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Meet the Board

Fiona Austin, Board Director and Secretary

Fiona Austin is a leading Brisbane safety and regulatory lawyer. She has extensive industry experience across onshore and offshore workplaces around Australia and has worked as in-house counsel in the energy sector. Fiona is employed as special counsel with a global law firm and was listed by Best Lawyers® in Australia 2016 for safety and health law.  Fiona also lectures as a sessional academic within the faculty of health at Queensland University of Technology. Outside of work Fiona is a mother of two and enjoys kayaking.

Joe Boughton-Dent, Board Director

Joe is an award-winning communications and advocacy specialist who has worked in more than 20 countries worldwide. He has raised over A$250 million for non-profit organisations in areas including international development, the environment and Australian Indigenous health and education. Joe has also worked as a journalist, covering events such as the Sydney 2000 Olympics and reporting for one of Australia's biggest newspapers. He helped write the Oscar nominated short film Miracle Fish and designed and produced a charity advertising campaign that was named the world's best by the International Fundraising Congress. He is based in Sydney. 

Richard Coleman, Board Chair

Richard Coleman BA, MOHS, MAICD, is CEO of The Interchange a digital culture change consultancy based in Melbourne.  Richard has had a 30 year career in corporate OHS and Environment roles.  Most recently he was General Manager HSE for Asciano.  His expertise is in risk management, digital technology, epidemiology and organisational change. 


Peter Faulkner, Board Director and Treasurer

Peter Faulkner

Pete has been diving for almost 30 years and been involved with reef conservation since 1992, when he first went on expedition with UK based Coral Cay Conservation. Since then he has been involved with projects in Belize, Honduras, Fiji, Indonesia and The Philippines. He was Chairman of Coral Cay from 2005 to 2011 and is now Honorary Vice President.

Pete holds a BSc (Hons) in Banking & International Finance from the Cass Business School in London. Following a career in finance in the City of London Pete left the UK in 1996 to travel the world. Since 1999 he has been a PADI Professional and is currently a PADI Master Instructor. He has written three PADI Distinctive Specialities on Coral ID and Reef Surveying. Pete arrived in Australia in 2006 and immediately became involved with RCA; first as a surveyor and later as an instructor. In 2011 Pete stood in as Acting Managing Director of RCA for four months to facilitate the transition of HQ to Brisbane. He runs a business consultancy partnership with wife Ruth in Mission Beach and remains an active RCA instructor


Elissa Keenan, Board Director

Elissa Keenan is a corporate and public affairs leader with more than 20 years' experience in private, not-for-profit and government organisations. She has extensive experience in business transformation and change management, government lobbying, communications, sponsorship, media and crisis management. Elissa has held a number of key senior and executive roles managing corporate affairs activities.

Elissa has passion for the tourism and aviation industries. She has been Chair of the Queensland Tourism Awards Judging Panel (2012-2014), as well as member of the Australian Tourism Awards Judging Panel and the Outback Queensland Tourism Awards Judging Panel.  She is a mentor with the Australian Airports Association national program to support young aviation professionals in the industry.    

In her current role at Airservices Australia, she has worked in senior leadership positions across the business in Corporate and industry Affairs portfolios.  Elissa has previously worked as the General Manager Corporate Affairs for Queensland Airports Limited (QAL), Executive Manager Marketplace Strategy for the Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) and was the Public Affairs Manager for Surf Life Saving Queensland for almost ten years.

Karen Vella, Board Director

Dr Karen Vella is an urban and regional planner with over 20 years' experience in sustainability and natural resource management policy and research.  Dr Vella has worked closely with Natural Resource Management Groups, the Queensland and Australian governments, peak bodies, conservation groups, and industry to improve frameworks for implementing and evaluating progress towards sustainability.  Her research considers the interplay between complex governance (decision making) and environmental outcomes.  A key aim of her work is to improve adaptive decision making in the Reef. 

Dr Vella is a first-generation Australian with a mixed Maltese and Irish family heritage.  Her passion for the environment and environmental conservation began early in life growing up on a sugar cane farm in far North Queensland.  Dr Vella holds a Bachelor of Regional and Town Planning (with Hons) and a PhD in Sustainability Governance from the University of Queensland.  Dr Vella is a member of the Planning Institute of Australia.