Meet the Board

Michael Davidson


Michael is Advocacy Manager for CPA Australia, the professional accounting body, responsible for leading the advocacy and representation activities across all policy areas within the accounting profession, government and across the broader community on behalf of over 165,000 members in 120 countries around the world. He has extensive experience in policy and advocacy representing CPA Australia members in retirement savings policy and now more generally over the last 16 years. He has broad media experience, gained while CPA Australia’s spokesperson on superannuation. Michael has a Bachelor of Science (ANU) and a strong marketing background with a post-graduate diploma in marketing (MGSM).

Michael has had a strong involvement in community organisation management as one of the founding members and Treasurer of the Canberra One Gear Society, a single speed mountain bike club, and establishing and convening the Majura Pines Trail Alliance, a volunteer group tasked with building and maintaining the trails of Majura Pines in co-operation with the ACT Government. He also has experience managing sporting events having led the organising of the 2010 and 2015 Australian Single Speed National Mountain Bike championships and the 2016 Single Speed World Mountain Bike Championships.

Heather Nicoll

Vice President

Heather has over twenty years-experience in management roles including fifteen years as an Army officer, five years as a University corporate services portfolio Director, and short-term roles as a technology consultant and project manager. Heather currently manages a University research institute, a role in which she oversees external engagement to support research programs.

Heather has postgraduate qualifications in IT and business and has substantial experience in higher education and fundraising. She has been a member of several not-for-profit boards and management committees including a University of Queensland fundraising campaign steering committee and pre-school board.

Melinda Gabriel


Melinda is currently the Assistant Secretary Finance Business Information for the Department of Defence. Melinda’s qualifications include CPA, Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting). Melinda’s experience includes preparation of financial statements and internal management accounts, provision of strategic financial advice to senior decision makers, development and management of financial policy, procedures and controls, management of financial transaction processing, delivery of high-quality financial systems and general experience in HR management and leadership.

Melinda has extensive experience on committees and boards of community organisations, for example, Melinda was the finance officer of the German Australian Preschool for 2 years, in which time the Preschool expanded its operations from two days per week to four.  She is committed to seeing community organisations achieve results that benefit the community and members.

Joan Ross

Secretary/ Public Officer

Joan Ross is active in the community after retiring from her role as a senior policy officer in the Australian Public Service.  Joan is an active member of the Social Policy Committee of the National Foundation for Australian and the University of the Third Age.

Since moving to Canberra in the late 1980s, Joan has served on the Board of No Sweet Fashions, a NFP group helping refugee and disadvantaged migrants with English and employment skills.  In 2017, after several years, Joan completed her service on the Board of DUO Services Australia, a provider of a range of in-home care for people with disabilities and older Australians. She has completed a short course on Governance Foundations for Not-for-Profit Directors run by the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  This covered topics about the fundamental compliance and performance related roles and responsibilities of directors, specifically in the areas of governance, risk, financial performance and strategy.

For the last decade of her career in the APS, Joan worked in the Department of Finance and Administration in the Budget Division as a team leader.  She has strong management skills, has a demonstrated ability as a project manager and a good understanding of financial
management. Joan has worked in employment and education policy, including equity issues for women and people with disabilities. Joan is a graduate of the University of Queensland and, until 2014, she was a registered psychologist.

Debra Surman


Debra is a senior management executive with more than 20 years’ experience leading award winning marketing and communications strategies of national and international corporations.

She is currently the Director of Communications and Engagement at Canberra Metro, the builder and operator of Canberra’s light rail network. During construction of the light rail, Debra led the Project’s extensive community engagement program which was fundamental to building community support and approval for light rail.

Known for her energetic and collaborative leadership style, Debra is passionate about working with organisations that make a positive difference and benefit communities.

Debra has served on several not-for-profit boards and management committees including the Woden Valley Gymnastic Club Management Committee, the University of Technology Sydney Post-graduate Academic Board and Lyons Early Childhood School board. She also mentors business start-ups in marketing and communications.

Anna Fitzgerald


Anna brings a broad background and skillset. This includes financial management including establishing, monitoring and adjusting internal budgets through to trust accounting for different real estate agencies. Anna has a passion for people and relationship management, her current role has seen her develop the strategic plan, metrics and operational objectives to lead the Alumni & Donor team in building and maintaining stakeholder relationships.

Anna has extensive experience in event management which sees experience and skills in logistics, project management, public relations, marketing and fundraising. She has capability working with varied stakeholder groups and has an increasing understanding of the legal system and obligations through her current studies in working to complete a Juris Doctor.  Anna holds a Master of Management, a Master of Business Administration and bachelor of Event Management, which also give her many tools and a varied skillset in the spaces of human resource management and corporate governance.