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The Board

JOHN LEHA
FOUNDING DIRECTOR + CHAIR
John Leha is a proud Birra Gubba, Wakka Wakka and Tongan man born and raised on Gadigal land (Sydney). John is our founding Director and Chair of BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation he has worked extensively in Indigenous education and employment across all levels of government and community. John is well-known health ambassador and founder of Sydney Deadly Runners. He currently chairs Gadigal Information Service (Koori Radio). John is pro-active member of the Sydney Aboriginal community with membership with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Aboriginal advisor to the Kingsford Community Legal Centre, Advisor for the Aids Council of New South Wales Aboriginal project, and active membership with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation leadership group. John Leha’s the very proud son to an amazing family and simply a beautiful big black gay man driving force for change with recognition, respect and reciprocity of LGBTQ+ peoples past, present and future. John is the sustainability lead of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence a leading Aboriginal not for profit social enterprise that aims to empower excellence in others. John says, “BlaQ is me BlaQ is you BlaQ is home.”
PETINA SMITH
DIRECTOR
Petina Smith is a proud First Nations Transgender woman. Direct descendant of the Kunja nation from Queensland she now lives in rural and remote NSW, where she is the first, and only Transgender Woman to live openly as her true, authentic self. She identifies some of her strengths as a carer, poet, performer, artist, social justice advocate and educator. She is a active member of her community, being involved in a number of empowering projects, which she loves. As a First Nations Transgender woman in a small Community she has a lived experiences of the hardships and injustices LGBQTI and first nations people face individually and as a collective. Witnessing the strengths through adversity in our communities is what keeps her going. Continuing to break down the stigmas and stereotypes through visibility and participation. Penita said; she hopes to provide first hand insight to BlaQ from a Rural and remote perspective to bring about positive change and to increase BlaQ footprint in these areas. “Being a First Nations Transgender woman makes me a minority within minorities and living in a small community comes with extra challenges, and has been very difficult at times, however, I have, and will continue to survive and make positive change for future generations”.
FAMEY WILLIAMS
DIRECTOR
Famey is a proud a Githabul woman (Mother’s Country) with links to Gomeroi country, who was raised predominately on Gumbaynggirr Country. Famey is an experienced program manager with a demonstrated history of working with and in non-profit organisations, policy analysis, program implementation, and government. As a LGBTQI ally, Famey will share her knowledge of social enterprise and not-for-profit management to help guide BlaQ moving forward.
TERENCE MURPHY
DIRECTOR
Terrence is a proud Gomeroi man with family connections in Moree and Boggabilla(NSW) though was born and raised in Redfern, Sydney (NSW) and continues to live in the community today. Terrence has had the opportunity to live and work in many Aboriginal Communities across NSW but always returns home to “The Block”. Terrence has a bachelor of Psychology and has worked in many roles across the Community Services sector from Housing, Juvenile Justice, Drug and Alcohol Counselling and was a Child, Adolescent and Family Therapist though currently works for the NSW Department of Education in the Child Wellbeing Unit as the Aboriginal Field Assessment Officer. Terrence joined the BlaQ board in February 2022 and was nominated as the Treasurer in September of the same year. Terrence has numerous years of governance experience having held the position of Vice President of the Redfern All Blacks Rugby League Club for 7 years from 2010-2017. In 2022 Terrence has also been appointed board positions having being nominated as Chairperson of Gadigal Information Service and elected to the Sydney Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council. Terrence is passionate about developing and conducting programs to advocate for people from vulnerable populations to assist in improving their opportunities to engage and access services in their community to achieve better life outcomes.
JESSICA JOHNSON
FOUNDING DIRECTOR
Jessica Johnson is a descendent of the Warumungu/Wombaya people of the Northern Territory, born on Larrakia country (Darwin) and raised on Ngunnawal country (Canberra). She’s the lead creative and owner of Nungala Creative. As a founding Director of BlaQ Jessica anticipates the tangible application of overdue services and resources needed to nurture and empower the often overlooked and underestimated members of our First Nations LGBTQ+ community. Jessica believes like most things colonisation has attempted to erase us but we the First Nations LGBTQ+ people of this country have always been here. Along side our brothers and sisters we have existed moving through time, providing for our families, caring for those in need, loving and protecting our community and country. Our elders need to be honoured and remembered and our sparkly fabulous babies need to know they have belonging. Jessica see’s BlaQ playing vital role in solidifying this space through innovation and inclusion (and some blood, sweat and tears).
CORRINNE SULLIVAN
DIRECTOR
Corrinne Sullivan is a descendent of the Wiradjuri nation, she was born on D’harawal country but has lived and worked for most of her life on Darug country. Corrinne is an Associate Dean (Indigenous Education), and Senior lecturer at Western Sydney University. Her research interests are multi-disciplinary and focus broadly on experiences and effects of body and Identity in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Corrinne’s knowledges stem from the disciplines of Indigenous Studies and Human Geography, and she utilises both to understand the ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are affected by their experiences of space and place. Her current research projects include Indigenous gender and sexuality, Indigenous education, and the lived experiences of Indigenous Australian sex workers. Corrinne identifies as a lesbian cis-woman and is passionate to see Indigenous peoples sexual and gender diversity visible and celebrated. It is to this end that Corrinne is committed to promoting the values of Blaq and ensuring that the work that Blaq undertakes is valuable within our communities.
CASS BEST
DIRECTOR
Cass Best (They/Them) is a proud Gay Kamilaroi Mari from Gunnedah. Raised on Kamilaroi and Darkinjung land, They have lived most their adult life on Gadigal and Bidjigal land. Cass is a non- binary Mari living with disability who actively advocates and engages with Mob and LGBTQI+ community. Cass a former Ambulance officer and now a Aboriginal Community Development Officer for LAC Participant Services in Sydney/South West Sydney supporting LGBTQI+ mob with a wide range of disabilities Including mental health, physical and intellectual disability, to help them build their capacity and help them engage in culturally appropriate social activities.

Acknowledgement

BlaQ Aboriginal Corporation acknowledges the traditional owners and custodians of country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge and pay special respects to our LGBTQIA+SB mob. We honour their legacy in everything we do.