Meet our Directors

Kim McKay AO, Director + CEO, Australian Museum headshot

Kim McKay, AO

Director & CEO

Kim McKay AO leads the strategic direction and management of the nation’s first museum.

Kim McKay’s career has focussed on public advocacy and community engagement programs around the natural environment and science both in Australia and internationally.

In her role as Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, Kim is responsible for the management of the nation’s first museum, including a collection of over 22 million natural science specimens and cultural objects.

Since being appointed to the Director’s role in April 2014 (the first woman in the AM’s 190+ year history), Kim has initiated a broad transformation program including overseeing Project Discover, the AM’s $57.5m award-winning renovation of public spaces.

With a background in marketing and communications, Kim has worked in the USA in senior roles in non-fiction television for Discovery Channel and National Geographic and co-founded the iconic Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World campaigns in the 1990’s working in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). The co-author of five True Green books published in Australia and internationally by Nat Geo, Kim has received many awards for her environmental and citizen science work.

She graduated from UTS with a BA Communications in 1980 and currently serves on the UTS Council and Chairs the NSW Government’s Museum and History Art Form Board. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Wollongong in 2022 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to science, including her work on environmental and conservation issues, and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Technology Sydney in 2023 in recognition of her achievements in the community, non-profit, cultural, environmental, communications and business sectors.

Kim was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2008 for distinguished service to the environment and the community.

Corporate portrait

Russell Briggs

Chief Experience Officer

Russell Briggs is Chief Experience Officer at the Australian Museum (AM), beginning his tenure in September 2017. Russell leads the team responsible for permanent, temporary and touring exhibitions; education; public programs; visitor experience, front of house, and volunteers; digital; climate change; the Museum archives and library, and the extensive world collections held by the Museum.

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 Programs and was Director of the War Memorial during planning for the WWI Centenary.

He then continued to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, where from 2012-17 he was Director of Exhibitions and Collections. Previously, Russell worked for a decade as Executive VP and Creative Director of a high-end multimedia company in California that specialised in 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.

Maggie Chien

Maggie Chien

Associate Director, People and Culture

Maggie leads the People and Culture function for the Museum as Associate Director, bringing over 15 years of comprehensive human resources management experience to the Museum. Maggie holds a Master of Commerce (HRM), a Bachelor of Commerce (Bus Econ) from University of NSW and is an AHRI Certified Academic of Human Resources (CAHRI).

Maggie is a member of the Museum’s Executive Leadership Team, responsible for development and implementation of People and Culture policies, strategies and projects to support the mission, values and strategic priorities of the Museum. Maggie ensures that people and culture considerations are central to all executive decision making and that best practice change management practices and frameworks are in place and applied.

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.

Amanda Farrar

Amanda Farrar PSM

Director, Public Affairs and Development

Amanda has held senior leadership positions within the public service, television & media sectors for over 20 years. Amanda was appointed Director, Public Affairs and Development in 2018 responsible for securing government and philanthropic support for major capital infrastructure projects and the Museum’s flagship science, education and cultural programs.

Amanda is also responsible for external stakeholder relationships that support the AM’s strategic direction and the executive champion for access, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and the AM’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

Amanda’s leadership skills have been recognised through the Public Service Commission’s Leadership Academy senior executive program (2021) & the Council of Australian Museum Director’s Executive Mentoring program (2018).

Amanda has been part of the Australian Museum’s executive leadership team since 2016. 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 First Nations affairs and community building and has been actively engaged in several place management and community building committees.

Heather Harris, COO

Heather Harris is the Chief Operating Officer at the Australian Museum.

Image: Abram Powell
© Australian Museum

Heather Harris

Chief Operating Officer

Heather Harris is the Chief Operating Officer at the Australian Museum. She leads the teams at the Museum responsible for commercial activities, building services, technology, people and culture, security and legal and procurement services. Since being appointed in May 2022, Heather has also led the Masterplan development work at the Museum and a transformation programme aimed at optimising museum processes, planning, reporting and project management practices.

Heather is an experienced museum director, with extensive knowledge of strategy and policy development for museums, collections management and care, and current museum practices and trends. Previous roles have included Director of Cultural Organisations for Auckland, Director of Conservation and Collections Management at the V&A Museum (London) and Chief Operating Officer at Auckland Museum. In her earlier career, she worked as a New Zealand diplomat and lawyer, and on major change projects in the public sector.

Heather has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from Auckland University, a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration from Otago University, a Graduate Certificate in Art History and Architecture from the University of London and a Masters Degree in Art History from the Courtauld Institute in London.

Kris Helgen

Professor Kris Helgen

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

Professor Kristofer M. Helgen was appointed Chief Scientist and Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) in June 2020. He is responsible for the AMRI team of more than 100 staff, including research scientists, collection scientists, collection officers and more than 130 associates, fellows and students, who research and explore the natural world.

Kris studies the biology of mammals. He has focused his research primarily on fieldwork with living animals and on museum collections to document the richness of life and understand global change,. Originally from Minnesota, Kris gained his undergraduate degree in Biology at Harvard University and his PhD in Zoology at the University of Adelaide. From 2008 to 2017 he served as Curator-in-Charge of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. and from 2017 to 2020 he was Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

Kris holds additional academic appointments at the University of New South Wales, the University of Sydney, the Natural History Museum (London), the Bishop Museum (Hawaii), and the South Australian Museum (Adelaide). He is a board member of Zoos South Australia and Conservation International (Australia).. He has been recognised as a Fulbright Fellow, a National Geographic Society Explorer, and a CNN Inspirations Researcher.

Laura McBride

Laura McBride

Director, First Nations

Laura McBride is a Wailwan and Kooma woman and Director, First Nations at the Australian Museum (AM). Laura leads the First Nations strategic direction and operations and also manages the Archaeology, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Pasifika cultural collections.

Laura’s vision for the AM centres on prioritising and amplifying First Nations voices so that Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Pasifika communities represent themselves and their cultures within the Museum. 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. Indigenous self-determination in representation, care, classification and use of cultural objects, is leading the first Nations strategic direction.

Laura has 15 years professional experience working in Museums, Indigenous education, and cultural heritage. Laura is an award-winning curator and lead First Nations storytelling with GADI and UNSETTLED exhibitions.

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.

Brett Ogier, Chief Financial Officer
Brett Ogier joined the Australian Museum in May 2022 and leads the Finance Division. As Chief Financial Officer, Brett is responsible for the Museum’s financial and risk management, financial planning processes, performance monitoring, and financial reporting to stakeholders. Image: Abram Powell
© Australian Museum

Brett Ogier

Chief Financial Officer

Brett Ogier joined the Australian Museum in May 2022 and leads the Finance Division. As Chief Financial Officer, Brett is responsible for the Museum’s financial and risk management, financial planning processes, performance monitoring, and financial reporting to stakeholders. As a member of the Executive Leadership Team, Brett plays a key role in developing and implementing the AM’s finance strategy. Brett is a Chartered Accountant and finance executive with over 20 years’ experience in financial leadership roles across listed and government entities, including the past 14 years in NSW and federal government entities.

Brett 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. At Ausgrid, Brett led the Financial Control team through the company’s transition from a NSW State Owned Corporation to private ownership in the largest acquisition in Australia in 2016. At NBN Co, Brett established and then led the Commercial Finance function of the wholesale broadband provider. Most recently, Brett worked for the NSW Department of Education where he was Director, Financial Analysis and Partnership. In this role, Brett was a key member of the Finance leadership team, where he implemented changes to the Department’s reporting suite across more than 2,200 NSW public schools, enabling more effective and easier tracking of costs.

He was the Finance lead on the COVID-19 Intensive Learning Support Program which was awarded the Secretary’s Award for Agility in 2021. Since beginning his career at KPMG in the Sydney and Los Angeles offices, Brett has also held senior roles at Ecolab and UGL Rail. Brett’s demonstrated success in government roles, projects-based and infrastructure intensive businesses means he is well placed to make a significant contribution to the Australian Museum’s Executive Leadership Team.

Brett holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney, is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jacinta Spurrett

Jacinta Spurrett

Director, Marketing, Communications, Commercial and Partnerships

Jacinta joined the AM as Director, Marketing and Partnerships in 2016. She is a highly experienced leader in all three sectors and brings a wide range of strategic skills and knowledge to the role. An executive and director, with a demonstrated history of working in both the ‘for profit’ and ‘not for profit’ sectors, her 25 plus year professional career encompasses specialist fiscal and general management experience across a diverse group of organisations.

For the eight years prior to joining the AM, Jacinta was CEO of the Eye Surgeons’ Foundation where she managed a significant strategic and financial turn-around for the organisation. Previous roles include Managing Director of the National Geographic Channel Australia/New Zealand and Managing Director of leading Sydney public relations firm Prue MacSween & Associates. Jacinta has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from the University of Canberra.

As part of the Executive Leadership Team at the AM, Jacinta is responsible for the oversight, business development and revenues associated with marketing, communications, sponsorship and partnerships, visitation, membership and tourism and other commercial activities.

Holding a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, focused on Communications, International Marketing and Media Studies from the University of Canberra, Jacinta’s business acumen renders her well versed in international management, business planning, negotiation and the full spectrum of communications including media, digital, stakeholder and celebrity management.

Learn more about our team

Discover the team delivering visitor experiences and collection research at the Australian Museum.

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