Our visionary Board of Directors bring a wide range of invaluable expertise and leadership to the Festival.

Find out more about each of them below.

Melani was appointed Chair of the Board in March 2021. She has been a Director of BFF since May 2010.

Melani is on the board of Precinct Properties NZ Pty Ltd and the advisory boards of Winnings Appliances, Appliances Online and Porter Davis Pty Ltd. Melani also sits on the board of the Not For Profit Organisation, The Alannah and Madeline Foundation (an organisation for helping abused children and preventing cyber bullying).

Melani has strong business skills in large corporations, experienced in multi-brand wholesale and retail, e-commerce, strategic planning, marketing, and corporate restructuring & has worked internationally. Melani was Managing Director for seven years to end 2011 of EventGenie Pty. Ltd, the largest South African retailer of apparel, homewares and general merchandise, finishing with an annual turnover of ZAR3.9 billion, EBIT of ZAR281 million and 294 stores.

Melani was also Managing Director of Officeworks and CEO and Managing Director of Billabong International, one of only six Woman CEOs in the ASX 200. In recognition of her contribution to business Melani was awarded Cape Town Businesswoman of the Year in 2013.

In 2015 the South African Marketing Institute award her the prestigious Sir Charles McGrath Award for her significant contribution to the field of marketing and wider industry achievements.

Alexandra Smart is the Founder and Managing Director at Ginger & Smart. She founded the Ginger & Smart brand nearly 20 years ago and it is now a leading Australian designer brand at the forefront of design and sustainability in the fashion industry. Alexandra is highly respected as a creative business leader with over 30 years’ experience in fashion, retail and media.

Caroline Ralphsmith is the Chief Executive Officer at Fed Square, Melbourne. Caroline, known by all as Ralph, has 30 years of executive and leadership experience, having managed innovative, multi-faceted and dynamic businesses to deliver community, creative and commercial outcomes. She is an energetic leader skilled in strategy development and business growth. In addition to her diverse and successful professional career, Ralph has also been a key community and civic contributor in various roles.

Cate Sayers is the Founder and Director of Inclusion Foundation (Formerly E.Motion21). A vision of an inclusive world where people with disabilities are equal, active and respected has grown into the highly valued Australian charity known as Inclusion Foundation. Cate has extension experience in working with corporate and philanthropic partners, delivering large-scale events and navigating Arts and Government sector requirements.

David Briskin has been a Director of MFF since August 2012. David was appointed Chair of the Board from August 2017 – March 2021.

David has extensive experience in retail, finance and investment as a Director of a number of renowned Australian fashion brands over 20 years. David was Chief Executive Officer and shareholder in the iconic luxury fashion brand sass & bide from 2008 to 2014 before selling the business to Myer.

Prior to that, he was Managing Director and shareholder in leading accessories retailer Mimco from 1999 until its sale to Gresham Private Equity in 2007. In February 2014, David became a shareholder in and Director of M.J. Bale, one of Australia’s leading designer menswear brands.

In 2014 David founded Briskin Investments and Advisory which provides strategic advice to a number of domestic and international brands. David has been a guest lecturer at the Monash University, Melbourne University and RMIT.

Ginny Shiverdecker is a transformational leader with a deep expertise in evaluating and strategising business model platforms and identifying marketing pathways. She has over two decades of experience in enterprise retail, fashion, branding, consumer data analytics, multi-faceted digitally led marketing and social media platforms. Ginny advises on identifying the right partnerships to align with strategy and add value.

For over 20 years, Kallie has applied her experience and enthusiasm to the social sector through her work with international philanthropic and not-for-profit organisations. Her previous work includes roles at: Skoll Foundation (United States), Very Special Kids (Australia), The United Nations Development Programme (India) and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (Australia).

In 2015, Kallie commenced as the Director of MGA (Monash Gallery of Art) which is the Australian home of photography. In this role she looked after the gallery’s significant collection, yearly exhibitions, public and school programs, customer service and financial sustainability. In early 2018, she became Chair of  MGA’s Foundation.

Kallie is also a Trustee of St Vincent’s Institute and a member of the National Gallery of Victoria Women’s Association.

Kellie Hush has been a board director since 2018 and is an experienced fashion industry leader with expertise in media, social media, digital media, publicity, marketing and retail.

Kellie was the editor-in-chief of Harper’s BAZAAR from 2013-2018 and a former editor of GRAZIA and Fashion Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.  

She is co-founder of the Australian Fashion Council where she was co-chair until 2017. She also founded BAZAAR in Bloom, a major fashion charity event for the Royal Hospital for Women. She is also a new Trustee of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences where she is working on a new home for its extensive fashion collection.   

With over two decades in fashion media Kellie has developed incredibly strong relationships with Australian fashion designers and retailers as well as contacts globally in fashion and media. 

Kellie launched the retail brand The Way in 2018 and is now a consultant working with Australian and International fashion brands and technology companies.

Karson Stimson was appointed to the Board in January 2019.

With 20+ year’s experience in digital, Karson Stimson is one of Australia’s key industry players with expertise in helping business and brands connect and trade with the modern consumer through strategy, technology and design.

After 11 years as a director of Spin Communications, Karson founded WeAreDigital in 2009 which quickly became, and continues to be recognized as a top-tier strategic consultancy specializing in digital commerce, digital transformation, online and omni-channel retailing and customer engagement.

Karson is a well-respected public speaker and leading voice in digital and customer-centric digital and retail strategies.

Lisa Egan was appointed to the Board in January 2019.  Lisa is a lawyer with 20 years’ experience, and has particular expertise in issues impacting the fashion industry. She runs her own boutique legal practice, Monde Legal, providing practical legal solutions for business. She was previously Group General Counsel of Australian owned global brand KOOKAI, where she had responsibility for all legal needs of the business, including risk management and compliance. Lisa was previously a partner at global law firm K&L Gates, where she specialized in intellectual property law and led the firm’s Fashion Group practice.

Lisa is also the Chair of the Essendon Women’s Network, a coterie group of the Essendon Football Club. She is a member of the Governance Institute of Australia and has been a member of MFF’s Audit & Risk Committee since 2014.

Tony was appointed to the Board in July 2020. Current director roles are Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Limited, Scanlon Capital and Empty Esky (Advisory Board Member).

In a career at PwC Tony held many senior roles including Chief Operating Officer and member of the Executive Board, Global Leader Government & Public Sector, National Government & Public Sector Leader, Melbourne Managing Partner and Lead Partner for Victorian Government.

Previous board roles include Council Member of The University of Melbourne, Director and Treasurer of the Melbourne Festival, and Director of Melbourne University Publishing, Business/Higher Education Roundtable and The Australian Embassy for Timor-Leste Fund.

Tony is a GAICD, FCA, Victorian Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia and Fellow of Leadership Victoria’s Williamson Community Leadership Program.

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