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.

African Programs

Our Africa Programs conserve and protect chimpanzees, natural habitat and surrounding communities in Africa. Our community centered conservation programs include a range of activities from basic needs such as education, health and water sanitation to park rangers who protect animals from poachers. We also support chimpanzee sanctuaries which provide a lifelong home for orphaned animals.

Head Office

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.

Jessica Oliver
Fundraising & Communications Coordinator

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.

A passionate animal welfare and environmental advocate, and a background as a qualified journalist, Jess understands the power of effective communication and uses it to document stories related to environmental conservation and humanitarian causes.

An experienced fundraiser, with a deep understanding of how to connect the hearts of our audience with the pressing needs of the field. Her extensive experience in fundraising and community engagement allows her to craft compelling campaigns that bridge the gap between the mission and those who support it.

Beyond her work at JGIA, you’ll often find Jess in the company of rescue animals, proving that her commitment to animals’ welfare isn’t limited to her professional life. She’s not just a champion for change; she’s a hands-on advocate, always ready to lend a helping hand to animals, people and environmental causes, both 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 strong 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. In February 2020 she returned to Australia after two years 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

Tim Lo Surdo
Board Chair

Tim is the founder of Democracy in Colour, Australia’s first anti-racism and economic fairness organisation led by people of colour.

Before starting Democracy in Colour, he worked with low-paid workers to set up Hospo Voice, a new union in hospitality. Previously, Tim was the Head of Campaigns at Oaktree, a senior adviser to two Senators, the Campaigns Director at Jhatkaa, the National Communications Director at UN Youth Australia, and co-founded Open Sky. Tim has served as a Non-Executive Director on 17 Boards and was appointed in 2020 as one of 17 UN Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals.

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

With over 15 years professional experience, Emma is passionate about supporting the growth and strategic development of for-purpose organisations.

Emma is the Chief Executive Officer and Company Secretary of The Humour Foundation, a national charity dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable Australians. Emma previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary at the Climate Council, and spent 9 years at Taronga Conservation Society Australia in a variety of roles. 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 Graduate of the Institute of Company Directors (GAICD), 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 Director

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.

Marsha Beck
Board Director

Marsha is an accomplished executive leader and non-executive director, driven by passion, purpose and results.

Over 20 years, Marsha has held senior roles across the financial services sector, leading change and driving innovation across sustainability, strategy, and customer initiatives.

Marsha is a life-long learner who believes in the transformative power of education.

Roots & Shoots Volunteers

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.

Lit Wei Chin
NSW State Coordinator

Lit Wei has been our NSW State Coordinator for Roots & Shoots since October 2023.

Born in Malaysia, grew up in New Zealand and relocated to Sydney in January 2022. In his free time, Lit Wei is an enthusiastic hiker and globetrotter who has backpacked across Europe, Asia, and Australia, with a passion for continuing his explorations. He also enjoys running and playing squash.

He has dedicated many years to youth advocacy and has been involved in local and regional youth boards while in Auckland. His impact extended globally as he represented New Zealand at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 2021 and participated in international youth forums in China and Japan. His passion lies in uniting people to address climate issues, empower the youth, and drive meaningful change.

Professionally, Lit Wei serves as a Senior Policy Officer in Circular Economy within the Office of Energy and Climate Change in the NSW Government. His previous roles have involved working in climate change and sustainability in the public and private sector in Australia and NZ.

Miranda Braakhuis
Queensland State Coordinator

Miranda is an ecologist who works alongside detection dogs to research and protect threatened species (like the koala) and their habitats.

She is based in the Sunshine Coast, and enjoys all things outdoors – hiking, biking, swimming, birding, spotlighting and camping.

Miranda first joined JGIA in 2022 through the National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) program, and became Queensland State Coordinator later that year. She is passionate about community-driven nature conservation and also volunteers with Intrepid Landcare.

Miranda is motivated to make the world a more just and sustainable place, and strongly believes in empowering the next generation through Roots & Shoots programs and events.

Joanne Carroll –
Northern Territory State Coordinator

A lifelong animal and nature lover and a mother of two young boys, Joanne joined the JGI 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 JGI 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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