Linda Kirkwood - Chair

Linda has a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Economics degree, a Master of Organisational Development and Training and a Graduate Certificate in Industrial Relations.
Linda has worked in a variety of leadership roles over the past 35 years and is currently owner and principal consultant at Lennox leadership development. Linda joined the board of CHESS Connect in February 2015

Heidi Paynter - Deputy Chair

Heidi has over 15 years’ experience in the accounting industry, having worked for both public and private organisations, as well as an Accounting Teacher and Course Coordinator for TAFE NSW. She holds a Bachelor of Business and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessing.

Heidi and her husband run a small business in the Coffs Harbour region and in 2021 she shifted her focus from management accounting to begin a career in Business Banking.

Having grown up in a farming community in Northern California, Heidi moved to Coffs Harbour in 2005 where she now lives with her young family. She is an active member of the community, having volunteered in sporting clubs and other organisations. Growing up with the challenges of being dyslexic, Heidi has always had a strong desire to help others who need that little bit of extra help to achieve their dreams. Heidi joined the CHESS board in 2020.

Peter Connie - Director

Peter’s career has primarily been in the drug and alcohol sector and for the past 30 years he has been involved in the management of treatment services, including policy development. Moving to the mid north coast in 2007, Peter worked as a mental health case manager and as Manager of Macksville and Bellingen Community Health Services.

He has now returned to part time work in mental health services as a case manager. Peter has a long association with the non-Government sector and is strongly committed to NGOs providing direct community services. He has been a CHESS Connect Board Member since 2010.

Megan George - Director

Megan joined the CHESS Connect Board in 2004. Megan has a Degree and Post Graduate Certificate in Applied Science, Occupational Therapy and has worked in a variety of public and private health care settings.

Megan has extensive experience in rehabilitation and return to work services, especially for people with brain injury. Since 2016, Megan has worked at Chameleon Software in the role of Business Development Manager. Chameleon delivers Case Manager, a software package utilised by Health and Rehabilitation professionals. Megan continues to provide health and rehabilitation services on a consultancy basis.

Charles La Coste - Director

Charles has a strong interest in the recovery of people with a mental illness. While in Rotary, he organised a very successful Mental Health Forum attended by several hundred people. Charles has worked in the insurance industry for over 32 years in various underwriting and marketing roles.
Charles moved to Coffs Harbour from Sydney in 2001, and has enjoyed the change in pace. He is a fellow of The Australian and New Zealand Insurance Institute and is currently Manager and Director of Westlawn Insurance Brokers (Coffs Harbour) Pty Ltd. Charles has been a CHESS Connect Board Member since 2003.

David Bennetts - Governance Chair

David is a retired Supreme Court Barrister, who relocated to Coffs Harbour from Sydney in 2003. He has been extensively involved in aquatic sports-competitive swimming, teaching, life saving and scuba diving and was a Director of The Royal Life Saving Society-NSW for 18 years.
In business, David eventually became the Sales and Marketing Manager of one of Australia’s largest screen printers in a career of nearly 20 years with the one employer. As further testament to his career diversity David also taught sales, marketing, management, law and ethics at the Northern Institute of TAFE (Hornsby Campus) for 10 years (part-time). David has been a CHESS Connect Board Member since 2012.

Brian Marshall - Audit & Risk Chair

Brian has over 20 years experiencing in the accounting industry with a strong background in taxation, management accounting and commercial enterprises, as well as being the Head Teacher of Accounting and Business with North Coast Institute of TAFE.
Brian is currently  Director of Finance and Support Services at Ramsay Health, he also has a Masters of Government & Commercial Law, Bachelor of Business in Accounting and is a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand.
Being a Coffs Harbour local, Brian has returned to raise his family and has an interest in giving back to the community. He has previously been involved in a not for profit organisation providing rehabilitation via horse riding for the disabled, local sports clubs and organisations. Brian has been a CHESS Connect Board Member since 2013

Catherine Yeomans - Director

Catherine is an experienced Non-Executive Director, with board level experience across private and non-for-profit sectors operating in human services, professional services, affordable housing, employment, early learning and government contracting.

At board level, highlights include developing risk framework, setting strategic direction, M&A transactions, joint venture partnerships, turn-around financial performance and business transformation, and leading cultural change.

Most recently Catherine served as Chief Executive Officer of Mission Australia