Meet our Directors

Kim McKay AO, Director + CEO, Australian Museum headshot

Kim McKay, AO

Director & CEO

As Director and CEO of the Australian Museum (AM), Kim is responsible for strategic planning and management of the nation’s first museum, including a collection of over 21.9 million natural science and cultural objects and specimens.

Since being appointed to the Director’s role in April 2014 (the first woman to hold the role in the AM’s 190+ year history), Kim leads the AM’s master planning and has initiated a broad transformation program. This includes overseeing Project Discover, the AM’s $57.5m major transformation of public spaces. To be completed in Spring 2020, Project Discover has propelled the AM into a new era as the leading museum in the region and is an important step in the realisation of the AM’s Master Plan and vision for the future.

Other developments to the AM under Kim’s leadership include enshrining free general admission for children into government policy, constructing the award-winning entrance pavilion, Sherman Crystal Hall, creating new galleries and programs, including the heritage restoration of the iconic Westpac Long Gallery.

Kim also established the Australian Museum Centre for Citizen Science; and undertook a comprehensive re-branding campaign. Prior to being appointed, she served for two years as a Trustee of the AM.

Before joining the AM, Kim was Managing Director of Momentum2 Pty Ltd, a Sydney-based marketing and communications agency specialising in major events, corporate sustainability and social responsibility programs. Prior to this she worked in the USA for the Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channels International where she was Senior Vice President Global Marketing & Communications. She has since also held long-term consulting roles with the National Geographic Society co-developing The Genographic Project, at the time the world’s largest DNA population study. Possessing a strong social conscience and environmental commitment, Kim co-founded the iconic Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World campaigns in the early 1990’s and helped drive their success during their first decade. She received a UNEP International Award for Excellence in Environmental Communication in 1994.

Kim is a strong supporter of women in leadership and actively promotes women within the AM, and across the Museums sector where she championed a nation-wide mentoring program. She is on the advisory board of the One Million Women campaign and, in 2011, was named in the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence list, and was included in the book ‘The Power of 100...One Hundred Women who have Shaped Australia.’ In 2013 she received Australian Geographic’s Lifetime Conservation Award.

Awarded as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2008 for distinguished service to the environment and the community, Kim also serves on the board of the UNSW Science Advisory Panel, and the UTS Vice-Chancellor’s Industry Advisory Board. She also Chairs the Create NSW Artform Advisory Museums & History Board, and serves on the boards of Osteoporosis Australia, The Somerville Collection Museum in Bathurst, the AM Foundation and Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation. She is the Secretary of the Australian Museum Trust, a PRIA NSW Fellow, co-creator and co-founder of the Sydney Salon, member of the Executive Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD), and member of Chief Executive Women.

The co-author of five books in the ‘True Green’ series published in Australia (ABC Books) and internationally by National Geographic, Kim holds a BA Communications from UTS where she also received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence and is an honorary Adjunct Professor at the Macquarie Graduate School of Management.

Tony Dibbenhall

Tony Dibbenhall

Director, Corporate Services & CFO

Tony joined the Australian Museum in April 2018 and leads the Corporate Services Division incorporating Finance, Human Resources, Information and Communications Technology, Security, and Facilities Management. As Chief Financial Officer, Tony is also responsible for the Museum’s financial management, planning processes, performance monitoring, and financial reporting to stakeholders. As a member of the Executive Leadership Team, Tony has a key role in strategy development and implementation, including management and delivery of the Museum’s Master Plan.

Tony is a Chartered Accountant and Finance executive with over 20 years experience in financial management, including the past 13 years in leadership roles in both Australia and the UK. He has extensive experience managing, advising on, and delivering a wide range of financial, strategic and other key functions in large and complex organisations across both the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors. Tony has recently returned to Australia from the UK where he was Deputy Director of Finance at one of the world’s great universities, Durham University. At Durham, Tony was a key member of the leadership team involved in strategy development, organisational planning, and major change, including the development of plans involving new investments in people and infrastructure exceeding $500 million.

Since beginning his career at PwC, Tony has held senior and executive roles at two globally significant universities, at one of UK’s largest transport groups, and with one of Australia’s leading social purpose charities. With an extensive background in impactful and service driven community organisations – which are highly regulated, infrastructure intensive, multi-disciplined and people focused – Tony brings significant experience to the Australian Museum’s team.

Corporate portrait

Russell Briggs

Director, Engagement, Exhibitions & Cultural Connection

Russell Briggs is the Director of Engagement, Exhibitions & Cultural Connection at the Australian Museum, beginning his tenure in September 2017. Russell leads the team responsible for permanent, temporary and touring exhibitions; visitor services and front-of-house; digital; public and education programs; the museum archives and library; and the extensive cultural collections which include Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Pacific and international objects.

A native of California, Russell moved to New Zealand in 2002 and joined the team at Auckland Museum from 2007-2012. There he held the position of Director of Exhibitions and Programmes, and was Director of the War Memorial during planning for the WWI Centenary. He relocated to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, where he was Director of Exhibitions and Collections from 2012-2017.

Previously, Russell worked for a decade as Executive VP and Creative Director of a high-end multimedia company in California that specialised in rich-media and interactive technology, user engagement strategy, and audio/video production. Russell received a Bachelor degree in Film and Television, at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Amanda Farrar

Amanda Farrar

Director, Public Affairs & Development

In July 2018, Amanda was promoted to Acting Director, Public Affairs & Development, responsible for the development of corporate strategic projects, government relations and other stakeholders who support the AM’s strategic direction. This role also secures financial support for the Australian Museum from private sources including individual donors, Trusts & Foundations, bequests to increase revenues, engagement and awareness, and to enhance the Museum’s brand. Amanda was selected for the Council of Australian Museum Directors Executive Mentoring Program (2018).

Amanda was formerly the AM’s Manager, Public Affairs & Community Relations from April 2016-July 2018. Amanda is a public affairs and marketing executive with over 30 years experience in media management, stakeholder relations, marketing and communication. Amanda was previously a senior advisor to former NSW Premier, Hon. Mike Baird and the former Managing Director of National Geographic Channel Australia/New Zealand with a depth of marketing, advertising, communications and digital broadcasting experience.

Amanda has a personal interest in Indigenous affairs and community building and has been actively engaged in a number of place management and community building committees and groups across the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

Kris Helgen

Professor Kris Helgen

Chief Scientist and Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI)

Professor Kristofer M. Helgen is Chief Scientist and Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), as of June 2020. As Chief Scientist and Director, he is responsible for the AMRI team of more than 80 staff, including research scientists, collection scientists, collection officers and more than 100 associates, fellows and students, who research and explore the natural world.

Helgen was most recently Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide. He has focused his research primarily on fieldwork with living animals and research in museum collections to document the richness of life, understand global change, and contribute to important problems in biomedicine. Originally from Minnesota, Helgen gained his undergraduate degree in Biology at Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Zoology as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Adelaide. From 2008-2017 he served as Curator-in-Charge of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Helgen has an outstanding global track-record and has conducted research in more than 50 countries documenting some 100 previously overlooked species of living mammals. He has a deep understanding of museums and museum collections, and experience leading major expeditions around the world. A dedicated public communicator in support of biodiversity conservation, Helgen’s expeditions and discoveries have been featured in two major documentary series by the BBC Natural History Unit and are regularly profiled in the media.

Helgen holds additional academic appointments at the Natural History Museum (London), the American Museum of Natural History (New York), the Bishop Museum (Hawaii), the South Australian Museum (Adelaide), and George Mason University (Virginia). He is a board member of Zoos South Australia, Conservation International (Australia), the International Koala Centre of Excellence, and TCS World Travel. He has been recognised as a Fulbright Fellow, a National Geographic Society Explorer, a CNN Inspirations Researcher, and named to the list of the “Most Innovative Under 40” by Business Insider magazine.

Laura McBride

Laura McBride

Director, First Nations

Laura McBride is Director, First Nations at the Australian Museum (AM). Laura McBride is a Wailwan and Kooma woman who has grown up in culture under the guidance of Elders in north western NSW and Sydney.

In this new role on the AM Executive Leadership Team, McBride will continue to lead the First Nations strategic direction and operations, assist the AM in engaging effectively and respectfully with First Nations communities, as well as managing the Aboriginal and Pacific collections. Laura’s vision for the AM centres on prioritising and amplifying First Nations voices so that Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Pacific communities represent themselves and their cultures within the Museum.

During her employment at the AM, Laura has played a pivotal role in assisting the Executive Leadership Team in planning and actioning the vision for the AM to move beyond its colonial past towards a more connected future with First Nations stakeholders and knowledge-holders. Laura is a strong advocate for First Nations communities in the AM, moving towards Indigenous self-determination processes across how we care for cultural objects, exhibit cultural material and undertake our First Nations projects, education and programming.

Prior to stepping into the Director role, Laura was the First Nations Curator in the Exhibitions, Engagement and Cultural Connection division of the AM, and previously also held the Creative Producer and Aboriginal Educator roles at the AM. Laura’s projects at the AM include the development of Garrigarrang: Sea Country exhibition and the award-winning GADI exhibition, and conducting ground-breaking First Nations community consultation through The 2020 Project which has informed the First Nations-led exhibition Unsettled, opening at the AM in early May 2021.

Laura’s academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts (University of Sydney) conferred in 2008 (double Major in Psychology and Australian Indigenous Studies), and Master of Aboriginal Education (University of Technology Sydney) conferred in 2012. She is currently a member of the Aboriginal Arts Culture heritage Association, the Aboriginal Curatorial & Art Workers Network in Sydney, NSW. Laura previously served as co-chair of the AM Indigenous Australians Gallery Prospectus and was a member of professional affiliation groups including the Corroboree Sydney Curatorial Committee, the AM Indigenous Australian Engagement Strategy Group, the Arts NSW Assessment Panel for Indigenous Grant funding: regional and urban, and Museums & Galleries Keeping Places Working Group.

Jacinta Spurrett

Jacinta Spurrett

Director, Marketing, Communications & Partnerships

Jacinta Spurrett joined the AM as Director, Marketing, Communications and Partnerships in October 2016. Jacinta is a highly experienced leader in all three related sectors and brings a wide range of strategic and practical skills to the role.

Her 20+year professional career has encompassed a diverse group of organisations. For the eight years prior to joining the AM, Jacinta was CEO of the Eye Surgeons’ Foundation where she oversaw a strategic turn-around and significant growth in funds raised from both donors and corporations. She has been Managing Director of the National Geographic Channel in Australia and New Zealand, supported international projects for many organisations (such as British Airways, Citibank, Yahoo! and Discovery Channel to name a few) and been the Managing Director of a leading Sydney public relations firm. Jacinta holds a BA Communications, Australian National University.

Maggie Chien

Maggie Chien

Senior Human Resources Business Partner, People & Culture

Maggie is the Australian Museum’s Senior Human Resources Business Partner, bringing over 15 years of comprehensive human resources experience to our People & Culture team. She is a skilled HR professional focussing on both strategy and operations, and has a detailed working knowledge of the NSW government sector. Maggie holds a Masters of Human Resources Management from University of NSW and is an AHRI Certified Academic of Human Resources (CAHR). Maggie joined the Australian Museum in 2006, and has recently joined the executive leadership team to drive a strong organisational culture.

People & Culture’s purpose is to optimise The Australian Museum’s outcomes through the provision of integrated people and performance solutions to achieve an agile, engaged and high performing workforce. People & Culture’s function:

  • Develop strategic partnerships with our clients to provide people advice and solutions that anticipate and meet their business needs.
  • Provide expert advice, support and tailored options to the business to enable them to effectively manage HR matters
  • Support our clients to develop workplace cultures that foster high performance, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion.
  • Facilitate effective and efficient people related change processes for our clients that minimise risk and ensure business continuity.
  • Coach our clients to manage and enhance the performance of their employeesand effectively manage grievance, workplace issues and underperformance processes.
  • Advise and support our clients to undertake organisational design, ensuring optimal structures and roles are in place to meet business needs.
  • Develop the capability of leaders in the business to manage their people through the provision of guidance and coaching.