A Missional 

Baptist World Aid Australia appoints Melissa Lipsett as its new CEO

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Sydney, Australia—Rev. Melissa Lipsett—a leader known for her global vision, personal integrity and pastoral gifts—has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, the sixth head of Baptist World Aid Australia since it began in 1959.

The organisation’s Board of Directors agreed unanimously to appoint Melissa—who has been serving as Acting CEO since June—after a consultative recruitment process and a period of prayer and discernment. The Australian Baptist Ministries has also endorsed the Board’s appointment.

‘It is clear that Melissa feels deeply called not only to Baptist World Aid but also to the most marginalised,’ said Tara Reid, Chair of Transform Aid International’s Board of Directors who oversees Baptist World Aid. ‘She is committed to international aid and development and has been an outstanding leader already over the past eight months, building strong relationships with the executive team, staff, volunteers and supporters. I have no doubt that she will continue to move us forward as we seek to end poverty and make a better world for all.’

Melissa began her service at Baptist World Aid in February as the Chief Operating Officer and Director of Missional Impact. Prior to joining Baptist World Aid, Melissa served as Chief Operating Officer at Bible Society Australia and was instrumental in the growth of its global and missional reach over five years. Before that she was Executive Pastor of Newlife Church in Queensland, a community she served for nearly 20 years.

‘It’s an incredible privilege serving those Jesus has always prioritised: people on the margins,’ she said. ‘I am both humbled and honoured to join in this work and to witness the incredible generosity of God’s people in their support of our mission. It is my prayer that we will continue to serve as the hearts and hands of the Australian Baptist movement in the places of the world where the need and vulnerability is the greatest.’

I am both humbled and honoured to join in this work and to witness the incredible generosity of God’s people in their support of our mission.

Melissa Lipsett has been appointed as the new CEO of Baptist World Aid.

Originally from country Victoria, Melissa’s leadership journey began when she joined the Royal Australian Navy at age 17. At 20, a Navy Chaplain introduced her to the Bible and she chose to follow Jesus. Subsequent to her Naval career, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Bachelor of Ministry and served in pastoral ministry before moving to Sydney to work with Bible Society Australia.

Her extensive global leadership experiences include mission and ministry in Asia (China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand), Eastern Europe (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Central and South America, and Africa. She is at home in cross-cultural experiences and holds a deep appreciation and respect for working alongside First Nations people.

Melissa sees the holistic approach of Baptist World Aid’s work as an integral response to Christ’s call to ‘the least of these’ (in Matthew 25:40). From its Child Sponsorship and community development programs to disaster relief efforts, advocacy and church partnerships, she believes each provide practical opportunities for Christ’s representatives to care for the whole person. That’s why Baptist World Aid works with 36 local Christian partners through 73 projects in 17 countries to bring lasting change and build long term relationships.

‘Because both need and vulnerability continue to grow exponentially, particularly in our COVID-affected world, I believe we’re in a strategic position to narrow our focus so our impact can be greatest,’ she said. ‘Women and children who bear the brunt of the widening inequality and economic dignity gap, and in countries that are most affected by economic challenge, climate and environmental crises—all represent both the brokenness of the world and the opportunity God invites us to address.’

With a lifelong commitment to helping people know and reflect the love of Jesus, Melissa brings a lived wisdom and passion to her new role. She has long been committed to—and known for—excellence and integrity in her public speaking, leadership, advocacy, pastoral and practical theology, and has played active roles in governance across the Church and other Christian organisations.

‘Not one of us can change the world alone, but together we can. That’s why I am incredibly excited by Baptist World Aid’s vision to end poverty,’ she said. ‘A better world for all is in our hands. I’ve always understood this to be an important part of my faith – that it’s not just about me and following Jesus for my own sake, but about being called to serve and make a difference in the world. And we can all do that. We are God’s plan A. He doesn’t have another.’

‘At Baptist World Aid we work together with local Christian Partners in challenging injustice and supporting vulnerable communities to flourish,’ Melissa said.

‘This work matters, and at this stage in my life, I want to make a long-term contribution, concentrating on what matters. My missional heartbeat is aligned with Baptist World Aid’s and I feel grateful to the Board for their trust in me to lead this incredible work at this time.’

Melissa and her husband Peter have been married for 38 years and live and worship in Sydney. They have two adult children Jess, a director of Corney and Lind Lawyers, and Brad, a professional musician.

For media interviews, please contact Jo Kadlecek, communication manager:  [email protected]

Melissa Lipsett is an outstanding leader. I am thrilled she has joined our Baptist family. The hearts of Baptists have always been touched by global needs and Baptist World Aid is a wonderful vehicle to express God’s love. Melissa will lead Baptist World Aid from a place of deep faith, pastoral warmth and strategic vision.

Rev. Tim Costello, Executive Director, Micah Australia

I am really looking forward to working with Melissa Lipsett and continuing the wonderful relationship that Baptist World Aid Australia/Transform Aid International has with Australian Baptist Ministries and the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation. Melissa is a gifted leader, speaker, team builder and a strategic thinker. I believe that she will be an asset and brings a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm.

Rev. Mark Wilson, National Ministries Director, Australian Baptist Ministries Vice President, Asia Pacific Baptist Federation

Melissa is one of the most gifted, passionate and effective leaders I have enjoyed the privilege of serving alongside. Melissa loves Jesus, loves people and is committed to seeing the Gospel transform lives and communities. All the time I have known her she has had a heart for the nations. I am delighted the vital mission of Baptist World Aid empowering the world’s poor and working for justice will be enhanced further by one of Australia’s best Christian leaders.

Rev. Stu Cameron, CEO and Superintendent Minister, Wesley Mission

Melissa is a wonderful role model in Christian leadership in these lands now called Australia. She brings her executive expertise, humble leadership, pastor's heart and compassionate spirit. Melissa is such a qualified, capable, and deserving person to be appointed as CEO of Baptist World Aid Australia. Congratulations, Melissa, and Baptist World Aid Australia. May God richly bless BWAA and Melissa in this exciting season.

Brooke Prentis, CEO, Common Grace, Aboriginal Christian Leader

Melissa Lipsett is an outstanding appointment as the new CEO of Baptist World Aid Australia. Her love for Jesus and people combined with her great leadership capacity and intellect will open an excellent season of ministry for all.

Dale Stephenson, Senior Pastor, Crossway Baptist Church, Burwood East, VIC

I am so excited about Melissa’s appointment to the role of CEO of Baptist World Aid. Melissa is an inspiring leader who leads her teams with vision and humility, enabling each person to develop and flourish in the gifts that God has given them. I have personally appreciated Melissa’s encouragement and support, and I look forward to working together as we serve those who live in poverty throughout the world.

Clare Steele, CEO, Compassion Australia

How Melissa lives and works her faith, how she leads as a woman, as a person—her strength and humility, compassion and conviction, generosity of leadership and hospitality—is an inspiration to all who have been blessed to work with her. Down to earth, she lifts and presses other people up to do more than they thought they could. Her ability to think big picture but watch the detail transform the teams she leads. In summary she is ace. I would like to be her when I grow up.

Susannah McFarlane, Head of Publishing, Bible Society of Australia

Melissa Lipsett’s appointment to the role of CEO for Baptist World Aid Australia is good news for that organization and I believe for all Baptist endeavours to be God’s love and act justly across our nation and world. Melissa brings the necessary skill and experience to the role and, significantly in our current cultural climate, she brings a relational intelligence and engagement that makes her just the collegial and empowering leader we need. I am excited about this appointment!

Karen Siggins, Interim Director of Ministries, Baptist Churches Western Australia

At once gracious, insightful, and godly, Melissa has a breadth and depth of experience that shines through in the way she leads and motivates people. Her impressive success leading churches and charities bear testament to her considerable wisdom and passion for her work.

Scott Walters, CEO, Opportunity International

I’m pleased to endorse Melissa Lipsett as CEO for Baptist World Aid Australia. I’ve worked closely with Melissa for over a decade and know her to be a leader of high integrity, high relational skills and someone who others willingly follow. Melissa imparts vision and takes teams on the journey of discovering new strategies and ways of working well together. She clearly hears and responds to God’s prompting in her leadership and decision-making. I will support her in whatever way I can as she paves new paths and directions for what she has been entrusted with.

Karen Wilson, CEO Global Leadership Network Australia, Vice President Global Leadership Network International, President Baptist World Alliance Women

The appointment of Melissa Lipsett as CEO of Baptist World Aid Australia is great news, not only for Melissa and the organisation, but for the many people whose lives are impacted by this important work. Melissa brings experience, passion, and commitment to the role, and is a highly effective leader, combining emotional and pastoral intuition with business acumen and skill. She brings out the best in the people she leads. Melissa’s proven “can do” approach, animated by her deep and mature Christian faith, will be a model of steady and unwavering commitment.

Simon Smart, Executive Director, Centre for Public Christianity

Melissa is compassionate, down-to-Earth and deeply relational while also being strong, courageous and skilled to speak up for those who do not have a voice. I am thrilled to hear of her appointment to the role of CEO and look forward to seeing the organisation thrive under her competent leadership.

Yvette Cherry, Baptist Pastor, WA

Rev. Melissa Lipsett is a wise leader, who wants the best from and for her staff, is passionate about her faith and strives to live out the call of Micah 6:8, “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Baptist World Aid Australia will continue to flourish with Melissa, a woman of outstanding integrity, at the helm.

Penny Mulvey, Chief Communications Officer, Bible Society

CEO in the media

'More than the sum of our parts'
Melissa Lipsett in The Advocate
'When Anger is a Good Thing'
Melissa Lipsett in Propel Women
'Melissa Lipsett & Being a Fiercer Leader'
The Blunder Bus