Our People

Our leadership team, comprised of the CEO, Executive team and Board of Directors, focuses on achieving quality outcomes in development, managing risks effectively, and delivering value to the organisation’s stakeholders.




Offices globally


Countries of operation

AVI Chief Executive Officer

Melanie Gow

Chief Executive Officer

Melanie has held senior leadership roles across international development and the Australian health sector. Her portfolio accountabilities have included research, policy and advocacy, international programs, corporate affairs, marketing, sales, strategy and governance.

She also worked and lived in Geneva, Switzerland, where she held various positions including Deputy Director for International Policy and Advocacy with World Vision International and President of the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. While based in Geneva, Melanie worked closely with UN agencies and international NGOs on a range of human rights issues. She has undertaken extensive research on violence against children, refugee and asylum-seeking children, child labourers and children affected by armed conflict.

Over the years Melanie has served as a Board member on several not for profit Boards including Hagar Australia, Intrepid Foundation, Business for Development, the Australian Council for International Development, Campaign for Australian Aid, the Coalition to the Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and Sorrento Pre-School. She has also been on the Advisory Board of the Researchers for Asylum Seekers at the University of Melbourne and was Co-Chair of the United Nations Special Experts Panel on Violence against Children. Melanie has a Master of Arts in International Development and a Master of Public and International Law.

Melanie worked for many years with both World Vision Australia and World Vision International before starting a small consulting firm in 2017. Focusing on strategy, leadership and transformation in the ‘for purpose’ sector, she particularly enjoyed working with organisations experiencing considerable change and challenge.

In 2018 Melanie joined St Vincent’s Health Australia as the Group General Manager for Corporate Affairs and in 2020 Joined AVI, taking up the role of CEO.


Sam Mostyn


Sam Mostyn sits on the boards of Virgin Australia, Transurban Group and Citibank Australia, and has previously held senior executive roles at IAG, Optus and Cable & Wireless plc. Sam was the first woman appointed the AFL Commission where she advocates for the inclusion of women at all levels of the AFL.

Sam is also a member of the Board of the Australia Council for the Arts and the Sydney Theatre Company, Deputy Chair of the Diversity Council of Australia. Sam has been a Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission and on National Sustainability Council of Australia since 2012.

Board of Directors

Kathy Townsend


Kathy Townsend is a company director, adviser and mentor. She ran her own business in executive recruitment for 21 years, following and earlier career in the Commonwealth government and in education which included two years as an Australian Volunteer in Kuching Sarawak. Having worked in international development in Malaysia and Pakistan, Kathy maintains an active personal and professional interest in the sector.

An experienced company director, Kathy chairs the Victorian Magistrates Advisory Panel and is a Member of the Judicial Entitlements Panel and is a Director of AVI owned entity, Pacific People. Kathy previously served on the Council of Swinburne University where she was Deputy Chancellor for six years and sat on the Board of the Melbourne Port Corporation. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Dr Peter Wilkins

Deputy Co-chair

Dr Peter Wilkins is an Adjunct Professor at The John Curtin Institute of Public Policy at Curtin University and in the Discipline of Global Studies at Murdoch University.

Previously, Peter was Deputy Ombudsman and Assistant Auditor General Performance Review for Western Australia. Peter is a returned Australian volunteer Lecturer – Agriculture, Serdang Agriculture University, Malaysia, 1972 – 1973.

AVI Board sub-committees: Chair, Governance Committee, Quality & Safety Committee, Finance, Audit & Risk Committee.

Dean Tillotson

Second Deputy

Dean Tillotson is the Executive director of Registration and Licensing for the State of Victoria. He has held senior roles Senior Management roles across Health and Financial Services including Executive Director Public Transport Victoria (PTV), Principal of Acumulus consulting and Executive General Manager/CEO Australian Health Management (AHM).

AVI Board sub-committee: Chair, Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Jennifer Johnston


Jennifer Johnston is the Executive Director at CEVHAP (the Coalition to Eradicate Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific) and Principal at Advocomm Australasia P/L. She has been a policy adviser to several federal Members of Parliament, both in Government and Opposition, and has worked in small business and at senior management level in the corporate sector.

Jennifer has lived and worked in a number of countries across the Asia Pacific region including Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Singapore. She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

AVI Board sub-committee: Chair, Quality & Safety Committee

Lyma Nguyen


A barrister practising domestically in Australia as well as internationally, Lyma is one of Australia’s 45 Trailblazing Women Lawyers, whose oral history will be archived in Australia’s National Library.

Lyma joined as a Director of AVI in 2014 as a returned volunteer, having undertaken a placement in Cambodia as International Criminal Law Adviser to Legal Aid of Cambodia in 2010 – 2011.

AVI Board sub-committee: Quality & Safety Committee

Martine Letts


Martine Letts is currently the CEO of the Committee for Melbourne. She was previously CEO of the Australia China Business Council, Deputy Director of Lowy Institute for International Policy and CEO of Red Cross.

Martine has also had a long diplomatic career, including a posting as Australian Ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, and Adviser to former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans.

AVI Board sub-committee: Chair – Governance Committee

Brendon McNiven


Brendon is an Enterprise Professor at The University of Melbourne overseeing the Master of Architectural Engineering degree in the Melbourne School of Design.  Originally trained as an engineer, Brendon brings over thirty years of industry experience to his role the majority of which was spent working with the global multidisciplinary design firm Arup. His career has included time practising in Hong Kong, London, Singapore, and Australia.

Brendon is a passionate believer in integrated sustainable design in the interests of helping achieve the UN 2030 sustainable development goals. Brendon is currently also undertaking PhD study in the field of architectural engineering examining the different thinking natures of architects and engineers in the context of improving collaboration.

AVI board sub-committee: Australian Volunteers Program Consortium Group.

Jon Marcard


Jon Marcard is the Chief Financial Officer at The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne with responsibility for the overall Finance function. Jon also has responsibility for Payroll, Procurement & Supply, Support Services and Information and Communication Technology.

Jon has more than 25 years’ financial experience across a diverse range of sectors including financial services, insurance and consulting. Jon has a Bachelor of Economics and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

AVI Board sub-committee: Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Liza Coffey


Liza Coffey is an Operational Advisor for Associated British Foods (Twinings). Over 15 years, Liza has held senior management roles in driving Supply Chain efficiencies and operational strategy within multinational consumer environments, retail businesses, and social enterprises. Having served as a volunteer on an AVI assignment within the Pacific Region and research associate for UNDP (Sri Lanka) | Monash University, Liza also has practical development expertise in gender advocacy with sustainable livelihood programs, business development (SME), and resource management addressing key climate factors. Liza holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing) and a Masters in International Development Practice (Sustainable Resources)

AVI Board sub-committees: Governance & Quality Committee and the People & Culture Committee.