About The Jane Goodall Institute Australia

The Jane Goodall Institute Australia (JGIA) was founded in 2007 and is an Australian non-profit and registered environmental organisation.

Our Philosophy is centered on the interconnectedness of Animals, People and the Environment (APE) and our Purpose is to “inspire actions that connect people with animals and our shared environment”.


The Jane Goodall Institute Australia (JGIA) was founded in 2007 and is an Australian non-profit and registered environmental organisation.

Our Philosophy is centered on the inter-connectedness of Animals, People and the Environment (APE) and our Purpose is to “inspire actions that connect people with animals and our shared environment.


Dr Jane Goodall DBE, world-renowned primatologist, ethologist, humanitarian, conservationist and UN Messenger of Peace, founded the Jane Goodall Institute in 1977. We now have offices in 35 countries around the world.


We work to promote the conservation of chimpanzees and other great apes (as our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom) and, through our Roots & Shoots (R&S) program, aim to empower the next generation to be socially and environmentally conscious citizens of our shared planet.

Our Programs

At JGIA We Have Two Main Program Areas That We Support And Fund.

Australian Programs

Our Roots & Shoots Program empowers young Australians and equips them with the tools, motivation and support they need to address the problems that matter most to them. We create an ever expanding network of Australians, connected with their global counterparts, who are inspired to be change-making global citizens. Our Roots & Shoots members can apply for a mini grant to fund their projects.

Africa Programs

Our Africa Programs conserve and protect chimpanzees and their habitats, and support the communities that live alongside them. Our community-lead conservation programs include a range of activities such as education and health to ranger patrols and forest monitoring. We also support captive chimpanzee facilities, which provide a lifelong home for rescued chimps.

Our Team

James Forbes

Prior to joining JGIA as CEO, James held senior marketing and fundraising roles with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, Nature Conservation Trust of NSW and WWF-Australia.

Along with operating his own consulting business, Forbes Philanthropy & Marketing, James is a Senior Associate with Global Philanthropic and a Marketing Advisor with Food Frontier. He is the co-author of a peer reviewed paper, ‘Monitoring and evaluating the social and psychological dimensions that contribute to privately protected area program effectiveness’. In 2019 James was appointed to the Board of the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group – an on-ground organisation protecting and enhancing wetlands throughout Australia’s largest inland river system.

Marileze Buys
General Manager | Operations & Programs

Marileze Buys joined the JGIA team in July 2021. She has a post-graduate degree in Psychology and over 14 years of experience in the not-for-profit industry.

She has held senior roles in operations, fundraising, program as well as financial management. In Marileze’s previous role as the Deputy Director of the Pebbles Project Trust she worked across sectors in education, health care, nutrition and community development. Her love of conservation stems from her childhood in Africa, plus her time working in East Africa where she had the opportunity to track gorillas and chimpanzees in the wild.

Ralph Scott
Finance Manager

Ralph joined JGIA in August 2019 and has more than fifteen years experience in senior financial management roles in the not-for-profit sector and previous experience as an auditor and financial analyst.

Most recently he led the development and growth of disability and aged care programs with the Sydney Region Aboriginal Corporation. Ralph is a Chartered Accountant and has previously served as Treasurer on the board of the NSW Environmental Defenders Office.

Laura Brewster
Fundraising and Communications Manager

Laura has worked in the not-for-profit sector for over 7 years and has fundraised significant income for a variety of organisations.

Originally from the UK she is a keen traveller, environmentalist and animal lover who hopes to use her skills and experience to inspire the next generation to take care of the world around them. When Laura isn’t working she spends most of her time exploring the great outdoors with her son and is lucky enough to have a National Park on her doorstep.

Jessica Oliver
Fundraising & Communications Coordinator

A passionate animal-welfare and environmental advocate, Jessica is our newest member of the Jane Goodall family.

With over 10 years experience in the NGO sector, Jess brings her expertise within the fundraising and community engagement sector to drive successful fundraising campaigns from the field to the audience.

When not at JGIA, you’ll find Jess with her rescue animals or lending a hand to animals in need across Australia and overseas.

Natasha Coutts
Africa Programs Manager

Originally joining JGIA as a volunteer in 2012, Natasha has been leading our Africa Programs since 2017.

She brings to the role a background in science and education, and a wealth of experience in conservation focused field research. In addition to her role with JGIA, Natasha is a final year PhD candidate with the University of Western Australia, where she studies the socioecology, health, and conservation of wild eastern chimpanzees across Rwanda. From 2017 – 2020, Natasha was in the field collecting data on their feeding and social behaviour, their habitat, and collecting faecal samples for gut microbiome and genetic analyses.

Ben Howes
Roots & Shoots Volunteer And Program Manager

An environmental educator, avid bushwalker and keen gardener, Ben has been part of the JGIA family since 2017.

His passion to equip young leaders to drive local conservation efforts has extended from Victorian coastal ecosystems to geographical field research across South East Asia, with rich experience in the education and community development sectors. Ben has worked in education research at the University of Melbourne, partnering with Indigenous educators across Learning on Country and STEM education initiatives, and most recently was JGIA’s first full time State Coordinator 2020 to 2021, before moving to the Program Manager role.

Abbie Mitchell
Resources Manager | Education Programs

As an environmental educator Abbie has lead programs for NSW NPWS and EcoXplore.

Founding Kids Connecting Nature in 2015 she delivers curriculum-aligned environmental school programs, as well as workshops for government and community groups. Her academic book A Hollow is a Home (CSIRO) explains complex conservation issues and scientific concepts via introducing young readers to hollow-using animals. Her passion as an educator is deeply influenced by her bushland upbringing and she strives to empower people to understand, celebrate and foster biodiversity.

Robyn Hittman
Administration Coordinator

Robyn commenced at JGIA in August 2019 to assist with administration.

Previously completing Animal Care Biology (Zookeepers Elective), and being passionate about animal welfare, Robyn worked at that time with a wildlife rescue service. Robyn has worked in administrative positions including NSW Agriculture Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) and as Category C member (Welfare) for two AECs. Until recently Robyn was Executive Assistant to Professor, Radiation Oncology, UNSW, Liverpool Hospital. Her passion and respect for all animal life, has taken her to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos to work in sanctuaries with many species of animals. Currently Robyn works part-time with a veterinary consultancy company for animal vaccine production and is part way through Captive Vertebrate Management by distance learning, Charles Sturt University.

Our Board

Simon Duffy
Board Chair

Simon Duffy has 20 years’ experience working in the wildlife conservation industry.

He has worked across multiple disciplines including wildlife care, education, science and conservation. Simon was the Director of Wildlife Conservation and Science at Taronga Conservation Society Australia for ten years before being appointed to Director Taronga Zoo in 2019. Simon is an active member of several conservation based committees and Boards and was appointed as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in recognition of his work in wildlife conservation, both in Australia and for primate species in Africa in January 2019.

Michelle Shepherd
Deputy Board Chair

Michelle Shepherd is a PR & Communications professional with more than 25 years of strategic media, business development and management experience across multiple industry sectors.

Michelle has supported communications for JGIA since 2012. Following the work of Dr Jane since a small girl, Michelle has first became involved in primate conservation following a visit to Borneo in the 1990s and has since trekked gorillas in Uganda and chimpanzees in Tanzania to understand the challenges both they and the communities around them face. Michelle currently works for the Victorian Government, is a graduate of Deakin University, has a Foundation of Governance from The Australian Institute of Company Directors and is an alumna of Leadership Victoria’s Williamson program.

Hugh Wareham
Board Director

Hugh Wareham is an environmental and conservation professional with more than 25 years-experience in the not for profit and government sectors in Australia and the UK.

Previous roles have included the CEO of ECO-Buy Limited and Interim CEO of Beyond Zero Emissions. Currently Head of Australian Government Relations for Greening Australia Hugh delivers policy and large-scale programs across the landscape of Australia in partnership with government. Hugh is a graduate of Liverpool University (BSc Marine Biology) and University of Plymouth (MSc Applied Fish Biology), has a Diploma in Governance from the Institute of Community Directors and is an alumni of Leadership Victoria’s Folio program.

Emma Pollard
Company Secretary / Director

Emma is the Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary at the Climate Council of Australia, responsible for financial and risk management, governance and compliance, information technology, plus people and culture.

With over 13 years professional experience, she is passionate about supporting the growth and strategic development of for-purpose organisations. Prior to the Climate Council, Emma spent 9 years at Taronga Conservation Society Australia, as Governance Manager, Manager Tertiary Education and Business Development plus more. She led the development and operation of the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning, also establishing the Taronga / University of Sydney Education Alliance. Emma is a Member of the Institute of Company Directors (MAICD), has undergraduate degrees in law and finance, plus postgraduate qualifications in environmental law and tertiary education management.

Nick Boyle
Board Director

Nick Boyle has 20 years’ experience working in the wildlife conservation sector. He currently holds the position of Divisional Director of Animal Welfare, Conservation and Science at Taronga Conservation Society Australia, with responsibilities for Taronga’s Wildlife Hospitals, conservation and science programs and sustainability and environmental leadership across all sites.

Nick has represented Australia in United Nations congresses aimed at preventing the illegal trade in wild animals, sits on state and federal roundtables addressing the recovery of wildlife following floods and bushfires, and serves on a number of conservation and animal welfare-based boards and committees. Nick has undergraduate degrees in biological sciences, communications and law.

Dan Smith
Board Director

Dan Smith is a General Manager of Strategy & Commercial at technology company Versent, responsible for developing commercial strategies and managing risk and governance.

He is an experienced executive with a background in IT strategy, technology and digital transformation. Dan is extremely passionate about animals, nature and conservation of the environment, and is determined in helping organisations drive purposeful impact. Dan is a Chartered Accountant (CAANZ) and holds an undergraduate degree in Commerce (Information Systems) from the University of New South Wales.

Laura Wedmaier
Board Director

Laura is an executive finance leader with almost 15 years’ experience and a passion for bringing commercial thinking to the not-for-profit sector.

A graduate of the University of Technology, Sydney, Laura holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Information Technology. Laura is a CPA member and has held various roles in financial management, commercial and strategy development. She is currently the Chief Finance & Commercial Officer at Exchange for Change leading the container deposit schemes working closely with NSW and ACT governments. A Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD), Laura also has board level experience in the health and education sectors.

Zane Pratt
Board Observer

Zane is a Saltwater Biripi man who was raised on, and is connected to Dharawal country in the Royal National Park south of Sydney.

An alumnus of the University of Technology Sydney (BBus Finance), and Melbourne Business School (MURRA Generation 12), Zane currently works at Indigenous Business Australia as a Senior Analyst in the Direct Investments team with a focus around renewable energy and sustainability.

Roots & Shoots State Coordinators

Bill Waterer
Western Australia State Coordinator

Bill has been involved with Roots & Shoots since 2006. Prior to this he was with The Orangutan Project for 11 years.

As JGIA’s Western Australian Coordinator, Bill’s team of volunteers have built a number of groups, including up to thirty plus Scouts, totalling to over 10000 people involved in the State. Bill also held the role of National Coordinator for close to three years. He is married with two children and five grandchildren. In 2019 Bill was also awarded the Order of Australia medal for his incredible services to endangered animals.

Debbie Tanzer
Darling Downs and South West Queensland State Coordinator

Debbie Tanzer is a qualified Counsellor and is currently in her second year of working towards a Bachelor of Counselling degree.

Debbie has also completed a certificate in Wildlife Management. She joined JGIA in 2018 after
hearing Dr Jane speak in Brisbane in 2017. Debbie has always had a love of nature, animals and the environment and she hopes to merge her counselling knowledge with nature in the future. She has two adult children who have now flown the nest, and two rescue cats. She lives in Westbrook Queensland, a little village just outside Toowoomba. Debbie also work part time at St Vincent’s Private Hospital as the Volunteer Coordinator.

Andrea Stiglingh
South Australia State Coordinator

Andrea is a PhD Candidate at the University of Adelaide, where she previously completed her Bachelor of Science (Natural Resources) and Bachelor of Soil Science (Honours).

Andrea’s passion for the environment and love for Australian ecology has driven her involvement in various conservation research and habitat restoration projects. Andrea joined the National Youth Leadership Council in 2019 after attending Jane Goodall’s ‘Rewind the Future Tour’ in Adelaide and has been volunteering with Roots & Shoots ever since. Andrea aspires to foster a sense of connection and custodianship for wild spaces in her local community through Root & Shoots programs and events.

Jessica Vize
Victoria State Coordinator

Jess has a love of nature and spending time outdoors, whether that be hiking, sailing or camping.

Jess began her journey with JGIA as a member of the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) and as a member of the Victorian Roots & Shoots Team in 2022, before starting the State Coordinator Role in 2023. Jess is passionate about the interplay with environmental and social issues and is currently studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science (Wildlife and Conservation Biology) and Deakin University. Jess also works as an Environmental Educator at the Gould League, teaching primary school students about the importance of sustainability and conservation.

Joanne Carroll
Northern Territory State Coordinator

A lifelong animal and nature lover and a mother of two young boys, Joanne joined the JGIA family in late 2022 to help Northern Territorian families connect with and care for nature.

As a previous veterinarian nurse, crocodile keeper, and tour guide, Jo enjoys both caring for and educating others about respecting all living creatures. Jo is currently a full-time zookeeper with hands-on knowledge of both exotic and native species and is currently studying for a degree in Environmental science with a focus on wildlife management. By joining JGIA’s Roots and Shoots, Jo hopes to encourage children, young people, and families to make everyday changes to create a better future for our natural world.

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