CATHY FREEMAN OAM | Founder and Director
From the youngest age, Cathy Freeman knew that the rights and prosperity of young people was something she was passionate about. Throughout her athletics career, Cathy was humbled by her interactions with children and understood that by sharing her life story, passions and determination she could have a positive influence on their lives. "The school environment is where it starts" Cathy says. "The expectations should be the same for everyone inside a classroom. When kids walk into that room each day, they need to know that their dreams are as important, real and achievable as the person sitting next to them."
From the very beginning, Cathy wanted the Cathy Freeman Foundation to be a driving force in supporting Indigenous children discover their potential through structured school classroom pathways.
DR ODETTE BEST
Odette Best is a Wakgun clan member of the Gurreng Gurreng Nation (maternal grandmother), Boonthamurra Nation (maternal grandfather) and holds adoption ties to the Koomumberri Yugambeh peoples (father). Odette has deep family connections to both Woorabinda and the Gold Coast areas.
As a hospital trained registered nurse for over 30 years she further holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences, Master of Philosophy and a PhD. Odette has worked extensively in Women's Prisons and Aboriginal Medical Services within Queensland. She is passionate about Indigenous Australians accessing and excelling at education. Currently Odette is Professor of Nursing at the University of Southern Queensland, Ipswich Campus.
Don worked with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton for 35 years and spent the majority of this time in overseas postings including the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, India and the UK. During his career Don sought to combine business objectives with sustainable programs for local Indigenous people.
Nazareth Youngblutt is a proud Torres Strait Islander woman and teacher who has worked in the education system on Palm Island for over 35 years. Nazi completed her Bachelor of Education with the Australian Catholic University in 2015 and her experience with the Cathy Freeman Foundation started as a volunteer ten years ago when the Foundation was first established on the island. Nazi understands the challenges faced by families living in remote communities. She has been involved in all sides of the education system, was one of the Foundation’s first full time employees and over the years has worked in various roles including Community Liaison Officer and Early Learning Program Coordinator. Nazi says, “Working with the families in the community really opened my eyes to see the other side. There are parents and kids struggling and I want those kids to experience the same as what every other child in Australia experiences."
Kate is a purpose-driven leader with experience across several industries in Australia and New Zealand. An experienced lawyer, Kate has a background in commercial property law with her most senior role being a partner in a national law firm. More recently, she gained commercial operational experience while spending 4.5 as COO of an Auckland-based Maori owned entity where she led multiple commercial projects and social development initiatives. Kate is currently a senior member of the team at PwC's Indigenous Consulting, based in Melbourne.
She is also an experience non-executive director, having held these roles in both commercial and philanthropic organisations.