About

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



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Mark Heiss, Chairperson

Mark is a Wiradjuri man from Sydney who is the Head of Scholarships at the GO Foundation. Mark volunteered for NASCA over many years prior to taking on his NASCA Directorship.

  • Mark holds a Bachelor of Education, a Masters in Educational Leadership and is an ACEL New Voice Scholarship recipient. 
  • He was the first Aboriginal person to be named Team Captain for the University of Sydney at the Australian University Games.
  • He is passionate about young indigenous people reaching their potential and taking their place in the world.

Chloe Wighton

Chloe is a Wiradjuri (Galari) woman from Gilgandra, New South Wales. Chloe is currently the Senior Cultural Impact Advisor at the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) Australia. She previously worked on the campaign for constitutional reform to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and was employed in the Indigenous strategy at the University of Sydney. Chloe is passionate about the continuation of Wiradjuri culture, particularly the preservation of language. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Archaeology) and is completing a Masters in Museum & Heritage Studies. Chloe is also a proud graduate of NASCA’s Academy Program, Dubbo region.

She has been recognised for her strong advocacy in the community being awarded the Sister Alison Bush Medal University of Sydney’s Alumni.

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 organisations 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.
  • He is currently undertaking his PhD, researching Wiradjuri cultural revitalisation.

Barbie-Lee Kirby

Barbie-Lee Kirby is a Ngiyambaa, Wailwan, Baakindji-Maraura, Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay woman from Brewarrina, North West NSW. As a high school student, Barbie-Lee was a NASCA participant whilst playing representative netball where she was selected into the NSW emerging athletes program. She has a Bachelor of Business with majors in Accounting and Law from The University of Technology, Sydney, where she is currently studying an MBA in entrepreneurship. She was the first Indigenous candidate to complete the Finance Graduate Program at Qantas, and was promoted to Manager of Corporate Governance.

After six years at Qantas, Barbie-Lee has since joined the law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills as Citizenship Executive. She is a strong ambassador for education and successful First Nations people in business. As such, was an external advisor on the National RAP Committee at DLA Piper and was President of the CareerTrackers Alumni Association. She has since began her journey into the entrepreneurial space and hopes to support the First Nations start-up ecosystem.


Kristal Kinsela

Kristal is a proud Aboriginal woman, a descendant of both the Jawoyn and Wiradjuri nations and is currently Managing Director of IPS Management Consultants, Non-Executive Director Jaramer Legal, and Non-Executive Director Uniting NSW/ACT. 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.
  • Her business, IPS Management Consultants, was awarded the coveted 2018 and 2019 Supply Nation Certified Supplier of the Year, recognised as a business leader for its exceptional growth as a business and advocacy of the Indigenous business sector.
  • In 2019, Kristal was awarded the Indigenous Defence Leader of the Year for her advocacy and support to open up opportunities to Indigenous businesses in the Defence Industry, and she was also recognised on the prestigious Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence List

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
Skye Parsons

Skye Parsons

Program Director
Blake Borgia

Blake Borgia

Program Development Manager
Amy Sarandopoulos

Amy Sarandopoulos

State Manager (WA/NT)
Harry Murphy

Harry Murphy

Program Lead
Jake Farriss

Jake Farriss

Program Lead
Kaitlin Koh

Kaitlin Koh

Program Lead
Lakesha Hedger

Lakesha Hedger

Program Lead
Natasha Thorne

Natasha Thorne

Program Lead
Lyall Munro

Lyall Munro

Program Lead
Tessa Flick

Tessa Flick

Program Lead
Tshinta Morris

Tshinta Morris

Program Lead