Our Leadership.

Our Board

Uniting Housing board.

Chairperson

David Cant

David has over 40 years of experience in providing housing for people in need. David is an independent director of PowerHousing Australia, a membership organisation for 35 of the largest community housing providers in Australia. David is Co-Chair of Under 1 Roof, a consortium of housing

and support agencies in Brisbane. Prior to coming to Australia in 2000, David worked in the community housing industry in the UK. David led the team that created the Brisbane Housing Company (BHC), which is now the largest registered community housing provider in Queensland. He was CEO of BHC from 2002 to 2017. David was a member on the Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness from 2009 to 2013 and an inaugural director on the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) serving from 2018 to 2021.

Deputy Chair

Gabrielle Waters

Gabrielle has over 25 years of experience in property development and corporate operations in Australia and overseas, having held executive roles with RMIT University, Affordable Housing Solutions, Primelife, Hamton and Jones Lang LaSalle. A property development and corporate strategy

professional, Gabrielle has held executive and board advisory roles for a range of companies including private and public sector, not-for-profit, government and Australian real estate investment trusts . Her expertise includes the establishment of both enterprise and property strategy to guide sustainable implementation across annual operating plans, market and portfolio assessments, complex master planning, investment/divestment and funding strategy, joint venture and government partnerships. Her experience includes mixed use developments, affordable housing, retirement and aged care, commercial and educational sectors.

Board member

Tess Lye

Tess is a corporate and commercial lawyer who has worked in the healthcare, banking and mining sectors. Throughout her legal career, Tess has undertaken a range of pro bono and Board roles with community legal services and community service organisations. Tess is currently the Deputy

Chair of the Sexual Assault and Family Violence Centre that provides specialist support services across the Barwon, Wimmera and Western Melbourne areas of Victoria.

Board member

Heather Watson

Heather is an experienced non-executive director and specialist charity lawyer with broad experience in the areas of aged care, health and community services, affordable housing and Indigenous communities. Heather is the current Chair of Uniting in NSW.ACT, a director of Uniting Vic.Tas

and Australian Regional and Remote Community Services (ARRCS), a subsidiary of UnitingCare Qld operating in the Northern Territory. Other current directorships include Queensland Rail, Children’s Health Queensland and National Affordable Housing Consortium. Her current advisory roles include Community Services Industry Alliance Reform Council (Chairperson), Advisory Council to the Queensland Family and Child Commission and Advisory Board for the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission.

Board member

Rev. Jenny Hayes

Jenny is currently the Minister of the Highlands Cluster and Chair of the Presbytery Western Victoria. Jenny has wide and varied experience in organisations within the church and community, including: 15 years as a Prison Chaplain, Founding member and 12 years as Chair of Werribee Housing,

12 years as Chair of Skillshare Werribee, 12 years as Chair of Heathdale Community Centre, numerous committees of the Synod over 20 years, plus a lifetime of voluntary participation.

Board member

Robyn Batten

Throughout the past 9 years Robyn, has held leadership positions in some of the Uniting Church’s largest community and aged care agencies. These include her roles as Executive Director of Uniting Aged Care (Vic/Tas), Executive Director of Blue Care and Executive Director of Australian Regional

and Remote Community Services (ARRCS) in Queensland. Prior to her work with Uniting Church services, Robyn held CEO and executive positions in health and local government in Victoria and South Australia.  Many of those roles involved leading major organisational change. Robyn commenced her career as a registered nurse and holds both Bachelor and Masters’ degrees in Social Work and a Masters of Business Administration. She is also a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).   Robyn is currently the Co-founder and Executive Chair of Leap In! Australia, Director of Uniting Vic.Tas, a non-executive Director of East Melbourne Primary Health Network and the Chair of Western Health.

Board member

Andrew Opie

Andrew is a chartered accountant at National Australia Bank (NAB). He is a senior finance professional with extensive experience in risk, governance, and audit across the banking and financial services sector.  He has worked in the UK and Australia overseeing the interpretation and implementation

of complex regulatory obligations. Andrew is also a member of the Audit and Risk Committee of Uniting Vic.Tas.

Our Staff

Executive team.

General Manager, Housing and Property

Kristie Looney

Kristie is an experienced leader within the not-for-profit, social enterprise and social service sectors working at the forefront of cross-sectoral collaboration to drive positive change.

Kristie has a depth of experience creating partnerships across business, philanthropy, government and the social sectors. She leads strategic decision making and brings together diverse teams to develop practical solutions to end homelessness.
 
Kristie was the co-founder of a social-enterprise real estate business that generates profit to build homes for women and children at risk of homelessness. She applies her leadership and governance skills as a not-for-profit board member with Tenants Victoria.
 
Kristie has a passion for social justice and a strong commitment to redressing inequality in the housing sector. 

Head of Project Delivery

Heidi Dixon

Heidi is a collaborative and strategic senior executive with a demonstrated track record of developing successful partnerships between

government and communities across Victoria to address community needs.

She has a wealth of expertise in community engagement, stakeholder management and place-based funding partnerships between government, community, industry and business sectors. She is experienced in recruiting highly skilled people and developing multi-disciplinary teams, delivering city revitalisations, growth area community precincts and affordable housing programs.

Head of Housing Strategy & Asset Planning

Jan Berriman

Jan has extensive experience in executive positions within not-for-profit organisations in urban, regional, rural, and remote contexts within Australia.

She brings a wealth of experience to her role, most recently as the Director National Housing for YWCA Australia group and previously Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Victoria and CEO and Company Secretary of the YWCA Housing group. In December 2020, Jan was awarded the Sector Leader by PowerHousing Australia, in recognition of her long-term dedication and commitment to delivery of community housing for people experiencing homelessness or housing stress.

Jan is leading the preparation of Uniting Housing’s bid in response to the  Victorian Government’s Big Housing Build program and development of our asset management strategy for the housing portfolio as part of implementing the joint Making Housing a Priority strategy.

Senior Manager Property Development

Mary Lacson

Mary is a property development professional focused on renewal of precincts and creating opportunities for affordable housing.

Her previous experience in Sydney and Western Australia was in mixed-tenure social, affordable and private housing developments. More recently, Mary was a Senior Development Manager (Melbourne) focused on revitalising significant urban renewal precincts.

Mary has a deep passion and understanding of front-end property and precinct development, the opportunities of commercial arrangements and, balancing the social, economic and environmental outcomes of projects.

Senior Manager Commercial Properties

Mark Karutz

Mark has 26 years of experience in real estate and has worked across the private, government and not-for-profit sectors.

His early career was in commercial property valuation and for the last 14 years he has applied the skills learned in that field to portfolio management.

Mark has extensive experience in developing, project managing and successfully completing building projects.

Manager Housing Practice & Policy

Robin Zakharov

Robin is a housing policy and practice specialist with expert knowledge across a range of regulatory performance standards related to

social housing tenancy and asset management, National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) compliance, and Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) compliance.

Robin has worked in the social and affordable housing sectors for most of her career, as well as in the disability services sector.

She has worked in policy and program roles in state government in Victoria and Queensland, and as an independent housing consultant.

Manager Finance & Compliance

Susan Howell

Susan has extensive experience across the corporate and community services sectors in ICT, finance, governance, compliance and risk.

Before joining the Housing and Property team in 2020 when the restructure for the new partnership took place, Susan was the Operations Manager of Uniting Housing Victoria.

Susan has worked for Uniting Church community service organisations since 2008 and brings a wealth of corporate and governance knowledge to the role. Susan specialises in social housing sector regulation and is integral to ensuring the regulatory compliance of Uniting Housing.

Susan is a member of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Senior Manager Asset Management

John Stewart

John has 20 years of facilities management experience in both the corporate and not-for-

profit sector. John’s career started as a Shopfitter working on major construction sites including Chadstone, Highpoint and Doncaster shopping centres.

He specialises in all areas of proactive scheduling of maintenance for life cycle efficiencies with a strong background in HVAC, plumbing, electrical & essential services across a property portfolio including, residential, commercial, retail & warehouses.

John has extensive experience managing a team of inhouse maintenance staff and specialised contractors. John has a background in merging organisations’ property departments within the community sector.

Development Analyst

Sheng Lin

Sheng is an experienced development manager with proven success managing residential and commercial property developments of various

scales and purposes.

He has managed complex development projects from initial due diligence stages, the creation and updating of feasibility models, and site acquisition/purchase, execution of development agreement, through to design development and consultant engagement for development delivery.