Dr Michelle Byrne
Dr Michelle Byrne is a medical scientist by profession and holds a PhD in drug resistance in cancer cells. Michelle studied and worked for the University of Technology Sydney for 10 years in cancer and diabetes research and committed full-time to Local Government upon her election as the youngest ever Mayor of The Hills Shire in 2012. She served as Mayor from 2012-2014 and 2015/2016, prior to being elected as the first popularly elected Mayor of the Hills in September 2017. Michelle is now honoured with the title Emeritus Mayor.
Michelle is proud to be the Chair of the Positive Vibes Foundation, a Hills based charity organization dedicated to promoting positive mental health based on 3 Cs – Communities, Connections and Conversations.
Michelle is dedicated to bettering the quality of life for all Hills residents and the preservation of the unique community spirit which characterises The Hills. In this respect, she has immersed herself in numerous local community organisations including Hills Community Aid, The Hills Mental Health Interagency, and The Hills Relay for Life. She was the founder and driving force of The Hills Winter Sleep Out and is a passionate advocate for youth mental health and healthy living. Michelle also holds a Bachelor of Laws and lives in Baulkham Hills with her husband and three daughters.
Mario Rodrigues FCA, ACA, B Sc (Econ)
Mario is a retired Chartered Accountant with over 30 years in the finance industry, heading up internal audit and operational risk for a large international bank, where he had experience at Board and other senior executive meetings. He was Asia Pacific Regional Head of Operational Risk and has led teams in Hong Kong and India. Mario has been in finance committees for a number of parishes in Sydney and has joined Positive Vibes Foundation as this affords him the opportunity to give back to the broader community. Mario is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is married with 5 grown children. He enjoys reading, philosophy, travel and keeping fit.
Albert Seah FCA, CTA, LL.M, LL.B, B.Ec (Acctg)
Albert is a retired Chartered Accountant with over 30 years of experience in corporate and banking taxation. Albert was a Tax Principal at Ernst & Young before joining HSBC Bank as Head of Tax at HSBC Bank where he served for 20 years. He has corporate board experience having sat on the HSBC staff superannuation board for nearly 10 years. Albert was a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and a Chartered Tax Advisor. Married with two grown daughters Albert is passionate about using his time and professional skills to serve the community including serving as the Treasurer of his church where he was instrumental in setting up a Public Benevolent Fund and School Building Fund..
Jeanette Farrell OAM
Jeanette has spent over four decades working for both Federal (Hon Philip Ruddock) and State (Hon Matt Kean MP) Parliamentarians as a Senior Electorate Officer. ‘While the role is extremely varied, the assistance I provide to constituents who find they have a problem involving a Government Department or authority is by far the most satisfying.’ Following a term as Alderman on Parramatta City Council, Jeanette moved to the Hills some thirty years ago and has raised her children here. In 2018 she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to the community.
Nalika is a solicitor with Senior Rights Service since 2008, acting as Principal Solicitor in 2017, and is an appointed member of numerous multicultural and community advisory councils and committees. In 2015 she was awarded Premier’s Multicultural Medal (Stephan Kerkyasharian AO Medal). In 2019 she was named “India Club Star”, in recognition of her leadership, initiative and commitment in raising awareness and campaigning against domestic violence and elder abuse; for implementing education and training programs; and for providing legal support to empower families. Nalika is an Attorney-at-Law of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.
Mercedes is a qualified and experienced Finance Broker with 20 years extensive background in Banking & Finance. She is the founder and director or MD Finance, a broking business with customers throughout Australia, helping them buy their first home, refinance their home loan for a better deal, arrange equipment finance, etc.
She is a Justice of the peace for NSW and ACT; a first responder at St John Ambulance, providing first aid response to the members of our community at local and regional events; and a member of Norwest Sunrise Rotary Club. Mercedes is also a very active volunteer within the Hills community to help those in need by being a committee member of the North Kellyville Advocacy Group (NKAG) raising issues within our community and the Hills Shire Council; volunteering for the Hills Relay for Life; and volunteering at The Salvation Army and its Red Shield Appeal.
Mercedes was the former chair of the Hills Women’s Shed Community Garden; former Vice President and founder of Brighter Stellar Inc, a not-for-profit organisation located in Bella Vista NSW; and now president elect 2021-2022 of Rotary Club of Norwest Sunrise.
Peter brings more than 17 years of finance experience drawing on his time working in large corporate organisations across Ernst & Young, Lion, GWA Group and most recently with SBS. With three young kids, Peter is passionate about driving positive change for the future and invested in increasing the awareness of mental health across the community.Leveraging his Chartered Accounting background, Peter works closely with senior management to drive sound strategic decision making. In his current role as Head of Financial Planning & Analysis, he works across the business to drive financial management and equips the business with insights to grow or to mitigate coming headwinds.Peter is currently an Affiliate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is looking forward to this bring these skillsets and the finance experience to the Positive Vibes Foundation.
Dr Juanita Ruiz, FRACGP, MB BS, AKC, B Sc, LRSM
Community Liaison Officer
Dr Juanita Ruiz is passionate about holistic preventative health, recognising that early intervention and treatment generally improve clinical outcomes. In mental health, however, this is often delayed due to stigma. Positive Vibes Foundation strives to reduce this stigma and equip and connect people with the help and support they need.
Dr Ruiz, a graduate of King’s College Hospital London, started her Australian career at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children and has been in general practice for 30 years. She has an interest in adolescent health, working voluntarily with Youth Off The Streets and attending youth forums at the Children’s Hospital Westmead. She is married with 5 children and a dog, and enjoys music, craft, travel and bush walking
Jay is a practical visionary and strategist who has enjoyed repeated success working with not-for-profit organisations in Australia and the USA through consulting, media communications and motivational speaking for the past 25 years. He was CEO of Life Education Australia for 15 years where he developed partnerships with a number of corporates, including BUPA, Samsung, Hyundai, Clubs NSW, and built the mascot, “Healthy Harold”, into a stronger brand throughout Australia. He was Assistant National Director of Austcare; Founder and CEO of new initiatives for Sydney City Mission to raise funds for the homeless; and was a key fund raiser for Diabetes Australia and Hope International University in California. Jay has been a host on Macquarie Radio for over 20 years and is a board member of a number of national organisations including Drug Free Australia, Mission Australia and Macquarie Radio. He is a theologian and ordained minister, holder of Rotaract’s prestigious Paul Harris Fellow Award and sits on Sydney’s Parole Authority. Jay has joined the Board of the Positive Vibes Foundation to help it grow to its full potential in being a leading promotor of mental health awareness in the community.