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.
Leonard Hill – Acting Chief Executive Officer
Leonard is currently the A/g Chief Executive Officer at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and has been in this role since June 2023. Leonard has held a number of other Senior Executive Service (SES) Officer roles in a long public service career including Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer at AIATSIS; Executive Director, Collections Services Group at AIATSIS, and Assistant Secretary Culture Branch with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
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 Australian 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; and the Assistant Manager of a CDEP in Brewarrina.
Leonard has also undertaken a number of roles on local community and volunteer organisation boards including as Public Officer - Brewarrina Aboriginal Medical Service; Treasurer - Gainmara Birrilee Aboriginal Pre-school; and is currently a Director on the board of Winnunga Nimmityjah Aborignal Health and Community Services in Canberra, and a Director on the Board of the Australian Red Cross Society.
Leonard has been involved in and led a number of Australian Government Delegations on International engagements including to Germany, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Vietnam, UK, USA and the United Nations including leading the Australian delegation to the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous peoples (UN EMRIP) in Geneva in 2018. Leonard also led an AIATSIS delegation to Mexico in September 2019 to discuss Indigenous Policy and culture as it relates to National cultural and collecting Institutions.
Dr Caroline Hughes AM – Executive Director, Collection Services
Dr Caroline Hughes AM is a proud Ngunnawal woman and the Executive Director, Collections Services Group. She has made significant contributions to the field of education throughout her career, which spans over 30 years. She came to AIATSIS from the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) where she was the Director of the CIT Yurauna Centre of Educational Excellence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Aunty Caroline empowers others to achieve their dreams through the power of education and employment. As practitioner, manager and leader of VET programs in community development and client support services she ensured that cultural heritage has been the essence of all. Caroline has led the design and delivery of cultural programs that have strengthened the cultural capability of individuals and teams across organisations - within government and private sectors. Aunty Caroline grew partnerships and improved engagement with governments, private sector and community to improve business outcomes as well as increased the commercial income to support profitable operations and outcomes. Her leadership has contributed to policies, strategies, compliance and business acumen.
Under Aunty Caroline’s leadership she established long standing respectful partnerships that were formed with Indigenous culture at the foremost of all activities, an example is the establishment of an Early Learning Centre in partnership with Northside Community Services – winning national awards in the early child care sector. These initiatives reduced barriers to education for parents and caregivers to improve employment outcomes.
Aunty Caroline has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of University of Canberra, a Bachelor Adult Education as well as Graduate Certificate in Leadership & Management and Graduate Certificate Leadership in the VET Sector.
At AIATSIS Caroline plays a leadership role ensuring that the institute is a responsible custodian of all items held in the unique and diverse AIATSIS Collection, guiding the strategic management and long-term safekeeping of all materials held in it.
Caroline was shortlisted as a nominee for 2021 ACT Australian of the Year and was a recipient of the ACT Women’s Honour Role in 2018.
In recognition of her significant service to the Indigenous community of Canberra, Aunty Caroline was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours.
Kris O'Sullivan – Executive Director, Partnerships and Engagement
Kris is a proud Wiradjuri man. He brings a deep understanding of Indigenous culture and perspectives to his work with 15 years of business and financial management experience in the private and public sectors, particularly in accounting, finance, and regional economic development.
In his public service career, Kris has significantly contributed to regional economic development within the NSW Government. He has worked across various departments, including the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, and the Department of Regional NSW. Kris has played a pivotal role in driving economic growth and prosperity in regional communities through his roles.
In addition to his work in the public sector, Kris is also a dedicated member of the Australian Army Reserve. Since enlisting in October 2016, he has served in different capacities, including his current position as an instructor in the Sydney University Regiment. Kris has also been deployed on various operations, such as Operation NSW Flood Assist 21-1, Operation Flood Assist 2022, and Operation COVID-19 Assist. His commitment to serving his country and contributing to the well-being of others is truly commendable.
Kris has passion for building enduring and mutually beneficial relationships. In June 2023, he led the Australian Delegation to the UNESCO roundtable in Paris, where he advocated for the return of culturally significant material from Manchester University to the Anindilyakwa community. This demonstrated his dedication to preserving Indigenous heritage and fostering international collaboration.
Education has played a crucial role in Kris's career journey. He completed the Charles Sturt University Koori Admissions Program and subsequently earned a Bachelor of Business Studies. He has also pursued post-graduate management qualifications and is working towards a Master of Business Administration with Southern Cross University.
Kris has actively engaged in programs that explore the intersection of Indigenous leadership, identity, and public service. He completed the Aboriginal Career Leadership Development Program through the Australian Graduate School of Management, further enhancing his understanding of Indigenous leadership principles and their application in the public sector.
Kris has a creative side beyond his professional pursuits. In the 2000s, he was part of a hip-hop group that achieved significant recognition. Their talent was acknowledged when they won the first online Triple J Unearthed competition in November 2006, and their track "Rhythm and Rhyme" received high rotation on the airwaves.
Kris's expertise in business, financial management, regional economic development, and Indigenous leadership make him a valuable member of the AIATSIS Executive Leadership team.
Chief Executive Officers and Principals
Chief Executive Officers
- Mr Craig Ritchie 2016 - 2023
- 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