Our Executive Team

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Meet the executive
Reverend Melissa Lipsett is our Chief Operating Officer
Rev. Melissa Lipsett

Melissa is an experienced executive with a wealth of experience in the Christian not-for-profit space. Her skills in leading and managing diverse teams and complex organisations were developed in the Australian military, refined in executive leadership within the contemporary church context, and further developed in the Christian for purpose sector. She has extensive cross-cultural experience and a deep appreciation and respect for working alongside First Nations people.

Melissa is a strong professional and servant leader, playing active roles in governance across the church and for purpose Christian sector. She holds a Bachelor of Ministry and a Bachelor of Applied Science, and is also a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Melissa is passionate about helping people know – and reflect – the love of Jesus. She is ordained in the Uniting Church but has extensive cross denominational experience. She is a sought after public speaker who brings together her passions of excellent leadership, advocacy, pastoral and practical theology. Melissa believes that ending poverty IS possible and is determined to work toward and inspire others so that together we can make a better world for all.

Read CEO announcement and what others are saying about Melissa.

Natasha Thompson
Chief Financial Officer & Company Secretary

Having moved to the not-for-profit sector from a senior corporate career within finance and governance, Natasha is committed to making a difference as a senior executive working for a Christian organisation. A mature and committed Christian, Natasha has a passion for justice and a desire to see vulnerable people flourish, both of which fuel her desire to work as an executive in the not-for-profit area. Natasha has strong commercial acumen, strategic development and engagement skills and has direct experience in international development across Africa, India and South East Asia.

Natasha holds a Bachelor of Commence and a Graduate Diploma in Finance and Investment. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant and is ACID qualified. Natasha’s experience also includes serving on and chairing not-for-profit boards and committees. Natasha is currently studying a Master of Laws.

A photo of Peter Keegan
Peter Keegan
Director of Advocacy

Peter joined Baptist World Aid International Programs team in 2017 and then became the Director of Advocacy in 2019. He has worked in the global development sector for over 15 years, previously with World Vision UK, Uniting World, and Micah Challenge, with experience in both program and advocacy roles. Peter is passionate about development that puts the priorities and voices of vulnerable people at the center. And looks at the policies and systems that need to change in order for vulnerable people to experience the flourishing life God intends.

Fiona Smith is the Director of International Programs at Baptist World Aid
Fiona Smith
Director of International Programs

Fiona has been with Baptist World Aid for over two years, and in that time has become a well-respected leader within the Programs team and across the organisation, helping to navigate and support the team and our global Partners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. During her time as International Programs Manager (private funding), she’s made valuable contributions in the areas of child and youth programming, development effectiveness, and strategic positioning to fulfill our mission.

Now with over 10 years of experience in child-focused community development, advocacy, and NGO leadership in four countries, Fiona brings a personal wisdom and professional commitment to development in her Director role. Prior to joining Baptist World Aid/Transform Aid International, Fiona served in a start-up company seeking to apply data and new technology towards sustainable development. She holds a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Oxford, and degrees in Law and Arts (Communications) from the University of Technology Sydney.

A photo of Bec Oates
Rebecca Oates
Director of Marketing and Communication

Rebecca Oates is the Director of Marketing and Communication at Baptist World Aid Australia, where she’s served for the past three years. She is passionate about mobilising Australian Christians towards a healthy relationship with people living in poverty. For over twenty years Bec owned her own hairdressing salon, growing her business to such a point that she was included in Vogue’s top 10 salons in Australia. As a result, Bec was also a finalist in the Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year awards. Bec now draws on her marketing and leadership skills to oversee over twenty staff in working toward ending poverty.