Meet our Board
Fundamental to the success of our work is enthusiastic, passionate and hard-working Board members. Their collective dedication and effort has achieved inspiring results and they are focused on long-term investment in the future sustainability and growth of Hope Bereavement Care.
Board member bios
Dr Bernard Maurice Jenner OAM – founder and inaugural President
Bernie is a consultant Paediatrician and Family Therapist in private medical practice, former Head of Paediatrics at Barwon Health University Hospital Geelong and St John of God Hospital, and founder of Hope Bereavement Care in 1985.
Bernie had a privileged upbringing in post-war Australia, in a warm, caring and hard-working family environment. The previous family generation had been ravaged during the years of World War II and Bernie’s Jewish German father – an orphan and refugee after surviving a concentration camp during the Holocaust – was sent to Australia, ‘the lucky country’.
Through his professional networks, contacts and systems-theory-thinking along with numerous generous community-minded people, Bernie is honoured to have founded and led the development of two award-winning charities – remaining the inaugural President of both. His dream is for these models of support to expand nationally.
Helping families is Bernie’s passion. He believes the strength and success of a society is ultimately judged by the way the most vulnerable are cared for, and that bereaved families deserve support, understanding and to never feel alone.
Keith Fagg OAM – Vice President
Before joining the family business in 1984, Keith worked in various research and business administrative roles after completing an honours degree in economics. As a Director of Fagg’s Mitre 10 for the next 30 years, Keith helped expand the business and was responsible for retail operations, staff management and marketing.
Keith has been and is involved in many community organisations and served as Geelong’s first directly elected Mayor in 2012-13. Keith is also a Nationally Accredited Mediator and has worked with the Department of Justice in this role since 2007.
In addition to supporting Bernie Jenner in his leadership of Hope Bereavement Care, Keith’s involvement with Hope has its origins in his family’s experience of grief – first with the death in 1957 of Keith’s sister Deborah at one day old and the passing in 1986 of his niece, who lived for only three weeks after her premature birth. Having seen his family’s grief, Hope’s mantra that ‘no-one should be alone in grief’ has special significance.
Mark Harris – Board member
Mark is a physiotherapist and university lecturer and has been a Hope Bereavement Care Board member since 2017.
Mark has worked in healthcare for over 30 years. Most of his roles have been as a clinician in physiotherapy and healthcare governance, with stints in hospital management and administration for the Victorian State Government. Mark has also been a lecturer in health sciences at Deakin University for more than a decade, teaching health promotion and public health. His qualifications include degrees in applied science, physiotherapy and project management with a masters degree in business administration. Mark is currently also a board member for the Western Victoria Primary Health Network and has been in that role for the last nine years. He is AHPRA-registered and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Mark has suffered the loss of two children, Maya and Anthony. Following the tragedy of the death of his teenage son Anthony in 2006, Mark benefited from the services available through Hope as he struggled to recover from his grief. Inspired by the support he received, Mark himself became a parent support worker helping other affected fathers. Through his extensive health management experience, he eventually realised he also could play a role on the Hope Board. Mark strongly believes it is a real privilege to be able to work with other passionate, like-minded individuals who are all committed to providing comprehensive bereavement services across the Geelong region. Mark found a way out of the darkness to the light; Hope is the beacon he wants others facing tragedy to find.
Tara Iacovella – Board member
Before becoming a marketing consultant over 10 years ago, Tara worked in various marketing management roles within blue-chip financial services organisations. There, she had the opportunity to meet the unique marketing challenges of business-to-consumer and business-to-business environments.
With a career spanning over 20 years, Tara’s focus on enriching and prolonging customer relationships enabled her to become intricately involved in both the strategic and tactical aspects of marketing. Now, as a consultant, Tara specialises in working with clients to develop a strategic approach to marketing. Her expertise also extends to improving internal lines of communication and to enhancing customer loyalty. Tara provides pro bono marketing services for a number of community groups and not-for-profit organisations. Her formal qualifications include a Master in Marketing and a Bachelor of Commerce degree.
When two of Tara’s close friends had babies born sleeping, she saw first-hand the devastation the loss of a child wreaks upon a family. Both friends sought help from Hope Bereavement Care and the difference the Hope counsellors made was life-changing. Tara believes everybody touched by debilitating grief should have free access to help from professionals. As a Hope Board member since 2010, she feels she is supporting professionals who are able to provide other families with ways to cope with their grief.
Daniel (‘Danny’) John Keating – Support After Suicide Management Committee Chair
Danny has been involved with Hope Bereavement Care since 2016. He worked as a Finance Manager and Corporate Services Executive Officer in the local government sector for 17 years before commencing his own consultancy practice in 1995, predominantly working with Victorian councils and not-for-profit organisations. His consultancy work largely involves business planning, feasibility studies, service reviews, procurement probity advice, special audits and policy development.
Danny lost his youngest son (Sam) to suicide in July 2014. Sam was 25 years old and a few years prior to his death divulged that he had been sexually abused by a priest when a primary-school student – a pain that he could not shed or cope with. Sam’s death had a profound effect on Danny, his wife Robyn and their three adult children – Hayley, Shaun and Edwina. A consequence of this was that Danny and Robyn received bereavement counselling and were invited by their counsellor to attend a meeting to discuss the need for a specific suicide bereavement support service to be established in Geelong. Through much hard work by a small number of dedicated people including Danny, the Support After Suicide (SAS) Geelong Region Service commenced operations in January 2017 after entering a memorandum of agreement with Hope Bereavement Services Inc. and Jesuit Social Services Victoria. This was only made possible through the generous provision of seed funding by the Bellarine Otway District Freemasons and their continued financial support, as well as additional financial support from the Freemasons Foundation Victoria Ltd.
Danny was the inaugural Chair of the SAS Management Committee – a position he still holds – and through this involvement was invited to join the Hope Board. His lived experience exposed him and his family to the unique pain of suicide bereavement and the critical need for local support mechanisms. SAS has effectively evolved to become a fully integrated service provided by Hope – an outcome of which Danny is proud.
Danny understands and is aware that grief following suicide is complex and varied and that people need different kinds of support at different times. The range of after-suicide support services now available through Hope is critically important to those bereaved by suicide in the Geelong region, and Danny is committed to ensuring their continuance and sustainability.
Pamela (‘Pam’) Therese Virgona – Fundraiser & Event Coordinator, Committee of Management Chair
Pam, a retired funeral director, has been a Hope Bereavement Care Board member since 2001. She has a broad range of lived and work experience in a number of fields. Pam’s early working life involved nursing, followed by a change in direction to obtain a BA (ED), Grad Dip in Religious Education and Grad Dip in Business (Organisational Change & Development).
Pam’s personal experience associated with the traumatic birth of twin sons and learning to live and care for a child with a disability highlighted the many difficulties and years of loneliness faced by parents and families without support. The unexpected death of her son Paul in 1997 gave her an insight into how important it is to have the right support when you really need it and the difference this makes in recovering from the pain of grief.
Pam later joined the funeral industry, where she was able to combine her many years of nursing experience, teaching, community development and pastoral care into her role as a funeral director. She continued in this role for almost 13 years and is passionate about bereavement support for anyone who has experienced the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one.
Hope’s motto that ‘no-one should be alone in grief’ speaks to Pam in a deeply personal way. The experience of having little support in caring for her son, the long and lonely journey as a parent of a disabled child, and his subsequent sudden death is the driving motivation behind her commitment to Hope.
Zoe Waters – Board member
Zoe joined the Hope Bereavement Care Board in July 2022. For more than 16 years, she has loved working for not-for-profit, for-purpose organisations with a common priority: to improve the health and wellbeing of our community. She has worked in the mental health sector, child protection and children’s rights, and – for over 10 years now – in public health.
Zoe is also a Board Director at Volunteering Geelong and new not-for-profit organisation Benefit Geelong, and was proud to be an inaugural member of the Ministerial Advisory Council for Volunteering. She was recognised in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards as a finalist and was the winner of the Regional Entrepreneur or Manager of the Year in the NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.
When not at work, family provides Zoe’s happy place. She regularly visits her parents, who spend their time both in central Victoria (in a tiny regional town called Bealiba) or Melbourne. She also loves regular weekend video chats with her two sisters.
Zoe was motivated to join the Hope Board due to her own experiences of grief following the unexpected loss of two loved ones in road trauma accidents. The care and comfort that Hope provides, along with its motto that ‘no-one should be alone in grief’, resonates deeply with her.
The Hope Bereavement Care Board
President: Dr Bernard Jenner
Vice President: Keith Fagg
Secretary: Peter Berrisford
Treasurer: Peter Norrish
Members: Kate Barlow, Chris Bitmead, Mark Harris, Tara Iacovella, Danny Keating, Pam Virgona, Zoe Waters
Hope Bereavement Care would also like to acknowledge the contributions of Mr Graham Morton - Life Member