Our Board of Directors

Dr. Robert Lang

Ph.D., B.E.(Hons), B.Sc., FAICD, FIE (Aust)

Chair of Ability Options Board of Directors
Committees: Remuneration and Nomination – Chair

Rob has had a significant career in both local and state governments at an Executive level for over 35 years. In addition to being the CEO of Parramatta City Council, Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and Pacific Power, he has also served on 21 Boards (chaired 8) of not-for-profit organisations, private companies, and government statutory authorities over the past 30 years. He is an expert on change management, government & stakeholder relations, and corporate governance. Rob is also an Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University’s School of Business.

“I have a passion for social inclusion, and I hope to make a difference in people’s lives by helping them to realise their potential. My two closest friends are a couple with disability, whose lived experience I have, to some small extent, shared.  Through our friendship, I understand the challenges that they and others face every day and at the same time, I have witnessed the significant achievements they have made with support and compassion.  I want to extend that opportunity to others.”

Rob aspires to create opportunities for people to participate fully in society and to provide those opportunities in more ways to people living in different locations, with continually improving quality and sustainability. Rob also wants to work towards achieving Ability Options’ long-term strategic goals of courageous leadership, amplifying voice, innovation, and partnerships that will influence government policy and bring about much needed change. He is committed to doing so in a way that is consistent with our values.

 

Heather Scheibenstock

Deputy Chair
Committees: Quality and Outcomes – Chair  |  Remuneration and Nomination: Deputy Chair

 

Heather has extensive experience in corporate leadership having served as a non-executive director and sub-committee chair member with a board portfolio encompassing ASX-listed public companies, crown land trust, disability, and health-related non-profit organisations. She has local and international experience in strategic and operational leadership, with deep experience in Asia, across different businesses.

Heather is passionate about creating opportunities for people in the community impacted by disability or unemployment to live their best life.

“The most rewarding part of my role has been on the Quality and Outcomes Committee and seeing first-hand the positive impact that the team at Ability Options have on the lives of people we support. I see the ‘impossible is always possible’ and the mission of Ability Options is inspiring and something to live by.”

Heather is committed to ensuring that Ability Options upholds and respects human rights and transfers that to the way services are delivered. She recently completed the ‘Right on Board: Governing and managing for human rights, quality and safeguarding’ course with the National Disability Service to support her Directorship at Ability Options.

Heather hopes to see Ability Options become the largest disability and employment service provider in Australia with the best reputation for improving choice and variety of opportunities for all people. Heather also hopes that governments will focus on the benefits the sector brings to the community to ensure it continues to gain the financial and community support it needs to thrive.

 

Patricia Biszewski

M.Sc, GAICD

Director
Committees: Audit, Risk, and Finance  |  Remuneration and Nomination

Patricia has had an extensive global career as a Senior Executive in the maritime and logistics industries, where she held positions as Chief of Staff, Chief Corporate Services Officer and Chief Information Officer. Patricia has experience in driving and enabling business transformation through strategy, risk and change management and is an expert in aligning IT strategy with business needs.

Patricia has served on a number of Boards for not-for-profit and for-profit organisations, including in her current role as an Ability Options Board Director. She is passionate about improving the lives of people supported by Ability Options and is committed to ensuring that Ability Options always keeps its promises and continues to have meaningful impact when providing services. Patricia also has a close family with lived experience of disability.

“On one of our routine visits as a director, I visited a home in Port Macquarie, I had a wonderful experience meeting staff and residents. One particular staff member was incredibly passionate about their work. Hearing their story and seeing the work our staff do with participants every day really brought home the importance of what we do as an organisation.”

Patricia hopes that people who are supported by Ability Options are happy and feel safe when achieving their dreams and that Ability Options can be recognised as an industry leader in the disability and employment sectors. Patricia wants the sectors to be recognised for the amazing work and contribution they make to society and hopes they will be supported to continue their wonderful work.

 

Claire Cavanaugh

Director
Committees: Audit, Risk, and Finance Committee

 

Claire has a broad range of business experience, having worked in senior finance roles at Oracle Australia and Readers Digest Australia, as a General Manager of The Goulburn Post, and more recently, as a Practice Manager at her family’s medical practice. However, one of her most important roles has been as a mother to her son Eddie who lives with disability.

Having Eddie introduced Claire to the world of disability, allowed her to learn more about the sector and become an advocate for her son and many others with disability. Combined with over 20 years of commercial experience, Claire provides an important and unique perspective on governance of non-profits, understanding both the human and commercial impacts of decisions.

“Becoming aware of disability was part and parcel of having Eddie and I developed relationships with the organisations that provided his supports. I became a Director of Northern Beaches Interchange (NBI) around 2012 and after NBI I became a Director of Ability Options, as a lived experience representative. I have greatly enjoyed being on the Board. My knowledge of the sector has increased exponentially, and I have developed a deep respect for how Ability Options has handled itself through restructures, fires, floods and now COVID.”

Claire hopes that the disability sector will continue to grow and offer a range of existing and new supports to people with disability. She also hopes that one day in the future, there will be a place for her son in Supported Independent Living (SIL) accommodation run by Ability Options.

 

Owen Gilbert

Director
Committees: Audit, Risk and Finance: Chair

 

Owen is a transformational executive with extensive experience driving effectiveness and efficiency in businesses.

Owen has held a range of C-suite roles, including CFO, CEO, COO and Director. His experience includes business transformation, stakeholder management, strategy, organisational change, investment management, business start-ups, and new system implementation. These roles have been across auditing services, agriculture, retail banking, IT, automobiles, travel and tourism in Australia, Europe and North America.

“One of the most rewarding aspects of being a Board Director has been seeing the significant progress that a very talented management team and workforce have been able to achieve in transforming and building Ability Options.”

Working across a number of industries, Owen has assessed issues and opportunities to effect meaningful change which is also a part of his contribution to Ability Options. He hopes that the work of Ability Options continues for many years to come and that it continues to achieve its mission and become a leader in the sector.

 

Matthew Levy OAM

GAICD

Director
Committees: Quality and Outcomes

Matthew is an inspirational leader and advocate who is passionate about promoting inclusion for people with disability. He has already had a number of career successes, including working as a change analyst at Westpac, as an inspirational speaker and author, and as a world class sportsperson.

“While there have been challenges in my life, I’ve never let it stop me from pursuing my dreams. In many ways, it is about breaking barriers and challenging social stigmas but it’s also about taking control and living the life I want, regardless of whether I have a disability. I hope I can inspire others to live life the way they want.”

Matt has competed at five consecutive Paralympic Games in swimming, winning two gold, one silver and four bronze medals. In his Paralympic career, Matt has competed in five World Championships, won 20 international medals, held four World Records, and has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal (O.A.M). Recently, he was awarded the 2021 SportNSW Athlete of the Year with a Disability.

Matt is committed to ensuring the decisions he and the rest of the Board make have a positive impact on Ability Options strategic vision. He hopes that Ability Options will continue to be a person-centred organisation that meets the needs of the people that it supports. Matt also hopes that through his work and contribution, the disability sector will become simple and less complex for people with disability.

 

Michael Maxwell

MSocSci, GDURP, GradDipAdEd (VET), GAICD, MPIA

Director
Committees: Quality and Outcomes

Michael has an extensive career in public and community services. He is currently a social planner, sessional academic and Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs. He serves on national and international boards of organisations committed to creating liveable communities and holds post-graduate qualifications in adult education, urban planning and social science. He uses his experience to create social and financial inclusion, enhance liveability and wellbeing, and support individuals and communities facing disadvantage to live to their full potential in safe, secure and empowering environments.

Michael is no stranger to disability, as a parent of a person with disability he understands both the highs and lows. His son, Josh, who has Down Syndrome, has helped Michael to appreciate ‘the funny side’ in any life situation. Michael feels so proud of his son, that he often tells people that ‘If I ever grow up, I want to be like Josh.’

“As a Board Director at Ability Options I’ve been able to combine both my professional and personal experiences to make a difference. I have seen the organisation grow, adapt to change and become incredibly resilient. What I greatly appreciate is that regardless of everything that has happened around Ability Options, they have remained true to their mission and focused on people.”

Michael is keen to see the outcomes of the Disability Royal Commission and believes that the sector as a result is going to change significantly for the good. He hopes that there will be a general uplift in terms of integrity, honesty and genuine client participation in the decisions that shape their lives.

Our Executive Team

Julia Squire

Chief Executive Officer

Julia has over 30 years of leadership experience, having worked in senior roles in the public health sector in both the U.K. and Australia. She began her career in the UK National Health Service where some of her favourite jobs were in mental health and disability. A particularly rewarding role was one where she was able to work with stakeholders to close disability hospitals, establishing services that enabled people who had been institutionalised since they were children to live the lives they chose and be included in their communities.

Julia had been living and working in Australia for 6 years when the opportunity arose to be the interim CEO of Ability Options and she jumped at the chance. “When I started working at Ability Options, I saw the commitment of the people who work here and the huge impact they have on peoples’ lives, it was an easy decision to stay on as the CEO.”

Julia is passionate about inclusion and her work in the disability and employment sectors for Ability Options. Julia has lived experience of disability and other obstacles to inclusion in her family life. She has a strong focus on making sure Ability Options has the right people in the right roles to deliver the best possible outcomes with and for participants as well as contributing to developing a more inclusive society.

Julia is committed to ensuring that Ability Options continues to meet its Mission and Values with a workforce that loves what they do. “Our people are the driving force behind the services we provide, and they are at the forefront of supporting people to live full lives and be included in their community. We plan to grow and meet our Mission for decades to come because people choose our services and employees choose to work here.”

Julia balances her full work schedule by spending time with her family, walking her dogs and watching soccer.

 

Mark Chaffey

Chief Operating Officer – Employment & Marketing

Mark brings to Ability Options a broad range of skills and experience gained through his time in both the not-for-profit sector and the entertainment industry. After spending time as a senior finance executive in the entertainment industry, Mark moved to the not-for-profit sector as an executive leader. In his recent roles in employment services, Mark has combined his commercial expertise with his drive for helping both staff and clients achieve their goals and to live a full and inclusive life.

“I began my career in the sector by accident. I was initially focused on the role and once I started to learn about the sector, I felt at home.”

He is passionate about helping people to find and maintain employment. “The ability for someone to secure and keep a job is a vital step in living a full and inclusive life. By making sure we help as many participants as possible to achieve this we are making a difference for them and their families.”

Mark is a strong believer in the Vision and Mission of Ability Options and hopes to continue to support many more participants achieve their employment aspirations. When he’s not at work Mark is a swimmer and an avid reader, but on the weekend you are most likely to find him and his wife riding a motorcycle along a country road.

 

Ian Fuller

Chief Human Resources Officer

With over 20 years in human resources, learning and development and organisational transformation, Ian brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to Ability Options. He has worked in public health for most of his career in the United Kingdom and NSW health and has seamlessly transitioned to working in the disability and employment services sector with Ability Options.

“My focus is on making sure that our staff are fully equipped to provide the services that our diverse range of participants need. This means that we support our staff by having in place the right infrastructure, facilities and supports so that they can be their very best.”

Ian hopes that Ability Options can be well recognised as an employer of choice for those interested in the human services sector. “There are so many opportunities for fulfilling work in disability and employment services. I want to make sure that we are a part of moving the sector to one where people aspire to work and is seen for creating careers.”

Besides being Ability Options CHRO, Ian is a serial renovator who also enjoys keeping fit and active.

 

Michelle Hodge

Chief Quality, Practice & Assurance Officer

Michelle has extensive experience in the disability sector and has held roles both in Australia and New Zealand. Starting as a support worker Michelle moved her way through disability services, soon becoming a Team Leader and then a middle manager in accommodation and community based programs. Seeing first-hand the positive impact good quality services have on the lives of people with disability, Michelle quickly became a fierce advocate for people with disability and people who are disadvantaged.

She has transferred her hands-on skills and experience to her role as Chief Quality, Practice and Assurance Officer, raising and improving service delivery expectations by ensuring a culture of respect, inclusion and equity, and enhanced opportunities for all people. Michelle also played a critical role in the transition of some NSW government services to Ability Options and is now leading Ability Options efforts around and in support of the Disability Royal Commission.

Michelle is committed to ensuring people that need support are treated with respect and are supported to be leaders in the decisions affecting their lives. “I hope that I can continue to contribute to transforming Ability Options to become a provider that is led by people with lived experience of disability or disadvantage. And that they will be able to support people who need it to be in control of their own supports with equal rights and opportunity.”

Michelle finds the success of others and her colleagues to be the most rewarding aspect of her role. After spending most of her time working with people and thinking about people, Michelle likes to spend her spare time outdoors on the beach and in the bush.

 

Mark Twomey

Chief Corporate Services Officer

Mark has worked in a wide range of roles in a number of industries and organisations over his working life, including extensive time at ANZ Bank, with roles covering corporate and commercial finance, HR and strategic planning, and Youth Off The Streets, a not-for-profit organisation providing support for young people through accommodation, outreach and education. During his career, Mark gained experience leading and managing finance, fundraising, human resources, and information technology teams. As Ability Options CCSO he is able to apply his diverse experience where he oversees Finance, Property, Communications and ICT. To balance out his busy role, Mark likes to spend his spare time surfing, bushwalking and doing photography.

“I want to use the skills and knowledge I have gained over my working life to make a difference to an organisation that has a positive purpose which is what Ability Options has. We all bring different experiences, skills and knowledge to our workplaces, but the common goal we have at Ability Options makes it a very fulfilling place to work.”

Mark hopes for Ability Options to be a sustainable organisation that will strive to live by its Mission, Vision, and Values, while also continuing to support participants to meet their goals. Mark also hopes that through his contribution at Ability Options, the disability sector will be recognised as an important part of the Australian community that accepts people’s abilities for whatever they are and wherever that takes them.

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