivism and incarceration. Keith Served with the Royal Australian Air Force as an Airfield Defence Guard (ADG) for a period of 10 years where he served overseas including deployment to the Middle East and spent time in Iraq 2005. The structure and discipline inherited as a member of the Australian Defence Force has provided the values utilised to model and mentor youth /community programs. It is this framework aligning with Kokoda Youth Foundation that has seen Keith join our team.
Meet Amy, a highly motivated and ambitious individual currently studying a Bachelor Degree of Advanced Business (Honours) with a major in marketing and event management. Amy has a natural passion for events and marketing. Amy is also a lover of the great Australian outdoors and enjoys camping and exploring the wilderness. In addition to Amy's academic and professional pursuits, she is also a skilled martial artist, holding a black belt in Taekwon-do. This discipline has taught Amy the importance of focus, discipline, and endurance, skills that she applies not only in her martial arts training but also in her personal and professional life. But above all, Amy is driven by a deep desire to help others. She is passionate about making a positive impact in the world and is always looking for ways to give back to the community. Amy also hopes to inspire and empower others to do their best.
Kokoda Pathways Coordinator
Carly is super excited to join the amazing team at the Kokoda Youth Foundation. Carly will be working alongside KYF's other Youth Program Coordinator Chris and managing the Kokoda Pathways and On The Right Track school based programs. She is passionate about the great outdoors and being able to use aspects of positive psychology and a strengths based approach in her work and believes that young people are incredibly capable. With a background in the healthcare industry, wellness coaching, teaching and training, Carly is looking forward to working alongside young people to see them flourish and grow into their potential.
Digital Detox Coordinator
Chris, in recent years, has been developing himself professionally and experientially in youth mentoring, rite of passage, men’s work and counselling, and is now a qualified counsellor and youth worker and is certified in rites of passage. In his role as the Youth Program Coordinator – On The Right Track at the Kokoda Youth Foundation, Chris is excited to apply a preventative approach to guide, support, role model and journey with youth while helping them realise their potential.
Prior to embarking on his journey of personal development and education, Chris spent two decades applying his knowledge and expertise in business to start-up and manage numerous businesses, including an Industrial Abseiling organisation and indoor trampoline centres. Chris is a keen surfer who loves the ocean and relishes every opportunity to spend time with his beautiful wife and young adult daughters on our stunning Gold Coast beaches.
OTRT Youth Program Coordinator
Daphne moved to the Gold Coast after spending four years in Cairns and Auckland (NZ) teaching English, Health, Outdoor and Physical Education at Cairns State High School and Whangaparaoa College. Daphne is passionate about supporting young people to develop the skills they need to become compassionate, determined, critical thinkers capable of analysing and courageously taking on the world around them. Daphne is excited to join the team at Kokoda Youth Foundation and is looking forward to working alongside young people to support them flourishing into contributing citizens of their home, school, work, and communities.
OTRT Youth Program Coordinator
Dom is an experienced Service Manager and Team Leader in the Youth, Alcohol and Drug, Child Protection and Disability sectors. He has extensive experience as a crisis point and brief intervention worker and counsellor. He has knowledge, skills and work history in various aspects of service delivery across sectors focusing on mental health and trauma related behaviours and support. He has a passion for empowering and supporting others, who despite experiencing difficulty or trauma, are motivated for change and growth. He is excited to be a part of the Kokoda Youth Foundation Team, and to be working with Young People to build effective and preventative relationships to assist them in learning skills and qualities they can use when facing challenges in their lives.
OTRT Youth Program Coordinator
Jay is a qualified youth worker who has been helping build pathways to success for young people for the past 10 years. In the early part of his career he started working in Youth Justice Services where he developed his passion to deliver group-based activities. He believes well-designed and implemented group work offers the possibility of engagement and learning through social participation. Jay inspires to be a life coach where he can make positive impacts on people’s lives and support individuals on their journeys in reaching their full potential. Originally from Sydney, Jay now lives on the Gold Coast in a growing family with two daughters aged 3 and 1. They love taking adventures to the beach and other family outings but he will always ensure he finds the time to practice self-care such as playing golf, lawn bowls and watching his favourite sport of rugby league where he follows his beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Accounts & Sponsorship Officer
Patrisha is a double degree university graduate with several years' experience in accounting, bookkeeping and law. She has a passion not only for working with numbers but also for helping others. As such, Patrisha has volunteered for numerous charities and events as well as being involved with developing the Community Mates volunteering initiative on the Gold Coast. She also has experience in assisting youth with their goals and understanding their requirements with her work as a University Student Ambassador. Patrisha joined the Kokoda Youth Foundation with a dedication and goal to make a difference in the community.
Event Liaison Officer
Rachel is a 2009 Kokoda Kid, whose journey has bought her full circle after working in a wide variety of job roles from Hospitality and Events where she was able to enjoy music festivals and cater conferences to being a travel agent and exploring Columbia on a work trip. Rachel studied a Diploma of Events and has started a Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy. Rachel has always wanted to teach, educate and inspire others to support each other and take care of nature.
OTRT Youth Program Coordinator
Sarah has joined the Kokoda Youth Foundation coming from a background of mental health coaching, building upon her Bachelor of Behavioural Sciences (in Psychology). Prior to this, she worked with the organisation, Antipodeans, which included assist leading a youth volunteer group to Vanuatu. These expeditions were underpinned by helping young people cultivate greater mindfulness, leadership, self-awareness and self-actualisation. Sarah’s passionate about helping support others – particularly young people - to improve their emotional wellbeing and resilience through challenging and growth-orientated experiences.
I am Tracy Bourgeade, a French student in my second year of international business school (ICD Business school Toulouse, France). I am doing a 6-month internship with Kokoda Youth Foundation, where I will contribute and learn knowledge and skills in business development and digital marketing with Jessica Wilson. In the past I have participated in a project to support the Uyghur people and in an association project to offer young French children in difficulty the opportunity to go on holiday camp. My ability to listen and care usually goes hand in hand with my dedication. I thrive in professions with a social vocation. I am keen to help people in difficulty. His projects have shown me that in my own way you can still help others.
OUTDOOR EDUCATION TEAM
Patron of the Kokoda Youth Foundation
Keith Payne VC
We are proud to have Vietnam War hero Keith Payne VC as a patron of the Kokoda Youth Foundation. For many years, Keith has been awarding Kokoda Challenge competitors their Kokoda dog tags at the finish line for many years and continues to be a huge inspiration to our Kokoda Kids. Keith Payne, VC, AM is an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. Payne's VC was awarded for his actions during the Vietnam War. Aged 84, he is the last living Australian recipient of the original "Imperial" Victoria Cross.