ERIN WALLACE – President

As GM of Max Events, Erin brings over 16 years experience in delivering major events across multiple sporting codes and clubs. Erin has worked on some of the biggest global sporting events both in Australia and abroad including International Basketball tours, International Football tours, Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.

A passionate supporter of basketball Erin has played for over 25 years, holds a club coaching accreditation and plays 3 times a week at Nunawading Basketball. Erin has been involved as a volunteer at the Helping Hoops Richmond program since the beginning of 2017.

Erin holds a Bachelor of Business in Sport & Leisure Management and an Executive Education from Melbourne Business School.

Erin brings her passion for the sport coupled with her experience in major sporting events to Helping Hoops with a goal to help grow the programs with a focus on Events, Sponsorship and PR.

KRISTEN PENNY – Vice President

Kristen brings over 18 years in partnerships and marketing in both the tourism, events, sports and music industries experience. She has worked on major Melbourne events such as the Australian Open, Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, ICC Soccer Championship, ICC World Cup Cricket and the many Boomers events held in Melbourne.

Kristen has previously sat on the boards of Arts Mildura and Mildura Country Music Festival, both extremely successful regional event organisations. Kristen is currently the Brand and Marketing Manager at Cricket Victoria, rolling out
marketing campaigns to increase participation in cricket and leading the development of Cricket Victoria’s marketing strategy from grassroots to state level cricket.

Kristen has been involved as an active volunteer at the Fitzroy program of Helping Hoops for over 10 years, and as a Committee member for 7 years.

JON TRAYNOR – Treasurer

Jon Traynor is a CPA specialising in servicing businesses in the small and medium enterprise space. He is the managing director of The Field Group, an accounting firm in Melbourne’s outer east which services businesses and non for profits with their compliance services with a strong focus on cloud computing. He sits on a number of advice boards and has a passion for helping business owners grow.

Jon is a lifelong basketball enthusiast who has participated in the charity shoot-out for the past 3 years and wants to assist in growing the Helping Hoops program to more communities.

MATT BOLITHO – Secretary

Matt is an experienced professional sports administrator with a background managing elite sport team operations, professional athletes, large staffing teams, performance strategy, commercial partnerships, and academy programs.

Whilst Matt’s experience is broad and he proudly considers himself a generalist in the sports industry, his passion and skillset lies within managing the operational planning and execution of professional sports. Matt is currently Head of Football Projects at the AFL. This role leads an array of different projects with a keen focus on improving elite competition management. Matt joined the AFL after 7 years at North Melbourne Football Club, most recently as Head of Women’s Football.

Having originally graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Sports Management and Marketing at Deakin University, he graduated from Melbourne Business School with an MBA in early 2021.

Matt is an avid basketball fan, player and previous coach and umpire. He has also seen first hand the positive impact sports can have on the broader community. The combination of these experiences is what motivates Matt to ensure Helping Hoops creates a positive impact for all those who engage with the organisation.

Bradley Davidson – General Committee Member

In addition to Committee Member, Bradley also holds the voluntary role of Partnerships Manager which contributes towards the growth and development of Helping Hoops through the support of our Corporate partners and affiliations.

With over a decade of B2B sales and partnerships experience across a variety of industries such as Financial services, I.T and NFP, Bradley’s skillsets are invaluable to our growth strategies.

Bradley’s lifelong passion is Basketball and he is committed to growing Helping Hoops so we can reach as many children and young people as possible and continue to have a positive impact within our local communities.

Akec Makur Chuor – General Committee Member

Akec Makur Chuot is an Australian rules football star with a playing career with the Richmond Football Club and currently, Hawthorn Football Club in the AFLW. Born in war-torn South Sudan, Akec spent 11 years of her childhood in Kakuma, a Kenyan refugee camp, before arriving in Perth at the age of 12. Through sheer determination, a life-long can-do attitude and the support of her large family, Akec has overcome incredible hurdles to become the first African woman drafted into the Inaugural AFLW competition in 2017 with the Fremantle Football Club. Makur Chuot was Fremantle’s 18th selection and the 139th overall in the 2016 AFLW draft. In 2018, she moved to Victoria to play with Carlton in the VFL. After joining Richmond’s VFLW Program in 2019, Akec was elevated to the Tiger’s AFLW list ahead of the 2020 AFLW season. She made her
club debut against Carlton at Ikon Park in the opening round of the 2020 AFLW season.

Akec is also a mentor for young African women and men, a passionate Anti-Racism spokeswoman and role model through her position as an Ambassador with Cadbury for the Cadbury Women in Sport Initiative for the 2021 AFLW season.

She worked as a Disability Support Worker, venturing out into her own business which launched in December 2021. Akec currently works in the Media industry and continues to inspire and influence positive change.

Kate Thomas – General Committee Member

Kate has many years of experience developing and delivering programs that enhance community well-being. She has worked across several professional domains, including State & Local Government, Sport, Education, Child and Family Services and the Not-For-Profit Sector.

Kate is the Director of Kokoro Consulting, Lead Consultant and Trainer in Australia for The Centre for Healing and Justice through Sport and a Faculty Member of the NM-Sport program with The Neurosequential Network.

As a consultant, facilitator & trainer, Kate’s expertise are centred around well-being, including trauma-aware and healing-centred practice, emotional intelligence, gender equality, and early childhood & youth development.

She has expertise in capacity building, strategic planning, program design, implementation and evaluation, workshop design, and facilitation, including co-design frameworks. She has partnered with many organisations to facilitate collaborative processes and recognises communities’ abilities to find their own strength-based solutions to issues.

With a background as a professional athlete and youth basketball coach, she is extremely passionate about the healing power of sport and making sport a safe and inclusive space for all.

Aguer Athian – General Committee Member

Aguer has 10 years’ experience in youth work and community engagement. Aguer is a mentor, a youth worker, radio producer, and a community advocate. Aguer is very passionate about giving back to the community and supporting young people to reach their full potential.

With plenty of experience working with various organisations, Government/non-government, community media as well as schools in both paid and voluntary roles – Aguer has experience working with, Brotherhood of St Laurence, City of Yarra and National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ council (NEMBC), her current role is with Tenants Victoria as a multicultural communities Adviser – supporting Victoria’s multicultural renters with Legal rights education.

Luke Smith – General Committee Member

Luke has spent the last decade in both Community Sport and Financial Services roles, and has been able to combine skills developed in both spaces with his deep understanding of sport as a powerful development tool for young people and the communities they are a part of. This combination has allowed him to effectively engage with multiple coaching, community engagement and inclusion roles in Melbourne and Toronto, Canada.

Having spent periods of his childhood in public housing, foster homes and family violence shelters – Luke aims to bring a lived experience element to organisations aiming to strengthen the resolve and connection to community felt by young people.
Luke takes pride in his ability to contribute to community sport spaces both at ground level, with a natural ability to engage young participants with encouragement and respect, whilst also using his corporate experience to be able to lead and contribute strongly to the strategic and functional elements of these organisations.

ADAM McKAY – Founder

Adam is the Founder of Helping Hoops. Adam founded Helping Hoops in late 2009 after seeing an opportunity for participation-based sporting programs for disadvantaged children that focused on using basketball to instil positive values and help children in their lives off the court.

Adam has grown the Helping Hoops organisation from a simple idea to an organisation that now reaches over 1,000 children each year through 600-plus free session, and is incredibly proud of the progress the charity has been able to achieve in such a short space of time.

Adam stepped down from his role of Executive Director in December 2019 but continues to be involved in the organisation.

Adam’s Helping Hoops highlight to date is taking a select group of Helping Hoops kids to meet Muggsy Bogues, who was a personal hero of his as a child, and who graciously shared his story of overcoming growing up in public housing, and being shot at the age of five, to become the shortest player in NBA history.