George Lekakis AO
Appointed as Chair of the VITS Board in May 2015, George brings more than three decades of experience at the highest levels of multicultural affairs and organisations – which in 2010 led to his award as the Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the community through leadership roles in multicultural organisations.
He previously stood as the longest serving Chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission from 2001 to 2011 – where he led major initiatives including the development of the Victorian Multicultural Act 2004, Community Grants program, the Cultural Precincts and Community Infrastructure Enhancement Fund, Diversity Week, Interfaith initiatives, Refugee Communities Support Program and Interpreting and Translation policy initiatives program in Victoria, among others.
Other roles included Chairperson of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria, and service on many government and community-based Boards and committees, including time as a member of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal.
With formal qualifications in social work and nursing, George’s career has since spanned all aspects of organisational governance, policy development, program administration and service delivery, including in complex community and health services.
Miriam Suss OAM
Serving VITS first in 2012 and then returning in April 2016, Miriam has an accomplished career in health, community and multicultural sectors. Recognised in 2013 with a Medal of the Order of Australia for Service to the Jewish Community, Miriam has held positions as the Director of Social Work and Community Development Services at Jewish Care, headed up the Jewish Community Council of Victoria and the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria, and was the General Manager Development, Communications and Marketing at Jewish Care.
Miriam is currently a Board member of Alfred Health and serves as the Honorary Secretary of Multicultural Arts Victoria. A social worker by profession, she has a strong commitment to social justice and access and equity to opportunities for all Australians. Miriam speaks five languages and strongly believes in the need for excellent language services in our community having immigrated to Australia with her family at two-years-old.
Carlo was member of the Victoria Parliament for more than 16 years, and brings a depth of experience to the complexity of government and pursuing changes to public policy. He is currently Chair of the Legislative Leadership and Governance Group at Deakin University (Victoria) – an organisation that provides training and parliamentary strengthening programs for overseas parliaments.
Carlo is also Chair of community health service Merri Health in Melbourne’s north, and works as a consultant and lecturer at Victoria University. In recent years he worked on governance and capacity building in the Pacific region and in Uganda, and also with Aboriginal-managed health organisations. Carlo speaks Veneto, Italian, Spanish and French, and is an advocate for access and equity, multiculturalism, and broader human rights issues in the community and within the political process.
Sabah has over 15 years of experience in commercial and corporate law, including her current role as Legal Counsel for contingent workforce specialist Entity Solutions, which is positioned in AUSNZ and APAC regions. As part of the senior management team, Sabah helps lead decision-making by providing strategic and expert legal advice on all areas of business activity, including risk management.
Previously, she was Legal Counsel for one of Australia’s largest franchise networks, Jim’s Group. She provided legal advice on the contractual and commercial management of the Group’s franchisees, and delivered improvements relating to legal and business procedures, compliance and documentation. Committed to social inclusion, Sabah has volunteered at the Women’s Legal Centre, providing free legal advice and representation to women in Victoria. She is fluent in Hindi and Urdu.
Ruth Owens BBus MBA FCPA FAICD
From a career in legal and accounting sectors in mostly management and finance roles, Ruth moved Chief Financial Officer in the not-for-profit sector, which further ignited her passion to advocate for those facing disadvantage. She has served on boards and committees for VMA Ltd, The Council for Homeless People, Mind Australia, International Women’s Development Agency, Victorian Asthma Foundation, Cerno Ltd, Dianella Community Health Centre, Dental Health Services Victoria, City of Yarra and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. She chaired Finance and Audit and Risk Committees in her various board roles.
Ruth has worked to support refugees and women through the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Ecumenical Migration Centre program, and more recently with The Social Studio in Collingwood. Ruth has mentored both newly arrived residents and professional women looking at advance careers.