Adam Atkin
Previous board experience: No.

Why would you like to be a part of the NMG Board?
First and foremost to continue the great tradition which has become Sydney Mardi Gras and assist in raising the bar every year for what has become the largest gay and lesbian celebration around the world. Secondly, I believe that my life and business experiences can be of great value in raising the profile of the NMG board in the community.

What direction would you like to see NMG move towards in the future?
The Mardi Gras role is first and foremost to continue to bring awareness, understanding and acceptance to the gay and lesbian community, not just in Sydney but all over the world. I think with every great festival, change and transformation is the key to keeping the event credible and respected. This transformation is to ultimately bring society at large to the knowledge that our community is an integral part of society. We are respected business persons, family orientated, community proud, your next door neighbours, sons and daughters. This I believe is a position that needs to be promoted along side the Mardi Gras parade. Not only involving the community for one specific night but for long term goals. The Mardi Gras Parade is a integral stepping stone to cementing relationships between local businesses and the NMG board.

Do you have any specific ideas for the development of organisation and its events?
Through speaking with local business and community organisations I believe there has been a drop in the support and trust in the NMG board and its endeavours in previous years. I was amazed to find that many business, especially in major areas that support a gay and lesbian community were not members of the Mardi Gras association. As part of being a board member it would be an endeavour of mine to look at increasing the membership and to rebuild open communications between local businesses and the NMG board. This would be the first step in raising the awareness of the board, its aims and endeavours. This in turn would provide much more contact, ideas, integrated communication between management and those who are at the core edge.

Do you think the NMG board still needs a chair or would you like to see any changes to the company structure?
As a member on previous boards such as the BSCAA (Building Service Contractors Association of Australia) which saw me elected in 2006 as President of the association. I do believe a Chair for such a large organisation is still in the best interest of the NMG. There must always be a face of any organisation, one that is a strong, motivated and willing to make the decision that are in the best interest of its members.

Have you had previous involvement with other community organisations?

A community organisation that is close to my heart is an HIV/AIDS children’s orphanage in Botswana of which I am the global ambassador. I have been instrumental in raising funds to provide housing, education and medication for a community of 70 children and staff. This is made possible by the fact that I have a house in Botswana and spend several months a year at the core face with these children and their community.

How do you think any prior community involvement, or perhaps your professional experience, might help you with steering the future of NMG?
Many of my business roles and work ethic I believe give me a great advantage in being apart of the NMG board. Currently my position is General Manager of a new and developing company in Sydney. It is a role that has seen the business grow from a small local company into a competitive multimillion corporation. Prior to this I was a partner in a business in the same field that saw it grow from the grass roots to a 30 million a year business. I have been the driving force behind industry functions over the past few years, which involved promoting of the industry, fundraising and production of events which brought together corporations nationally.

Why would you urge members of the community to vote for you? What makes you the best person for this role?
My core goal is to be apart of the organisation long term. I believe in the organisation, it’s goals and beliefs. I have a very driven and outgoing nature. I see things through to the end no matter what the hurdles. Life is meant to be lived to the full and being apart of an organisation that can bring heightened awareness of our community can only increase the joys of life and perhaps bring to future generations much better acceptance/outlook for being who they are.

Adam Bratt
Previous board experience: No
Why would you like to be part of the NMG Board?
New Mardi Gras is an important organisation that helps people share the cultural, social and artistic aspects of the GLTBQ communities with the wider community of Sydney and its visitors.

What direction would you like to see NMG move towards in the future?
New Mardi Gras has been and should remain a high profile voice for those who wish to participate. I believe that Parade/Party should not be seen as the only important events that NMG organises or oversees.
NMG needs to make sure that it responds to its members and meets their needs but should also nurture new and exciting forms of expression. If the community is not continually challenged to think, question and appreciate the messages of contributors to New Mardi Gras then I believe the festival is not fully achieving its purpose.
For example, NMG should continue to work closely with groups such as Dykes on Bikes, Sydney Harbour Bears and SGLBA.
I think that there should be a stronger focus on the diverse pool of Australian talent rather than continuing to focus on international identifies, often far removed from the experiences of our communities.

Do you think the NMG Board still needs a chair or would you like to see changes to the company structure?
I am not comfortable with the current structure of the Board. I feel that the final shape of the Board is a discussion that would be undertaken by the Board after the election.
My professional experience has shown me that a -˜figurehead’ often assumes more power than is actually authorised. On this basis a -˜chairperson’ is a concept that should, in future, be approached with caution.
I would recommend the new board not only consider this idea but any other ideas that are raised by all of the members of the new board.

Have you had any involvement with other community organisations?
I was an office-holder for the Monash University Law Society, responsible for the Communications Committee. In this role I managed and organised the Law Society publications and also promotions and events management.
I have been a volunteer lawyer at community legal services in Melbourne and Sydney and sat on the board of the Footscray Community Legal Service for two years, one of those as treasurer.
I currently volunteer as a court support worker, working to assist victims of crime in understanding and being as comfortable as possible with the court process.

How do you think any prior community involvement, or perhaps your professional experience, might help you in steering the future of NMG?
Community involvement and professional dealings with a wide range of people and organisations have taught me the importance of approaching each new situation with regard to the context in which it occurs.
I have knowledge and skills crucial to the professional operation of the role of a board that exists primarily to guide the organisation.
I support and practice due process, diligence and open communication in all dealings. These beliefs have been underpinned by my life experience to date.

Why would you urge members of the community to vote for you? What makes you the best person for this role?
I believe that our community does not have one story. I see my role on the NMG board as assisting our communities to share their stories.

Joshua Crouthamel
Part of me wants to be a member of the board so I can help NMG be a better business. New Mardi Gras is a business, and I can already see how it could run better, be bigger and gain more profit share. I’ve got the skills and international marketing and event management experience to know how to do this, and the initiative and drive to see it through.

But the more compelling reason for putting my hand up is that I think the board needs a renewed focus on our community. Sure, Mardi Gras needs to make money. But for a few minutes every year the world’s spotlight is on us and that’s an opportunity money just can’t buy, and with it comes a huge responsibility. I’d like to see us represented as the brilliant and talented people we are. To remind the world we still don’t have equal rights in Australia. And to show everyone we know how to throw the mother of all parties.

I feel the community’s voice should reverberate in the ears of the board louder than it has in the recent past. I think when the board makes decisions both profit and people need to be taken into consideration. And I think I’m well-placed to bring the community’s ideas, rants and raves to the table, along with my own business acumen. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and what you want from New Mardi Gras this year: email me at MyMardiGras@gmail.com. Because it IS your Mardi Gras. And as a member of this community, you should be proud of it. Let me help make that happen this year.

Michael Douglas
Previous board experience: Treasurer 2006-08
Why would you like to be a part of the NMG board?
At the 2006 AGM, I said that financial security of New Mardi Gras was my focus and as a guide I wanted $1 million cash in the bank, clear of liabilities, to support that position. At the end of the 2008 Season we had achieved that target. Now to be able to focus on growing NMG rather than just surviving, as it has done, is an opportunity not to be missed.
After a year off, during which time work commitments have not left me any free time, I now want to be a part of NMG again. Passion for NMG had to take a back seat when the paid job demanded seven days a week work.
NMG needs a senior accounting professional with a conservative view on how money should be spent to ensure that profits continue to grow and for it to continue towards being financially secure. Without this, continued financial stability is at risk. We all know what happened to the old Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and even NMG was not immune, with poor financial management contributing to NMG’s 2005 loss of $244,000.
I want to help NMG continue to grow and continue to provide a number of world-class events during February/March each year.

If you have previously been on the board, why are you running again?
NMG needs a senior qualified accounting professional as treasurer and my three years, 2006 to 2008, were not enough. I have the drive and passion needed.

What mistakes do you think have been made by the board in the past, and how can they be corrected?
No one is perfect or immune from mistakes. While I am privy to many things from my three years on the hoard, here is not the place to discuss that information re past actions.
The current decision taken by the current board, many of whom are standing for re-election, to have Parade and Party a week apart is ludicrous. NMG attracts a significant number of interstate and overseas tourists. Most come to Sydney for a long weekend and then either go home or on to one of Australia’s major tourist attractions. The decision, which I understand is now locked in, just means a lot of regional and interstate community members will not attend or limit attendance to either Party or Parade.
Perhaps the real reason for the split of Parade and Party can be provided at the AGM by one of the existing board, rather than leaving us with the feeble attempt to suggest it was because it would allow more Parade volunteers to attend.

What direction would you like to see NMG move towards in the future?
Grow and grow profitability. NMG is a business like any other organisation, however, it must also continue to consult the community in respect of significant matters affecting its operations, preferably before the decision is made.

Do you have any specific ideas for the development of organisation and its events?
Keep Parade and Party on the same weekend.
Have the festival go back to three weeks.
Move the Parade to William St -” after all the first Mardi Gras in 1978 ended up marching up William St to Kings Cross -” and finish at Rushcutters Bay Park and see if the Darlinghurst Business Association, representing Oxford St businesses, will offer to be a sponsor of NMG to retain the Oxford St route.

Do you think the NMG board still needs a chair or would you like to see any changes to the company structure?
The NMG board needs a chair and someone who is able to dedicate a huge amount of time to NMG. Past chairman Marcus Bourget, for example, worked part-time in order to manage the workload.
There is business at the AGM proposing to change the corporate structure of NMG. While this will have a positive impact on the continued survival of NMG, there will be little visible change to what NMG does and what each event looks like.

Have you had previous involvement with other community organisations?
No.

How do you think any prior community involvement, or perhaps your professional experience, might help you with steering the future of NMG?
I don’t think there is any other community organisation that could prepare you for a season of Mardi Gras. My three years experience in NMG as part of the team steering its course, plus 25 years as a chartered accountant was exactly what was needed from 2006 to 2008 and is needed now.

Why would you urge members of the community to vote for you? What makes you the best person for this role?
During my three years as treasurer we grew profits (2006 – $158,000, 2007 – $240,000 and 2008 – $484,000) through good sound financial management. This followed the disastrous 2005 loss of 244,000. The credit for these increased profits goes to the entire board and not just my efforts.
I am someone who is prepared to get their hands dirty doing whatever is necessary to help out. In addition to my role as treasurer, I have spent many hours in the NMG workshop helping create Party scenery and have the paint-spattered T-shirts and shoes to prove it. Working on-site at Fox for Party bump-in is also hard work but a lot of fun.
Being financially secure is important and I will do everything in my power to ensure NMG builds on the base. Having produced three budgets and many re-forecasts for NMG, I am intimately aware of how NMG needs to budget and monitor expenditure for each event that NMG undertakes.
There are candidates who have been (Nick Parker) or is (Rob Partos) treasurer before. These two are current board members. Neither has the wealth of financial experience I have had in my 25 years of working life, nor the three years experience as treasurer.

Mohamed Duar
Previous board experience: No

Why would you like to be a part of the NMG Board?
I wish to join the New Mardi Gras board to bring my experience in fundraising to the organisation, and assist in reinvigoration of membership. Currently, I am the national donor liaison manager of Amnesty International, raising over $1 million p.a. to protect and defend human rights, including LGBTQI rights. My previous role was Sponsorship Manager of the AIDS Trust where I raised over $¼ million. Through both these positions I have gained a wealth of experience working for community and membership-based organisations. The positions have allowed me to evolve into a highly successful fundraiser which would be an asset to NMG.
I remain acutely aware of the civil, political and human rights struggles by the ’78ers and others internationally, struggles that seem to often be overlooked by others, particularly those my age and younger. I wish to see NMG enhance its relevance in the current community, in respect of those who fought for the rights we enjoy today. I have an inclusive goal for NMG. Through consultation and collaboration our community should be mobilised to join NMG as it represents not only what we have achieved, but who we are today, and how we define ourselves into the future.

What direction would you like to see NMG move towards in the future?
I would like to see NMG become more inclusive and collaborative with other organisations including BGF, Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and Amnesty International to have more of a political voice, and more representative of the community. The current consultation by the Federal Government on a Human Rights Act saw a large submission from the community calling for equal civil rights including gay marriage and I would like to see NMG use its voice to add weight to the argument for equal rights. By reflecting the views of the community people, including youth would feel mobilised to support NMG by joining as members, and have a greater say in key decisions the organisation makes through consultation, whether regarding the Parade/Party split or other issues of interest.

Do you have any specific ideas for the development of organisation and its events?
I think NMG should associate with other Pride and gay rights marches around the world, and lend its support to those who are persecuted. Riga Pride in Lativia, Moscow Pride and Pride in Tel Aviv suffer from persecution by the religious orthodox, right wing and extremists. We should demonstrate solidarity with those are are performing the same civil rights struggle as the ’78ers and Stonewall.
I would also like to see greater involvement of youth in the organisation.

Do you think the NMG board still needs a chair or would you like to see any changes to the company structure?
I think this question should be put to the membership, how do they best see the company structured with consultation with staff and the board. Feedback of late has indicated the community doesn’t feel they have been consulted on key issues and decisions and I would seek to address this. NMG exists for the community, and should have all of our interests at heart, while still remaining aware of how to best run the organisation in terms of events and fundraising.

Have you had previous involvement with other community organisations?
I have been a NMG member for several years and have a long history successfully fundraising for the AIDS Trust of Australia, and Amnesty International Australia. In particular I was instrumental in Amnesty International’s involvement for this year’s Nations United Mardi Gras where we helped focus on human rights for the LGBTQI community around the world which is something I am proud of.

Why would you urge members of the community to vote for you? What makes you the best person for this role?
I urge members of the community to vote for me because I believe that I can help make NMG relevant, help build the membership and assist with fundraising. I strongly believe that Mardi Gras since its inception has been about who we are, and who we choose to be and I don’t want the organisation to lose sight of that. I want to reinvigorate NMG through inclusivity, and by listening to the many voices within our community. The ’78ers fought for the rights we all enjoy today, and there is still more work to be done. It’s a community-based organisation and should work with and for the community. It is clear from what people are saying is that they feel left out of decision-making, and I want to address that.

Joshua Keech
Previous board experience: elected onto the board in February of this year.
Why would you like to be a part of the NMG board?
I have passion for community and get a sense of fulfilment from encouraging others to actively participate. After all, New Mardi Gras (and the board) is only the vehicle through which we assist, promote and support the GLBTQ community -” the members of this community are the central pillar of our organisation.

If you have previously been on the board, why are you running again?
To continue as a board member would allow me to build on my current experience, see through a number of changes that we have recently made and use my business and strategy skills to create a stronger, exciting and even more successful NMG.

What mistakes do you think have made by the board in the past, and how can they be corrected?

Throughout the history of Mardi Gras, the collective boards have made some decisions they may not have made in hindsight ­-” as do most organisations from time to time. NMG has learned from this, and action has been taken to prevent mistakes from happening again. Looking at the change to separate the party and the parade in 2010, the jury is still out as to whether this is a good idea or not. I’m really excited about the festival layout, but one thing we have learned is that the community should have been consulted more thoroughly. We need to ensure this lack of community consultation does not happen again. It is for that reason that I support the proposed amendment to the constitution, which means significant changes to the parade, party, or festival or to the direction of the organisation cannot be made without the matter being voted on by members. This includes such changes as having the party and parade being on a separate night, other than in 2010.
The important thing is that systems are put in place that allow the organisation to grow and be innovative but at the same time carefully evaluate the risk and potential liability that any action may take. If I am successful in retaining my position on the board, I will continue to maintain strict due diligence and risk assessment with the invaluable assistance of our Audit and Risk Committee, along with thorough consultation at a community level to ensure that decisions are strategic, considered and deliverable.

What direction would you like to see NMG move towards in the future?

My vision is that NMG should be looking to further develop the mix between being a profitable company, while not losing sight of its primary mandate as an organisation that re-invests in our community.

Do you have any specific ideas for the development of the organisation and its events?

NMG must strike the right balance between strategy, execution, and operations. In my view, the board should be driving from a strategic basis to lead the way on behalf of the community. I don’t think it should be up to one director, or even the board, to drive specific change to the operations of the organisation or to NMG’s events. I am always looking for ways to make things new, better, more relevant and smarter, and this is a collaborative process. I am committed to the ongoing open and transparent flow of ideas from all members and staff on ways to move the organisation and its events forward to being bigger and better.

Do you think the NMG board still needs a chair or would you like to see any changes to the company structure?
I think the board will always need a leadership position but this doesn’t necessarily mean a chair -” I’m open to consider other structures and models that achieve our ends. The role needs to be a central point: a facilitator who is representative of the entire board. Internally, the role’s purpose is to provide accessibility to the board between meetings. Externally, it is NMG’s representation to our community. These are big responsibilities.

Have you had previous involvement with other community organisations?
I have a proven track record of being actively involved in the community and bring this to NMG. I am particularly passionate about engaging others, and assisting others so that too may continue to go on making a real difference for those that may not be able to do it themselves.
I get a great sense of reward from community involvement and delivering real change. Over 2007 and 2008, through extensive lobbying, I coordinated a team to successfully raise the minimum wage for over 115,000 NSW residents to live above the poverty line. This has been one of my greatest personal achievements.
I have also been on the steering committee of Lifesavers With Pride and am also an active member of the Bondi and North Bondi clubs.
Further, I have actively fought for gay and lesbian rights and youth rights through my involvement with the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland’s consultative committees and through the federal inquiry into same sex entitlements.

How do you think any prior community involvement, or perhaps your professional experience, might help you with steering the future of NMG?
From my role as a solicitor and also my work as an advocate in community organisations, I have become a successful mediator and facilitator. One of my strengths on the board to date has been being able to assist the board to come to a unanimous consensus on a wide range of issues. Professionally I advise executives on legal perspectives of business change and efficacy, on both an operational and strategic level. This is something that strongly links to the role of director.

Why would you urge members of the community to vote for you? What makes you the best person for this role?
I would urge members of NMG to consider the broad range of skills of the people being nominated and how the team should be comprised. I show a demonstrated blend of community and business and I think this makes me a great choice for a position on the board table at NMG. Even over the last few months since my appointment to the board, I have shown my commitment to growing the organisation in a exciting and successful way (for example, as Board Sponsor for Parties and Legal) while at the same time ensuring every decision is reviewed to organisational risk and follows our strategic platform. I have shown that I take our community seriously, and that I deliver on the goals set for me. This organisation is more than an events company, it is a fundamental part of our community and I will work to make sure that it remains that way.

Kirk Muddle
Previous board experience: board member since 2005.

Why would you like to be a part of the NMG Board?

I still believe that I have a lot to bring to the organisation as well as a significant amount of organisational knowledge and experience. I am also very keen to continue to work with people like Anna McInerney, Katrina Marton and the rest of the Mardi Gras staff and volunteers.

If you have previously been on the board, why are you running again? What mistakes do you think have made by the board in the past, and how can they be corrected?

In my time on the board I have watched the organisation come back from the brink of disaster and grow into what it is today. To be able to contribute to such a vibrant organisation, within my community is something I am happy and proud of, and something I would like to continue to do until I lose my passion for it all. I am also a sucker for a great parade.
With respect to the comments on mistakes, I think this has been more of a valuable learning experience rather than a mistake this year regarding the shape of the 2010 season and how we consulted and communicated with members. It’s something I am keen to address. I believe there are some changes that could be made to the constitution to ensure similar situations are dealt with in a more consultative manner.

What direction would you like to see NMG move towards in the future?
New Mardi Gras is forever changing to continue to reflect the GLBTQ communities as they change and diversify. Looking at where the whole event has come from and where it is now I think gives me an indication of how (not where) it will change over time.
As for further change, it’s almost inevitable, but at this point I can’t say what those changes may be. Changes to the organisation and the events we provide should only be decided after proper consultation with our membership, our communities and other stakeholders is complete.

Do you have any specific ideas for the development of organisation and its events?
I have been deeply involved in parade logistics for some time, and while I don’t have any particularly revolutionary ideas, I do have ideas that I have been working with the Parade Working group on to better organise the operations of the parade and connect it more effectively to the employees of the organisation.
Being on the board and liaising closely with the working groups, I am presented with a wide range of ideas for the development of events, and when I am presented with what I believe is a good idea, I feel it’s part of my role to take it forward and work with the board to investigate the idea and if it’s sound to make it happen.

Do you think the NMG board still needs a chair or would you like to see any changes to the company structure?
I feel it would be premature to say anything on this until after the elections and the first board meeting. The new board could come up with a number of scenarios -” chair, co-chair, no chair.
Whatever the scenario is, I look forward to being a part of a board that is there to support Anna and all the staff and volunteers in organising and executing all the events.

Have you had previous involvement with other community organisations?

No -” when I moved to Sydney with my partner in 1999, the only event and community organisation that we both agreed we wanted to be involved in was Mardi Gras.
For both of us, having lived in Brisbane, this was the event that provided exposure for the GLBTQ community, and always made us think, Gee, we’d like to be involved in that. We have been since the 2000 parade, and still love the organisation dearly for what it has given us, freedom to just be.

How do you think any prior community involvement, or perhaps your professional experience, might help you with steering the future of NMG?
I have been working on the parade, starting as a volunteer in 2000. I have been involved with the board as parade board sponsor since 2005, and I have been involved with all the relevant levels of planning (state government, local government, etc) throughout the process.
In my day-to-day life I work in large-scale retail property project development and leasing.
As a direct result of my professional experience I have a strong mindset of planning and organisational management skills.
I am also fortunate enough to have a great support system at home in my long-suffering partner Malcolm, who shares the same enthusiasm for the organisation as I do. Support from your partner and friends should never be underestimated!

Why would you urge members of the community to vote for you? What makes you the best person for this role?
I believe that a successful board is made of a range of people with a range of experiences. As one of the longer-serving board members, I feel I still have a lot left in me to give to the organisation. I also believe I have a role as a mentor for some of the newer board members.
More importantly I would urge all members of the community to join the organisation and to vote. This is your organisation, and it is only as members that you can shape and influence the direction of New Mardi Gras.

Lynne O’Brien
Previous board experience:
On the board 2002.

Why would you like to be a part of the NMG Board?
I want to join the board because I think I have a skill set that will be of benefit to the organisation. I was seconded to the board in 2002 when the organisation was in trouble, and with a great team of community members put the organisation back on track.
I would like to see the interests of those with interests and passion outside the dance party /club scene represented -” GLBTQ parents, grandparents! country folk -” isolated and older members of our community, younger members of our community. I believe that the needs of these groups are slowly being recognised, but more development is required. I am also concerned about community consultation, communication and engagement, and that the audit and risk committee be reinstated to continue to monitor and support the organisation.
One of my goals -” the alumni program -” will set up a vehicle/facilitation mechanism to bring some much needed skills and opinions of valued community members back into the organisation.

If you have previously been on the board, why are you running again? What mistakes do you think have made by the board in the past, and how can they be corrected?

I was seconded to the board in 2002/3 and left the position to work in a contract position to procure sponsorship in 2004 for the ’04/’05 season. I then left Sydney to work in Bathurst and maintained my connection to the organisation by volunteering for Parade. I am running again because I have a commitment to working on setting up a vehicle to facilitate more community involvement through the alumni program. I believe that past boards have worked with the best interests of the organisation at heart, but perhaps we must all be reminded that the board of any not-for-profit organisation is voluntary, and human. There is a fine balance between ego, self-interest, motivation and the reality of the day-to-day grind.

What direction would you like to see NMG move towards in the future?
I think Mardi Gras is a great organisation there is a lot of passion, both positive and negative, which demonstrates we are a community that cares. We care about our rights -” we care about the rights of others in our community and we also know how to celebrate.
I believe the role of Mardi Gras is ever-changing -” reflecting and representing the rights and passions of a changing communit. The issues that were around in the ’70s are not as relevant today -” but there are many emerging issues and we as a community must tackle them head on.
Mardi Gras must act responsibly and listen to our members, and conduct the activities of the company with business and financial awareness. The role of Mardi Gras is to represent the views of its members and members of the GLBTQ communities, to provide a vehicle to celebrate and communicate these views, which I think it does already -” but there is always room to expand and improve.

Do you have any specific ideas for the development of organisation and its events?
Yes I do.

Do you think the NMG board still needs a chair or would you like to see any changes to the company structure?
I would like to see male and female co-chairs who work together with the board and staff to run the organisation. I also think it is important for the NMG CEO and other key staff to be the face of the organisation -” with the board working to manage and maintain clear reporting procedures, sound financial management, open lines of communication and community engagement.

Have you had previous involvement with other community organisations?
I have volunteered and worked in the not-for-profit sector in a number of roles: convener ACTMUSIC Inc, founding member ACT Gay & Lesbian QWIRE and Cyrene’s Women’s Choir, sales manager at Capital Q, business development manager SSO Media, board member New Mardi Gras, co-chair Fair Day Working Group 2003, co-chair of Sydney PRIDE Centre, member of the bid team for the 2002 Gay Games Sydney bid.

How do you think any prior community involvement, or perhaps your professional experience, might help you with steering the future of NMG?
I have extensive event production and people management experience and years of involvement with GLBTQ not-for-profit, theatre, music- and arts-based companies.
In the ’80s and ’90s in Canberra I was a founding member of Gay & Lesbian Choir, Cyrene’s Women’s Choir, PANDA (Poofs and Dykes Advocate) newspaper, and worked with the AIDS Action Council to raise funds through my management of the gay and lesbian nightclub Heaven.
I moved to Sydney in 1995 where I worked for Capital Q in the role of sales manager and was PRIDE co-president from 1996 -“ 2000. I worked as SSO Media business development manager, and went to Denver as part of the Sydney 2002 Gay Games bid. I was seconded to the board of New Mardi Gras in 2002, chairing the Fair Day Committee and producing a profitable event. I left the board in 2004 to work as NMG Sponsorship Manager.
I have a Graduate Certificate in Arts Management and Masters of Arts Management.
I live in Robertson NSW, working in Sydney and Canberra. I have three adult children, two grandchildren. In 2008 I married my female partner in a ceremony at the British Consulate. I believe I can bring an alternative point of view to NMG

Nicholas Parker
Previous board experience:
board member since 2003.

Why would you like to be a part of the NMG Board?
I started my involvement with Mardi Gras as a Parade volunteer and I share our community’s love and passion for Parade as the night of our lives and the time each year when we take to the streets and claim our rightful and equal place in the world. I want to see this amazing event continue to thrill and delight our community and force the wider local and global community to take note that we are visible and proud. Parade is the heart and soul of Mardi Gras and I wish to work to ensure that continues to be the case.

If you have previously been on the board, why are you running again? What mistakes do you think have made by the board in the past, and how can they be corrected?
Yes, I have previously served on NMG boards. I joined the first NMG board in January 2003 and was treasurer/director/Board Sponsor Medical for the 2003 and 2004 boards, serving two full terms. A key issue since 2003 has been attracting and developing young talented volunteers to the working groups and the board, especially women. I would like to see a much more concerted effort to achieve this via the establishment of a permanent nominations and governance committee given the responsibility to identify and nurture potential new talent, mentoring them and developing a stronger pool of board candidates for the future.

What direction would you like to see NMG move towards in the future?
I would like to see our core events strengthened and more new events evolve. Our community is very clear that Fair Day, Parade, MG Party and Sleaze are the foundation of our event portfolio and in 2010, after two formative years, we have plans for Harbour Party to once again take its place as one of the world’s best GLBTQ parties. The appointment of a head of events will see a greater focus on the production values of all these events and their continued financial success will allow the company to develop new ideas in the future.
It is also essential that the board and organisation recommit to listening to and consulting with its members and the GLBTQ community, particularly when making significant organisational changes. The board can never forget Mardi Gras’ foundation in the GLBTQ community and that the community is a very important stakeholder in its future. To that end, since joining the board in May 2009 I have worked hard to help the board develop the proposal for the constitutional amendment at the forthcoming AGM to make consultation about major issues mandatory as part of the board’s decision-making process. But that should not be the end of it -” the NMG board must always be listening to feedback from NMG’s members, working group members and other individuals, GLBTQ community organisations and the GLBTQ community generally, in order to fully inform itself and ensure the ongoing support which is so essential.

Do you think the NMG board still needs a chair or would you like to see any changes to the company structure?
The constitution of NMG gives the board of directors the mandate to agree to key positions and roles from within. With a limit of eight directors, the board must carefully consider the impact of how roles are allocated and responsibilities assigned. NMG has had both single chair and co-chair positions in the past as the board saw appropriate at the time. I think there is always a danger in having too much emphasis on the role and it becoming too presidential or focussed on an individual. NMG has thousands of volunteers and members who contribute to the success of the organisation and a very talented small pool of staff and management. If elected, I will suggest to the incoming board to reconsider the role and nature of board leadership versus organisational and community leadership. The promotion of a single individual can often result in the talents of the rest of the board not being fully used. I think there is need to place more emphasis on the role of the board sponsor positions to represent their areas such as Parade, Party and Fair Day, etc, and for the board to have nominated spokeperson/s to represent it in community matters.

Have you had previous involvement with other community organisations?
Yes. Previous to moving to Sydney I volunteered for various London organisations such as Stonewall and The Terrence Higgins Trust and I have been a BGF Volunteer 1994-95, I worked on (nearly all) ACON Hand in Hand Parties as a Production Volunteer (1996-2003), I was a Parade volunteer and Parade committee member for SGLMG, and director/treasurer for Aurora in 2007/08.

How do you think any prior community involvement, or perhaps your professional experience, might help you with steering the future of NMG?
My experience of serving on NMG board previously taught me you have to be able to successfully balance the community and the membership’s aspirations and expectations with sound commercial decisions, along with good governance and financial planning and reporting. I have strong commercial skills, come from a risk management and project management consultancy background and this has proved to be a great asset to past NMG boards. And I never underestimate the usefulness of being the youngest of eleven siblings in helping me understand how to best work with my fellow board members and a vast pool of diverse community volunteers.

Why would you urge members of the community to vote for you? What makes you the best person for this role?
I have commitment, experience and a very keen sense of humour, all of which I will use to ensure my term on the board is enjoyable and productive for all concerned.

Rob Partos
Previous board experience:
Treasurer since October 2008.

Why would you like to be a part of the NMG Board?
Over a number of years New Mardi Gras has been very important in my life and was particularly important for me in helping me establish my identity. I have been part of New Mardi Gras since 1998 as a participant in the Parade and as a volunteer on a number of occasions, I joined the Board by invitation in late 2008 and was asked to be the finance director and treasurer.
As the treasurer I can draw on 20 years of finance experience and I believe that my professional skills and knowledge along with the knowledge I have gained inside Mardi Gras have been and can continue to be of use to the organisation.
Finally, I strongly believe in what the organisation can achieve in providing acceptance for gay, lesbian and transgender people both in Australia and internationally. I am very proud to be a part of it and would like to continue to contribute.

If you have previously been on the board, why are you running again? What mistakes do you think have been made by the board in the past, and how can they be corrected?
I have only been on the board for eight months and I feel I have a great deal to give the organisation through continuing the work I have started this year. I would like to continue to work with Anna McInerney and her team to assist them manage and sustain the financial stability that the last few years of success have delivered to the organisation.
In an organisation like NMG there are always going to be mistakes and missteps. I believe the best way to deal with these is to be honest and open when these things occur, to accept responsibility and to seek to learn from them.
One of the things I have learned through some of the issues of the last few months is that an organisation like NMG cannot make critical decisions without asking the communities we represent and listening clearly to their answers.

What direction would you like to see NMG move towards in the future?

As the communities involved in NMG change then the organisation should ensure that it keeps pace with those changes.
The changes we make may be small (like changing the order of the floats in the Parade) or large (like adding Harbour Party to the official program) but they should always be changes that are in line with the organisation’s aims and objectives and they should be changes that the communities we represent understand and are willing to accept.

Do you have any specific ideas for the development of organisation and its events?
I believe that one of the key tools for the survival of New Mardi Gras is to ensure the financial underpinnings of the organisation are secure. I hope to continue to work with the board and Anna McInerney to develop stronger and more transparent financial and budgetary systems. I hope these will allow us to better predict and control the costs of the organisation and more appropriately deal with changes in the income streams over time.

Do you think the NMG board still needs a chair or would you like to see any changes to the company structure?
The structure of the new board is a matter that should be discussed by the new board in consultation with the members and the employees of New Mardi Gras.
There are undoubtedly as many benefits in having a chair as there are limitations. This is true for any model. I feel a greater sense of -˜sponsorship’ of the events spread more widely amongst the members of the board might ensure a sharper focus on individual events than has been the case in the past.
Whatever happens, I think it is the role of all members of the board to support and advise Anna and the staff as they work with the volunteers in organising and making all of the events happen throughout the year.

Have you had previous involvement with other community organisations?
Throughout my life I have been active in a number of community organisations, including working with people with both physical and mental disabilities as well as in aged care. This experience allowed me to see how hard it can be for people who have no voice communicate with the world at large and the importance of ensuring the individual’s rights are protected.
I believe the listening and general communications skills I developed in this role can assist me in understanding how our communities need organisations like New Mardi Gras to provide them with a voice. It also continues to remind me that in order to communicate on behalf of others the first thing I have to do is listen to what they have to say.

How do you think any prior community involvement, or perhaps your professional experience, might help you with steering the future of NMG?
I have been part of New Mardi Gras since 1998 as a participant in the Parade and as a volunteer on a number of occasions. I think seeing one of the key events from the bottom up has given me an appreciation of how much the organisation means to people who participate in or attend any of the events. I believe this viewpoint will allow me as a board member to keep the desires and experiences of the members and the communities we represent -˜on the table’ when discussions are had and decisions are made.
Mardi Gras was one of the things that attracted me to Sydney six years ago when I left Melbourne to live here. As someone who looked to Sydney as an -˜outsider’, I think I bring an appreciation of the role it plays outside the specific confines of Sydney.
I have worked in the finance industry for 20 years and I have applied these skills to the organisation and I am happy to continue to support and advise the organisation and the board in these areas as well as performing my duties as a board member if I am returned to the board.
New Mardi Gras also has a specifically personal place in my heart as it is where I met my partner.

Why would you urge members of the community to vote for you? What makes you the best person for this role?
The best board in the world can only do what it does through the support of its members. I believe I have some useful skills and a strong sense of commitment to New Mardi Gras.
I would urge all of the members to think about the organisation they want New Mardi Gras to be and to support the candidates who will help them create that organisation.

Steph Sands
Previous board experience:
Member of NMG phoenix board from 2002-05. Two years as co-chair. On the current board for two years

Why would you like to be a part of the NMG Board?
It is a very exciting time for NMG right now. The organisation that was established in 2002-2003 has evolved into a sophisticated company which is now generating good profit and increased brand value, and this is what was required for the organisation to become stable and sustainable. However, with this emphasis on stability, I believe two core areas have been neglected: that of our members and also community. I would like to work towards giving our members the opportunity of a greater voice in our organisation, and for Mardi Gras to strengthen our relationships with the other organisations in our community.
From a personal perspective I love Mardi Gras! I constantly hear stories of the impact this organisation has on individuals -” especially younger people -” and for something to be so strong and visible and supportive, how could you not want to be involved in that.

If you have previously been on the board, why are you running again? What mistakes do you think have been made by the board in the past, and how can they be corrected?
With the different format of the 2010 season, I believe what NMG needs right now is consistency and knowledge. In August 2008, five directors were appointed to the NMG board. Only two of these (Kirk Muddle and me) are re-standing at this election.
In addition I feel it is important that female voices remain on the board moving forward in order to ensure a broad representation of all ourcommunities.
I was previously appointed to the phoenix board in December 2002, and took on the role of co-chair of the organisation from 2003-2005. Those initial years of the organisation would not have been possible without the continual involvement, goodwill and dedication of a cast of thousands of volunteers. They were incredible times which taught me about the power of a collective group in achieving great things.
I believe all community organisations and leaders make mistakes, I know I made mistakes in my previous term as co-chair and I have always worked hard to ensure those mistakes are not repeated firstly by myself, and then by others within the organisation by trying to install process and policy. Of particular note over the previous twelve months is that the community consultation process engaged regarding the 2010 season was inadequate. As part of this years annual general meeting a motion is being put to the members that will change the constitution in order to provide a framework and process for the board to take significant decisions to the members for consultation.

What direction would you like to see NMG move towards in the future?
It is a very exciting time for NMG right now. The organisation that was established in 2002-2003 has evolved into a sophisticated company which is now generating good profit and increased brand value, and this is what was required for the organisation to become stable and sustainable. However, with this emphasis on stability, I believe that two core areas have been neglected: that of our members and also community. I would like to work towards giving our members the opportunity of a great voice in our organisation, and for Mardi Gras to strengthen our relationships with the other organisations in our community.
I would also like to see Mardi Gras retain that political edginess that it once possessed in the ’90s. The witty way in which it presented real issues and helped solve real problems.
In a nutshell, I want to see NMG move forward with our members into being a strong and political community voice and organisation that represents all our collective communities.

Do you have any specific ideas for the development of organisation and its events?
In order to have specific ideas you need well-developed strategies and I believe Mardi Gras now needs to start working on our strategic plan not just for next year, but for the next three years. The board has committed to delivering a plan to the members that addresses that in this year’s annual report.
From a tactical perspective, some specific ideas have been generated with the membership working group about how to re-engage our membership more than just at our core events. I look forward to seeing some of these implemented quite quickly.

Do you think the NMG board still needs a chair or would you like to see any changes to the company structure?
Mardi Gras will always tether with the debate of corporate company versus community organisation, and as such decisions around leadership structure need to be made in consideration of that.
From a corporate point of view the role of the chair, which is selected by a company’s board to lead the board of directors, is to preside over meetings and lead the board to consensus from the disparate points of view of its members, who hopefully, will represent different aspects of the organisations constituency. In other words the role of the chair is to lead the board in strategic decisionmaking. In public companies the role of the chair is distinct from that of the CEO who runs the operational aspects of the company.
In my opinion, New Mardi Gras has grown significantly enough over the past seven years where this distinction is now achievable, and the CEO should be elevated to a leadership and more public position in regards to the operational aspects of the organisation, such as the role Stevie Clayton has played at ACON over the past 10 years.
However, it is also understood that as a community organisation, the board cannot allow the corporate aspects of the company to continually come before the needs of the community and the desires of the membership. Some leadership structure of the board is required to not only address the fundamental corporate requirements of the company, but also to address the community need for the organisation.
Some form of leadership is required, but it is the role of the entire board to discuss and debate the different options before coming to a mutual decision.

Have you had previous involvement with other community organisations?
NMG: Director/co-chair 2003-2005, director 2008-2009
ACON -” volunteer
Community Angels -” established in 2005 with Lou-Ann Lind to produce special community projects.
Witch Theatre -” during the ’90s I was on the committee for Witch Theatre, the lesbian theatre group.
I have also had volunteering experience with other non-community-related charities and groups in Sydney and in Wagga Wagga.

How do you think any prior community involvement, or perhaps your professional experience, might help you with steering the future of NMG?
What NMG needs from its board is strong, calm, sensible leadership which is foremost inclusive and accessible. I have a long history with NMG and this knowledge is a great asset when formulating new strategies and ideas for moving it forward. In addition I had a three year break from the organisation to ensure I did not become one of those people who are wedded to how things used to be. Like a person, NMG must keep evolving, and I can provide calm strategic leadership on the board to enable and include the right skill sets of people to have a clear voice in doing that.
For the past 12 years I have managed teams of people, relationships and projects, and I have been very successful in creating inclusive, open and transparent cultures. This is the skill I predominately bring into the organisation and collectively we get things done.

Why would you urge members of the community to vote for you? What makes you the best person for this role?
I have five objectives I would like to achieve over my next term on the board:
1) Financial stability -” monitor, review and act on budgetary and operational P/L activity.
2) Inclusive leadership -” formulate strategies in which leadership can be more inclusive towards our members, staff and volunteers.
3) Membership -” formulate strategies to enable members to have a greater voice in the organisation.
4) Establish stronger community engagement with other organisations, including greater involvement by and visibility to women.
5) Corporate governance -” ensuring the right skills and expertise are available to guarantee the effective management of risk.
And on a final note, I do not believe for a minute that there ever is a -˜best person for this role’, but rather a -˜best board for this organisation’. What NMG needs is a board of eight complementary people who will work strongly together as a team and who are strong and secure enough to know when to find additional expertise when needed. I would hope that my part in that could be to bring people together, provide some frameworks and directions for what we need and from there, as a team, move forward with the challenges we face as an organisation.

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