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Our CEO & Board

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Peter Simmons

Founder & CEO

Peter founded GWM in March 2004 following a trip to Myanmar that brought him face-to-face with the daily challenges individuals and communities face. Having maintained a presence in Myanmar during a tumultuous session, he has become a recognised expert in grassroots development in the country. Peter has more than 35 years in business and community leadership roles, is a Fellow of the Institute of Managers and Leaders, and has served on the board of Teen Challenge Victoria and as Chairman of Youth for Christ Victoria. Peter is also a former winner of the Collie Trust Foundation scholarship and holds a Master of International and Community Development (ICD).

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Veronica (Ronnie) Faggotter


Ronnie has worked in the private and public sectors, as a small business owner, and in public housing for more than twenty years. She was Director of the South Australian Government’s State Recovery Office from 2005 until her retirement in 2019. Her focus was supporting communities following a disaster and increasing the State’s disaster recovery capacity and community resilience. In 2011, Ronnie was included in the South Australian Women’s Honour Roll for her work in emergency management. In 2017, she received the Local Government Association – Jim Hullick Award for outstanding collaboration with local government in the area of recovery. Ronnie was most recently the Fund Administrator for the South Australian State Emergency Relief Fund to April 2022.

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Des Collinson

Board member and Treasurer

Des was a founding partner of a chartered accountancy practice in Adelaide, with an impressive career spanning 40 years prior to retiring. As Treasurer, he oversees the corporate governance of GraceWorks Myanmar (GWM) and implementation of its vision. He was a director of Australia Medic Alert Foundation for 12 years and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and New Zealand.

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Dr Rob Cunningham

Board member

Rob’s experience spans more than 20 years, specialising in trauma-based work in the child protection, youth mental health and international disaster settings. This includes extensive experience as part of Australian Government responses to emergency and disaster settings nationally and internationally, such as the shooting down of Malaysian flight MH17 in Ukraine (2014), evacuation of Lebanon (2006) and London terrorist bombing (2005). Today, Rob’s practice and research interests centre on developing and evaluating innovative social change programs. His PhD focused on the long-term impact of sport-for-development programs on young people in post-conflict settings.

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Theresa Drewer

Board member

Theresa offers 19 years’ experience as classroom teacher, working across various educational settings and year levels, including more than a decade at Title One schools in the United States. She offers a wealth of knowledge in supporting students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds, such as students battling poverty, homelessness, incarceration, substance abuse and neglect. Most of these students have been English language learners. After fulfilling an Australian teaching exchange in 2013, Theresa decided to make Australia her permanent home. Building on her passion for helping those in need, she has completed a Master of Education, focused on teaching English to speakers of other languages, alongside postgraduate studies in Christian worldviews. 

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Elizabeth Graetz

Board member

Elizabeth is a business and marketing strategy consultant with 20 years’ experience. Her clients have ranged from small-to-medium enterprises through to ASX-listed companies in diverse industries. Her relationship with GWM dates back to 2011 and includes facilitating the 2012 strategy that supported the first major transition into a community development organisation. She was part of GWM’s first community development education training team in 2012 and 2013, and supported local partner capacity building in Myanmar. She holds a Master of ICD, Bachelor of Business (Communications) and Bachelor of Creative Industries (Media Studies) and is a Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) and a Certified Practising Marketer.

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Clay O’Brien

Board member

Clay works as a consultant in access to finance and economic development. He was based in Myanmar from early 2019 until February 2021, working with microfinance institutions, UNCDF, IFC and other development partners – and before that in 2012-13 with LIFT. Clay’s previous positions include Managing Director of AYANI Inclusive Financial Sector Consultants; more than two years in Indonesia running an agricultural finance project; the Senior Sector Specialist for Financial Inclusion at the Australian aid program; and various roles with the global microfinance network, Opportunity International. In total, he has worked in international development for more than 18 years. Prior to that, Clay was Managing Director of an investment bank (ING Barings), focused on mergers and acquisitions, and began his career as a lawyer.

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Zoe Solomon

Board member

Zoe is a skilled evaluator, project manager, community worker, and governance, risk and compliance professional. She has worked in executive administration and project roles in several not-for-profit organisations. This includes working with GWM partners and staff in the field in Myanmar. Zoe has extensive experience navigating complex situations with multiple stakeholders, including management experience in small and large organisations. Zoe also has significant research experience and holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Psychology) and Master of ICD, which culminated in a minor thesis focused on cultural competence and gender in international development evaluations. She has also undertaken postgraduate studies in management.

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