A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR YOUNG AUSTRALIANS

Our People

A Start in Life Executive Committee

Allan Elliot

President

Allan has served as President since 2012, and has been on the board of A Start in Life since 2006. He delights in witnessing the difference to students, made possible by the support A Start in Life provides. Allan brings significant charitable expertise, having previously been President of the Lions Club of Brookvale, and is currently President of NSW Freemasons' Orphan Society Incorporated. He was a founding Director of The Mailing House Pty Ltd, from 1986 through to its successful sale in 2016. 

Neil Robinson

Chief Executive Officer

Neil was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of A Start in Life in 2013, having first joined the charity in 2010. Prior to joining, Neil worked for over 25 years in the Finance Sector. Neil was Head of Private Portfolio and Margin Lending Business units for BT/ Westpac and Deutsche Bank. He held management roles spanning superannuation and investments at RetireInvest, and was a Vice President at Credit Suisse. Neil applies his corporate expertise to ensure students in disadvantage, can maximise the benefits obtainable from an education. 

Dale Thomas- Berrier

Vice President & Secretary

Dale brings to A Start in Life, 25 years' experience in the Financial Services Industry, specialising in Risk Management and Governance. Dale has been a member of A Start in Life's Executive Committee since 2007 and is drawn to the charity's purpose due to his own childhood experiences. Being raised by a single mother who struggled financially, Dale grew to understand the importance of education and the opportunities it presents. Dale sees his work on A Start in Life's Executive Committee as an opportunity to pay forward some assistance he was fortunate to receive in his youth. 

Joe Hansell

Treasurer

Joseph is a specialist in corporate recovery, restructuring, and turnaround management. For 20 years' he has been advising corporates, lenders and capital providers. Joseph has industry expertise in retail, property, manufacturing, aviation, managed investment schemes and financial services and products. A member if the Executive Committee since 2013, Joseph is passionate about the work A Start in Life does to change the lives of kids "in our own backyard", through giving them an opportunity to receive a well-rounded education. Joseph strongly believes in the power of education to transform the lives of youth who are living in disadvantage, allowing them to create their own successes in life. 

Jeannine Walsh OAM

With 31 years' in Senior Management positions at St George Bank, combined with 15 years as Managing Director of a consulting entity she formed, Jeannine brings an extensive array of business skills and knowledge to A Start in Life. Jeannine was awarded an Order of Australia (OAM) in 2008, for services to the Business Sector. She became a member of the A Start in Life Executive Committee in 2012. Jeannine considers a good education an essential foundation that will ensure success in later life. Jeannine recognises that in providing financial support, mentoring, and encouragement, along with measuring the benefits of this, A Start in Life provides this foundation for so many disadvantaged young people.

Member

Olly Bergstrom

Member

Olly has been actively involved with A Start in Life for 40 years, and as President Emeritus, continues to provide strong support and advocacy to the charity. He has been a Committee member for 15 years. Over the time he has been involved, Olly has witnessed many instances where students, who have have received assistance through A Start in Life, have gone on to enjoy very successful careers and made some wonderful contributions to the community.

Anne Ellison

Member

Anne has 30 years' experience as a senior executive, leading Human Resources and Corporate Services functions in both private and public sector organisations. Her last such position was as Deputy Secretary, Corporate Services, NSW Treasury. More recently, Anne has led a corporate reform project at NSW Family and Community Services. Joining A Start in Life as an Executive Committee Member in May 2018, Anne is passionate about the work of the charity and the very real contribution it makes to enabling the young people supported to engage with and succeed in their education. 

Anne Ellison

Richard Winckles

Member

Richard has been involved in the private equity industry internationally for 25 years and was Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Balmoral Capital in London. Prior to this, Richard worked as Co-Head of International Private Equity and Head of Europe for Credit Suisse First Boston. He has extensive experience in operational, strategic, entrepreneurial and governance capacity in international industry and in investment, both at Board level. Richard brought this experience to A Start in Life when joining in 2018. Richard is passionate about helping young people, particularly those in need, develop their full potential through education. 

John Carroll

Member

John is a Senior Legal Editor in the Legal, Tax and Accounting subdivision at Thomson Reuters. John also edits and writes for the “Australian Law Journal Reports”, the monthly account of judgments of the High Court of Australia and contributes to specialist serials such as the “Australian Succession & Trust Law Reports”, the “Banking & Finance Reports of Australia” and the “Land Titles (Australia) Reports”.

John has been an Executive Committee Member of A Start in Life since 2009. 

John Carroll

A Start in Life Team

Chief Executive Officer

Neil was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of A Start in Life in 2013, having first joined the charity in 2010. Prior to joining, Neil worked for over 25 years in the Finance Sector. Neil was Head of Private Portfolio and Margin Lending Business units for BT/Westpac and Deutsche Bank. Held management roles spanning superannuation and investments at RetireInvest, an was a Vice President at Credit Suisse. Neil applies his corporate expertise to ensure students in disadvantage, can maximise the benefits obtainable from an education. 

Neil Robinson

Chief Executive Officer

Neil was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of A Start in Life in 2013, having first joined the charity in 2010. Prior to joining, Neil worked over 25 years in the Finance Sector. Neil was Head of Private Portfolio and Margin Lending Business units for BT/Westpac and Deutsche Bank. He held management roles spanning superannuation and investments at RetireInvest, and was a Vice President at Credit Suisse. Neil applies his corporate expertise to ensure students in disadvantage, can maximise the benefits obtainable from an education. 

Neil was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of A Start in Life in 2013, having first joined the charity in 2010. Prior to joining, Neil worked for over 25 years in the Finance Sector. Neil was Head of Private Portfolio and Margin Lending Business units for BT/ Westpac and Deutsche Bank. He held management roles spanning superannuation and investments at RetireInvest, and was a Vice President at Credit Suisse. Neil applies his corporate expertise to ensure students in disadvantage, can maximise the benefits obtainable from an education. 

Senior Student Support Officer

Jason is passionate about helping students' become independent learners and guiding caregivers to support their children's education. Jason holds a Bachelor of Primary Education and initially spent over 5 years working as a teacher in both Australia and the United Kingdom. He then successfully transferred his skills and experience to the Vocational Training sector. Jason joined A Start in Life in 2017. He leads our Student Support Team in ensuring our support makes a difference to each student. 

Student Support Officer

Sapna joined A Start in Life in 2020. The qualifications she holds - a Diploma in IT, Bachelor of Commerce, and Master in Business Administration - best demonstrate her understanding of the benefits of an education. Sapna actively applies and shares this knowledge with the young students we support, encouraging them to optimise their education. Her prior experience in the Vocational Training sector and her extensive customer service experience add further to the value she creates for students. 

Finance & Donor Manager

Chloe utilises the Masters of Commerce she gained from the University of Sydney to keep our finances and supporter programs well organised. She has recently competed the Certified Practicing Accountant's program and will soon start the CFA program. Chloe joined A Start in Life in 2018 and continues to find ways to improve the efficiency of the support we provide to those students in need. 

Marketing & Supporter Management

Nina Kingsford-Smith

Nina joined A Start in Life in 2021 and brought over 6 years of experience in marketing with her. Nina now applies the skills previously applied to successfully grow a number of start up businesses to ensure A Start in Life’s community stays up to date and engaged with all of our work. She is extremely passionate about education and empowerment for young Australians, and is keen to share the outcomes flowing from our assistance with our supporters.