Rebuilding livesPromoting independencePreventing injuries

Our board of directors and leadership team

As outlined in our Constitution we are governed by a Board of Directors elected by members.

Meet our board of directors

Alan Ashford

A member of Spinal Life Australia for more than 45 years, Alan is retired after 40 years in the government-owned electricity supply industry.
Alan has a Bachelor of Science and has had various roles in IT from computer programmer to business analyst. He is particularly interested in access issues and community attitudes to disability.

Alan Ashford - Board Directors

Des Ryan OAM

Des has been a continuing Board member of Spinal Life Australia since 1995, and President from 1999 – 2007. He led the transition from a community-based Board to a mixed Board with a diverse skill set from the business and corporate sector. He has more than a 20-year history with not-for-profit Boards providing services to people with disabilities and training in the Central Queensland region.

His database development business, Abled Disabled, has been consulting throughout QLD since the early 1990s and he has been in continuing employment for the same period with Community Solutions supporting people with disabilities and now as Community Relations Ambassador. Des holds an Associate Diploma in Information Technology and Community Services Work. He was a recipient of the Rotary Paul Harris Fellow in 2000 and 2012, a Companion of Central Queensland University and a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal 2013 for service to people with disabilities.

Des Ryan - Board of directors

Mark Dillman

Mark has an extensive background in law and is a Principal at Macpherson+Kelley Lawyers where he practices primarily in commercial litigation and commercial advisory work.

Mark also has experience in advising the not-for-profit sector and in particular, churches, church and community owned hospitals and aged care facilities and the RSL. He has been a member of the Board of the Wesley Hospital, served on its Finance Committee, and has served on the Ethics Committee for Blue Care.

Mark Dillman

Gyl Stacey

Deputy Chair

Gyl is an IT executive who has many years of experience as a senior manager in Australia and the UK. She has been recognised for her ability to drive innovation, in the way services are both delivered and used.

Over a period of more than 10 years with Queensland Police Service, Gyl built an award-winning capability that helped drive a transformation in the way Police use technology to fight crime and protect public safety.

Before that, she was extensively involved in a series of nationally-driven Modernising Government initiatives designed to improve the quality of Scotland’s public services.

Gyl has a Bachelor of Business, a Graduate Certificate in Management and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, as well as having many years of experience in corporate governance and in managing stakeholder relationships across government and the private sector.


Dr Ben Lawson

Ben  has over 9 years’ experience working for Queensland Government in natural resources policy. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Queensland.

Ben brings significant skills in policy development and implementation, as well as lived experience in the challenges of navigating education, work, parenthood, and the health system with a significant physical disability. Ben has been a member and client of Spinal Life Australia since the late 1990’s.

Dr Ben Lawson

Dr Margaret Peel

Margaret has 24 years’ experience as Principal Scientist in the area of Public Health Microbiology at The University of Melbourne. She holds a PhD from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of London and a Doctor of Science from the University of Queensland. With the onset of Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS), Margaret retired in 2000 and returned to Queensland. She has since qualified as a Justice of the Peace.

 Margaret is a member of the Brisbane Post-Polio Network and has been its Secretary from 2008 to 2016. She was one of two Queensland representatives on the Management Committee (now Board) of Polio Australia from 2007 until 2016 and is also a member of the Moreton Bay Spinal Injuries Network. Recently, Margaret collaborated with Griffith University to conduct a clinical trial on the relief of fatigue in PPS.

 In 2012, Margaret was awarded Honorary Life Membership by Spinal Injuries Association (now Spinal Life Australia).


Meet our senior leadership team

Michael Powell

Chief Executive Officer
Michael has held senior management and leadership roles with five major non-profit organisations in the aged and community sector, including as Chief Executive Officer of Tasmania’s largest aged care provider.

An experienced business leader, his success lies in developing growth strategies for organisations as they move towards greater client engagement, involvement and empowerment in all aspects of service delivery.

A qualified accountant, he is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Accountants and Australian Institute of Management, and Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has also held a range of directorships with community and charitable organisations.

 Michael Powell web pic

Pauline Davis

Executive Manager, Strategic Service Development
Pauline has extensive experience in human service delivery agencies including child safety, youth justice and most recently disability services. Prior to commencing with Spinal Life Australia, Pauline was the General Manager, Statewide Service Delivery for Disability Services Queensland.

She has undertaken private consulting work involving a review of the Community Visitor Program for the Office of the Public Advocate, Queensland, a review of access pathways and assessment processes for the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and a project working with regional staff during a change management process within the Hunter Region of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, New South Wales.

Pauline Davis

Frances Porter

Executive Manager, Business Development and Strategic Partnerships
After beginning her nursing career in Princess Alexandra’s Spinal Injuries Unit Frances decided to move into a community-based job, which is how she began work with Spinal Life Australia in 1988. Frances gained a Masters in Human Services which gave her the grounding to further develop the services of the organisation.

She has led the organisation’s client and member services areas and has been involved in developing new services to meet the needs of members and clients.  In recent years Frances has focused her energies on building sustainable commercial businesses to move the organisation into the future.

Frances Porter

John Mayo

Chief Advisor – Government
An experienced marketing and media practitioner for 30 years, John joined Spinal Life Australia in 1994, advocating for services for people with a spinal cord injury and their families by seeking to work cooperatively with government, business and the community.

John Mayo

Graeme Kerkin

Regional Manager, North Queensland
Graeme Kerkin has worked in the Human Services area both in State Government and the not-for-profit sector, in services that have included Youth, Families and Homelessness and Disability programs.

For the past six years Graeme has worked in a management role within the Disability Services area in South Australia, most recently as General Manager – Client Services and primarily in services that provide support to people who have a physical and intellectual disability, in the areas of supported accommodation, day options, in-home support, supported employment and recreational activities.

 Graeme Kerkin