The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) constitution allows for up to 12 directors who are elected annually at PIAC’s Annual General Meeting. PIAC is a company limited by guarantee.
Sera Mirzabegian SC
Board member since November 2022 and Chair since November 2023
Sera Mirzabegian SC is a senior barrister who practises in commercial litigation, regulatory investigations and litigation, class actions and human rights. She has acted for major Australian and international companies in a variety of industries (including financial services, property, infrastructure, pharmaceutical, media and technology) and independent commissions such as the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. She regularly acts for human rights and environmental organisations as well as marginalised and disadvantaged individuals and communities on a pro bono basis. She is currently the Co-Chair of the NSW Bar’s Diversity and Equality Committee and has previously served as a Councillor of the NSW Bar Association.
Maha Krayem Abdo OAM
Board member since November 2022
Maha Krayem Abdo OAM is a passionate advocate for social justice and uses the common language of faith to clarify in the community how Islam regards justice and equality. She serves as the CEO of Muslim Women Australia (MWA), a representative body for Muslim women working to enrich humanity, advocating for equality and the rights of all women, through authentic leadership based on Islamic principles. She is also a member of the SBS Australia Community Advisory Committee. Maha holds a Bachelor of Social Work, a Masters in Social Science, and a Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution. In 2022 Maha received an Honorary Fellowship from Western Sydney University.
Andrea Durbach AM
Board member since November 2021
Andrea Durbach is Emeritus Professor of Law at UNSW where she was Director of the Australian Human Rights Centre (now Institute). She practised in South Africa as a political trial lawyer representing victims and opponents of apartheid laws before moving to Sydney in 1989, working initially in private practice and joining PIAC in 1991, becoming Executive Director in 1997. Andrea has held senior positions in the human rights field, including as Deputy Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner. A Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, in 2013 she was awarded the Australian Human Rights Commission Human Rights Law Award for her promotion and advancement of human rights in Australia.
Board member since May 2020
Penny Gerstle has advocated for asylum seekers and refugees for over 30 years, holding honorary and voluntary positions at organisations including the Refugee Advice and Casework Service, and Australia for UNHCR’s Women’s Steering Committee on Maternal Health. Penny has been Co-Chair of Human Rights Watch Australia (Sydney Committee) since April 2018, a Director of Participate Australia since 2015 and joined the Board of Mahboba’s Promise this year. She holds Masters degrees from the University of Sydney in Japanese, in International Law and in Development and Global Health Studies, and worked at the Australian Human Rights Commission in the Disability Discrimination and Race Discrimination Teams.
Board member since February 2022
Kirsten Gray is a Muruwari/Yuwaalaraay woman, mother and lawyer. She started her career representing parents in child protection matters and has gone on to work extensively in Indigenous policy and human rights. Kirsten has served numerous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioners at the Australian Human Rights Commission and has contributed to Indigenous human rights advocacy both nationally and internationally. Kirsten served as a senior policy officer on the Royal Commission into the Detention and Protection of Children in the Northern Territory and supported the Queensland Treaty Working Group in the development of the Path to Treaty report.
Board member since May 2020
Sally Karandrews is a not-for-profit, community, and disability sector leader with more than 15 years’ experience in policy development, program design and delivery, community engagement, and advocacy. A vision impaired leader herself, Sally is passionate about access and inclusion, and regularly writes or presents on the topics of disability leadership, accessible education and employment, as well as disability, sex, and gender. Sally was the Chief Executive Officer for Blind Citizens Australia until September 2023. She is now a student and Peer Assisted Study Session Leader at University of New England.
Board member since November 2023
Brooke Massender is Global Head of Pro Bono for Herbert Smith Freehills, where she leads the direction of pro bono services across a network of 26 offices. She has extensive experience in social impact, using advocacy for systemic change, and bringing together cross-sector stakeholders to achieve tangible outcomes for disadvantaged communities. Brooke is an experienced solicitor with particular expertise in access to justice and working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. She provides strategic and legal advice for several non-profits, including as a board member of Justice Connect and the PILnet Pro Bono Leadership Council.
Kate Morgan SC
Board member since November 2019
Kate Morgan is a leading Sydney barrister who appears throughout numerous jurisdictions (civil and criminal) with a focus on regulatory matters. Her practice includes regulatory investigations and litigation, corporate and commercial litigation, class actions and general appellate matters. Before being called to the Bar, Kate practiced as an attorney in New York State, and as a solicitor at Mallesons Stephen Jacques and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Board member since June 2023
John is a Partner at advisory firm KordaMentha. He is a Forensic Accounting Specialist designated by Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand. For over 25 years, John has led complex disputes and financial and accounting investigations. He has provided expert evidence in a range of Australian Courts, the High Court of Singapore and in international arbitration proceedings. His engagements have required him to investigate or provide expert opinions on issues including fraud, false accounting, failed investments, tax avoidance and breaches of contract. John attained a Bachelor’s degree in Management Sciences, with Honours, from Loughborough University (UK).
Board member since November 2020
Jade Tyrrell is a Senior Associate in Johnson Winter Slattery’s Dispute Resolution and Employment Team. She has experience acting in complex and large-scale commercial litigation, employment-related disputes, and defamation proceedings. In addition to her commercial work, Jade has a strong interest in supporting pro bono projects and assists with matters referred through Johnson Winter & Slattery’s pro bono program. Jade is a Councillor of the Law Society of New South Wales and sits on various Law Society committees.
Board member since February 2016
John Walker is recognised as a leader in the emerging global litigation funding market. He is the Managing Director of Investor Claim Partner Pty Ltd and ICP Capital Pty Ltd. John came to litigation funding more than twenty years ago after working in accounting and economics and practicing as a commercial litigator in Sydney.