MS Australia announces Board changes

MS Australia is pleased to announce the appointment of four independent skills-based Board Directors.  These new Directors join the five state/ territory MS organisation Board members, as the board sets the strategic directions for the amalgamated MS Australia. In welcoming the new Board Directors, MS Australia would like to thank two longstanding members who will be retiring as Directors.

Board President, Associate Professor Desmond Graham, today announced the appointment of two new Directors, Vicki Thomson and Bronwyn Rout and the re-appointment of Sharlene Brown and George Pampacos to the MS Australia Board of Directors in a skills-based capacity. He also acknowledged the hard work and dedication of Christina Gillies and Ron Brent who will be retiring from the Board.

Associate Professor Graham said, “After a comprehensive nationwide search, the MS Australia Board is pleased to secure Vicki, Bronwyn, Sharlene and George for the four new skills-based Directorships, commencing on 29th July 2021.”

“We had an overwhelming response to the campaign to recruit four independent Directors to the Board and the calibre and experience of the applicants was incredibly high and diverse. Our goal was to find four dynamic individuals to complement and strengthen the skills and knowledge base of the existing Board. We were looking for individuals with a deep understanding and knowledge in accounting, law, research leadership/governance and consumer experience of MS, to bring fresh ideas and energy to the Board and to lead the implementation of MS Australia’s strategic objectives.”

Vicki Thomson is the Chief Executive of the Group of Eight (Go8) research intensive universities, responsible for 70% of all university-based research in Australia. She has a very deep understanding of the national research landscape and works daily with the nation’s top Vice Chancellors and national research leaders.

Vicki is currently on several national and international committees and Councils including most recently the MS Research Australia Leadership Council. For the last three years Vicki has been named in the Australian Financial Review Power List as one of the top three most influential people in Australia’s education sector.

Vicki Thomson said, “I am honoured to have been selected for a skills-based Board position with MS Australia. The organisation’s strong focus on research and advocacy reflects two of my key areas of experience and speaks volumes to me. I hope my knowledge in the areas of advocacy, communication, leadership and management, as well as my background  and understanding of public policy and the political arena will prove valuable in this most important role. My commitment to the broad area of disability, and specifically MS, is personal, as my sister was diagnosed when she was 40. I understand better than most the absolute need for ongoing research as we strive for a cure to this debilitating disease, but equally importantly, the need for ongoing strategies for those currently living with MS.”

Bronwyn Rout is a qualified lawyer, an experienced Company Secretary, Board Chair, Director and General Manager (GM). Bronwyn recently completed a nine-year term as Non-Executive Director of Deaf Services Ltd, with the last two years as Chair of the Board. Bronwyn has also performed the role of Corporate Secretary and GM, Legal and Governance for the Queensland Law Society, was the Assistant Company Secretary for Queensland Rail and recently took on the full-time role of Company Secretary for Allianz Partners Australia.

Bronwyn Rout said, “I have been looking for a new, challenging, purposeful Board position in the not-for-profit sector. I am very pleased to accept this role with MS Australia because I am passionate about strengthening leadership and governance in this sector. I look forward to collaborating with the Board, CEO and the wider organisation.”

Sharlene Brown is a senior governance and legal executive with over 20 years’ experience. She has commercial, senior executive and board level experience both in state government and private enterprise. Sharlene also has experience in many areas of the law including litigation, personal injury, commercial, risk management and general governance.

Sharlene has also been involved with several MS organisations, Boards and committees for over 13 years and draws on her own personal experiences of living with MS.

Sharlene Brown said, “I am delighted to extend my connection to MS Australia by accepting a position as an independent skills-based Board Member. My extensive knowledge and experience as a legal and governance professional coupled with living with MS, means I bring a unique perspective and understanding of the disease to the Board.”

George Pampacos is Director of Flinders Financial Group with a financial advisory career of over 20 years. He is a financial advisor to many large, private family businesses, and has current experience on boards in the not‐for‐profit space as President MSWA, Vice President of MS Australia and MS Research Australia, and currently sits on the Trinity College Perth Advisory Board. During George’s tenure as Chair of MSWA, the revenue rose from $41.2 million in 2015 to $85 million in 2020.George Pamapcos said, “I am delighted to be able to contribute my experience in strategic financial advice and on boards in various capacities in the not-for-profit space, especially to the MS Australia Board. I look forward to being able to assist the organisation as it moves forward in the MS research and advocacy space.”

Associate Professor Graham said, “Vicki, Bronwyn, Sharlene and George are extremely impressive individuals, who have starkly different backgrounds, careers and experience, but all bring a strategic focus and passion to their roles and a deep sense of community spirit. Their experience, skillset and personal alignment with the MS Australia values were highly regarded by the Board and we are honoured to have them join us.”

“Our aim, with their assistance and Rohan Greenland the CEO, is to supercharge the MS research agenda. In the area of MS research, MS Australia has made significant gains over the last 10 years, in particular the past five years, across both searching for a cure, and in improving the treatments and care available to people living with MS. As we aim to supercharge the MS research agenda, it is exciting to have Vicki, Bronwyn, Sharlene and George to assist us.”

Associate Professor Graham added, “While we are excited for the future of MS Australia, I’d also like to take a moment to sincerely thank Christina Gilles and Ron Brent who are retiring. They have both been vitally significant members of MS Australia. They leave with the Board’s thanks and grateful appreciation for their contributions and dedication to MS Australia.”

Christina Gillies commenced on the Board of MS Australia in 2001 and was one of the founding Directors of MS Australia’s subsidiary MS Research Australia. Christina has provided significant leadership to the Board including holding the position of Chair and has been integral to the development and growth of MS Australia. Christina has made a huge contribution to the family of MS organisations over the past two decades and while she is retiring from the Board, she will continue to lend her wealth of experience in business management and IT to several committees.  As a person living with MS Christina is an aspiration to others with this incurable disease.

Ron Brent was appointed to the MS Australia Board in 2018 and the MS Research Australia Board in 2019. Ron’s extensive knowledge and experience as a Lawyer and Economist have been extremely valuable to the Board as well as his leadership and dedication to ensuring the future strategic direction of MS Australia. Ron, who has a close connection with MS, helped guide MS Australia through critical member negotiations that resulted in a national funding agreement. While Ron is retiring from the Board, he will continue providing his expertise to several of MS Australia’s committees.

Associate Professor Graham said, “with the amalgamation of MS Australia’s subsidiary MS Research Australia, we now have clear governance structure and for the very first time in approximately 65 years, the Board will be enhanced by the appointment of our four new independent skills-based Directors. We look forward to leveraging their skills and experience, to position MS Australia to provide the very best outcomes for people living with MS and oversee our research program to find the cure.”




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MS Australia announces Board changes