Our Board

Our Board of Directors, consisting of local community and business leaders, meets regularly throughout the year. It comprises seven directors whose combined knowledge and experience guide the organisation’s strategic direction. The chair of our board is Graham Koch and the deputy chair is Phil Dempster. Board directors are not remunerated and they provide their services in a voluntary capacity. 

Graham Koch, 1997 (founding director)

Dulcie Bird, 1997 (founding director)

Neil Parsons, 2002

Phil Dempster, 2011

Michael Trout, 2015

Jo Piggott, 2019

Alan Griffiths, 2019

Pauline Walter, 2019


Our Patron

The patron of the Foundation is His Excellency, the Governor of Queensland, Mr Paul De Jersey. 

Previous to his patronage, Her Excellency, the Governor of Queensland, Ms Penelope Wensley, AO agreed in October 2008 to become the first patron of the Dr Edward Koch Foundation. She stated in her letter of acceptance “it is clear that the Foundation is playing an important role in addressing health and community challenges in North Queensland, and covering an impressive range of projects and activities.”

Past Directors

Shane Devenish, 2012

Lauren Bruce

Dr Kevin Freele

Warren Entsch

Professor Komla Tsey

Dr Mark Wenitong

James Spencer (founding director and first chair)

Professor Ernest Hunter (founding director)

Professor Mary Black (founding director)

Rosalie Spencer (founding director)

Michael Huelin (founding director)

Ross Spark (founding director)

Dr Alan McMahon

Neil Matheson

John Morzone

Dr Verity Mansfield

Sandy Astill

Bob Owen

Dulcie Bird

Chief Executive Officer
The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Dulcie Bird is a founding director of The Dr Edward Koch Foundation and was appointed to the board in March 1997 and to her role as chief executive officer in July 1997.

During her time at the Foundation, she has helped to grow it from a fledgling charity to a nationally recognised non-profit organisation. The Foundation is now highly regarded for its work looking after the health and wellbeing of people in communities in regional Australia, with a particular focus on suicide prevention and mental health issues.

As chief executive officer, Dulcie played a leading role in developing and delivering the Foundation's Life Workshops, which train people in suicide prevention, the Life Bereavement Support Service, which was a service for family members and others in the community bereaved by suicide or other sudden unexpected death and an intensive suicide prevention program which is now being applied in many of the communities of Far North Queensland.

She also chairs the Far North Queensland Suicide Prevention Taskforce, a coordinating body for the many organisations and individuals in the region with an interest in mental health and suicide prevention and she has participated in developing several position statements and presented at international conferences on suicide prevention. Dulcie hosted the Queensland Suicide & Self-harm Prevention Conference 2008, the Suicide and Self-harm Prevention Conferences of 2012 and 2015, and the World Federation for Mental Health International Conference 2016. She was also involved in the successful campaign to achieve World Health Organisation Safe City accreditation for Cairns in 2009 and is a member of the Mental Health Indigenous Advisory Committee and chairs the Life Advisory Committee.

By giving evidence to the senate inquiry on suicide in Australia, Dulcie contributed to the report “Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia Commonwealth Government Senate Inquiry 2010” and she has also given evidence to the senate select committee for regional and remote indigenous communities.

Dulcie has been responsible for securing funding from individuals as well as the corporate and community sectors and developing the Foundation’s volunteer strategy.

Dulcie has always involved herself in community work and is recognised for her help with children with disabilities and her work in suicide prevention. She has a bachelor of social science with a major in sociology and French, from James Cook University. She has been honoured with an Australia Day Award for services both to art and the Dr Edward Koch Foundation in 2004 and was a finalist at the Queensland Regional Achievement & Community Awards 2010. In 2017, she became an honorary member of the James Cook University Chapter of the Golden Key society.

Dulcie has over 17 years experience in the health care and community services sectors in the Cairns and Hinterland region. Prior to her work as a founding director and current chief executive officer of the Dr Edward Koch Foundation, previous roles held by Dulcie were executive support officer, UQ Professorial Office of Public Health, at the Cairns Tropical Public Health Unit, Qld Health, records administration officer at the Peninsula & Torres Strait Regional Health Authority, Qld Health and records administration officer at the Far North Qld Electricity Board.

Graham Koch

The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Graham Koch Dip.FS(Financial Planning) Com.Dec. – Graham was appointed a director in March, 1997 and became chairman in 2001. Graham has been involved in the financial services industry for over 40 years. He is a director of KIB Insurance Brokers and holds an advanced diploma in financial services (financial planning) and is a member of the Association of Financial Advisers. Graham also serves the community as a Commissioner for Declarations and is a Past District Governor of Rotary International. Dr Edward Koch was Graham’s great-grandfather.

Neil Parsons

Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Neil Parsons’ family has a long history with North Queensland stretching back six generations. Growing up in the north has broadened his awareness of unique public health issues that many face in the tropics because of isolation, environment and climate. He has worked in the international freight forwarding industry for the past 30 years. Neil is also a Commissioner for Declarations.

Phil Dempster

The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Phil Dempster was appointed as a director in May, 2011.  Phil retired at the start of 2011 after over 40 years in the printing and copying industry. He is currently National Chair of Rotarians Against Malaria, on the Executive of Northern Region Rotary Australia World Community Service, Secretary of the Cairns Earlville Rotary Club, Past District Governor of Rotary District 9550 and member of Rotary District 9550 College of Governors.

Jo Piggott

The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Jo Piggott was named 2019 Small Business Owner, Business Woman of the Year by the Cairns Business Women's Club and is a part owner of Cairns A/C & Refrigeration, a family owned local business located in Redlynch. She and her family moved from Sydney to Cairns after travelling around Australia and living in Mount Isa. She is an active patrolling member of the Ellis Beach Surf Lifesaving club, trains for triathlons, teaches ocean swimming at Ellis Beach and has created a monthly “Cairns Women of HVAC + R Industry” night.

Jo is passionate about being a change champion for diversity and inclusion especially in the mental health area. The Foundation welcomes her as a new director and looks forward to her valuable contributions to its work.


Alan Griffiths

The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Alan is a sole practitioner solicitor based at Woree practicing in the areas of business, taxation and insolvency law and is also a qualified accountant. Since 2010 he has been a volunteer solicitor for Civil Law, Cairns Community Legal Centre. From 2006 to 2011 he volunteered as an executive member of the management committee of Worklink Employment Support Group Inc, a not for profit organisation specialising in assisting people with a mental health condition to find and maintain employment. This role also allowed him to gain an understanding of mental health issues in the workplace and community.

The Foundation welcomes him as a new director and looks forward to his valuable contributions to its work.

Shane Devenish

The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Shane Devenish was appointed as a director in March, 2012. Shane Devenish is an associate at Devenish Law, Cairns and practises in property and commercial law. Originally from Goondiwindi, Queensland, Shane has an appreciation of the issues faced by young people living in regional and remote areas. Following her graduation from James Cook University, Cairns in 2006, Shane tutored Indigenous law students. Shane is a volunteer with Rosie’s Friends on the Street and is a registered mentor with the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation Mentoring for Growth Program.

Michael Trout


The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Michael was appointed as a Director in May 2015.  Born in 1963 at Chinchilla, Central Queensland, Michael Trout was raised on a cattle property. He has lived in the Barron River electorate since 1996, and has raised four beautiful daughters - Hannah, Amy, Heidi and Emma.

With more than 20 years of small business and tourism experience, he has held numerous positions on tourism boards in North Queensland, currently sitting on the board of Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) and Chairperson of Tropical Tablelands Tourism (TTT).

In 1992, Michael’s family purchased “Mungalli Falls” on the Atherton Tablelands, now a successful outdoor education centre, hosting Queensland schools as well as international students. In 1993, his family built ‘Sunshine Daycare’ at Aeroglen, and also operates “Blazing Saddles Adventures”, a highly successful tourism venture commenced in 1992 in Palm Cove, which was relocated to Koah on the Atherton Tablelands, in 2004, and to Yorkeys Knob in 2012.

Michael was elected as State Member of Parliament for Barron River in March 2012 and was active in building a stronger, safer community, fighting for small business and tourism growth in the region and listening to the needs of the electorate.

Since early 2015 he has been consulting for the private sector and actively encouraging business growth in Far North Queensland.

Professor Komla Tsey

Past Director
The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Komla Tsey is Tropical Leader/Research Professor of education for social sustainability at The Cairns Institute, James Cook University, Australia.  Komla comes from Ghana.  He studies at the University of Ghana and the University of Glasgow in Scotland.  Komla lives in Australia, researching and learning about Aboriginal development, health, education and wellbeing. He continues to undertake long term development research in his native rural Ghana.  Komla has written over 100 peer reviewed journal articles on a wide range of development and wellbeing related topics.  He is the author of Re-thinking Development in Africa, published by Langaa Publishing (Mankon, Carmeroon) in 2011. His forthcoming book, From Headloading to the Iron Horse (Langaa 2012) examines British railway building in colonial Ghana and the origins of present day international development especially regarding the tropical regions of the world.

Dr Mark Wenitong

Past Director
The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Dr Mark Wenitong was appointed as a director in May, 2011. Mark is of Kabi Kabi Aboriginal descent. He is the senior medical officer for Apunipima Cape York Health Council. He is also the immediate past president and founding member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association. He speaks regularly at national events and conferences on Indigenous health, education, workforce leadership and cultural issues. He has a particular interest in Indigenous men’s health.

Lauren Bruce

Past Director
The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Lauren Bruce was appointed as a director in January, 2008. Lauren was born in Cairns and attended James Cook University where she graduated as a certified practicing accountant. She is currently working as the management accountant at Cairns Regional Council.

Kevin Freele

Past Director
The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Mr Kevin Freele came to Australia in 1978 from the USA where he had gained qualification in Psychology and a Masters in Social Work. He began his working career in mental health in Sydney. Kevin worked as a clinician is all aspects of mental health care from acute inpatients to community based work. 
In 2005 Kevin moved from the Blue Mountains to Cairns to take up the post of Executive Director of the Cairns Integrated Mental Health Service. 
Kevin was very proud to have been asked to be on the Board of the Edward Koch Foundation and during his time as a Director contributed valuably to our work.

Warren Entsch

Past Director
The Dr Edward Koch Foundation

Mr Warren Entsch was born in Babinda, Queensland and served in the Royal Australian Air Force 1969-78. He was a maintenance fitter and welder, real estate agent, farmer and grazier and company director before entering politics. He was a Liberal member of the Australian House of Representatives from 1996 – 2007, representing the Division of Leichhardt, Queensland. He was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources 1998-2001 and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources from 2001-2006. Post politics Warren sits as a Director on the Board of the CEC Group, is Chair of the Australian Rainforest Foundation.

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