Our Board & CEO
Dr Ellen Skladzien, Chief Executive Officer
Dr Ellen Skladzien has extensive experience in advocacy, leadership and strategic management positions within the not-for-profit sector. She has expertise in driving change in the disability, health and aged care system through evidenced-based advocacy.
Ellen was previously the Senior Executive Manager of Policy, Programs and Communications at Alzheimer’s Australia. During her time at Alzheimer’s Australia she has led the advocacy work of the organisation which resulted in dementia being recognised as a national health priority, funding for improvements to the health care system for people with dementia, and most recently support for a program to tackle social isolation and stigma associated with dementia.
Ellen is passionate about ensuring that the voices of people with lived experience are at the centre of the work she does. At Alzheimer’s Australia, she led a number of initiatives to support people with dementia to set priorities and strategy in advocacy, programs and research including setting up the first Consumer Dementia Research Network in Australia.
Ellen has a Master’s degree in Clinical Neuropsychology and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Washington University in St Louis. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and been a lecturer for courses in Statistics, Experimental Psychology and Developmental Psychology.
The Down Syndrome Australia Board has up to twelve positions. Eight positions are held by State and Territory Representatives, and there are up to four Independent Directors. The current Board members are:
Angus Graham, Chair, Independent Director
Angus is married to Natalie and has four daughters. Angus is Executive Director of DMP Asset Management based in Melbourne. He sits on the Board of AFDO, the Financial Markets Foundation for Children and is a Trustee of the Mary-Jane Lewis Scholarship Trust. He is a past deputy chairman of the Leukaemia Foundation of Australia and a past director of the Melbourne Football Club, and the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.
Angus is dedicated to ensure people with Down syndrome have a national voice and that Down Syndrome Australia is recognised as a respected and strong advocate for our people, our carers and the state and territory organisations that serve them.
Grant Lindsay, Deputy Chair, Northern Territory
Grant is married with two children. Residing in Darwin, Grant is currently the Director Business and Strategic Planning for the Association of Independent Schools NT. He has been the president of the Down Syndrome Association of the Northern Territory since 2006 and a member of the Down Syndrome Australia board since its inception. Grant worked in the non-government education sector for fourteen years in the corporate services and governance side of schools, previously he had a similar role in a health research institute following 25 years in the Australian Regular Army. He is also the Deputy President of Carpentaria Disability Services, a long term Rotarian and Rugby tragic.
Michelle Somerville, Treasurer, Independent Director
Michelle is a chartered accountant having worked in the profession at KPMG, for over 26 years. Michelle and her husband John have five children aged from 7 to 16, and the youngest, Sean, has Down syndrome. She is currently the treasurer of Down Syndrome Australia, and is passionate about helping to make a difference for all people with Down syndrome in Australia.
Alicia Flack-Koné, Director, Australian Capital Territory
Alicia Flack-Koné is the mother of Kura who is enjoying school culture and playing soccer. Alicia has held the role of president since 2011 and vice president of ACT Down Syndrome since 2010. She is an early childhood professional and has extensive experience as a teacher, mentor, professional learning and development officer, and university adviser/tutor. She is committed to progressing the aspirations and interests of people with Down syndrome.
Dr Rhonda Faragher, Independent Director
Dr Rhonda Faragher is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education and Arts of the Australian Catholic University. She is the current Chair of the Down Syndrome Special Interest Research Group of IASSIDD, the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and a board member of the IASSIDD Academy, which works to translate research into practice around the world. She is a trustee and board member of Down Syndrome International.
In 2009 she was awarded a Commonwealth of Australia Endeavour Executive Award to travel to Singapore to work with the Down Syndrome Association of Singapore and the National Institute of Education, Singapore.
Rhonda’s research focuses on inclusive mathematics education practices, specifically for students with Down syndrome. Rhonda has a daughter with Down syndrome.
Margot Elliffe, Director, New South Wales
Margot is the mother of four and her daughter, now a young woman, has Down syndrome. She has been a Board director of DSA NSW for 15 years in various roles including President, Vice President and Secretary and chairing several subcommittees.
Margot is a health professional and has worked in many fields of nursing. Currently she is working for Sydney Local Health District as a Child and Family Health nurse and Lactation consultant , involved in mentoring, teaching and supporting families and colleagues.
Katrina Enos, Director, Victoria
Katrina's uncle had Down Syndrome so she grew up with a strong sense of advocacy for people living with disability and an understanding of some of the challenges which families of people living with disability can face. Joining as a Board member in 2014 Katrina’s main area of interest is to represent the needs of older people with Down Syndrome and their families. Working for NAB, Katrina's professional skills include finance, project management, governance and strategy. Previous roles on the Board of the Cerebral Palsy Support Network as both Treasurer and Vice President helped her build a broader understanding of the disability sector. In her spare time she loves yoga and is Treasurer of the Scottish Terrier Club of Victoria.
Catia Malaquias, Western Australia
Catia Malaquias is a senior lawyer at the State Solicitor’s Office of Western Australia. She previously worked in national commercial law firms and has 17 years of legal experience. Catia is also a Director of the Attitude Foundation Limited and the founder of the Starting With Julius project.
Paul Wilson, Director, Queensland
Paul Wilson has been a member of the Down syndrome community since the birth of his beautiful daughter, Jazmyn in 2003. Paul got involved with the Down Syndrome Association of Queensland three years ago as a Director. Paul’s paid work is as an Area Manager for Insurance Company, WFI. In January 2015, Paul was named Toowoomba Regional Council Citizen of the Year for his advocacy of inclusiveness in the workplace. In 2015 he was Magisterially appointed to the South West Qld Regional Disability Advisory Council.
John Kearns, Director, Tasmania
John is married to Debbie and they have three children aged from 12 to 19. The youngest, Maeghan, has Down syndrome.
John is a current Director and past President of Down Syndrome Tasmania, having been involved with DST since 2007. Working in the commercial area at Tasmanian Alkaloids, John’s professional skills include operations management, supply chain and strategy development.
Joining as a board member in 2017, John’s main interests are providing access to education and employment opportunities for people with Down syndrome. John is also the Chair of Self Help Workplace Tasmania and a Life Member of Apex Australia.
Keith Rutherford, Director, South Australia
Keith is married with three sons. Keith is the Director of ICT at Westminster School in Adelaide. He sits on the Board of Down Syndrome SA, The Friends of the One and All Sailing Ship, and SA Care. Keith is the deputy chairman of Down Syndrome SA and a past Director, Deputy Chair and Treasurer of Gowrie SA.
Keith wants to ensure people with disabilities have all the opportunities and experiences to succeed, be independent and valuable contributors to the community.