Our People

Our Board is 100% Aboriginal and we use trained staff and volunteers to drive the NASCA vision of a proud prosperous and healthy Australia for all.

TO ACHIEVE OUR VISION of transforming the lives of Aboriginal young people, we harness the skills of professionals and volunteers from various backgrounds and with diverse experiences.

The NASCA Board, CEO and staff have a wide range of skills and experience that underpins our work. Our people have one thing in common and that’s passion and determination to achieve social equity for Aboriginal Australians.

Our board


Mark Heiss, Chairperson

Mark is a Wiradjuri man from Sydney who is the Director of Innovation and Learning at Marist College North Shore and has volunteered for NASCA over many years prior to taking on his NASCA Directorship.

  • He is passionate about physical activity and education while integrating Indigenous studies into the school day, and creating quality professional learning for teachers.
  • He was the first Aboriginal person to be named team captain for the University of Sydney at the Australian University Games,
  • Mark recently completed a Masters in Educational Leadership degree.



David Liddiard, Founder

David is a Ngarabal Man from Northern New South Wales. He founded NASCA in 1995 after 15 years as a professional Rugby League player in Australia and England.

  • He is currently the CEO of Corporate Connect AB,
  • David has won the Gold Harold Award for services to Aboriginal Health and Education (2010), The NSW Outstanding Community Service Award (2013) and an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) ‘For Service to Indigenous Youth, Sporting and Employment’.



Jason Ardler

Jason is a Yuin man from the South Coast of New South Wales, with 20 years of experience working with Aboriginal communities in the design and delivery of Aboriginal affairs policy and programs, particularly in New South Wales.

  • He was the former Executive Director of Culture and Heritage in the Department of Environment and Climate Change (now the Office of Environment and Heritage), focusing on strengthening Aboriginal community connections to country and culture,
  • He is the current Head of Aboriginal Affairs NSW, leading policy and program development across economic participation, community governance, environmental health, improved service delivery and culture and language.



Chloe Wighton

Chloe is a Wiradjuri woman from Gilgandra, New South Wales and she is proudly a former participant and Graduate of NASCA’s Academy Program in the Dubbo Region.

  • Chloe graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Archaeology in 2015, and has since commenced her Master of Museum and Heritage Studies.
  • She has been recognised for her strong advocacy in the community with a nomination for Young Australian of the Year in 2014 and recipient of the 2015 University of Sydney’s Alumni Award for the Sister Alison Bush Medal.


Aaron Simon

Aaron is an Anawan and Biripi man from Western Sydney with seven years experience working in health promotion and youth work in the Western Sydney Aboriginal community.

  • He is the current Aboriginal Youth Education Officer for South West Sydney Local Health District,
  • He sees Western Sydney’s Aboriginal community as having enormous potential through the growing pool of young people and the knowledge of Elders,
  • He is passionate about the passing on of culture and history and a holistic promotion of mental, physical and spiritual health to Aboriginal communities.


Lachlan McDaniel

Lachlan McDaniel belongs to the Kilari Clan of the Wiradjuri Nation. He has been engaged by a range of sectors to assist organisations to improve their engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. His experience extends to political campaigning and improving organsiations Indigenous Engagement in the not-for-profit and corporate business sector.

  • He completed a Bachelor of Arts/Laws at Macquarie University. Pursuing his passion for empowering Indigenous people through self-determination, Lachlan also studied Canadian First Nations history, law, and politics at the University of Calgary.
  • He completed a Continuing Education Certificate in Indigenous Governance at the Native Nations Institute of the University of Arizona.


Barbie-Lee Kirby

Barbie-Lee Kirby is a Ngemba, Baakindji and Yuwaalaraay woman from Brewarrina, NSW. She is a strong ambassador for education and successful Indigenous women in business. She has a Bachelor of Business with majors in Accounting and Law and is a current Finance Graduate at Qantas Airways.

  • Barbie-Lee was a NASCA participant whilst playing representative netball where she was selected into the NSW emerging athletes program.
  • She was the first woman to be awarded CareerTrackers student of the year in 2016 and was co-founder and president of the first UTS Indigenous club which creates an Indigenous presence on the UTS campus and an awareness and celebration of Indigenous culture.


Kristal Kinsela

Kristal is a proud Aboriginal woman, a descendant of both the Jawoyn and Wiradjuri nations and is currently Director of Indigenous Professional Services. She is passionate about creating lasting pathways and growing the capabilities of Indigenous businesses and individuals.

  • In 2017, Kristal was awarded NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year and Supplier Diversity Advocate of the Year, recognised for her outstanding contribution in working with Indigenous communities, Indigenous businesses, leaders and women across Australia.
  • She also volunteers her time as an Inspiring Rare Birds Mentor and the Sydney Ambassador for Indigenous Women in Business network.


Our Staff

Our staff works hard to drive the vision of NASCA and strengthen the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people from many language groups, cultural backgrounds and locations in Australia.

Chief Executive Officer 

Leanne Townsend

Leanne is an Anaiwan Woman from Uralla, New South Wales who is passionate about social justice and advocating for the strength of Aboriginal culture permeating everyday Australian life.

  • She previously led key aspects of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008,
  • She was a Senior Advisor to Governor-General Her Excellency Quentin Bryce,
  • Before joining NASCA in 2013, Leanne was CEO of The New South Wales Reconciliation Council and manager of the National NAIDOC Awards.



Our team