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The Senior Executive Board (SEB) ensures the transition of Council directives through to the business plans of AIATSIS programs. The Council appointed Chief Executive Officer is responsible for the organisation’s performance and advises the Council on all operational matters. Executive staff assist the Council, liaise with AIATSIS membership and develop the organisation’s public profile.

  • Craig Ritchie - Chief Executive Officer

    Craig Ritchie is an Aboriginal man of the Dhunghutti and Biripi nations and is the Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). Prior to coming to AIATSIS he was Branch Manager, International Mobility in the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. In this role he was the senior departmental executive responsible for the Australian Government’s Endeavour Awards, which support international student and researcher mobility, and policy leadership on qualifications recognition. He was the Departmental lead on the Australian Government’s education relationships in America, the Middle East and Africa, along with APEC and UNESCO.

    From late 2011 to mid-2015 he was the Branch Manager of the Access and Participation Branch in the Higher Education Reform Group, of the Department of Education where he led two major systemic reform initiatives in higher education: the first in reframing the national approach to widening participation policy and programs in higher education; the second in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education through the implementation of the findings of the landmark Review of Access and Outcomes in Higher Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (the Behrendt Review).

    Born and raised in rural New South Wales he was the first in his family to go to University. From 1984-88 he was a student at the University of Newcastle where he studied Classics, History and English with Education and Drama thrown in! After graduation he taught secondary English and History in Gosford for seven years before joining the staff of the AWABAKAL Newcastle Aboriginal Co-operative in April 1996.

    At AWABAKAL Craig led a process of organisational development issuing in the development of AWABAKAL first Corporate Plan. He was responsible for the operations of the AWABAKAL Aboriginal Medical Service that provided comprehensive primary health care, in a community-controlled model, to Aboriginal communities from Murrurundi to Wyong and north to Nelson Bay. It was under Craig’s leadership that the first Hunter Area Aboriginal Health Partnership Agreement was negotiated between the Aboriginal Medical Service and the Hunter Area Health Service.

    From 1999-2002 Craig was Chief Executive Officer of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) - the peak advocacy body for Aboriginal community controlled health services. In late 2002 he moved from the community sector to the public service as Manager, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Policy for ACT Health where he established the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit and led the development of the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Family Wellbeing Plan, a blue print for wellbeing focussed whole of Government action in the ACT. In February 2010 he took up the position of Assistant Secretary, Remote Health Services Development Branch in the Department of Health and Ageing where he was responsible of a program of primary health care reform for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.

    As a senior Public Servant Craig has had responsibility for major systemic reform initiatives including remote primary health care service delivery, place-based community development through the Remote Service Delivery National Partnership. He is one of a small cohort of Indigenous public servants who provide significant leadership in the broader whole-of-government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs particularly as a member of the Commonwealth Indigenous Reform Group.

    Craig was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2006 to research models Indigenous of leadership in the USA and Canada.  He has post-graduate qualifications in Management and is a PhD scholar at the University of Sydney where he is researching the implications of Aboriginal culture for public policy development and implementation. He holds adjunct appointments at the University of Sydney (Health Sciences) and the University of Technology Sydney (Indigenous Research).

  • Leonard Hill - Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer

    Leonard is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), a role he has occupied since April 2021. Leonard has held a number of other Senior Executive Service (SES) Officer roles including Executive Director, Collections Services Group at AIATSIS between September 2018 and April 2021, and with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as the Assistant Secretary, Culture Branch from February 2016 – September 2018.

    Leonard is a descendent of the Ngemba people from North West NSW.  He draws his Indigenous heritage from his mother who was born and raised in Brewarrina in North Western NSW, and who spent her childhood living on the Aboriginal Mission in Brewarrina until her early teens.

    Leonard has worked in the Indigenous Affairs space since the early 1990’s in a number of roles across the Australian Government, NSW State Government, as well as local Aboriginal Community Organisations. Some of these roles include Indigenous Coordination Centre (ICC) Manager and Deputy Manager roles in a number of ICC’s across NSW; Indigenous Education Manager (DEST); TAFE NSW Campus Manager at a number of NSW TAFE Campuses including the Eora Centre for Indigenous Performing Arts in Redfern; an Aboriginal Enterprise Development Officer with the NSW Government; and the Assistant Manager of a CDEP in Brewarrina.

    Leonard has been involved in and led a number of Australian Government Delegations on International engagements including to Mexico, New Zealand, Vietnam, USA and the United Nations.  In July 2018, Leonard led the Australian Delegation to the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous peoples (UN EMRIP) in Geneva and spoke on behalf of the Australian Government on a number of topics at this event. Leonard also lead an AIATSIS delegation to Mexico in September 2019 to discuss Indigenous Policy and culture as it relates to National cultural and collecting Institutions.

    Leonard holds vocational qualifications in Small Business Management, Indigenous Land Management and Training and Assessment, as well as Post Graduate qualifications in Business Administration.

  • Lyndall Ley - Executive Director, Collection Services

    Lyndall has worked at AIATSIS in a variety of roles including the Executive Director, Return of Cultural Heritage and is currently the Executive Director, Collection Services.

    Prior to joining AIATSIS, Lyndall worked extensively as an executive manager in local government in Queensland and Victoria in the fields of community, arts, cultural development and services, libraries and corporate services. She is a qualified librarian with years of experience in this field, especially at management level.

    The four years immediately before her time at AIATSIS she travelled, lived and worked overseas, primarily in Egypt as owner manager of a tourism company, assisting clients from all over the world to enjoy the unique attractions of Egypt. Lyndall also worked with Youth Impact Ethiopia, a local Ethiopian NGO based in Addis Ababa, assisting with strategic and financial planning and the development of a youth library.

    Lyndall is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Atlas of Living Australia, the Collections Advisory Committee of the Australian National University, the UNESCO Memory of the World Australian Committee and a Past President of the Australian Library and Information Association.

  • Dr Lisa Strelein - Executive Director, Research and Education

    Lisa Strelein is the Executive Director of Research and Education at AIATSIS. Lisa's research and publications have focused on the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the state, and the role of the courts in defining the rights of Indigenous peoples. Lisa has made a significant contribution to academic debates on native title in Australia, including her book Compromised Jurisprudence: Native Title Cases since Mabo, and many influential articles in academic publications.

    Lisa led the design and development of the online Core Cultural Learning course to be used by government departments, businesses and community organisation to strengthen the cultural capability of staff on the history and contemporary issues of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

    Lisa also led the review of the AIATSIS Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies to gain input from researchers and communities on best practice considerations when conducting research projects on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander topics, and on issues that impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  This review process has delivered a new AIATSIS Code of Ethics for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research.

    Lisa is the convenor of the biennial National Native Title Conference, which remains the leading Indigenous policy conference in Australia. This conference is convened with the traditional owners of the conference location as well as with the relevant native title representative body, and involves around 1000 participants, a majority of whom are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

    Dr Strelein holds adjunct Professorial positions at the Australian National University, University of Sydney and University of Victoria, British Colombia.

    Lisa has been awarded degrees in Commerce and Law with Honours from Murdoch University and Doctor of Philosophy in Law from the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University.

    Lisa was awarded a Public Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List.

Chief Executive Officers and Principals

Chief Executive Officers

  • Mr Craig Ritchie 2016 - present
  • Mr Russell Taylor 2015 - 2016


  • Mr Russell Taylor, 2009 - 2015
  • Mr Steve Larkin, 2004 - 2008
  • Mr Russell Taylor, 1997 - 2003
  • Mr Peter Daffen, 1996 Oct - Dec
  • Dr William (Bill) Jonas, 1991 - 1996
  • Mr Warwick Dix, 1985 - 1991
  • Mr Eric Willmot, 1981 - 1984
  • Dr Peter Ucko, 1972 - 1980
  • Mr Frederick McCarthy, 1964 - 1972