Institute Leadership

he Institute's activities rely heavily on the efforts of several key groups, led by our pro bono Board of Directors. 

Board Members

Andrew Balmaks

Chairman and Research Committee Member

Andrew is a founder and Chairman of the Noetic Group which operates both in Australia and overseas. He retired from the Australian Army, after a 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.


Simon Cullen  AM, CSC

Deputy Chair

Rear Admiral Simon Cullen retired from the Royal Australian Navy in late 2014, following a 38-year career.His career highlights included command at sea and ashore, extensive operational service and appointments to key senior military positions in the United States.  Rear Admiral Cullen is now pursuing a portfolio of new challenges, ranging from consulting to working in the not-for-profit and charity sectors. He resides in Canberra.


 Peter Nicholson, AO

Executive Director

Former senior Air Force officer who has held several operational commands 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.


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

Treasurer and Research Committee Member

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.


 Jasmin Craufurd-Hill

Jasmin Craufurd-Hill is a Management lecturer and consultant who has held both senior and project management roles within the government, not-for-profit and emergency services sectors. She currently serves as an Executive Board Member of Women in Nuclear (WiN) Global and previously served as the I&C Team Leader for the OPAL Reactor’s Commissioning Operations Group at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). She is an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and a member of both the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Project Management.


Drew McKinnie

Commodore Drew McKinnie RANR completed full-time service in 2009, well known as an innovative Engineer. He has continued reserve service in Defence Seaworthiness Boards, independent project reviews, and RAN Keeping Watch Charity. An experienced risk manager, he has led enterprise risk management processes in Navy and Defence. He is a negotiation consultant and strategist, supporting public and private sectors.  Drawing on his strategic and risk, leadership, training and facilitation expertise, Drew has led many strategic assessment workshops with industry, government agencies, and think tanks. Drew is also Chairman of Operations for the Gliding Federation of Australia. He is an active power and glider pilot and instructor. He has a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) and Master of Arts in Strategic Studies.




Nicole Quinn

Nicole Quinn is the Director of Government Relations at Parker & Partners and heads up the Canberra operations of Ogilvy Public Relations.  Nicole has more than 20 years’ experience advising in executive management, advocacy and stakeholder relations at the Federal Government level. Firstly in Sydney and then Canberra, Nicole has held senior roles in marketing, communication, sponsorship and stakeholder relations in the corporate sector, with peak industry bodies and with Federal Government Agencies. Nicole is currently also a board member of the air power think tank, the Sir Richard Williams Foundation.


Rebekka Wheate

Rebekka Rebekka Wheate has over 15 years experience in the national security community and is currently a Senior Advisor at the Department of The Prime Minister and Cabinet.   This follows previous policy and operational roles in the ABF, AFP and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Christine Zeitz

Christine Zeitz is Chief Executive of Leidos Australia and has over 25 years’ experience in industry as a defence, security and ICT expert. She is responsible for the performance and delivery of programs, as well as strategic growth of Leidos Australia and Asia Pacific, and has a record of achieving excellent business outcomes in challenging circumstances across geographic regions. Christine holds a Bachelor of Economics (Accounting) from Flinders University, completed post-graduate courses in business administration, management and marketing with the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Harvard Business School and the University of South Australia. She is also a member of the Defence Council of Victoria and a council member of Flinders University (South Australia).


Senior Management


 Catherine Scott

General Manager

Catherine's professional background began in Information Management/Librarianship.  During her career, Catherine has worked in a range of professional and voluntary positions including Senior Reference Librarian at the State Library of NSW, in policy research in Australian Government, as Communications Officer at Defence Families of Australia and in several project management roles in website and events management. Catherine holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, a Graduate Diploma in Information Management, Librarianship and a Masters of Business Administration.



Future Strategic Leaders' Committee

 Sophie Wolfer

Committee Chair

Sophie works at the Department of Defence, having first joined the public service with the Department of the Senate in 2014. Prior to joining the public service, Sophie undertook internships in Washington, DC, the Perth US Consulate General and Parliament House in Western Australia. Sophie holds a Masters of National Security Policy from the Australian National University, and a Bachelors of Arts (Honours) in Political Science & International Relations and Asian Studies from the University of Western Australia. Sophie first joined the FSLP in mid-2014, working predominantly with the Social Networking Committee before commencing her role as Chair of the FSLP in 2018.