The State Council, which serves the members of the Society in NSW, is made up of an elected State Council President; Central Council Presidents; and Vice Presidents who are appointed by the State Council President.

The State Council additionally fulfils the role of Trustees holding in trust all land and properties that are made available for the work of the Society.

During 2020/21, the following individuals served on the State Council and were Trustees of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in NSW:

Peter was President of St Vincent de Paul Society NSW during the 2020-21 financial year. Peter joined the Society in 1984, was on the Parramatta Regional Council, the National Council Board, and assisted the International Council General in promoting youth development. He is a member of the Pymble conference.  A solicitor in private practice since 1988, he works in business, workplace, and property law. He has also been a Regional President of the NSW Law Society, and is a Notary Public and a Director of Law Week Limited.

Beverley is Vice President of the NSW State Council, a Company Director, and Vice President of Vinnies Services. Beverley joined the Society 19 years ago and is a member of the Corrimal Conference, as well as previously serving as Regional President for Wollongong. She is also a Director of Amélie Housing. Beverley is the Chair of the Service, Quality and Safety Committee, a member of the Audit and Finance Committee, and a member of the Governance, Risk and Nominations Committee. She sits on the Coonamble Advisory Committee, and was previously Advisory President for Ozanam Industries, Migrants and Refugees, Compeer, and established the Rural Task Force. Beverley has a background in social services and previously worked for the NSW Department of Family and Community Service.

Brooke graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering (Structures)) from the University of Sydney and currently works as a Senior Structural Engineer for Taylor Thomson Whitting. She has been volunteering with the Society since 2009 including positions in the Night Patrol, Kids Camp and Buddies Days. She was the Sydney University Fundraising Coordinator (2013) and a Spiritual Officer (2012).

Maddie graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Sydney. Since then Maddie has been working in community development, running community events and implementing early intervention and prevention programs for young people. She also has experience working within the disability sector, supporting children with additional needs. Maddie first became involved with the Society in 2011 through her High School conference and has continued to be involved in various roles throughout University and beyond.

Michelle was appointed as Vice President for Youth in 2017, having been an active member of the Asquith Conference since 2015. She brings to her role a passion in youth ministry, having served as a member of the Ku-ring-gai Chase Catholic Parish Pastoral Council and also as their Youth Coordinator. Michelle has a background in nutritional science and has run her own catering business.

Algy joined the State Council as Vice President Centres & Shops in June 2021 and brings 28 years of professional experience from the Retail & Wholesale sector. His background includes working across Public Listed Companies, Franchise Networks, Family Businesses, Private Equity (TPG) and a start-up B2B & B2C business in China with IGA. Additionally, he is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) with strong Board level experience.

John became a member of the Maroubra Junction Conference in October 2006 and remains a member of the Conference to date. He was elected President of the Conference in March 2007 and still holds the position.

Additionally, John became President of the South Sydney Regional Council in July 2008 and held the position until May 2013, as well as holding the Presidency for the South-East Sydney area between May 2017 and June 2021. John worked part-time as an in-house financial counsellor for the Society across three Regions within the Sydney Central Council area between February 2011 and June 2014, when the service was discontinued.

John is a qualified accountant and a Fellow of the CPA, with qualifications in Financial Counselling (used for working for the Society) and Financial Planning. He spent six years (1988 to 1994) in two of the large accounting firms and has been a part owner of, and consultant in, a specialist tax consulting business from March 1994 to date. The business has clients across all levels of industry.

Pat Garcia is the CEO of Catholic Health Australia, the largest not for profit grouping of health and aged care services in Australia.

Pat was the Vice President of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council from 2015 to 2019, and the Chair of the National Marketing and Fundraising Committee of the Society from 2017 to 2019. He was previously employed as a youth worker at the St Vincent de Paul Society Sydney Archdiocese. He is a member of the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Randwick Conference.

Pat is a lawyer and policy expert who was previously employed as the Director of Policy to the NSW Premier, and as a Senior Adviser in the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet. He has sat on the boards of the Law Council of Australia, the Law Society of New South Wales, Shine for Kids, Surf Life Saving Sydney and Youth Action. He is a former Club Captain of Coogee Surf Life Saving Club and former Army Reserves Officer. He has degrees in Law, Finance & Marketing, Public Policy, International Law and Security.

Dr Greg Stewart is a health manager and public health physician. Dr Stewart has held senior positions in NSW Health, including Director, Primary Integrated and Community Health for South Eastern Sydney Local Health District ; Director of Population Health, Planning and Performance, Sydney South West Area Health Service (2005-2011); Deputy Director-General, Population Health and Chief Health Officer of NSW, NSW Health (2001-2005); Chief Executive Officer, Wentworth Area Health Service (2000-2001); Director of Health Services, Central Sydney Area Health Service (1996-2000); and Director of South Western Sydney Area Health Service Public Health Unit and SWSAHS Medical Officer of Health (1990-1996).

He has served as a member of the NSW Medical Board/Council; a non-Executive Director on the Boards of Sydney Water; and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Kathleen joined her local Sydney Harbour North Conference in the Northern Suburbs region in 2013. She served as Conference President and was then elected to Regional Council President in 2015. In 2017, she served as Acting Sydney Archdiocese Central Council President. She served as Vice President for Membership on State Council until March 2021 and maintains her Conference meeting attendance. She serves on the Audit and Finance Committee, the Service Quality and Safety Committee, and she is Chair of the Membership Advisory Committee. Kathleen has a Bachelor of Education (Scotland) and is a member of the Institute of Insurance (South Africa) and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

Kristen has been a member of the Society for seven years and was appointed Treasurer of the NSW State Council in 2019. Kristen is also Treasurer for the Gladesville Conference and was a member of the Audit and Finance Committee. She serves on the board of St Vincent de Paul Housing, where she was Chair of the Audit, Risk and Finance Committee and a member of the Asset Management and Development Committee. Kristen has over 20 years’ experience in commercial finance, risk management, asset management, and investment governance and is a qualified Chartered Accountant and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Kristen resigned as Treasurer, from the board of St Vincent de Paul Housing and from the audit and finance committee in August 2020.

Peter is married with three grown-up children and six grandchildren. He has worked as a psychologist for the last 18 years, mainly as a school counsellor with the Department of Education. Before that, he spent 14 years teaching mathematics in schools in Western Sydney. Peter was a Councillor on Kogarah Municipal Council, spending three of those years as Deputy Mayor. He has been active in community affairs most of his life and has been a Vincentian for nearly seven years.

Paul has been a member of the Society for over 35 years. He has served as Conference President, Centres President, and Regional President in south-western Sydney, and currently holds the positions of Conference President (St Patrick’s West Tamworth) and Armidale Diocesan Central Council President. Paul spent his working life mainly as a logistics manager in road, rail, sea and air freight, providing transport, warehousing and distribution services to the general, food, agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors. Paul is married to Jennifer, has four children and is a member of Rotary.

Tony was elected as President of the Sydney Archdiocese Central Council in June 2019. He is also President of the Sutherland Shire Regional Council, having previously served in this capacity from 2004 to 2006, and Acting President of Liverpool Regional Council. Tony joined the Society in 1986 and has always played an active role in Conference work and fundraising for the good works of the Society. He and his wife Maggie are currently members of the Oyster Bay Conference. Tony has a background in project management in the building industry and continues to work full-time.

John was elected in June 2017 for his second term as Central Council President, having served at Broken Bay in this capacity from 2008-12. Previously, John served as Central Council Spiritual Advisor, Twinning Officer and Training Officer. He and his wife Jan are members of their local Conference.

Gail has been a St Vincent de Paul Society member since 2011 with St Louise Conference Woolgoolga. She has held the positions of Conference Secretary, Conference President, Orara Regional President (pilot We Care Framework) Central Council Vice President, before taking up the President tenure in 2019. Gail has a background in Supermarket Management.

Peter has been an active member of St John the Evangelist Parish Dapto since being posted to Wollongong as a primary teacher after his marriage in 1973. He was elected as president of the parish council when it was first established under the current parish priest Father Francis Tran and is currently an active member of the Dapto Conference. At present he is the president of the Central Illawarra Regional Council. Peter holds a Bachelor Degree in Arts/History, Master of Studies and a Master of Education (Hons).

John has enjoyed a life-long journey with the Society, from Queensland to Canberra and the Maitland/Newcastle Central Council, where he serves as President. John became Interim Chair of the company Board in December 2019. Since 2010, he has also been an active member of the Cessnock Conference. John has held senior positions in both corporate and government organisations. Prior to retirement, he was Chief Operating Officer for Australia Japan Cable, an international consortium of telecom companies.

Neil joined the Society as a volunteer in 2012. He then went on to become a member in 2014 conducting care support and became Conference President the same year.

Neil was elected Central Council President in 2019 and acted as administrator of the Cudgegong Region in 2020.

Prior to retiring in 2008, he worked in both the Club Industry as a Secretary Manager, ran his own business in the printing industry and was involved in local government and state government authorities and committees.

Anne has been President of Parramatta Central Council since September 2016. She has been a member of the Society for 27 years and is currently a member of the Winston Hills Conference. She was previously The Hills Regional President, Vice President Parramatta Central Council – Member Development and Support, a member of the State Membership Advisory Committee, and President of Harris Park and Winston Hills Conferences. Anne has a background in employment and training and held senior management roles in government regulation and customer service.

James replaced Anne Stanfield as Central Council President following the conclusion of her term. James has been a member of the Society for over ten years and has been a member of the Penrith St Nicholas Conference.

Leo has been a member of the Sacred Heart Conference in Broken Hill since 2007, and was Broken Hill President from 2014 to 2019. He has a mechanical trade background and worked for 37 years in water supply and water treatment. For 10 years he held management roles as Building Trades Supervisor, Works Supervisor and Project Manager, and retired from the paid workforce in 1999. Leo was elected Wilcannia/Forbes Central Council President in July 2018 and regularly travels to all regions of the Wilcannia/ Forbes Diocese, covering 52% of NSW. Leo is also a NSW Justice of the Peace.


The State Council is supported by a number of advisory committees: 

Membership and Youth Committee Chair: Peter McNamara (during the 2020-21 financial year)

To provide advice and recommendations to the State Council and assist all Central Councils to effectively recruit, retain and support members. Works to enable members to understand, support and empower the people we serve. 

Social Justice Committee Chair: Brooke Simmons 

To advise and make recommendations to the State Council on ways to address social justice issues and enhance members’ understanding of the root causes of poverty and disadvantage. 

Spirituality Committee Chair: John Donnelly 

To provide the State Council with advice and recommendations relating to the organisation’s mission, and spiritual and pastoral development of members, volunteers and employees. 


Attended Eligible
Peter McNamara, Chair 6 6
Beverley Kerr, Deputy Chair, Vice President Special Works 6 6
Pat Garcia, Vice President, Centres (until January 2021) 3 3
Algy Pereira, Vice President, Centres (as of June 2021) 1 1
Brooke Simmons, Vice President, Social Justice 6 6
Michelle Chahine, Vice President, Membership and Youth (until June 2021) 6 6
Kathleen Thickitt, Vice-President, Membership 4 4
Kirsten Watts, Vice President, State Treasurer (until August 2020) 0 1
John Walden, Vice President State Treasurer (as of April 2021) 2 2
Madeline Sirris, Vice President, Youth 6 6
Greg Stewart, Vice President, Governance & Secretary (until December 2020) 2 3
Paul Burton, Central Council President, Armidale 4 6
Neil Rabbett, Central Council President, Bathurst 6 6
John Donnelly, Central Council President, Broken Bay (term finished June 2021) 5 5
Gail Gaudron, Central Council President, Lismore 6 6
John McKendry, Central Council President, Maitland/Newcastle 6 6
Anne Stanfield, Central Council President, Parramatta (until September 2020) 1 1
Tony Cranney, Central Council President, Sydney Archdiocese 6 6
Peter Burgess, Central Council President, Wagga Wagga 6 6
Leo Woodman, Central Council President, Wilcannia/Forbes 6 6
Peter Houweling, Central Council President, Wollongong 6 6
Frances Scurfield, OPDC Chair & Vice President, Twinning (as of June 2021) 6 6