Board of Directors

Karim (Ken) Habak OAM., Dip.Acct, Dip.Mgt, Dip.Teach

Chairperson, Non-Executive Director

Ken Habak OAM joined the then Illawarra Ethnic Communities Council (now MCCI) as treasurer in 2000 and has led the board as Chairperson since 2001. As a school teacher in Lebanon, Ken migrated to Australia in 1970 and worked as part of the BlueScope Steel management team until his voluntary retirement in 2009. He has held many voluntary executive roles with local charities and non-profit organisations, including the Saint Elias Antiochian Orthodox Parish Illawarra, South Coast Lebanese Association, Illawarra Arabic Network, and advised state and federal governments via a number of multicultural community committees. For his service to multicultural communities in Australia, Ken was awarded the FECCA 25th Anniversary Medal (2005), NSW Volunteer of the Year (2008), Order of Australia Medal (2010), NSW Premier’s Human Rights Medal (2017) and is an Australia Day Ambassador.

Tom Begic J.P., BE, BSc (Math), Dip. OHS, Dip. Freelance Journalism, Dip. Mngt

Deputy Chairperson, Non-Executive Director

Tom Begic has been member of the MCCI board since 2015 serving previously as the Treasurer of MCCI Inc. With Bachelor Degree qualifications in Science (Mathematics) and Engineering (Electrical) and Diploma-level awards in Management, OHS, and Freelance Journalism, Tom is currently a team leader at BlueScope Steel. Tom has wide professional experience in leading and improving teams, manufacturing, policy & procedure development, organisational restructuring implementation, safety programs, training and development, employee performance, and work health & safety investigations. Tom has also been heavily involved in community organisations including the Wollongong Croatian Catholic Community, and St Vincent de Paul Society supporting at risk and disadvantaged youth and families. Having a passion for community service through emergency management, Tom is a member of the NSW SES Bush Search and Rescue Squad, and the Volunteer Rescue Association. He was also team manager, coach, and member of the Australian Parachute Team, and a multiple Australian and World Record holder and Champion in skydiving.

Diane Manns, MBA (Exec), BEd

Non-Executive Director

Diane Manns joined the MCCI board in 2024. Born in Australia to Maltese migrant parents, Diane’s qualifications include an Executive Master of Business Administration, Bachelor of Education in Adult Education, and an Associate Diploma in Social Science. Currently consulting to the non-profit, government, and commercial sectors, Diane’s 30-year career in family and children’s services has included leadership of Sutherland Family Services Inc as CEO from 20014 to 2019 and high-level policy development as the NSW Attorney General’s Senior Advisor (Domestic & Sexual Violence) from 2019 to 2021. Her significant portfolio of work in the community sector has been recognised with the prestigious University of Wollongong Alumni Award for Social Impact (2018) and finalist commendations for Sutherland Shire Citizen of the Year (2015) and NSW Woman of the Year (2010). Having recently relocated back to the Illawarra Region where she grew up, Diane joins the board with significant expertise in non-profit service delivery for families, children, and women.

Leissa West BA, BSW, MPH, Grad Cert Health Service Management. Honorary Teaching Fellow UoW

Non-Executive Director

Leissa has been a member of the MCCI board since 2012. Leissa has held non-profit board positions in the womens’ health and youth homelessness sectors since 2002. Since 2009 Leissa has been employed as the Service Manager Multicultural and Refugee Health Services with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and has published with a research focus on health equity and impacts of social disadvantage on community health. Leissa has worked internationally managing aid and development programs, and in rural NSW managing health services with Aboriginal communities. Since 2003, Leissa has worked across the Sydney and the Illawarra regions to improve health service access for our vulnerable culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Leissa comes from Lithuanian refugee and Australian backgrounds with family roots in the Illawarra from 1840’s.

Alaa’n Hadaya J.P., BMedSc. MPharm

Non-Executive Director

Alaa’n Hadaya J.P., BMedSc. MPharm

Alaa’n Hadaya joined the board of directors in December 2023. Born in Lebanon and with a Bachelor of Medical Science and Master of Pharmacy, Alaa’n is the Chief Compounding Pharmacist and owner of a successful local Pharmacy. He brings clinical expertise to the board of directors as well as more than 10 years business leadership and governance experience as a member of the Omar Mosque Management Committee. Growing up in the multicultural suburb of Cringila, Alaa’n has worked with diverse communities all of his life. He has a particular interest in improving the health, social cohesion and celebration of diversity, and has deep connections to the Illawarra’s many Muslim communities of the region.

Lynette (Lyn) Cuell J.P, Dip. FinPlan, Dip. Mgt

Non-Executive Director

Lyn Cuell joined the MCCI board in 2020 have previously held directorships in the ‘not for profit’ sector both in NSW and the ACT. Her extensive management skills and experience have been acquired over many years in various finance industry sectors. Lyn has provided advice and coaching on a consulting basis to public sector departments, small and large businesses. Currently she works as Policy Manager with the IMB Bank. Lyn’s other skills extend to extensive experience in project management, leadership and management coaching, facilitation of training for various levels of skill development, and change and culture management.

Duncan Brown B.Com (Acc) MBA

Non-Executive Director

Duncan Brown joined the MCCI board in 2020, believing a more effective way for him to help and act on his desire to positively make a difference, is to commit his learnt skills and time. Having worked in South Africa, the UK, the Caribbean and Australia, Duncan has over 20-years of experience in financial services, primarily focused on risk management and operational efficiencies to improve performance, staff engagement and client experience. Duncan facilitates the Prosocial process, designed to help groups create a strongly shared identity, greater engagement in purpose and improved relationships to enhance their effectiveness. He is currently completing his Master of Ethics and Legal Studies and Master of Social and Organizational Leadership, to support organisational cultural transformations to embed values-based leadership, ethical decision making and truly embrace the value of diversity. Duncan also serves on the board of Sisters Housing Enterprises Inc., a non-profit charity focussed on supporting women and children who are at risk of becoming homeless.

Dr Rita Chang

Non-Executive Director

Dr. Rita Chang is an accomplished Associate Professor of aged and dementia care at Western Sydney University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, with over 20 years of experience in research and clinical practice in this field. In 2009, she received her doctorate from the University of Sydney and has held various leadership roles in nursing schools. Dr. Chang has established national and international partnerships for inter-disciplinary research and has supervised many higher research degree students, earning her recognition with the Vice-Chancellor’s For Excellence In Research Supervision and Emerging Researcher award in 2022. Dr. Chang has actively advocated for aged and dementia research at national and international levels, serving on the Grants Committee of the Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) Research Trust since 2020, founding the Taiwanese Scholar Australia Association (TSAA), and serving as a nursing home accreditation advisor. She has also contributed to committees promoting dementia and age-friendly city initiatives, long-term care development panels, and accreditation appraisals of residential aged care facilities. Her sustained research and community efforts have had a positive impact on aged care policy and service delivery in Australia, Taiwan, China, and Indonesia.

Kath McCollim

Non-executive Director

Kath McCollim joined the board in October 2021 following the merger of SCARF Inc with MCCI. Kath was the Chairperson of SCARF Inc from 2018-2021 working with the management committee and staff to develop SCARF’s core programs for supporting families from refugee backgrounds in the Illawarra. Kath is an experienced organisational change agent with 30 years’ experience in strategic roles in both the private and public sector. This encompasses leadership positions in steel manufacturing, consulting, health insurance and higher education. Holding a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology & Industrial Relations) and Master of Commerce (Management), Kath is currently the Executive Director Business Transformation at the University of Wollongong’s Global Enterprise team. Prior to joining UOW Global Enterprises, Kath was the Director, Business Improvement and Assurance for the University of Wollongong. A member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Kath has also served as a non-executive director with IRIS Research (2016-2020) and UoW Pulse Ltd (2015-19).

Chris Lacey BSc(Hons), LLB, Dip. Mgt, Dip. Bus (Gov) FICDA

Chief Executive Officer & Company Secretary

Chris Lacey is the Chief Executive Officer and Company Secretary of MCCI. Building on prior executive roles in non-profit community housing, family services and disability in the Illawarra & South West Sydney, and following senior roles in the NSW Public Service, Chris has led the MCCI team through a period of growth and change since mid-2016. With a passion for social justice and supporting the non-profit sector to rise to the challenges of meeting the needs of vulnerable communities, for over ten years Chris was also involved with Family Services Australia, a non-profit charity focussed on helping children, young people and families, with services throughout the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Northern-NSW and SE Qld.