Kokoda Foundation Board Members


Peter Nicholson, AO (Chairman)

Former senior Air Force officer who has held several operational command and strategic level joint staff appointments. He has commanded the RAAF combat force, served as the Head of Strategic Policy and Plans, and as the Chief Knowledge Officer of the Department of Defence.


John Blackburn, AO (Deputy Chairman)

John Blackburn, AO (Chairman 18 Jan 2012 – 28 November 2012, Deputy Chair from 28 Nov 2012)

John retired from the Royal Australian Air Force in 2008 as Deputy Chief of Air Force. He is a consultant in the fields of Defence and National Security. He is a Director of the Kokoda and the Sir Richard Williams Foundations.  He holds a Masters of Arts and a Master of Defence Studies.  In February 2011, the Kokoda Foundation published his report Optimising Australia’s Response to the Cyber Challenge which he co-authored with Dr Gary Waters.  He and Dr Waters have also recently published the Kokoda Paper Australian Defence Logistics: The Need to Enable and Equip Logistics Transformation. The NRMA published his Report: Australia’s Liquid Fuel Security - Pt 2 on 24 Feb 14


Alan Titheridge, AO (Deputy Chairman)

Air Vice-Marshal (Retd) Alan Titheridge is Vice President Australia Operations for L-3 Communications. He retired from the Air Force in 2002 after 37 years. His senior appointments included command of Air force’s operational forces, Deputy Chief of Air Force, and Head of Defence’s Strategic Operations Division. Prior to joining L3 in 2007, he operated his own consulting company. He is a Fellow of both the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Management.


Andrew Balmaks

Andrew is a founder and Chairman of the Noetic Group which operates both in Australia and overseas. He retired from the Australian Army, after 22 year service, and has continued to work extensively on defence and security matters consulting to a range of Government departments both in Australia and overseas. A twice former visiting fellow with the University of New South Wales, Andrew continues to engage broadly on national security issues.


Jim Bancroft

Jim Bancroft served for 28 years as an infantry officer in the Australian Army. He joined the commercial sector in 2004 on leaving the Regular Army as a Colonel. Jim joined Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (NGES) in 2008. He now leads NGES international growth strategy and business development interests in Australia and New Zealand.



Brett Biddington, AM

Brett Biddington consults to governments and the private sector on space matters and has more general interests in community resilience, notably in the electronic and communications and cyberspace domains. He maintains strong linkages to all elements of the Australian space community including the national security, space science, astronomy and education sectors. Previously he was a member of the Cisco Systems Space Team, in the vanguard of activities which are transforming global space communications and before that was an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force specialising in intelligence, security and capability development.


Peter Leahy, AC

Former Chief of Army, Peter retired from the Army in July 2008 after a 37 year career as a soldier. Since leaving the Army Peter has joined the University of Canberra as the foundation Director of the National Security Institute. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a Director of Codan Pty Ltd and Electro Optic Systems Holdings Limited, a member of the Defence South Australia Advisory Board and Chairman of the charity “Soldier On”.


John Lee

Dr John Lee is an Adjunct Associate Professor and Michael Hintze Fellow at the Centre for International Security Studies, Sydney University and also a non-resident senior scholar at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. He is an internationally recognised expert in the Chinese political-economy, and the foreign policies of China, countries in Southeast Asia, Australia and America. His recent work include strategic futures in Asia, and scenario outlook and strategic planning for Australia and America. He received his Masters and Doctorate in International Relations from the University of Oxford. He was appointed to the Advisory Committee to the Special Broadcasting Corporation (SBS) Board in 2013


 Andrew "Drew" McKinnie

Drew draws on over 30 years experience as an influential and innovative Naval Officer and Engineer. He has worked with many companies, defence industry groups, regulators, alliances and professional associations, plus diverse areas of Defence, Ministers and Government, central government agencies and aviation groups.  His last full-time position within Defence was as Director-General Major Surface Ships, responsible for risk management, business support, procurement and contract management as well as business strategy for multi-million dollar programs.

He now serves as a Reserve Commodore, as a technical member of the RAN Seaworthiness Board, providing independent advice to Chief of Navy (RAN) on mission system Seaworthiness and development of Seaworthiness Management Systems .

Drew has much expertise in reframing negotiation challenges from transactional to strategic and enterprise levels.  He is an accomplished negotiation and stakeholder engagement specialist consultant, trainer and strategist. 

Drawing on his strategic insights, enterprise risk management, leadership experience and training and facilitation expertise, Drew has led many strategic assessment workshops with industry, government agencies, think tanks, commentators and strategists. Drew has a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) and Master of Arts in Strategic Studies. He is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Edward Morgan

Dr Edward Morgan is Manager of the Defence Industry Unit for the Government of Victoria.

He was most recently in Strategic Policy Division in the Department of Defence, where he spent five years working in capability analysis, strategic reform, and military strategy.

Before joining Defence, he was an academic with the positions of Associate Dean at Ormond College, the University of Melbourne and with the Australian Research Council at the Australian Catholic University. A graduate of the University of Melbourne, he completed his postgraduate studies (MPhil, PhD) at the University of Cambridge, UK, where he fostered his interest in strategic and international affairs alongside his doctoral studies.


Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson has been a partner at KPMG in the Management Consulting service line since May 2013.  Prior to joining KPMG, he was the Director, Asia-Pacific, for KBR’s Defence and Government Services operations. In that role he had full responsibility for over 260 staff and annual revenues of almost US$50m.  Peter has previously served in the RAAF as an F/A-18 pilot, Flying Instructor and Roulette Leader. He has also held positions as Client Director for the KAZ Group (now Fujitsu) and Business Development Manager at DWS, an IT consulting company.  Peter’s formal qualifications include an MBA, BSc and a Graduate Diploma from the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Gary Waters

Dr Gary Waters is a founding Director of the Kokoda Foundation. He is an independent consultant in the areas of defence and national security, strategy formulation, capability development, acquisition, and sustainment. He served for over thirty years in the RAAF, taking early retirement as an Air Commodore, spent four years as a senior public servant in Defence, and then seven years as Head of Strategy for Jacobs Australia. He holds a PhD in political science and international relations, a Master of Arts in History, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has written over a dozen books on military strategy and history.


Michael Wesley

Michael Wesley is Professor of National Security and Director of the School of International, Political and Strategic Studies at the Australian National University. His career has spanned academia, with previous appointments at the University of New South Wales, Griffith University, the University of Hong Kong, Sun Yat-sen University and the University of Sydney; government, where he worked as Assistant Director General for Transnational Issues at the Office of National Assessments; and think tanks, in which he was Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Professor Wesley has also served as the Editor in Chief of the Australian Journal of International Affairs, a Trustee of the Queensland Art Gallery and a Board Member of the Australia Television Network. He is a Non-Executive Member of the Senior Leadership Group of the Australian Federal Police and a Director of the Kokoda Foundation. His most recent book, There Goes the Neighbourhood: Australia and the Rise of Asia, won the 2011 John Button Prize for the best writing on Australian public policy.


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