The State Council, which serves the members of the Society in NSW, is made up of an elected State Council President; Central Council Presidents; and Vice Presidents who are appointed by the State Council President.

The State Council additionally fulfils the role of Trustees holding in trust all land and properties that are made available for the work of the Society.

In December 2019, the State Council President Denis Walsh retired and Peter McNamara was elected as the new State Council President.

During 2019/20, the following individuals served on the State Council and were Trustees of the Society of St Vincent de Paul in NSW:

Denis was elected President of the NSW State Council in December 2015 after serving as President of Wollongong Central Council. Denis joined the Society 16 years ago and has been a Conference Secretary, Conference President and Regional President. He is a member of the West Wollongong St Therese Conference and is currently Chair of both Company Boards and the Trustee Board, and sat on all of the Board Committees of the Society. Denis has a background in the insurance and superannuation industries, where he held many senior positions. He is an Associate of the Insurance Institute of Australia.

Peter is President of St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, taking over from Denis Walsh in December 2019. Peter joined the Society in 1984, was on the Parramatta Regional Council and National Council Board and assisted the International Council General in promoting youth development. He is a member of the Pymble conference.  A solicitor in private practice since 1988, he works in business, workplace and property law. He has also been a Regional President of the NSW Law Society and is a Notary Public and a Director of Law Week Limited.

Beverley is Vice President of the NSW State Council, a Company Director, and President of Vinnies Services. Beverley joined the Society 18 years ago and is a member of the Corrimal Conference, as well as previously serving as Regional President for Wollongong. She is also a Director of Amélie Housing. Beverley is the Chair of the Special Works Committee, a member of the Audit and Finance Committee, and also a member of the Governance, Risk and Nominations Committee. She sits on the Coonamble Advisory Committee and was previously Advisory President for Ozanam Industries, Migrants and Refugees, Compeer and established the Rural Task Force. Beverley has a background in social services and previously worked for the NSW Department of Family and Community Services.

Brooke graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering (Structures)) from the University of Sydney and currently works as a Senior Structural Engineer for Taylor Thomson Whitting. She has been volunteering with the Society since 2009 including positions in the Night Patrol, Kids Camp and Buddies Days. She was the Sydney University Fundraising Coordinator (2013) and a Spiritual Officer (2012).

Kerry was the Vice President of the NSW State Council (Centres) until February 2020. Kerry joined the Society 47 years ago. He is a past President of Armidale Central Council and is a member of the Glen Innes Conference. Kerry was the Chair of State Centres Advisory Committee and member of Strategic Planning Steering Committee.

Kerry was previously Conference Secretary and President, Regional President, Disaster Recovery President, Centres President, Chair of the State Centres Policy and Procedures Committee, Chair of the Centres Safe Work Procedures Committee, Secretary of the North Eastern Region of the Society in the Armidale region. Kerry has a background in education and as a principal. He has a Bachelor of Education and a NSW Teaching Certificate.

Pat Garcia is the CEO of Catholic Health Australia, the largest not for profit grouping of health and aged care services in Australia.

Pat was the Vice President of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council from 2015 to 2019, and the Chair of the National Marketing Committee of the Society from 2017 to 2019. He was previously employed as a youth worker at the St Vincent de Paul Society Sydney Archdiocese. He is a member of the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Randwick Conference.

Pat is a lawyer and policy expert who was previously employed as the Director of Policy to the NSW Premier, and as a Senior Adviser in the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet. He has sat on the boards of the Law Council of Australia, the Law Society of New South Wales, Shine for Kids, Surf Life Saving Sydney and Youth Action. He is a former Club Captain of Coogee Surf Life Saving Club and former Army Reserves Officer. He has degrees in Law, Finance & Marketing, Public Policy, International Law and Security.

Maddie graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Sydney. Since then Maddie has been working in Community Development, running community events and implementing early intervention and prevention programs for young people. She also has experience working within the Disability Sector, supporting children with additional needs. Maddie first became involved with the Society in 2011 through her High School Conference and has continued to be involved in various roles throughout University and beyond.

Dr Greg Stewart is a health manager and public health physician. Dr Stewart has held senior positions in NSW Health, including Director, Primary Integrated and Community Health for South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD); Director of Population Health, Planning and Performance, Sydney South West Area Health Service (2005-2011); Deputy Director-General, Population Health and Chief Health Officer of NSW, NSW Health (2001-2005); Chief Executive Officer, Wentworth Area Health Service (2000-2001); Director of Health Services, Central Sydney Area Health Service (1996-2000); and Director of South Western Sydney Area Health Service Public Health Unit and SWSAHS Medical Officer of Health (1990-1996).

He has served as a member of the NSW Medical Board/Council; a non-Executive Director on the Boards of Sydney Water; and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Kathleen joined her local Sydney Harbour North Conference in the Northern Suburbs region in 2013. She served as Conference President and was then elected to Regional Council President in 2015. In 2017, she served as Acting Sydney Archdiocese Central Council President. She currently serves as Vice President for Membership on State Council, but maintains her Conference meeting attendance. She serves on the Audit and Finance Committee, the Service Quality and Safety Committee, and she is Chair of the Membership Advisory Committee. Kathleen has a Bachelor of Education (Scotland) and is a member of the Institute of Insurance (South Africa) and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

Michelle was appointed as Vice President for Youth in 2017, having been an active member of the Asquith Conference since 2015. She brings to her role a passion in youth ministry, having served as a member of the Ku-ring-gai Chase Catholic Parish Pastoral Council and also as their Youth Coordinator. Michelle has a background in nutritional science and has run her own catering business.

Kristen has been a member of the Society for six years and was appointed Treasurer of the NSW State Council in 2019. Kristen is also Treasurer for the Gladesville Conference and a member of the Audit and Finance Committee. She serves on the board of St Vincent de Paul Housing, where she is Chair of the Audit, Risk and Finance Committee and a member of the Asset Management and Development Committee. Kristen has over 20 years’ experience in commercial finance, risk management, asset management and investment governance and is a qualified Chartered Accountant and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Kristen resigned as Treasurer, from the board of St Vincent de Paul Housing and from the audit and finance committee in August 2020.


The State Council is supported by a number of advisory committees:

Membership and Youth Committee Chair: Kathleen Thickitt

To provide advice and recommendations to the State Council and assist all Central Councils to effectively recruit, retain and support members. Works to enable members to understand, support and empower the people we serve.

Social Justice Committee Chair: Peter McNamara, Brooke Simmons

To advise and make recommendations to the State Council on ways to address social justice issues and enhance members’ understanding of the root causes of poverty and disadvantage.

Spirituality Committee Chair: Alex Popov, John Donnelly

To provide the State Council with advice and recommendations relating to the organisation’s mission, and spiritual and pastoral development of members, volunteers and employees.


Attended Eligible
Peter McNamara, Chair (from December 2019) 9 9
Denis Walsh (Chair to December 2019) 4 9
Beverley Kerr, Deputy Chair, Vice President Vinnies Services 9 9
Pat Garcia, Vice President, Centres 4 4
Kerry Muir, Vice President, Centres (until February 2019) 4 4
Brooke Simmons, Vice President, Social Justice 5 5
Michelle Chahine, Vice President, Membership and Youth 8 9
Kathleen Thickitt, Vice-President, Membership 9 9
Kirsten Watts, Vice President, State Treasurer 9 9
Madeline Sirris, Vice President, Youth 6 9
Greg Stewart, Vice President, Governance & Secretary 4 4
Paul Burton, Central Council President, Armidale 8 9
Neil Rabbett, Central Council President, Bathurst 9 9
John Donnelly, Central Council President, Broken Bay 9 9
Gail Gaudron, Central Council President, Lismore 9 9
John McKendry, Central Council President, Maitland/Newcastle 9 9
Anne Stanfield, Central Council President, Parramatta 8 9
Tony Cranney, Central Council President, Sydney Archdiocese 8 9
Peter Burgess, Central Council President, Wagga Wagga 8 9
Leo Woodman, Central Council President, Wilcannia/Forbes 9 9
Peter Houweling, Central Council President, Wollongong 7 7
Frances Scurfield, OPDC Chair 4 9
Yvonne Wynen, Central Council President, Lismore 2 2
Jenni Duff, Administrator, Wollongong Central Council 2 2
Alex Popov, Wollongong Central Council 1 1