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The Board

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 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”.
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.
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 is Wiradjuri scholar currently residing on Dharug Country. She is currently the Associate Dean (Indigenous Education) and Professor of Geography at Western Sydney University. Her research areas include: Indigenous LGBTIQ+ people’s social and emotional wellbeing; Indigenous peoples and urban spaces; Indigenous communities and organisations; Indigenous education; and gender and sexuality studies. Her research has made significant and timely contributions to government policy, institutional practice, and community-based services and resources. A key objective of her research agenda is meaningful engagement with Indigenous communities and organisations to develop appropriate and impactful resourcing that can contribute toward building safe, inclusive and sustainable communities.
Corrinne is a lesbian cis-woman who is passionate about celebrating Indigenous sexualities and genders and ensuring that our individual and collective aspirations are achieved. It is to this end that Corrinne is committed to the work that BlaQ engages in to create positive and sustained change for our communities.


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.