Our People

An experienced well rounded leadership team

Our People

An experienced well rounded leadership team

Our Board

Dr Richard Letts AM

Chairperson, Chair of Program Committee

Founder, Director, The Music Trust; author, editor, publisher. Began professional life as jazz musician. PhD, University of California at Berkeley, music. Founder, CEO, East Bay Center for Performing Arts, San Francisco, then Director, MacPhail Music Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (largest in USA). Returned to Australia as Director, Music Board, Australia Council; Director, Australian Music Centre. Founder, CEO Music Council of Australia. Volunteer roles include President, International Music Council, Paris, 2005-9.

Emeritus Professor
Di Yerbury

AO, Deputy Chairperson; Chair,
Governance/Risk Management Committee

Australia’s first female First Assistant Secretary, Australian Public Service, 1973, in charge of National Wage Cases; first female Professor of Management, 1976; founding professor, AGSM (UNSW); CEO, Australia Council for the Arts (1984); first female Vice-Chancellor (Macquarie, 1987-2006); President, Universities Australia, 2004-06; Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year, 2002; Board Director since 1983 in business, education and arts boards, including several in music; Patron, Australian Youth Orchestra.

Jonathan Abednego

Treasurer, Chair of Fundraising Committee

 Jonathan is Head of Business at Wesley Mission, one of Australia’s largest community service organisations. Over 12 years’ senior management experience in banking, FMCG and not-for-profit. In 2013, he founded and remains director of a venture capital and consulting firm helping to accelerate new business ideas. He is classically trained in piano, voice and holds degrees in business, information technology and an MBA. In 2018, he became a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

Marianne Kopeinig

Public Officer, Member of the Governance and Risk
Management Committee

Over 20 years of legal experience as a private practitioner, corporate counsel and company secretary for private and ASX listed companies – in commercial, corporate governance, risk management and compliance. Marianne’s experience has been gained in private practice, listed and unlisted companies in a range of sectors: including – IT, research, retail, funds management, community and disability sectors. Marianne was a founding committee member of the Clayton Utz Community Connect Foundation. She has been involved in school music programs as a parent and co-convenor. She has LLB/BJuris, LLM Graduate diploma ACG, FGIA, FCIS.

Mandy Yan​

Chair of the Finance and
Audit Committee

A manager in Treasury, Macquarie Bank. She is a qualified chartered accountant with over 10 years experience in treasury transaction advisory, financial and management reporting, auditing and due diligence reviews for IPOs, in both local and overseas markets such as UK, China and Singapore.

Douglas Nicol

Chair, Communications and
Marketing Committee

 A partner at The Works which is B&T Branding and CX Agency of the Year and number one in the Great Place To Work Awards. In 2016, he founded a start-up called On Message, specialising in chatbots, voice applications and AI, now recognised as a 2018 Gartner Cool Vendor for Asia Pacific. Douglas presents a podcast on tech and innovation called Smart Dust and has delivered TEDx talks in 2016 and 2018.

Karen Carey

Member, Program Committee

Karen has been a music educator for 40 years working in the Department of Education as well as serving  as Director of Music at MLC school for 25 years and more recently as Artistic Director at Santa Sabina College. In 2007, Karen received a National Award for Excellence in Music Education, and in 2011 was the subject of the award-winning documentary Mrs Carey’s Concert. Karen believes in the intrinsic value of music education for all children and for the cohesion of communities.

Chen Li

Member, Finance and Audit Committee

Chen is an experienced accountant, specialising in the regulations of Non-Government Organisations (NGO). Chen has considerable experience auditing government bodies that interact with NGOs and understands their accounting regulations and their interactions with NGOs.. Chen completed a Master of Professional Accounting at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Melbourne, in 2009. Previously at Sichuan University, Sichuan, China she graduated in a Bachelor of Law/Bachelor of Art in 2007. Chen is a Certified Practicing Accountant

Dr Richard Letts AM

Chairperson, Chair of Program Committee


Founder, Director, The Music Trust; author, editor, publisher. Began professional life as jazz musician. PhD, University of California at Berkeley, music. Founder, CEO, East Bay Center for Performing Arts, San Francisco, then Director, MacPhail Music Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (largest in USA). Returned to Australia as Director, Music Board, Australia Council; Director, Australian Music Centre. Founder, CEO Music Council of Australia. Volunteer roles include President, International Music Council, Paris, 2005-9.

Emeritus Professor Di Yerbury

AO, Deputy Chairperson; Chair,
Governance/Risk Management Committee

Australia’s first female First Assistant Secretary, Australian Public Service, 1973, in charge of National Wage Cases; first female Professor of Management, 1976; founding professor, AGSM (UNSW); CEO, Australia Council for the Arts (1984); first female Vice-Chancellor (Macquarie, 1987-2006); President, Universities Australia, 2004-06; Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year, 2002; Board Director since 1983 in business, education and arts boards, including several in music; Patron, Australian Youth Orchestra.

Jonathan Abednego

Treasurer, Chair of Fundraising Committee


 Jonathan is Head of Business at Wesley Mission, one of Australia’s largest community service organisations. Over 12 years’ senior management experience in banking, FMCG and not-for-profit. In 2013, he founded and remains director of a venture capital and consulting firm helping to accelerate new business ideas. He is classically trained in piano, voice and holds degrees in business, information technology and an MBA. In 2018, he became a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

Marianne Kopeinig

Public Officer, Member of the Governance and
Risk Management Committee

Over 20 years of legal experience as a private practitioner, corporate counsel and company secretary for private and ASX listed companies – in commercial, corporate governance, risk management and compliance. Marianne’s experience has been gained in private practice, listed and unlisted companies in a range of sectors: including – IT, research, retail, funds management, community and disability sectors. Marianne was a founding committee member of the Clayton Utz Community Connect Foundation. She has been involved in school music programs as a parent and co-convenor. She has LLB/BJuris, LLM Graduate diploma ACG, FGIA, FCIS.

Mandy Yan​

Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee

A manager in Treasury, Macquarie Bank. She is a qualified chartered accountant with over 10 years experience in treasury transaction advisory, financial and management reporting, auditing and due diligence reviews for IPOs, in both local and overseas markets such as UK, China and Singapore.

Douglas Nicol

Chair, Communications and Marketing Committee

 A partner at The Works which is B&T Branding and CX Agency of the Year and number one in the Great Place To Work Awards. In 2016, he founded a start-up called On Message, specialising in chatbots, voice applications and AI, now recognised as a 2018 Gartner Cool Vendor for Asia Pacific. Douglas presents a podcast on tech and innovation called Smart Dust and has delivered TEDx talks in 2016 and 2018.

Karen Carey

Member, Program Committee

Karen has been a music educator for 40 years working in the Department of Education as well as serving  as Director of Music at MLC school for 25 years and more recently as Artistic Director at Santa Sabina College. In 2007, Karen received a National Award for Excellence in Music Education, and in 2011 was the subject of the award-winning documentary Mrs Carey’s Concert. Karen believes in the intrinsic value of music education for all children and for the cohesion of communities.

Chen Li

Member, Finance and Audit Committee

Chen is an experienced accountant, specialising in the regulations of Non-Government Organisations (NGO). Chen has considerable experience auditing government bodies that interact with NGOs and understands their accounting regulations and their interactions with NGOs.. Chen completed a Master of Professional Accounting at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Melbourne, in 2009. Previously at Sichuan University, Sichuan, China she graduated in a Bachelor of Law/Bachelor of Art in 2007. Chen is a Certified Practicing Accountant

Our
Executive Staff

David Close

Chief Executive Officer

David has over 20 years of experience in small, medium and large IT and consulting companies with business management responsibilities for; sales, marketing, consulting, recruitment, mentoring and project management. Industry experience includes; government, defence, emergency services covering NZ, Asia and USA. Recently, David advises high-tech start-ups.

David also spent 9 years undertaking post-graduate research and lecturing at UNSW, ANU and Sydney University.

Qualifications include; Graduate Diploma, Applied Corporate Governance (Governance Institute of Australia), Marketing Diploma (APBC) and B.Surv. (Honours, UNSW).

Christopher Bennett

Director of Programs

Christopher holds a Bachelor’s in music from the Sydney Conservatorium, and a Master’s in music from Northwestern University in Chicago. In addition to his position with the Symphony for Life Foundation, he runs his own music school, St Leonards Music Academy, and performs regularly around Sydney and Australia as a cellist in solo, chamber, and orchestral settings.

David Close

Chief Executive Officer

David has over 20 years of experience in small, medium and large IT and consulting companies with business management responsibilities for; sales, marketing, consulting, recruitment, mentoring and project management. Industry experience includes; government, defence, emergency services covering NZ, Asia and USA. Recently, David advises high-tech start-ups.

David also spent 9 years undertaking post-graduate research and lecturing at UNSW, ANU and Sydney University.

Qualifications include; Graduate Diploma, Applied Corporate Governance (Governance Institute of Australia), Marketing Diploma (APBC) and B.Surv. (Honours, UNSW).

Christopher Bennett

Director of Programs

Christopher holds a Bachelor’s in music from the Sydney Conservatorium, and a Master’s in music from Northwestern University in Chicago. In addition to his position with the Symphony for Life Foundation, he runs his own music school, St Leonards Music Academy, and performs regularly around Sydney and Australia as a cellist in solo, chamber, and orchestral settings.