Executive Committee


Erin Ryan is the Political Lead in CBM Australia’s Policy and Advocacy team. Through her involvement with various working groups, Erin plays a key role in creating support and momentum for disability-inclusive development across the development advocacy community.

Erin began her career at the federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2010, and has also worked as a Policy Advisor for World Vision Australia in Canberra.

She has extensive experience in developing policy positions, and advocacy strategies which prioritise the leadership of people with disabilities. She joined the ADDC Executive Committee to contribute to a credible and collective voice for disability rights in international development.

Erin has a Bachelor of International Studies (Hons), postgraduate qualifications in gender and development, and a technical certificate in public policy and government.

Sarah works for the National Disability Services as a senior presenter in the Let’s Talk Disability team. Sarah has been vision impaired since birth, and with her gorgeous guide dog Angelina (pictured), loves traveling around Australia to present with Let’s Talk Disability. She believes that education is a powerful tool for creating a more inclusive community for people with disability.

When offered the opportunity to join the ADDC board in July 2018, Sarah was delighted to become a part of something that she is extremely passionate about.

She has a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Development Studies and Culture Change, and also has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English literature.

Jess Smith is Learning and Innovation Lead at the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), responsible for guiding the implementation of ACFID’s innovation strategy and leading the delivery of learning initiatives to enhance sector capacity. Prior to joining ACFID in May 2018, Jess was a learning consultant at the Canberra Institute of Technology and led projects in public sector workforce capability development in Australia and education-based capacity building projects in Papua New Guinea and Laos.

Jess joined the ADDC Executive Committee in November 2018.

Samantha French is a Senior Policy Officer for People with Disabilities Australia. She has been an active member in the disability field for over 25 years, working in the government and NGO sectors on disability policy, education, consultancy, and more.

As a person with a disability, Samantha is an active member of a number of DPO representative networks across Australia and the Pacific region, including Women with Disability Australia (WWDA), and as a Board Member of the Pacific Disability Forum.

Samantha has been involved with the ADDC since its inception and has represented People with Disability Australia as a DPO member on the ADDC Executive since 2011.

Since the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, Frank Hall-Bentick has been at the forefront of disability rights in local, state, national, regional and world organisations.

Holding numerous job titles, Frank has been employed in the Equal Opportunity Unit of the Australian Public Service Board (9 years), as Coordinator of Disability Resources Centre (9 years), as a Disability Officer at Centrelink (15 years), and for the last twenty-five years, has worked closely with the United Nations in Bangkok as Resource Person and invited Expert.

Frank has received a plethora of awards through his work, and include but are not limited to; recipient, National Disability Award – Minister’s Lifelong Achievement 2011, recipient, Order of Australia Award June 2012, and selected by UN ESCAP as one of ten Asia Pacific Disability Champions to promote the Incheon Decade Strategy and Goals, 2012.

Organisational Representatives

Alex Robinson is the Head of the Disability Inclusion for Health and Development Unit at the Nossal Institute for Global Health. Working in senior management for over 12 years, Alex’s work has focused on development research, policy, and practice spanning disability inclusion, inclusive education, livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, and humanitarian response. Armed with a PhD in development studies, Alex has a key interest in information, risk and resilience in sustainable human development.

Alex feels Nossal Institute representation adds value to ADDC’s mission and strategic direction.

“The Nossal Institute welcomes the opportunity to continue to play a role in ADDC’s important and leading contribution to disability inclusive development”

Isabel is the Chair of World Vision Australia’s Disability Working Group, and has been an international development practitioner for nearly 30 years. She has been a New Zealand diplomat, international lawyer, donor representative, and a regional and international civil servant, amongst other roles.

Isabel has held roles as a social worker with children with disabilities, a policy adviser, and currently as a Grant manager driving WVA’s flagship disability inclusion projects in Sri Lanka and Laos.

Isabel decided to join the ADDC to contribute to national advocacy, capacity building and knowledge sharing in the sector.

Isabel lives, and thrives, with a hearing impairment.

Claire is the Social Inclusion and Development Officer at Good Return with a focus on promoting and supporting disability inclusion both programmatically and organisationally – this includes staff training, organisational self assessment, strategic planning, partnership engagement and ensuring disability inclusion is reflected in all programs.

She has a strong background in inclusive development spanning across 5 countries. Her skills include: disability inclusion, gender and child protection, strategic planning, community engagement, participatory research, project management and advocacy.

Claire holds a Masters of Development Studies, a Bachelor of International Studies & Philosophy (Hons) and Diploma of Politics. She joined ADDC’s Executive Committee in 2019 and will travel ridiculous distances for a good coffee.

Since 2007, Kylie has been the founder and CEO of Motivation Australia, a niche, ANCP accredited INGO. A qualified Occupational Therapist, Kylie began working in international development in Lithuania in 1991, and joined UK based Motivation Charitable Trust in 1993 to establish a national wheelchair service network in Cambodia.

Kylie has been a consultant for AusAID and consults for the World Health Organisation (WHO). She contributed to the development of the ‘WHO Guidelines on the Provision of Manual Wheelchairs in Less Resourced Settings’, and is the co-editor of the ‘WHO Wheelchair Service Training Package (Basic and Intermediate modules)’.

She believes the ADDC has an important role to play in ensuring Australian development initiatives are rights based, disability inclusive, and delivered as true partnerships.

Susan McGowan is a disability Inclusion Technical Advisor at Save the Children Australia, where she is working to promote the rights of children with disabilities in Save the Children programs and to make the workplace itself more inclusive and accessible. She has 14 years’ experience in the disability and development sector, and skills in gender, child rights programming, advocacy, project management, writing proposals and training.

Susan joined the ADDC Executive Committee to ‘support the governance of ADDC and facilitate networking and sharing of information by key players in this space.’


Individual Members

Christina Parasyn

Christina is an independent consultant with 20 years’ experience working in international development and disability. Holding a Master’s degree in Social Science (International Development) and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Occupational Therapy), she has worked with people with disabilities, governments, donors, faith-based organisations, international NGOs and the United Nations.

She has played a key role in developing and implementing the Australian Government’s first disability strategy for the aid program, ‘Development for All’, that set the agenda for Australia’s investments and leadership in Disability Inclusive Development globally.

She has worked in over 10 countries including India, the Maldives, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Vietnam and Tonga.

Paul Deany

Paul Deany is a co-founder of ADDC and has been instrumental in the consortium’s development over the past decade.

Paul’s work on disability-inclusive development with the aid sector has lead him to working for AVI, CBM Australia, Disability Rights Fund, and DFAT to oversee disability inclusive projects with DPOs in over 20 countries.

As a person with a disability, Paul continues to be a strong and passionate advocate for advancing the rights of people with disabilities, particularly people with psycho-social disabilities. Paul has spoken about his lived experience of disability at many high-profile events, including at the United Nations Conference of States Parties in New York in 2016.