Meet Our Speakers
A sample of our Achieve Fest speakers from 9 - 10 September.
Grace Forrest, BA
Founding Director | Walk Free
Grace is a founding director of Walk Free, an international human rights group focused on the eradication of modern slavery. Since its formation in 2011 it is now one of the leading anti-slavery organisations in the world.
Grace has spent extensive time working in South East Asia and the Middle East, using photography and storytelling to share the stories of survivors of modern slavery, with a current focus on refugee communities. She regularly represents Walk Free at international forums including One Young World Conference and events at the United Nations.
Grace is a board member of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and a director of the Minderoo Foundation. She has previously worked at the Legatum Institute as a research analyst on global people movement.
In 2018, Grace was appointed The United Nations Association of Australia’s youngest ever Goodwill Ambassador for Anti-Slavery. That same year Grace was awarded Nomi Network’s Abolitionist award for her work to end modern slavery and won GQ Australia’s award for Humanitarian of the year.
You can follow Grace on Instagram @graceaforrest
Vince Lebon believes there is power in the things that makes us different. He is a husband, a father, a founder and a forever curious design collaborator. He has collaborated with leading brands such as Adidas, Asics and Footlocker and talented independent artists like Tiff Manuel, James Goldcrown and Amber Vittoria.
Naturally curious, with a thirst for knowledge, Vince has developed and refined his craft with leading professionals such as shoemaker Andrew McDonald in Sydney, Australia, SLEM Innovation & Training Institute in the Netherlands and Pensole Footwear Academy in Oregon, USA.
Formally trained as a multimedia designer who fell in love with footwear and product design at an early age in Australia, Vince spent 10 years working for Australia’s top independent footwear company before starting Rollie in 2012.
His business, Rollie Nation is driven by the idea of igniting that spark of magic that lives inside us all. Seeing an opportunity to extend his brand into the Sneaker category, Vince moved to the US for 3 years to immerse himself in Sneaker design best practice. There, he was awarded two Pensole Scholarships; winning the ‘Future of Footwear’ Master Class sponsored by Foot Locker x Asics and also led the winning team on ‘Lace Up: The Ultimate Sneaker Design Challenge’ by Adidas x Youtube (a design show by the creators of America’s Next Top Model).
Inspired by culture, music, fashion and the colour that surrounds him, Vince Lebon is only limited by the power of his imagination. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Annabelle Chauncy OAM
Annabelle Chauncy OAM is the Founding Director and CEO of School for Life Foundation (SFL). Annabelle is a dynamic leader and social entrepreneur who started a multi-national NGO from scratch at the age of 21, with operations in both Australia and Uganda. Over the past 10 years she has built a team of more than 120 staff, built 3 schools in rural Uganda that provide quality education to 1000 students and outreach to more than 2000 people. Annabelle knows how to drive effective change in Australia and Uganda, navigating fast growth developing a national brand and engaging thousands of supporters to raise more than $6M in 5 years.
Annabelle has overcome huge barriers including running two high performing businesses in different continents, cultural and gender biases, shifting mindsets, driving change and innovation, engaging staff, building teams and raising capital. She now moves her business forward to focus on sustainability, driving innovative strategies to create businesses to underpin her charity's growing operational budget, and ensure the foundation isn't reliant solely on donations.
Annabelle is the recipient of numerous awards, including:
- The Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2015.
- Sydney University Alumni of the Year for Service to Humanity in 2016.
- NSW Young Woman of the Year in 2015.
- A finalist in the Audi In Style 'Women of Style' Charity category in 2016.
- Women of the Future Award - Australian Women’s Weekly and Qantas in 2014.
- Paul Harris Fellow awarded by Rotary International in 2014
- A finalist in 2 categories of the NSW Telstra Businesswomen's Awards 2013 for Business Innovation and Young Businesswoman.
Damien founded DUAL in Australia in 2004 and has overseen the organic growth of the business to $200m GWP with eight offices throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia, writing Financial Lines, Property, Motor Vehicle, Cyber, Accident & Health and Liability.
In 2003, he decided to leave the comfort of a big insurer and head back home to Australia with a young family in tow to start DUAL Asia Pacific. Whilst driving the geographic and product expansion throughout Asia Pacific, Damien was seconded as DUAL Group CEO for two years in 2011, where he oversaw the global operations for 14 countries.
Outside of insurance, Damien loves all things adventure. He has run ten marathons, hiked the Kokoda trail, completed Oxfam 100km trail-walker three times and in recent years has nurtured a love of cycling.
Having cycled over 15,000km over the past six years, most notably from London to Barcelona in 2018, Damien has managed to raise over $350K for partners charities including Black Dog, Beyond Blue and Royal Far West with mental health and children’s charities being very close to his heart. Damien is also a Mental Health Ambassador for Black Dog Institute and tells his personal story, aiming to give hope and encouragement to others.
A renowned sneaker freak and hip hop junkie, YO! MAFIA has been killing them on the wheels of steel for a whopping 20 years. Having grown up at the fruition of Hip Hop in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, YO! MAFIA became FLUORO BREAKER after falling in love with Boogaloo Shrimp in Breakin’.
After winning every B-Girl competition she entered, YO! MAFIA hung up her knee spin for the turntables after amassing a huge collection of original pressing 12-inch wax from every musical genre known to man. Relying on her acute party savvy ears, YO! MAFIA quickly began mashing up sounds from her beloved Hip Hop, mixing in RNB, electro, Commercial Bangers, Cock Rock and everything in between.
She has solidified her place as one of Australia’s premier Party/Open Format DJs, possessing an incredible ability to blend and mix a variety of genres into one big party set! Her signature genre-smashing sets have seen her named Official Hit FM/ Fox FM’s RNB Fridays Live Tour DJ while also supporting a wide range of A-List artists.
Tom has more than eight years’ experience as an AFL player for North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs and is a recent Victoria University graduate, having completed a Bachelor of Business (Management & Innovation). Through these experiences he has developed a range of valuable and versatile skills, including:
- Teamwork: After more than eight years in an elite team sport environment he has developed teamwork and collaboration skills.
- Communication: He has develop communication skills in a variety of settings, including, under pressure on the football field, in front of large groups as an AFLPA delegate, and in a higher education environment.
- Resilience: In his AFL career, Tom has had to overcome injury, form, and selection setbacks in order to consistently maintain a high standard of performance.
In 2019, Tom enjoyed a brilliant first season at North, dominating in the VFL. Strong pre-season form saw him play Round 2 and 3 in the AFL, but the quality of Todd Goldstein saw his opportunities limited. The ruckman kept the pressure on the selectors and was named an emergency on multiple occasions. Campbell finished third in the JJ Liston Medal count, and won his first John Law Medal.
Mandy Dante is the CEO & Founder of Flourish Girl. Mandy is an ex-speech pathologist and an Australian Accredited Facilitator. Mandy is the first-senior female facilitator at The Rites of Passage Institute and is paving the way for their school programs for teenage girls across Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. She has also worked with alongside leading youth experts such as Hunter Johnson and Arne Rubinstein and within youth-led organisations such as The Man Cave, Game Changers Australia and Little Dreamers Australia. To date, Mandy has worked with over 3700 young people across Australia.
Mandy's passion originated from being a speech pathologist, where she empowered children with a range of communication disorders to find their voice. Towards the end of 2016, Mandy found that the rate of depression, anxiety and eating disorders amongst teenage girls were on a rise and it was in that moment that she found herself shifting her passion and focus towards giving teenage girls a voice.
Helen is the CEO & Founder of Yes Get It, an organisation that empowers and equips young women with the self-awareness, confidence and tools to be bold and powerful leaders. She also works in NAB’s Social Impact team, focusing on supporting vulnerable communities and people experiencing domestic and family violence. Her background spans Australia and the U.S. running women’s leadership programs and advocacy on reproductive rights, racial justice and LGBTI+ equality. In 2018 Helen was selected by the Foundation for Young Australians to participate in their “Young Social Pioneers” program as one of Australia’s top young innovators.
When she’s not creating a better world for young women and men, you'll find Helen singing karaoke (90s hits, of course), exploring the outdoors and looking for the next great read.
Dr Ranjit Rao
Dr Ranjit Rao is a Surgeon with a difference. He blends western and eastern; modern and ancient; physical and spiritual in a way that is easy to understand and apply to daily life.
Graduating from Monash University as a Doctor in 1994, he then undertook residency training in General Surgery and Urological Surgery. He currently works as a Urologist at the Epworth Hospital Richmond and specialises in keyhole and robotic surgery.
Though he works as a surgeon, he remains open-minded to a holistic approach, and encourages patients to take control of their lives with proper diet, exercise, yoga, meditation, as well as establishing a sensible and practical way of living. He was first exposed to meditation as a medical student and found it a useful companion during his studies and training.
His deep personal experience as a meditator, culminated in him writing a book, “Meditation & Martini” where he outlines how it is possible to integrate both the material and spiritual lives seamlessly. “Meditation represents the spiritual and martini represents the material” he says, “and the key to a happy life is finding the right balance between the two”.
The theme of his writing is to encourage people to make conscious choices and live a life of balance, rather than being swept away by the collective sway of society.
Gideon has been an independent journalist and author for more than thirty years. Born in London, Gideon went to school in Geelong and is now based in Melbourne.
He writes about cricket for The Australian and The Times, and has been featured in The Australian Financial Review, The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph (London), The Sunday Age, Crikey, Good Weekend, The Monthly and The National (Dubai), among others.
Gideon is also the author of more than 40 books, including End of the Road? (2013), Winner of the Jack Pollard Trophy and Shortlisted for the National Biography Award, On Warne (2012), The Office: A Hardworking History (2012), Asbestos House: The Secret History of James Hardie Industries (2006)
Lead Facilitator - Achieve Fest
Prior to establishing The Eventful Learning Co, Summer worked across Australia, the USA and Asia with school leaders, teachers and policy makers including work as a teacher and leader in NSW & USA Schools, lecturer at Sydney University and internal innovation consultant at AITSL. Summer has led projects at a national scale working alongside education systems including Northern Territory education, ACT Education Directorate and government agencies including Victoria Police and Zoos Victoria, as well as a range of non-profit organisations.
With expertise in facilitation, learning design, strategic consulting, policy and school teaching & leadership, Summer works with a collective of associates and leverages a broad network of clever connections to enhance the skills, capability and impact of teams.