MND Australia

Our people

Meet MND Australia's board and staff, who are striving to improve the lives of everyone impacted by MND and ultimately a world free of MND.

Our board

The board of MND Australia and MND Research Australia consists of an independently elected President, a nominated representative from each state MND Association board, up to three Independent Directors and the Chairman of the Research Committee.

Image of David Lamperd | President
David Lamperd | President

David has been involved within the MND community in the capacity of Director/Board Member since his father-in-law died of MND in 1999, firstly in Western Australia and then Victoria from 2001. David became Secretary of the MND Research Institute from late 2001 until 2005 and has held the roles of Treasurer, Vice President and more recently, State President of MND Victoria. He has a finance background with over 20 years at National Australia Bank in a variety of roles. For the last 18 years David has been a Partner within a successful Finance Broking business in the inner suburbs of Melbourne.

Image of Mark Grey | Vice President
Mark Grey | Vice President

Mark Grey is a professional company director with a background in national and international strategic marketing and Research and Development in the e Commerce, finance and the health sector. He was formally the CEO of the Queensland Eye Hospital. He is currently Chairman of EyeCo; a Canberra based R&D group specialising in the development of intra ocular drugs. He is also on the Audit & Risk Committee if the Board of RSL Queensland.

He was a NED for Guide Dogs Queensland and supported their marketing and fundraising committee and also served on the audit committee. He was also Chairman of Industrial Relations Law Group, Mapien, Chairman of Melbourne’s private Eye and Ear Hospital, VPSC, Chairman of risk mitigation company Verifact Group and was a director of global accounting and finance group CPA Australia.

Mark has a lived experience with MND as his father passed away from MND while in his care. Mark joined the board in November 2017 as an independent director.

Image of Andrew Halter | Treasurer
Andrew Halter | Treasurer

Andrew is Head of Legal, Australia and New Zealand at Klarna which provides online financial services. Andrew has a background in commercial litigation, managing equity investor class actions, contractual disputes and high value commercial debt recovery. He has also served as in-house counsel to PayPal Australia, BPAY and Eftpos, advising on financial services law, competition and consumer law, privacy law, IP law and contract law. Andrew joined the board in November 2017 as an independent director.

Image of Jemma Scott | Secretary
Jemma Scott | Secretary

Jemma is a qualified solicitor with over 12 years’ governance & compliance, project management, and commercial negotiation experience within ASX-20, Professional Services and government environments. Jemma currently works as a Company Secretary at Westpac Banking Corporation, where she is responsible for supporting the Westpac Board of Directors and ensuring compliance with all regulatory, legislative, and prudential obligations. Jemma holds formal corporate governance qualifications from Harvard University and has previously held positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Defence Materiel Organisation.

Jemma’s mother passed away from MND in 2012, and she is extremely passionate about supporting those touched by MND. Jemma joined the board in September 2018 as an independent director.

Image of Professor Samar Aoun
Professor Samar Aoun

Samar is Professor of Palliative Care Research, Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Research, Perth and La Trobe University, Melbourne Australia. She adopts a public health approach and a focus on under-served population groups such as people with MND and advocates for person-centred health and social care. Her research programs on supporting family caregivers at end of life and the Public Health Model of Bereavement Support have informed policy and practice at the national and international levels. Samar is currently the President of MND WA.

Image of Professor David Burke AC FAA FTSE
Professor David Burke AC FAA FTSE

David is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Neurology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and University of Sydney. Previously he held Chairs of Clinical Neurophysiology from 1987 and of Neurology from 1991 at the University of New South Wales during which he was appointed Chairman of the Department of Neurology, Prince Henry and Prince of Wales Hospitals. David led one of the two research teams around which the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute [now renamed “NeuRA”] was formed in 1991, and was Director of Clinical Research until 2002. From 2002 to 2008, he was Dean of Research for the Health Faculties at University of Sydney and from 2008-2013 Bushell Professor of Neurology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Federation for 18 years, immediate past Editor of Clinical Neurophysiology, and inaugural Editor of Clinical Neurophysiology Practice. He was appointed Officer in the Order of Australia in 1999, and elevated to Companion in the Order of Australia in 2019.

Image of Professor Tracey Dickson
Professor Tracey Dickson

Tracey is Professor of Neuroscience, at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, and Associate Dean Research for the College of Health and Medicine, University of Tasmania. She leads a group of researchers and students dedicated to using cellular and transgenic models to determine the mechanisms underlying MND, and to develop and test new therapies. Tracey is currently on the board of MND Tasmania.

Image of Elyse Maberley
Elyse Maberley

Elyse is an experienced business leader who has founded and exited her own companies, helped build thriving businesses and nurtured the wellbeing of the people within them. With an early career in community and not-for-profit, Elyse has held several leadership and executive roles in the user experience, change and culture domains, including GM and founder. Elyse is currently the Vice President of MND Queensland.

Image of Sara Pantzer
Sara Pantzer

Sara is an experienced Board Director and government relations specialist skilled in public affairs, policy development, negotiation, strategic communications and strategic planning. She has held senior executive positions in multi-national and national pharmaceutical and biotech companies, standards regulation, telecommunications and finance as well as Ministerial advisory roles. Sara currently sits on the board of MND NSW.

Image of Wayne Pfeiffer
Wayne Pfeiffer

Wayne is a member of the MND Victoria State Council. He has 20 years’ experience in senior management in the disability sector both here and in Ireland. Wayne also has an extensive background in community health, community development, education and research. He is an accomplished workplace facilitator and trainer, and has worked at both Board and operational service delivery levels.

Image of Geoff Thomas OAM, JP, FAIAST
Geoff Thomas OAM, JP, FAIAST

Following a successful career in agriculture, water policy, regional development and private consulting as a project manager, Geoff was full time carer for his wife Mary for four years following her diagnosis with MND in 2013. Geoff and Mary established, as a lasting legacy to Mary, the Thomas MND Research Group (TRG) in 2015, a largely family funded philanthropic entity which has supported a range of initiatives, most of which have been centred on improving the wellbeing of those living with MND.

Geoff has been a Committee Member of MND South Australia since 2015, its Chairman since 2017, and a fundraiser and community MND educator. He has been a member of the Board of MND Australia since 2018.

Our staff

Image of David Ali | CEO
David Ali | CEO

David commenced as CEO in March 2021. Following his 20-year passion volunteering on MND-related boards and in other ways to make a difference for people living with motor neurone disease in Victoria, nationally and globally, as CEO David hopes his contribution at an operational level will improve the impact for people affected by MND today and in the future. David has held executive roles across the Victorian Parliament and the Victorian Public Service, was CEO of the Commission for Children and Young People, a management consultant, and CEO of IPAA Victoria before joining the MND Australia team. David is Vice Chair and Hon Treasurer of the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations.

Image of Gethin Thomas | Executive Director, Research
Gethin Thomas | Executive Director, Research

Gethin commenced as Executive Director, Research in July 2019. He has over 20 years of experience as a biomedical researcher in musculoskeletal diseases, publishing more than 65 papers and securing close to $4M in research funding. He has extensive reviewing experience both as a manuscript reviewer and serving on Australian and international grant review panels. As a Research Manager, he has directed a university Research Office and Higher Degree by Research programs and served as an Associate Dean of Research. He has extensive experience of high-level research strategy as well as a deep understanding of the grant system from the preparation, application and review process through to management of funded projects.

Image of Laura Birks | Research Coordinator
Laura Birks | Research Coordinator

Laura joined the MND Australia team as Research Coordinator in November 2018. Together with Gethin Thomas, Laura manages MND Australia’s research grants program. Laura has a background in science and environmental law and a masters in education. She worked part time at MND NSW while studying at university. Since moving to Canberra in 2009, Laura has worked in a policy role at an industry association, undertaken committee work at Parliament House and has worked at a local publisher. Outside of work, Laura loves spending time with her three kids and getting out in the beautiful Canberra bushland for a run.

Image of Rosie Harris | Projects Manager
Rosie Harris | Projects Manager

Rosie joined MND Australia in October 2021, having relocated from the UK. There she worked for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, England, Wales and Northern Ireland developing her passion to make a positive impact for people affected by MND. Positions held included; Regional Care Adviser, Head of the National Care and Research Centre and Network Programme and more recently, Head of Region for the South of England. This role included operational responsibility for an area with up to 900 people living with MND supported by a network of dedicated staff and approximately 100 support volunteers. She has nursing, management, HR and a learning & development background, with extensive senior experience in the public, private and not for profit sectors.

Image of Morag Millington | Communications Manager
Morag Millington | Communications Manager

Morag joined MND Australia in February 2019. She has held a variety of marketing and communications roles over the last ten years, beginning in book publishing before moving into the the public heath and research sectors. Before moving to Canberra, Morag worked for a research and health promotion centre at the University of NSW, where she also completed a Master of Public Health.

Image of Ben O’Mara | Information Resource Development Manager
Ben O’Mara | Information Resource Development Manager

Ben joined MND Australia in April 2019. Ben works with representatives of the MND Associations and the MND community on fact sheets, guides, web articles, booklets, stories and other resources to support people living with MND. Ben has worked in health promotion practice and research for over 13 years, including with people experiencing homelessness, and people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

Image of Ruth Quaken | Project Manager
Ruth Quaken | Project Manager

Ruth started working with MND Australia in 2020 as the Connect Project Manager. Ruth began her career working in the nursing arena and has had a career of over 37 year’s working in health related fields in hospitals and community based services, which have included public, corporate and not for profit organisations. Her introduction to MND came via a six year period working as a Regional Advisor for the MND Association of NSW in the early 2000s. Ruth’s diverse experience underpins her special interest in the skilled provision of health information that supports service users to engage with health services and to proactively manage their health.

Image of Komal Upadhyaya | Administration Officer
Komal Upadhyaya | Administration Officer

Komal joined MND Australia in April 2019. Komal is an educated professional and has extensive administrative and management experience with a demonstrated history of working in the facilities and services industry in Australia for over 10 years. Komal is skilled in negotiation, customer service, business development, organizational development, office management and recruitment. Komal’s work background is a strong business development professional with a Masters in Human Resource Management, Certificate II in Customer Service, and Certificate III in Business Administration. Komal thrives in customer service and building strong relationships with clients, donors, and stakeholders.