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Our people

Board Staff Committee

Our Board

The Energy Consumers Australia Board Members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in consumer advocacy, the energy market and regulation. Each Director brings their own unique perspective to the strategic direction of Energy Consumers Australia.

Dr Michael Schaper

Chair

Michael is Chair of the federal government’s Shadow Economy Advisory Forum, and the Energy & Water Ombudsman of WA, as well as a member of the national board of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is also a member of the board of the Small Business Development Corporation of WA and the University of Canberra Council.

Michael was previously Deputy Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the ACT Small Business Commissioner. He is an Adjunct Professor at Curtin University, and a member of the Zero Emissions Enterprise Network based at Oxford University.

Chris Spangaro, GAICD

Director

Chris has a background in law and public policy. He is a member of Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal’s (IPART) Energy Savings Scheme Tribunal Committee. Chris is a former Senior Director of the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) where he led the Retail and Wholesale Markets team addressing key aspects of consumer energy pricing and protection as well as the reshaping of wholesale market rules. He previously worked for the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal as General Manager of the Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme and as Manager, Water Pricing. Chris is also a member of our Risk and Audit Committee

Dr Helen Garnett PSM, FTSE, FAICD

Director

Helen has significant corporate experience gained through directorships on government entities and ASX-listed companies in the energy, mining, agriculture and education sectors as well as entities involved in regional economic development and the arts. She currently chairs Generator Property Management and is a director of Developing East Arnhem Land, The Crawford Fund, Becquerel Laboratories and Larrakia Development Corporation. Helen is also a member of our Risk and Audit Committee.

Gavin Dufty

Director

Gavin has significant consumer advocacy and energy policy experience. Gavin is Manager Policy and Research at St Vincent de Paul Society, Victoria. He has worked as a consumer representative in the energy sector for over 30 years undertaking research and policy evaluation on its impacts on domestic consumers. Gavin is currently a consumer representative of a number of government and industry committees, including the Australian Energy Regulator and the Essential Services Commission. Gavin is a member of the 2024 ISP - AEMO Advisory Council on Social License and a member of the Consumer Reference Group of NSW renewable energy roadmap and was awarded 2001 centennial medal for services to the community.

Virginia Hickey FAICD

Director

Virginia is a lawyer, corporate governance expert and a company director. She was previously a partner of commercial law firm, Finlaysons. She has significant experience in national regulatory environments through her previous governance positions as a National Competition Councillor, a National Transport Commissioner, and as the Independent Chair of the Telecommunications Ombudsman Council. Virginia also Chairs our Reference Committee.

Our staff

The Energy Consumers Australia team are committed to promoting the long-term interests of Australian residential and small business energy consumers.

Brendan French

Chief Executive Officer

Dr Brendan French is a leading consumer protection and dispute resolution expert, with extensive executive experience across corporate, academic, public, and community spheres.
Prior to joining Energy Consumers Australia as CEO, Brendan championed consumer interests as the Commonwealth Bank’s Executive General Manager Customer and Community Advocacy and before that as Deputy Ombudsman at the Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW (EWON). He also taught in the Law School at Western Sydney University, was a Board director for a number of consumer and charitable organisations, and is a published author of academic and popular texts. Brendan holds a doctorate in the History of Ideas and has been awarded for his innovative work on fostering trust between community, corporates and government.

Taneesha Amos-Hampson

Policy Officer

Taneesha graduated from a Bachelor of Social Science (Dean's Scholar) and Science (Honours) in Human Geography. Her recent thesis ‘Everyday Urban Nature’ explored diverse encounters with unruly natures, including plants, animals, materials and the elements as well as governance of such natures. Taneesha also completed one year abroad at the University of Karlstad in Sweden studying Sustainability and Nordic Perspectives. She has experience in community engagement and behaviour change analysis and has worked in the Zero Waste Sector. Taneesha has diverse research experience, including international fieldwork and funded research projects in Indonesia. She has also spent time in Kosciuszko looking at social practice in invasive species management.

New to the Energy Industry, Taneesha brings strong critical thinking skills, and a human geography perspective to her role.

Alexandra Bishop

Associate Director, Grants Program

Alexandra comes to Energy Consumers Australia with 15 years' experience managing and influencing stakeholders. Her background in achieving strategic commercial, political, and regulatory success has spanned a number of fields including industry, government, higher education and the media.

Alexandra was the inaugural Chief Operating Officer of the University of Sydney’s Centre for Translational Data Science, establishing collaborations between government, industry and academia. Prior to this, she worked as the NSW and Victoria Policy Director for the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) focussed on developing the onshore gas industry.

Alexandra holds a bachelor’s degree in Government/Political Science and Masters of International Studies, both from the University of Sydney.

Ashley Bradshaw

Senior Energy Analyst

Ashley is an economist with over 7 years’ experience in the energy sector. Ashley has worked across the AER and ACCC as an analyst, bringing a deep understanding of energy policy and economic regulation of markets. Ashley has previously worked for Energy Consumers Australia as a Senior Policy Associate specialising in tariff reform, CER integration, retail regulation, and consumer research. Prior to re-joining Energy Consumers Australia, Ashley worked as a Manager for Rennie Advisory helping government and energy market participants design and respond to policy.

Helen Carnegie

Executive Support Officer

Helen has over 15 years’ experience in executive support/assistance roles. She has worked in aged care, alternative energy storage, telecommunications, corporate and not for profit sectors across a range of industries.

Helen brings experience in event management, board governance and executive assistance. She completed a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture through University of NSW and holds a Diploma in Horticulture.

Kerry Connors

Director, Energy Inclusion

Kerry has been with ECA since its inception, building on her extensive experience on energy consumer issues, previously as Executive Director of the Consumer Advocacy Panel, and the inaugural Executive Officer of the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre. She has also worked in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including a posting to the Australian Embassy in Seoul, and has managed her own consultancy business, strengthening relations between the private and community sectors.

Kerry also sits on the Executive Committee of the Consumers Federation of Australia.

Jacqueline Crawshaw

Director Policy Energy Services and Markets

Jacqueline has a wealth of energy sector, policy, and regulatory experience, gained through more than fifteen years in the energy industry. In her role as Director Policy, Energy Services and Markets, Jacqueline leads the work at Energy Consumers Australia focused on ensuring good consumers outcomes from the complex energy markets. Jacqueline is passionate about addressing the complex challenges facing energy consumers and framing solutions in a human-centered way.

Isabella Darin

Policy Officer

Isabella joins the Energy Services and Markets Directorate having completed a Graduate Certificate in Legal Studies. She also has a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in both Political Economy, and Government and International Relations.

Before joining Energy Consumers Australia, Isabella gained valued advocacy experience in the not-for-profit space, and through academic research as a New Columbo Plan participant. She is excited to support consumers' voices in shaping the future of the energy industry in Australia.

Kat George

Associate Director, Research

Kat is a consumer law and policy professional with extensive experience in strategic policy reform and stakeholder engagement in the government, not-for-profit and private sectors. Over nearly a decade, Kat has driven significant policy reform projects to promote economic and social inclusion, especially in relation to delivering equitable, human-focused outcomes in essential services markets. She has a background in regulation, having previously worked at the Essential Services Commission in Victoria, and has significant experience designing and leading innovative reform to regulatory approaches, including in relation to accessibility, family violence, and centering the experiences of people in regulatory processes through co-design and community engagement. Kat has a Master of Laws (LL.M), with a focus on human rights, consumer and competition law and policy, and data and emerging technology. Kat is also currently a Non Executive Director at CHOICE, and the Co-Chair of the Board at Hope Street Youth and Family Services. She is a regular expert contributor to the Guardian Australia on consumer issues.

Alice Gordon

Policy Officer

Alice joined Energy Consumers Australia as a graduate policy officer in the Energy Services and Markets Directorate after completing a double degree in Communications and International Studies. Majoring in social and political science sparked her interest in environmental policy and Australia’s transition to renewables. She is eager to further her knowledge of the energy industry, particularly what a more distributed energy system will look like.

Alice has spent time volunteering her communication skills at various community organisations where she witnessed the real impact that unaffordable energy prices can have on people in financial hardship. She is a keen supporter of a transition that is fair and ensures everyone can take part.

Amy Hill

Executive Officer to the Chief Executive Officer

Amy joins Energy Consumers Australia with over 10 years’ experience providing executive support and assistance to senior executive teams in the energy distribution and tertiary education sectors. Amy brings experience in calendar management, event coordination, project support and overall executive assistance. Amy is currently completing the Certified High Performing Executive Assistant course with The EA Institute.

Melissa McAuliffe

Senior Policy Associate

Melissa is an admitted lawyer in Victoria and has a diverse background in both energy and the not-for-profit sector. Prior to joining Energy Consumers Australia Melissa worked in the energy retail sector, providing regulatory advice on all matters involving residential and small business energy customers, as well as being heavily involved in the rule change consultation process. Prior to energy, Melissa was a lawyer at the Mental Health Legal Centre working with a dedicated multi-disciplinary team providing access to justice for Victorian's experiencing mental health issues.

Aaron O'Brien

Finance Manager

Aaron is a qualified CPA possessing over 16 years accounting experience in a broad range of accounting roles across the Hotel, Hospitality and Sporting industries. Aaron specialises in financial reporting, analysis and budgeting.

Prior to joining Energy Consumers Australia Aaron worked for the National Rugby League where he oversaw the budgets for the High Performance, Club Services, Pacific Program and Women's Rugby League cost centres. He was also involved in fostering the international game assisting both the Rugby League International Federation and Asia Pacific Rugby League Confederation.

Sarah Patterson

Associate Director Strategy

Sarah (she/her) is a strategic designer with over 18 years’ professional experience. Her diverse background includes piloting and implementing social policy initiatives with the Australian Government for almost a decade before building expertise in strategic design and facilitation. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and has studied architecture and urban design at the Master’s level. As a multi-disciplinary designer, she draws on practice in architecture, strategic design and partnerships brokering to facilitate strategies that deliver positive impact.

Sarah is an expert advisor on contemporary public consultation and collaborative engagement. She is a regular guest lecturer at the University of Melbourne, has mentored for the Generation:Politics Fellowship program and is a trained facilitator for the UN Global Development Goals innovation program, UNLEASH. She is an associate and accredited member of the Partnership Brokers Association and in 2021 founded The Good Cartel Consulting - a research venture aimed at improving cross-sector and systems collaboration.

Katrina Porteus

Director, Strategy and Corporate

Katrina joined Energy Consumers Australia in 2020 with almost 20 years experience ensuring the efficient functioning of organisations via Operations, Compliance, Finance, Fundraising, Compliance and Risk Management. Katrina has worked in a number of roles including General Management, Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary in fast growing charitable and for profit organisations.

Katrina is currently responsible for the effective and efficient management of day to day operations at Energy Consumers Australia, providing leadership in setting the strategic direction of the organisation, supporting the Board and the CEO in a secretarial role as well as being a member of the executive management team. Katrina also manages our corporate service functions including accounting and finance, annual business planning and budgeting, risk management, human resources and IT.

Previously, Katrina worked at the Climate Council of Australia as Chief Operating Officer/ Company Secretary and even Acting CEO for 12 months. Katrina has held previous senior general management, operations and project management roles in a global business coaching firm as well as organisations in Australia and the UK such as AT Kearney, Macquarie Bank and Rothschild. Katrina has a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Sydney and postgraduate qualifications in Applied Finance. Katrina is also a founding facilitator of the Professional Environmental Women's Association (PEWA) NSW chapter.

Brian Spak

Director, Energy System Transition

Brian serves as Director, Energy System Transition at Energy Consumers Australia. Prior to his current role, he led CSIRO’s research and development program focused on the grid and renewable integration. Previously, he served in a variety of functions across the clean energy and utility sector in the United States, including managing a DER development team, as a sustainability consultant for Walmart, Coca-Cola, and LG Electronics, and as a registered federal lobbyist for utilities and clean tech companies.

Liz Stephens

Director, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement

Liz is a senior leader in public affairs, strategic communications and stakeholder relations. Prior to joining Energy Consumers Australia, Liz helped run the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at the University of Technology Sydney. Liz has held senior roles in all three levels of government in Australia, including as head of media and communications for the Australian Human Rights Commission, and managed her own consultancy business, specialising in advocacy and campaigns for not-for-profits, industry bodies and high-growth tech companies. She is a former political journalist.

Michaela Stone

Digital Communications Manager

Michaela is an experienced digital marketer, communicator and strategist, driven by a desire to contribute her skills to making the world a better place.

As Digital Communications Manager at Energy Consumers Australia, Michaela leads our digital content and platform (social and website) strategies, ensuring our work, our people and our impact is seen and understood by key audiences.

Prior to her role at Energy Consumers Australia, Michaela was Director, Digital (Community & Fundraising) at the Climate Council, where she helped a community of over half a million supporters and donors engage with and support their work.

Rebekah Thielemans

Communications and Engagement Manager

Rebekah is a communications and engagement professional and has a decade of experience across the not-for-profit, private, and public sectors.

Much of Rebekah’s career has focused on running campaigns within the climate and environmental space, including as Community Engagement Manager for the Climate Council and Communications Advisor for GreenHub Vietnam.

Rebekah is skilled at developing multi-channel communication strategies, building deep engagement, and communicating complex ideas.

Caroline Valente

Senior Policy Associate

Caroline joined the Energy System Transition team in 2022 with a background in energy poverty and sustainability research. After 10 years of practice and education in green buildings and energy efficiency in Brazil, Caroline moved to Australia in 2017 to expand her professional and academic skills.

She recently completed a PhD program at UTS. Her thesis explores the extent, causes and impacts of energy poverty among older vulnerable households in poor housing conditions – an emerging issue in Australia. Caroline aims to use her multi-disciplinary skill set and her passion for research, sustainability and advocacy to contribute towards a just energy transition.

Our Reference Committee

The Energy Consumers Australia Reference Committee members are chosen on the basis of their expertise and represent a broad cross section of all of our stakeholder groups. The Committee advises the Board on emerging consumer issues and the development of Energy Consumers Australia's work program.

Geoff Buchanan – ACT

Geoff is a Research Fellow at the ANU Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research in Canberra. From 2015-2022 he was a Senior Policy Officer at the ACT Council of Social Service where he managed the ACT Energised Consumers Project, undertaking evidence-based advocacy for small energy consumers and for a just and inclusive transition in the ACT. Geoff remains active in the ACT community sector as a member of ACT Shelter’s Executive Committee and as a director on the board of Council on the Ageing ACT. He remains engaged in energy consumer advocacy locally and as member of the COTA Energy Advocates national network.

Prof. Neil Horrocks – QLD

Neil has more than 30 years of energy industry experience across the electricity and gas sectors including roles in retail, distribution and asset management. He currently holds a number of roles including Director of the Research Centre for Energy Data Innovation and Director, External Engagement in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Queensland as well as Chair of the Customer and Community Reference Group for Queensland Urban Utilities

Jonathan Kneebone - VIC

Jonathan is Director Policy and Engagement at the First Nations Clean Energy Network, a national network established to ensure First Nations participate in and benefit from Australia's clean energy transition. He is an experienced lawyer, advocate, strategist and policy analyst with over 20 years' working across the private, public and community sectors, and in First Nations-controlled organisations and alongside First Nations people and communities across Australia.

Simon Moore – NSW

Simon Moore is responsible for Business NSW advocacy relating to the infrastructure businesses depend on to function, including energy as well as transport, telecoms and water. Simon sits on several energy industry stakeholder bodies as Business NSW’s representative, including Essential Energy’s customer advocacy group and Jemena Gas Network’s customer council.

Dr. Andrew Nance - SA

Andrew is a Director of independent energy consultancy The Energy Project Pty Ltd. Andrew’s background began in electrical engineering before shifting focus to renewable energy and energy consumer issues and has since worked as the Technical Director of the South Australian Government’s Sustainability and Climate Change Division, energy advisor to the Conservation Council of SA and the South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS), end-use consumer representative on the Australian Energy Market Commission’s Reliability Panel and a member of the Australian Energy Regulator’s Consumer Challenge Panel.

In 2018, Andrew completed a PhD in Energy Policy at University College London and has since served as Chair of SA Power Networks’ Consumer Consultative Panel and inaugural chairperson of AEMO’s Integrated System Plan Customer Panel. This experience is now being applied to managing risks and compliance of Embedded Networks around Australia.

Caitlin Perry - NT

Caitlin has worked in the not-for-profit sector for over 40 years, in a range of roles including admin and reception, project work, management and leadership, and has sat on numerous management committees and boards of management. Now living and working in Darwin, Caitlin in originally a Sydneysider whose first job in the sector was for the Tenants Union of NSW. As Senior Policy Officer at NTCOSS, Caitlin works across a broad range of policy issues including utilities, climate change and cost of living, with a particular focus on eradicating energy poverty in the Northern Territory.

Asha Ramzan - NSW

Asha Ramzan is the Executive Officer of Sydney Community Forum.
Sydney Community Forum has been working towards social justice, inclusion, and sustainability outcomes for and with socially and economically disadvantaged and marginalised communities in Sydney since 1974. SCF leads the Voices for Power Energy Literacy & Access to Renewables Project with migrant communities in Western and South-Western Sydney.
Asha has worked in various leadership, therapeutic, teaching, community development and management roles in the Community Sector since 1989. Asha is committed to the praxis of social, economic and climate justice, social inclusion and sustainability in all aspects of her work and life.

Ciara Sterling - VIC

As Founding CEO and Director of the Thriving Communities Partnership, Ciara Sterling convenes over 350 organisations, together with people with lived experience, to forge deeper understanding of vulnerability and drive ecosystem change through social design innovation. Ciara is also a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC), is a member of the White Ribbon Advisory , the Monash Safe and Equal Advisory board and a founding member of the Economic Abuse Reference Group (EARG). She has over 20 years’ experience collaborating across corporate, government and community sectors to address the root causes of vulnerability domestic abuse and inequality.

Damian Sullivan - VIC

Damian Sullivan, who joined the Brotherhood of St. Laurence in 2007, leads the Climate Change and Energy team in the Social Policy and Research Centre. Damian worked previously on the Trade, Environment and Sustainability campaign at Friends of the Earth International. He has also taught subjects in the Masters of Public Advocacy and the Bachelor of Arts at Victoria University, and presented guest lectures in the Masters of Social Policy at the University of Melbourne. His research, policy and advocacy work focuses on the intersection of social equity and environmental sustainability, particularly the relationship between energy affordability, energy efficiency and climate change.

Dr. Phillipa Watson – TAS

Dr Phillipa Watson aims to support people to live great and sustainable lives. To this end, as a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian National University and the University of Tasmania (UTAS), she works in applied research with a variety of collaborators, to understand and enhance peoples’ real life housing transition and energy transition experiences.