ADVANCE
CONNECTING
AUSTRALIANS
GLOBALLY

The Advance team is passionate about supporting global Australians, with collectively over five decades of experience working and studying overseas. Based in Australia and working remotely, Advance has team members in the ACT, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Most team members work part-time, collaborating across Advance projects to deliver the best outcomes for our members, partners and sponsors.


KATE MCQUESTIN

Incoming Chief Executive Officer

Kate is a public and private sector executive with more than 20 years experience in leadership, government, media, communications, public affairs and stakeholder engagement. A skilled executive who has worked and lived in the United States of America, United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and Australia where she has embraced opportunities, established networks and gained a deep understanding of the expatriate experience. Her professional experience includes senior roles and board positions in corporate, education, arts, health care and not-for-profit sectors in Australia and overseas.  Kate has worked with a range of global companies, industry groups and organisations – collaborating with a wide variety of stakeholders on complex issues across diverse cultures and markets.  She has also worked for the Prime Minister of Australia, a variety of Federal Government Ministers and a New South Wales Minister, serving in a range of roles in Government including Chief of Staff.

Kate is passionate about strengthening Australia’s position on the global stage and driving innovation in our country. While also ensuring the positive impacts of globalisation are enhanced and shared by marketing our people’s expertise along with our commercial, educational, science, technology, cultural, sports, tourism, agricultural, minerals and investment industry credentials effectively – so that the benefits flow to every Australian. She believes Advance’s role in championing, empowering and connecting Australia is invaluable.

As CEO, Kate is deeply committed to growing the Advance network, amplifying Australian success and unlocking opportunity. Cultivating Advance’s impactful, connected and powerful network, while strengthening the resilience of our people and competitiveness of our economy in a driven and globalised world. Opening up the world today and making the most of the opportunities for tomorrow.


JOHANNA PITMAN

Outgoing Chief Executive Officer

Johanna joined Advance in October 2019, and became CEO in March 2021. She is a recognised authority on talent and the changing workforce, and spent the formative years of her career overseas. With 20 years experience working across economic development, international trade and public policy, she has held senior roles in Federal and State government organisations in Australia, the UK and the US. In non-government roles, Johanna pioneered BlueChilli’s CityConnect accelerator for startups solving urban challenges, and was the Deputy CEO for the Committee for Sydney where she led advocacy for Sydney as a global talent hub. She holds a Masters in Regional Studies (East Asia) from Harvard University, and speaks Japanese and Korean. She is a long time Advance.org member, having attended its launch in 2002 in New York, by then Consul General, Ken Allen AO.


SARAH COLLINS

Website UX/UI Designer / Program Coordinator

Sarah joined Advance in early 2020, and has two years of experience at both Advance and global start-up, Internet 2.0, in digital and website development, marketing and digital transformation. After successfully managing the 2021 Advance Awards selection process, Sarah now oversees all aspects of Advance’s digital platforms, and is the coordinator for Advance’s educational programs. Through her experience volunteering in various roles at her church, as a school chaplain at local primary schools, teaching ballet, and co-founding My Mate Dave Coffee, Sarah has excellent skills in communication, community engagement and entrepreneurship. Sarah holds Diplomas in Chaplaincy and Pastoral care, Leadership and Dance Performance and Choreography. Sarah received the High Achiever Meritorious Award for the International Baccalaureate in Design Technology, German and Dance.


MICHELLE GIBBS

Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary

Michelle joined Advance in late 2019, and has led the streamlining of our global financial and accounting systems, resulting in significant cost savings, and increased financial accountability and transparency. Michelle has built deep finance and accounting experience over the last 25 years from working in KPMG’s CFO advisory practice, Commonwealth Bank Australia, Merrill Lynch London and Deutsche Bank London.  In these roles Michelle has worked with or within finance functions across various sectors, with a specialisation in deal structuring, leasing and technical accounting under IFRS.  Michelle provides CFO and accounting services to various clients, primarily not-for-profit entities, and is a partner at Nuwaru, a new and unique virtual accounting and tax firm. 


RIKANSHA RAM

Marketing Associate

Rikansha joined Advance in May 2023 as a Marketing Associate during her fourth and final year of university. As a Marketing Associate, her role is to utilise effective visual and written communication to create, schedule and post content via Advance’s social media channels. These channels include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Rikansha also applies her skills in advertising to analyse data in order to optimise engagement with the community. Rikansha is currently studying at Western Sydney University doing a double degree and double major – Bachelor of Communications/Bachelor of Creative Industries and majoring in both Graphic Design and Advertising.


IVANI TORALES

Project Lead

Ivani joined Advance in 2019 as Head of Community and was responsible for the upgrading and functionality of Advance’s most valuable asset, the Advance community database. Ivani has been leading Advance’s two largest internal projects – the selection process for the Advance Awards, and the Annual Survey of Global Australians. She also provides ongoing support and guidance to other team members, applying her rigorous process and project management skills. She previously managed the Spark Festival program, and projects in Paraguay alongside UN agencies FAO and WHO, supporting policy and standards development for global industry, trade and public health. Ivani speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and Paraguayan Guaraní, and holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the Universidad Nacional de Asunción, and a Master of Science from UNSW, which she completed as a DFAT Australia Awards scholar.