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...

ANNUAL REPORTS

View our annual reports below:

2019 Annual Report

2018 Annual Report

2017 Annual Report

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
Founder

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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 MANGIN 
Chair

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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 FLAMMANG 
Treasurer

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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.

SHANE STEDWELL 
Director

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Shane began his journey with the KYF 15 years ago as an original Kokoda Kid and has never looked back. Since then he has returned as a Volunteer leader 4 times, endured 5 gruelling trips to Papua New Guinea and conquered 8 Kokoda Challenges. Shane has experienced almost everything that KYF has to offer as a volunteer. Shane says, "what KYF has given me in life is nothing short of amazing and I’m excited to continue my journey with the Foundation." Shane works for SurfStitch.com as a buying coordinator for men's and boy's wear. Coming from being a Kokoda Kid, Shane has a drive and lust for life that has taken him from working in the warehouse to his current position.

SOPHIE HOSKINS 
Director

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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 NORTHAM
Director

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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

JOHLLENE ELSON

Chief Executive Officer

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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.

JESSICA WILSON

Marketing Manager

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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.

TIFFANI SEATON
Community Engagement Officer

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Tiffani’s Kokoda journey started in 2015 when she became a Kokoda Kid. She strongly connected with the Kokoda values of Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice whilst completing the track in Papua New Guinea, acknowledging that the trip gave her “the direction and drive” that she needed. Since graduating the program in 2016, she has travelled all around the world, studied at university and worked in various industries. Tiffani’s passion for the outdoors, want to give back to the community and ambition to create a change in the world has landed her in the position of Administration and Event Liaison for the KYF. Tiffani has a strong connection to the foundation, knowing personally how it can change the lives of young Australians.

PATRISHA KAY
Accounts & Sponsorship Officer 

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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. 

ANDY HAYNES
Event Operations Manager 

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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.

JOEL FINNIS 
Youth Services Manager

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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. 

NIKKI ROSS
ADMINISTRATION & HR MANAGER 

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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.

CHRIS EMERT
Digital Detox Coordinator 

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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. 

CARLY MOORE
Kokoda Pathways Coordinator 

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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.

RACHEL FLOWERS

Event Liaison Officer

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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.

KEITH DEBNAM
OTRT PROGRAM MANAGER 

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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.

OUTDOOR EDUCATION TEAM

LAURA SKINNER
Outdoor Education Director

BEC HUDSON 
Outdoor Education Admin Officer

TONY LEE
Senior Instructor

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.