Meet our Board

Meet our Board

Fundamental to the success of our work in is enthusiastic, passionate and hardworking board members. Their collective hard work and dedication have achieved inspiring results; they are focused on long-term investment in the future sustainability and growth of Hope Bereavement Care.

Dr Bernard Maurice Jenner OAM – Founder & Inaugural President 35 years

Bernie is a consultant Paediatrician and Family Therapist in private medical practice, former Head of Paediatrics at the University Geelong Hospital Barwon Health and St John of God Hospitals, and founder of Hope Bereavement Care in 1985.

He had the privileged upbringing of the post war Australia, in a warm caring hardworking family environment that had been ravaged the generation before, where his Jewish German father, an orphan and refugee, survivor of a concentration camp during the holocaust, was sent to Australia ‘the lucky country’.

Through his professional networks, contacts, systems-theory-thinking and with numerous generous community minded people, Dr Jenner has been honoured to have founded and lead the development of two award-winning Charities, remains inaugural President of both. His dream is for these models of support expand Nationally.

Helping families is his passion. He believes that the strength and success of a society is ultimately judged by the way the most vulnerable are cared for, bereaved families deserve support, understanding and to never feel alone.

Mark Harris- Director,

Mark is a Physiotherapist and University Lecturer and has been a Board Member since 2017

Mark has worked in healthcare for over 30 years. Most of his roles over that time have been as a clinician in physiotherapy and healthcare governance with spells in hospital management & administration for the Victorian state Government. Mark had also been a university lecturer in health sciences at the Deakin University for the past 10 years 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 a board member for 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 wonderful services available through Hope as he struggled to recover  from his terrible tragedies. Inspired by the support he received, Mark himself became a parent support worker, helping other affected fathers. Eventually, through his extensive health management experience, he realized he could play a role on the Hope board of management. Mark strongly believes this is a real privilege through being able to work with other wonderful, passionate and like-minded individuals, who are all committed to providing comprehensive bereavement services across Geelong. Mark found  a way out of the darkness to the light. Hope is the beacon that he wants others facing tragedy to find.

Tara Iacovella – Director since 2010 

Before becoming a Marketing consultant 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. Tara’s formal qualifications include a Master in Marketing and a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

When two of my close friends had babies born sleeping I saw first hand the devastation the loss of a child wreaks on a family. Both friends sought help from HOPE. The difference the HOPE counsellors made was life changing.

I believe everybody touched by debilitating grief should have free access to help from professionals. Being a Hope board member I feel that I am supporting professionals that are able to provide other families with ways to cope with their grief.

Pamela (Pam) Therese Virgona– Director, Fundraiser & Event Coordinator, Chair Hope Committee of Mangement

Pam, a retired Funeral Director, has been a Board Member since 2001.

Pam has a broad range of lived and work experience across all a number of fields. Her early working life involved nursing, followed by a change in direction in obtaining 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, learning to live and care for a child with a disability highlighted the many difficulties and years of loneliness parents and families without support face. The unexpected death of her son Paul in 1997, gave her an insight into how important the right support when you really need it is to people, and what a difference this makes in recovering from the pain and loss of grief.

Later Pam 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 experiencing a sudden and unexpected death of a love one.

Hope’s motto that ‘No one should be alone in their grief’ speaks to Pam in a deeply personal way. Having experienced very little in terms of support for her son, and the long and lonely journey as a parent of a disabled child, and his subsequent sudden death is the driving motivation of her commitment to Hope Bereavement Care.


Daniel (Danny) John Keating – Director and Support After Suicide Management Committee Chair

Danny has been involved with Hope since 2016.
Danny worked as a Finance Manager and Corporate Services Executive Officer in the Local Government sector for seventeen 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 twenty-five 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 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 Board of Hope Bereavement Care.

Danny’s ‘lived experience’ of suicide bereavement exposed he 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 Bereavement Care, 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 Bereavement Care, are critically important to suicide bereaved people in the Geelong region and Danny is committed to ensuring their continuance and sustainability.


Hope Bereavement Services Board members

President: Dr Bernie Jenner
Vice President: Keith Fagg
Secretary: Peter Berrisford
Treasurer: Peter Norrish
Members: Tara Iacovella, Pam Virgona, Chris Bitmead, Mark Harris, Danny Keating, Kate Barlow.


Hope would like to acknowedge the contributions of Mr. Graham Morton, Life member