Our people

Committee of Management

Andrea Rieniets, Acting Chair

Andrea Rieniets is a Co-Founder and Creative Director of Kids Thrive.

A singer, songwriter, composer, musical director and community development artist, Andrea has worked with young children for over 30 years.

She was the first Australian composer to be an Australian Antarctic Fellow, is a recipient of the Centenary Federation Medal for Services to Society in Theatre, and was awarded the Australian Arts Business Foundation Community Award for Good Practice in Partnership.

Andrea was founding director of Adelaide’s Before You Were Blonde contemporary community choir, and guest director of Sing It Up Big Australian Indigenous Choir.

Her compositional works and concerts have featured in the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide festivals, ABC radio and television, Opera SA and The Finnish National Opera. She has created over 40 recordings for solo, stage and film works, and is founder of Gorgeous Girl Records, Cha Cha Sam music for big-spirited kids and their grownups and Kids Thrive. 

Dr Andrea Lemon, Secretary

Dr Andrea (Ande) Lemon is a Co-Founder / Creative Director of Kids Thrive.

A playwright, director, dramaturge and author, Ande has written and directed over 50 community-based and professional scripts and productions. She was Artistic Director of Melbourne’s Women’s Circus (2002-2003) for women who identify as survivors of sexual abuse or assault, and Coordinator of the Royal Children’s Hospital Wyndham region Arts and Mental Health program working with primary and special needs schools, community agencies and mental health professionals.

Ande is the recipient of awards from the Australian Writers’ Guild, Victorian Green Room and the Edinburgh Fringe, and received the Centenary Federation Medal for Services to Society in Theatre.

Ande was recently awarded a doctorate for her thesis examining community belonging in the context of nomadic Australian circus communities. Nominated for a University of Melbourne Chancellor’s Award, the thesis formed the basis for a photographic and oral history exhibition, The Circus Diaries at The Arts Centre, Melbourne.

Dr Victor Del Rio, Treasurer

Dr Del Rio is a Global Science, Education and Business Consultant. He holds a PhD in Strategic Management (Melbourne University), a Master’s in Public Administration (Policy and Planning) and the Diploma and Certificate IV in TAE (Box Hill TAFE, Holmesglen TAFE and Victoria University).

He is currently Director of CBTS Latin America, a company that offers consulting, advice, training and other related services to government and education institutions in Australia and internationally. Dr Del Rio is also President of the Australia, New Zealand and Mexico Chamber of Commerce (ANZMEX), and the lead strategist for the construction of the first synchrotron in México (a $500 million dollar initiative).

He has been a consultant for the World Bank and the Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF). He has worked as a Senior Executive/Manager for a number of private (Ecos Corporation), public (Anti-discrimination Board, Privacy Commission of NSW, Melbourne City Council, The University of Melbourne, Monash University, Victoria University, Latrobe University and SBS Radio) and community organizations (Community Aid Abroad-Oxfam and the Spanish Latin American Welfare Centre). He is a Senior Industrial fellow at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), member of the Ethics Research Committee and honorary at Latrobe University and research fellow at the Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS) at at the same University. He has been a member of a number of other boards, research committees and councils. Dr. Del Rio is also the Australian President of the Global Red of Mexicans living overseas (RGM). This network has 40 chapters and 4000 members around the world.

He is qualified and experienced in working at the conceptual and implementation level of Vocational Education and Training (VET) competency based models.

Janine Mahoney

Specialising in organisational and community resilience, Janine works to bridge the gap between innovation, people and purpose to create a lasting difference. She has three decades of experience in designing and delivering innovative solutions that focus on building positive experiences and strengthening people’s connection to family, community and culture.

Having held governance and leadership roles within government, corporate and community sectors, Janine is a thought leader with an unquestionable commitment to human rights and social justice.  Janine was founder and CEO of the Safe Futures Foundation, one of Victoria’s largest and most innovative family violence services. She also served for six years as the Board Chair of Domestic Violence Victoria. Janine currently holds the position of Impact Architecture Program Director (Asia Pacific) for IPP Consulting.

Janine is a member of the Rotary Club of Melbourne and Vice President of the International Rotary Action Group for Family Safety. She was selected as the 2017 Australian Family Violence Rotary Exchange representative and spent three weeks in New Orleans, Louisiana participating in a global knowledge exchange.

Janine has presented at the United Nations, national and international conferences and was an expert witness at the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. She was recently announced as one of the Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence and was also a finalist in the 2015 Telstra Businesswomen’s Awards and 2016 Telstra Business Awards.

Staff

Dr Andrea (Ande) Lemon, Kids Thrive Co-Founder and CEO

Dr Lemon leads the organisation as a creative strategist, bringing together people, ideas and approaches from the creative, welfare, educational, community, philanthropy and social justice sectors to find new solutions for old problems. However her primary strategy is to constantly learn from the kids we work with – and not take life too seriously.

Dr Lemon is a leading Australian playwright, theatre director and community cultural development artist, with over 50 scripts and productions produced and toured through Australia, Britain, Europe and the US. She is also an ethnographer, dramaturge, curator and author. Ande was Artistic Director of Melbourne’s Women’s Circus – for women who identify as survivors of sexual abuse or assault; Coordinator of the Royal Children’s Hospital Wyndham region Arts and Mental Health program; and has been a researcher for Australia Post – researching and designing postage stamps.

Dr Lemon is the recipient of numerous awards including Australian Writers’ Guild, Victorian Green Room and Edinburgh Fringe awards, and the Centenary Federation Medal for Services to Society. She has been the recipient of an Australia Council Senior Artist Fellowship; and was nominated for a University of Melbourne Chancellor’s Award for her doctoral thesis examining community and belonging in the context of nomadic Australian circus communities. Her research included oral histories and photographic portraits with elderly circus performers throughout Australia, and formed the basis for a major exhibition, The Circus Diaries at The Arts Centre, Melbourne.

Andrea Rieniets, Co-Founder of Kids Thrive, Creative Director/Lead Artist

A singer, songwriter, composer, musical director and community development artist, Andrea has worked with young children for over 30 years.

She was the first Australian composer to be an Australian Antarctic Fellow, is a recipient of the Centenary Federation Medal for Services to Society in Theatre, and was awarded the Australian Arts Business Foundation Community Award for Good Practice in Partnership.

Andrea was founding director of Adelaide’s Before You Were Blonde contemporary community choir, and guest director of Sing It Up Big Australian Indigenous Choir.

Her compositional works and concerts have featured in the Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide festivals, ABC radio and television, Opera SA and The Finnish National Opera. She has created over 40 recordings for solo, stage and film works, and was founder of Gorgeous Girl Records. 

Ben Cooper, General Manager

Ben brings broad experience from various sectors with an extensive background in the Not-For Profit Sector and education. Previous roles in National Management, Program development and delivery as well as CEO experience in the sector support diverse experience and skills. Ben has also spent time working in the commercial sector in media account management, as Fitness Industry peak body CEO as well as community development at the local government level. He has complimented this work with over 15 years of musical performance experience in duo and as a solo performer and a keen interest in an active outdoors life.

Ben is passionate about supporting opportunities for young people through creative initiatives that break the educational mould while supporting and inspiring educators and communities. From a leadership perspective, he has built several effective teams and positive workplace cultures, with a leadership approach that supports individuals to play to their strengths and develop skills and thriving career paths in creative and supportive environments.

Vicki Philipp, Program Facilitator

Vicki has worked in Fringe Arts Melbourne and the Geelong Surfcoast region for more than 20 years.  This multi-talented lady has a background in visual theatre, puppetry, writing, music and event management.

She is excited about working on Kids Thrive projects with the wondrous energy of young humans and watching them come into fruition. She also enjoys being part of the positive team at Kids Thrive.

When not at work Vicki can be found playing music with her partner, cooking, practicing yoga, gardening, or on the beach with Mr Roy the dog.

Angela Thiel-Paul, Communications Manager

Angela joined Kids Thrive in early 2019. She has 20+ years’ experience in communications – across journalism, corporate communications, public relations, digital marketing and professional editing. She has worked for local and state government, not-for-profits and the private sector.

She’s loving working with the Kids Thrive team and sharing the incredible stories of the brave, creative kids driving the change they want to see in their communities.

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