Meet the Team
James and Kristy Thomas founded Feel the Magic in 2013, driven by their personal experiences with grief and a mission to make sure no Australian child goes through grief alone.
Both James and Kristy know first-hand how hard it is to heal after a loved one dies- James having experienced the death of both his father and mother, and Kristy the death of her brother.
Working with mental health experts to develop the evidence-based camps, strategies and resources that Feel the Magic delivers, James and Kristy are dedicated to helping grieving kids heal – no matter where they live in Australia, from the city to the most isolated rural towns.
John brings a wealth of leadership, financial and commercial expertise gained over 30 years in senior financial roles in large multinationals in Australia, USA, Europe and Asia.
He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and Ireland and trained with KPMG. He is also a member of the Institute of Company Directors.
John enjoys the opportunity to give back and has previously trekked to over 5,000 metres in north west India to raise money for Save the Children Fund.
When not using his expertise to help others, John enjoys his passion for sailing, golf, family and friends.
Tahnee is an experienced speaker, psychologist and life performance coach. She is the director of several organisations including her own joint business. Tahnee specialises in mental health, substance use, trauma, high performance executive coaching and organisational psychology. She has experience working in a wide range of settings including educational, forensic, correctional, community, mining and corporate.
Tahnee has strong business experience and a lengthy management history. Tahnee built a ground up mental health and wellbeing business and developed and implemented world class real-time wellbeing response technology. Tahnee has also managed a 24/7 trauma-response team and numerous associates and contractors responding to critical incidents on a global scale including terrorism and natural disasters.
Tahnee has worked with many large national and international organisations including executive level management at Optus, Cricket Australia, the big 4 banks, Ambulance, Police, Special Operations, AFP and Defence. Her work includes providing clinical governance, risk mitigation, change management, workplace culture, high performance and life coaching, counselling, treatment plans and management support.
Tahnee has worked with various people involved in and affected by incidents such as the tragic passing of cricketer Phillip Hughes and subsequent inquest, the Sydney Lindt Café siege and subsequent inquest, several Royal Commissions and the Nepal Earthquakes Rescue Mission. Tahnee is proficient at clinical assessment, diagnosis, case formulation and treatment, and is well regarded for her skills assessing, treating and reporting on Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD.
Andy Hedges is a visionary, innovative business leader who has an ability to anticipate emerging trends and identify business opportunities.
He has a proven ability to engage large and diverse groups of individuals to build high performance teams. Also known as a lateral thinker, he likes to be at the focal point of cultural change in a business.
Described by colleagues as a humanistic leader best captured in this quote that he has framed above his desk;
“I don’t want to be better than other people. I just want to help others be better people.”
Program Intake Lead
Lauren is the Intake Lead at Feel the Magic. She speaks with all our new families and volunteers about our services and helps them find the right program for their family. Her qualifications include a Bachelor Degree in Psychology and Social Science, and a Diploma of Human Resources. Lauren started with Feel the Magic as a volunteer mentor and talk-time facilitator at Camp Magic, and Administration Assistant to the National Program Coordinator prior to role as Program Intake Lead. She is mother to two daughters, a son, and a stepson, and loved ballet when she was growing up.
Marketing and Communications Manager
Michelle is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Feel the Magic. She has diverse experience in the development and delivery of marketing, communications, and business development strategies. Michelle has worked in not-for-profit, charities, community services and corporate business to business. She has a Master of Management and a passion for working for charities to use her interests and experience to make a difference and benefit the community.
Lucy is the Clinical Director at Feel The Magic. She is a Registered Psychologist and has worked with children and families in many contexts including home and school, youth justice facilities, and out-of-home care settings. Her qualifications include a Bachelor degree in Psychological Science and a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. Prior to joining the Feel The Magic team, Lucy volunteered as a mentor and talk-time facilitator on Camp Magic. She is passionate about tailoring evidence-based practice to the meet the unique needs of individuals. In her private practice, Lucy also sees adults and families and works with a variety of mental health presentations.
Chief Executive Officer
With over 25 years’ experience, Adam has led organisational transformation, strategy development, governance performance & development, change and people / culture initiatives in some of Australia’s best-known for purpose organisations. With a passion for helping people and organisations succeed, he is an executive leader with extensive experience in connecting people performance to organisational goals through performance alignment, coaching/mentoring and ensuring that people use their strengths and perform at their best.
Adam specialises in organisational strategic planning and execution, organisational /people performance alignment, change management and cultural transformation utilising both vision and systems thinking to create value for the organisations he has worked for. Adam holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) along with other tertiary qualifications and volunteers as an executive mentor & coach in the sector as well as other volunteer roles.
Adam is passionate about making a difference to the lives of others and enjoy the challenges and rewards of working in the for-purpose sector.
National Program Coordinator
Nicole joins our team having worked in the Early Childhood and Primary School settings for the last 10 years.
Nicole has studied and has completed specialised training in the area of special needs and interventions. She has completed her certificate IV in Business Management, along with holding a current First Aid and CPR Certificate. Nicole has a strong passion for dancing where she has taught and choreographed for the last 9 years. Nicole has been a part of the Feel the Magic family for the last four years as a dedicated volunteer, mentor and talk time assistant. After experiencing loss herself, Nicole brings a wealth of experience dealing with grieving children.
National Learning & Development
Peter has been a coach, counsellor, and educator for the last 10 years.
He holds a Dip. Counselling, Dip. Community Service & Case Management and Cert IV TAE. Peter is also currently studying a Bachelor of Social Science/Psychology.
His life and work are about aligning people with their hearts, dreams and creating a powerful, passionate and fulfilling life.
He started his journey of self-discovery when he arrived back from the UK in 2004, where he started seeing a counsellor to help him with big changes such as grief and the myriad of feelings that come with permanent change and loss.
After years of growth and education, Peter has a thriving counselling, coaching and education business and is now the head facilitator and educator of our Camp Magic program.
“My aim is to support and empower you to unlock your natural potential and purpose in life as a powerful human being. I do this via mental fitness, emotional resilience and educating you in new skills to heal, grow and thrive.”
Co-Founder & National Virtual Camp Lead
Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher and Business Woman are just some of the talents she brings to her work in the world.
Kirsty has a Bachelor of Dance Education majoring in Dance and minoring in Personal Development, Health and Physical Education. She has taught hundreds of children in both the NSW Department of Education and her private dance studio over the last 12 years.
Kristy is the creator and owner of Bust-A-Move School of Modern Dance. She uses dance as an expressive metaphor and taps into each child’s desires and dreams. She raises them to this vision with her students absolutely knowing that they are powerful beyond measure. A continual student of human and personal development herself, she has trained in a kaleidoscope of modalities, philosophies and creative spiritual arts.
Olympic and World Championship medallist
Australian diver Melissa Wu is an Olympic and World Championship medallist. As well as representing Australia at four Olympic Games, Melissa made her fifth Commonwealth Games appearance in Birmingham in 2022.
Outside of diving, Melissa co-owns HrdKAW Strength and Weighlifting Club with her brother Josh Wu, launched the Australian Diving Academy and founded of her own activewear label Havok Athletic.
Melissa has faced many challenges throughout her life and career but none as tough as losing her younger sister Kirsten. Melissa says “it something that never goes away, you just learn to live it with it, and it’s made me really value the things that are important in my life. I guess I just learnt how to make every day count”. Melissa joins Feel the Magic as a proud and passionate Ambassador. At a Feel the Magic Family Day Camp this year Melissa said “I am here to help kids, share my story and hopefully they take away something from my journey”.
Australian journalist at the Nine Network
Lauren grew up in the New South Wales ski fields and began her media career working as a snow reporter for Thredbo Ski Resort. She joined Channel Nine’s ‘Today Show’ as a journalist in 2016, and later moved to the Nine News room where she now reports on current issues, crime and courts.
Here is what Lauren had to say about Feel the Magic; “Losing a loved one is impossibly hard. I was 26 when my beautiful mum died from cancer. Although I wasn’t a child at the time, I understand the deep grief you feel when such a big part of your life is suddenly gone. What Feel the Magic is giving grieving kids is immeasurable. To help a child rebuild and feel happiness is a precious gift, and I feel incredibly privileged to be involved with such a generous and caring charity.”
Master of Ceremonies, TV Host
Darren McMullen is a renowned television presenter who has spent nearly two decades working across prime-time networks in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Darren spent the first half of his life in Scotland and immigrated to Australia at age 12.
Always having a propensity for acting, he would quite often fake illnesses to avoid school. One class he would never miss, however, was Drama.
From a young age, Darren had developed an entrepreneurial spirit. At 14 years old he started door to door selling sweets in his local neighbourhood. He eventually opted to leave school and pursue a full-time career in sales. At just 17 years old he was already earning $1,500.00 a week.
Darren joined MTV Australia in the late 2000s and became one of the networks most memorable television hosts. His role gave him access to the most exclusive red-carpet events in the country, where he would interview international stars like 50 Cent, Carmen Electra and Pink. Since his time at MTV, Darren has become most prominently known for hosting the hit Channel 9 singing competition, ‘The Voice Australia’ which was watched by nearly 3 million Aussie homes. In addition to his hosting abilities, Darren has built up his acting resume by starring in two Logie Award winning series’, ‘House Husbands’ and ‘Sea Change’ where he played scene stealing hunk Findlay Knox.
Host of the TODAY Show
Deborah Knight is an Australian Journalist and Presenter for the Nine Network, co-hosting the Today Show and presenting Nine News in Sydney on Friday and Saturday nights. She is also a regular presenter on radio and contributes to 2GB Sydney and 4BC Brisbane.
Deborah has experienced the loss of a family member and knows the impact it can have not just on an individual but on an entire family.
Here’s what Deborah had to say about Feel the Magic,
“When a child loses a family member they can be effected for the rest of their lives. My father died when I was just 1 year old, and while I never knew him, his loss is still felt very keenly by me and our entire family. Helping children to feel happiness and realise that they are not alone is invaluable, and James and Kirsty and brightening so many young lives. I’m so honoured to be involved in supporting Feel the Magic and sharing the work they do with others.”
Supercars Championship Driver
Scott Pye is an Australian professional racing driver for Walkinshaw Andretti United in the Virgin Supercars championship.
Scott grew up racing go-Karts and travelling the country with his Father. At age 19, Scott's father passed away from lung cancer after an 18-month battle.
At the time, Scott was racing in Formula Ford in Australia and he and his Dad's goal was to reach Formula One. When Scott's father passed away, he found himself in a difficult spot in his career, no money and unsure of what was next without the guidance of his Dad. That year he decided he would leave Australia and move to England to pursue his dream of racing Formula One.
With no budget or contacts at the time, he spent the remainder of that year doing everything possible to get a budget together. In October, just 8 months after his Dad passed away, he moved to England to pursue his dream. During his time in Europe, he won the British Formula Ford Championship in his first attempt, signed a factory deal with Mercedes Benz and won in British f3 before a lack of funding landed him back in Australia where he has since pursued a career as a professional racing driver in the Supercars Championship.
He has now become a race winner and has twice finished runner up in the Bathurst 1000. He now enters his seventh year as a professional racing driver.
Owner of Erebus Motorsport
Betty Klimenko is the first woman ever to own a Supercars team and is shaking up the sport dominated by males.
In 2017 in front of 50,000 spectators at Mount Panorama and a television audience of 2.7 million, Betty's team Erebus flashed first across the finish line of the nations most famous car race, the Bathurst 1000.
Here is what Betty had to say about our cause.
"It's a privilege and an honour to be an ambassador for Feel the Magic. What these children go through is close to my heart as I lost my mother when I was 10 years old and know first-hand the feeling of loneliness and abandonment that can fill your mind and soul. It's wonderful to know that through Feel the Magic these kids will have an outlet and a way of dealing with their grief when a loved one passes on. Grief and loss changes lives forever, having an organisation that understand and help bring balance and a smile to faces that have only known tears is truly amazing".
Channel Nine News Reporter
Dimity Clancey is an Australian news journalist working with the Channel Nine news network. Dimity regularly reports on current issues on a national and international scale.
Dimity and her family know first hand how hard it is to grieve the sudden loss of a family member and understands that putting a smile on a grieving child’s face is something very important.
Here is what Dimity had to say about our cause
"When a child is grieving, teaching them to smile again is the greatest gift anyone could give them. James and Kristy have discovered a magical way to brighten young lives, when their world has shattered around them. As a teenager who was touched by tragedy, I can truly appreciate the importance of Feel the Magic to a vulnerable family. I am so proud to support this beautiful organisation and all it represents."