At Children First, we are incredibly grateful for the time and dedication of our Board of Directors, Patrons, Principal Ambassadors, Volunteers and the Foundation Team.
Moira Kelly AO
Moira Kelly was still at school when she decided that she wanted to help the disadvantaged children of this world. As a young woman, she left Australia for India where she worked at Mother Theresa’s orphanage in Calcutta.
She soon moved on to help in various places where there was a need for humanitarian support, including Botswana, Johannesburg, New York, Bosnia and Albania. Moira volunteered in soup kitchens, refugee camps, dental clinics and schools. She acted as coordinator of volunteers in an HIV/AIDS hospital in Romania, undertaking general care of approximately 130 children.
It was around the time of the war in Bosnia that Moira began seeking overseas medical support for children who had been injured through conflict. This was the beginning of the children’s medical evacuation program. The need for such care grew and in 1999 Children First Foundation was established to support and expand this humanitarian work.
Moira has received a number of national and international awards, including the Order of Australia in 2001 and she was named Victorian of the Year in 2003 and 2012.
In 1998 Moira met Ahmed and Emmanuel in an orphanage in Iraq. A year later, with the help of Children First, she brought them to Australia and they remained in her care throughout their childhood. Now young adults, they became Australian citizens in 2009.
In 2012 Moira stepped down from a hands on role with Children First and assumed the role of a Principal Ambassador.
Board of Directors
Noel has been a member of the Rotary District 9790 for 21 years and twice past President of Southern Mitchell Club.
Noel is a member of the Kilmore Country Fire Authority and is on numerous community committees. He is a farmer, a classic car specialist and mechanical design engineer.
Peter Gilbert, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer
Peter was the founding director of the accounting firm PDG & Assoc in 1974. He has been a Rotarian for 34 years and is past District Governor of Rotary District 9790.
Geoff Hone, Chairman
Geoff is a partner of national law firm Ashurst – formerly Blake Dawson. He has acted as a director or adviser to numerous public and private companies.
Father Peter Hudson
Father Peter is a Roman Catholic Priest and qualified counselor. He has 40 years experience in leadership and administration.
Roger is the former owner/managing director of Network Recruitment Services Pty Ltd. He is currently managing director of Patinack Farm, a horse racing and breeding operation.
Don is a Partner with national law firm Ashurst and was appointed to the Board in 2013.
Margaret Smith, CEO
Margaret worked in the corporate sector for 21 years before moving to the philanthropic field in 1985. She is also a director of Eva Tilley Home Inc.
The Hon Alex Chernov, AC QC
- Dame Beryl Beaurepaire, AC DBE
- Professor David de Kretser, AC
- Mrs Jan de Kretser
- Mr Peter Mitchell, AM
- Lady Marigold Southey, AC
- Rebecca Gibney
- Moira Kelly, AO
- Jaimie Lee
- Lisa Cetinic
- Russell Osborne
- Ros Comensoli
The Foundation Team
Margaret Smith, Chief Executive Officer
Margaret met Moira in 1988 and in 1998 she joined Moira in setting up the Foundation. She was inaugural Chairman until 2005 when she became Chief Executive Officer. Margaret remains a Director of Children First.
Margaret Belli, Office Administrator
Margaret joined Children First in 2005 as donation officer before moving onto the donor database. In 2013 she undertook a new role as Office Administrator.
Anne Esposito, Between the Gaps Program Leader/Case Manager
Anne is Program Leader of the Between the Gaps program. With Marina, she also manages the medical evacuation of Miracle sMiles children to Australia for surgery. Anne is also a qualified graphic designer.
Michelle Lyons, Assistant Farm Manager
Michelle’s skills are many and varied. Before accepting the position as Assistant Farm Manager in 2012 she had volunteered at the Farm for three years. She is a qualified gymnastics coach, an alpaca hobby farmer and she works part time as a carer with a support agency in her local community.
Marina Te Maro, Case Manager/Volunteer Co-ordinator
Marina has worked in the corporate sector as a Business Development Manager and brings skills in project management, relationship management and sales to her role with Children First. Along with Anne, she manages the medical evacuation of Miracle sMiles children to Australia.
Giuditta (Judy) Monsone, Finance Manager
Giuditta’s background is in accounting and IT support. Since having a family, she has returned to accounting, which is her main interest.
Julie Webber, Manager Fundraising and Communication
Julie’s expertise lies in strategic media and issues management and government and stakeholder relations in the health sector.
Before joining Children First in 2010, Julie worked at The Royal Children’s Hospital / The Royal Women’s Hospital for 17 years, managing RCH public affairs for nine years
Pat Weldon, Senior Farm Manager
Pat met Moira in 1991 when they were on a humanitarian mission in Romania. Later, when Children First was established he began volunteering from time to time. Pat is a qualified school teacher and brings 25 years of experience working with children. He has managed a youth telephone counselling service and has worked with teenagers at risk. In 2012 he left his native Ireland to take on the role as Farm Manager.