Darren Kindleysides, Director
Darren Kindleysides is the Director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), a leading Australian charity dedicated to the protection of the marine environment. He has worked at AMCS since 2009 on a variety of issues including marine protected area establishment, threatened species conservation, sustainable fisheries management and mitigating the environmental impacts of marine industries, coastal development and shipping.
Darren has in-depth experience, knowledge and expertise in marine conservation having worked in this field for almost 20 years both in Australia and overseas. He has overseen the development and implementation of marine conservation programs, projects and campaigns in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the South Pacific and Europe, leading initiatives to safeguard Coral Sea reefs, Antarctic whales, Pacific turtles, Atlantic seabirds and North Sea cod.
Tooni Mahto, Marine Campaigner
Tooni's love of the sea began by causing havoc in rock pools as a child around the British coastline. Following gap year underwater adventures in Thailand and East Africa, she undertook a degree in Marine Biology, worked as a diving instructor in South Africa and led scientific expeditions in Mozambique and Malawi. She has worked in television in various capacities, including an underwater camera operator and researcher at the BBC's Natural History Unit.
While undertaking a Masters in Oceanography, Tooni was one of the presenters on the BBC series 'Oceans', where she was lucky enough to dive in locations from the Arctic to the tropics, including Tasmania. Tooni is never happier than when underwater, although surfing is currently vying for top sea-based activity.
Tooni has worked in marine conservation in both an educational and campaign capacity in the UK and abroad, and after filming a series about the underwater wonders of British seas, she has transferred her skills to Australia.
With a strong academic, media and conservation background, Tooni is excited to be working at the AMCS on sustainable seafood issues, including fisheries management and shark conservation.
Fiona Maxwell, Marine Campaigner
Fiona grew up in Manly, South-east Queensland where she and her siblings spent hours exploring Moreton Bay’s intertidal rock pools and muddy mangroves.
Fiona studied marine biology at Griffith University and later travelled to Western Australia where she undertook honours studies on a nesting population of sea turtles in the Lowendal Islands.
Fiona has spent much of her working life focused on marine conservation, from sea turtle monitoring off North-west WA and Costa Rica to advocacy and campaign work for a range of Australian environment groups.
Fiona has also worked in wildlife management with the Queensland Government. Fiona has also volunteered much of her spare time to conservation, particularly the Save Ningaloo Reef Campaign where she helped mobilise 15,000 people to rally to protect the reef.
Fiona has dived and surfed some of the world’s most spectacular places including Central and South America, south-east Asia and of course Australia.
Adrian Meder, Marine Campaigner
Adrian is a somewhat obsessive fisherman and surfer who grew up on a small island where there wasn't much do on dry land. He developed a fascination with the sea that has proved impossible to shake.
After experiencing declining local fish stocks throughout his childhood; and later living, working and studying in communities with protected marine waters, he well knows that conservation is a great friend to fishers and coastal communities.
Holding a graduate degree in marine biology, Adrian has worked in aquaculture research in the public sector and for major commercial fishing companies, as well as campaigning for marine conservation in Australia.
Adrian wants his work in conservation to result in more abundant oceans for all, so that future generations have even better opportunities to experience, learn and enjoy the seas than he has had. Adrian is based in Western Australia.
Felicity Wishart, Great Barrier Reef Campaign Manager
Trained in environmental science, Felicity has been involved in environmental advocacy at the state, national and international level for over 20 years, and has a solid track record of success.
During the early 2000s Felicity was Coordinator of the Queensland Conservation Council and subsequently National Strategies Coordinator for The Wilderness Society.
Felicity’s marine campaign achievements include being one of the key strategists in the campaign to secure the world's largest network of offshore marine reserves around Australia, overseeing campaigns which have secured 25 state-based marine reserves in NSW, SA, WA and the NT, comprising more than 3 million hectares, securing an increase in the final World Heritage boundaries for Ningaloo Reef, and leading leading the successful campaign to protect Moreton Bay from unsustainable sea cage fish farming.
Over the years, Felicity has worked with other conservation groups, in government, academia and with industry on diverse issues such the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development, ecotourism, fisheries, energy efficiency and national park management. She is revelling in the opportunity to protect Australia's greatest natural icon, the Great Barrier Reef from this latest emerging threat.
Dr Lissa Schindler, Great Barrier Reef Campaigner (currently on maternity leave)
Lissa is a marine ecologist who has worked in marine conservation both in Australia and overseas. She has spent time in the Philippines helping local communities manage their marine resources and also worked in the Galapagos Islands undertaking scientific surveys.
Lissa worked with AMCS back in 2005 and helped increase protection in Moreton Bay Marine Park from 1% to 16%.
Since then she has obtained a PhD, assessing the effectiveness of protected areas, and also worked for the Queensland government in environmental policy and natural resource management.
She is an avid diver and has dived around the globe but the Great Barrier Reef is still one of her favourite divespots. Like many Australians the Great Barrier Reef holds a special place for Lissa and she has joined the campaign to help ensure it remains special.
Cherry Muddle, Great Barrier Reef Community Campaigner
Cherry’s love for the ocean stems from a childhood of exploring the seashore, islands, and fringing Reefs in Australia. It wasn’t until Cherry finished school and embarked on a trip around Australia did she truly fall in love with the Great Barrier Reef. Cherry describes her first scuba dive in the Whitsunday Islands like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, immersed in an ethereal world of colour, beauty, and enchantment.
After graduating from a Bachelor Tourism Management and Environmental Science at Southern Cross University Cherry completed an internship at Ningaloo Reef. Cherry’s passion for the ocean has led her on many adventures including kayaking around the Whitsunday Islands, working on yachts from the Mediterranean to the South China Sea, surfing in South America, diving with grey nurse sharks at Fish Rock Cave, and free diving through Cenoytes in Mexico. Cherry worked on a sailing boat in the Whitsundays, where she studied coral reefs and passionately educated guests on marine conservation and also gained her Coxswain licence. Cherry has volunteered with AMCS since February and now works as the regional campaigner in the Whitsundays.
Gemma Plesman, Great Barrier Reef Campaigner
Growing up on 250 acres of Australian bush in the Northern Rivers of NSW, Gemma developed a strong connection to the natural environment.
While at university Gemma established a Climate Action group on campus and worked to protect local farmlands from unconventional gas mining. After completing an education degree specialising in Education for Sustainability she worked for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) as the Queensland state coordinator. Gemma worked on multiple campaigns including ‘Youth Decide: The Energy Election’ in 2012 and coordinated the Start the Switch Schools program.
For the past year and a half Gemma has been working for the Mackay Conservation Group as she is passionate about empowering communities to overcome environmental degradation. Gemma is a talented and passionate campaigner. Prior to joining the AMCS team she was working with tourism, fishers and the local Whitsunday community to oppose the expansion of new coal export ports along the Great Barrier Reef.
Ingrid Neilson, Communications Manager
Ingrid has a long history with marine conservation and the environment sector in Australia. Since her early years, Ingrid has surveyed whales and sea birds on the eastern coastline. Ingrid worked on the South-east Queensland Forest Agreement on policy issues, community campaigning and conducting botanical surveys in South-east Queensland.
Ingrid has also worked in the sustainable energy sector and has management roles on other conservation organisations. Ingrid is dedicated to the protection of our precious natural environment, particularly our spectacular coasts and oceans.
Ingrid coordinates our communications, promotions and events, and helps out with fundraising to resource our campaigns. She also coordinates Turning the Tide, our quarterly supporters' magazine, and assists with various campaigns. As our longest standing staff member, Ingrid is shamelessly devoted to AMCS.
In 2009 she was officially recognised as a Queensland Champion of Conservation. Since mid 2013 Ingrid has been based in Sydney, New South Wales, where she has become fixated with the resident blue gropers, Port Jackson sharks and other animals.
Ingrid has been at AMCS for over a decade. She is the heart and soul of our organisation.
Kate Simpson, Communications Officer
Kate grew up on the Sunshine Coast, where her appreciation and love of the ocean developed. Kate studied marine biology throughout high school and obtained her scuba diving and boat licences. Pursuing her love of writing, she studied Journalism at the University of Queensland. Kate has worked in electorate and ministerial offices, in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Kate has extensive experience in campaigning and communications. In her work for a Northern Territory Chief Minister, she was involved in the communication campaigns to ban plastic bags and introduce a container deposit scheme.
Kate is a shrewd online campaigner, social media maestro, and an amazing addition to the AMCS team.
Renee Weidenhofer, Office Coordinator
Renee’s love of the ocean started as a child spending many days on the beaches of the Sunshine Coast and on family holidays to the Great Barrier Reef.
Pursuing her love of the ocean, Renee completed a Bachelor of Marine Studies at the University of Queensland and completed her Honours in Marine Ecology and Biology. Renee spends her spare time scuba diving, snorkelling and enjoying our amazing oceans.
Having worked for the past 6 years in business management, Renee is combining her passion for marine conservation and office management to support the smooth running of the organisation.
Asia Armstrong, Sea Guardian Coordinator
Asia Armstrong's love for the ocean started from a young age, growing up on the northern New South Wales beaches. She was born to sea-faring parents who fostered an appreciation of the blue, so that when she’s too far from the sea she feels restless.
Asia has travelled to some of the world's top dive locations - from Borneo to Egypt and Zanzibar, but she knows that Australia's beaches and marine wildlife are among the best on Earth. Asia is currently studying a Bachelor of Marine Studies at UQ, majoring in Marine Biology and Ecology. She started volunteering with AMCS in 2011 and now works as our Sea Guardian Coordinator, assisting with campaigns, events and keeping the office ship shape.
Tina Dalby, Finance Officer
Tina Dalby keeps the finances of AMCS in ship shape, and has worked as Finance Officer for over a decade. Tina is a QuickBooks Professional Partner and is currently completing her Diploma in Accounting with the NIA.
Tina has always loved Australia's oceans since her father taught her an appreciation for boats and boating, to be able to fish and ski at a very early age. Tina takes every opportunity to get out on the water with her husband and kids to explore our beautiful big blue backyard.