Burn Bright’s community are a part of everything we do, from school programs to camps to hanging out in the office.
Being a part of our community connects you with over 300 like-minded people and can help you to support and develop the potential of young people across Australia and New Zealand.
STUDENT LEADERSHIP. WELLBEING PROGRAMS. NATIONAL CAMPS.
Josiah is the General Manager of Burn Bright NZ.
He is an American/Australian who spent fifteen years living in the United Kingdom and now calls New Zealand home. Josiah has been married to Vicki for 16 years and has three daughters.
Josiah has extensive youth and schools work experience with more than 18 years of working in the sector. He is passionate about young people understanding the power of excellent leadership and discovering their intrinsic value and self-worth.
After making the move to New Zealand in 2018, Josiah took over managing the Aspiring Leaders’ Forum in New Zealand. Working across New Zealand developing young leaders.
Josiah is an inspirational speaker, with a background of speaking at conferences and events in Australia, New Zealand, UK and the USA. Josiah just completed level four of Te Reo Māori the study of the Māori language.
You’ll find him drinking good coffee and discussing football scores.
Layton Fraser is the Chief Operating Officer and program facilitator at Burn Bright Australia.
With a Kiwi accent, it’s easy to miss that he was actually born in South Africa before his parents made the move to New Zealand. Having a strong background in the sporting industry and sports coaching, Layton approaches facilitation from a unique perspective and vantage point.
Upon leaving school Layton studied a sports degree and had the opportunity of working for New Zealand Cricket and the BLACKCAPS for over 6 years, with the 2015 Cricket World Cup being a highlight. Working alongside a professional sporting team provided not only many incredible opportunities, but also gave an insight to how athletes handle and use their inherited influence.
Throughout his younger years, Layton also developed a keen interest in leadership and the opportunities that came with it. This started with Layton being one of the founding members of the Hauraki District Youth Council and flowed on to him attending many leadership forums and events around the globe in his post high school years.
Through attending, facilitating and keynote speaking at these leadership events Layton, started flirting with the idea of how these higher-level concepts and conversations can be transferred and be taught in an engaging and transformative way to school students.
Whilst no longer working with the BLACKCAPS, Layton has not completely stepped out of the professional sporting landscape and for the 2018/19 season is involved with Sydney Thunder BBL & WBBL franchises.
Andy is a life long social entrepreneur and is passionate about equipping young people to grow as leaders by taking a wellbeing approach and fostering positive and meaningful relationships.
When he was 21 he founded the Not For Profit organisation Burn Bright, a social enterprise with the mission of growing the next generation of young Australians through student leadership, wellbeing programs and national camps. Over the past 5 years Burn Bright has worked with over 50,000, 12-17 year olds, from all corners of Australia through school based programs and hosting the Australian National Leadership Camp.
Burn Bright are student leadership and wellbeing specialists who work with students in a collaborative, fun and inclusive team culture. This brings about positive behavioural change, a shift in mindset and personal wellbeing, allowing students to make informed choices and decisions. Burn Bright’s programs are focused on demonstrating how students can turn theory into action by practicing and road testing skills learnt before applying them in their own lives. Burn Bright has a team of 10 staff and over 100 volunteers. Burn Bright’s programs are based on embedding and living out the concepts of positive psychology and are informed by the science of wellbeing.
In 2018 Burn Bright was named Australia’s Most Innovative Charity by Westpac and UNSW, due to their company culture and their social enterprise business structure. Burn Bright has also won awards for their outstanding use of data and have been recognised by Anthill as one of 100 ‘Cool Australian Companies’ in 2018. Andy is regarded as one of Australia’s leading social entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers to solve some of Australia’s most complex social issues.
Andy graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Arts – Media. He has studied Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University in the USA and is currently studying his Masters in Coaching Psychology at Sydney University.
Michaela is a lover of people and all things that allow individuals to live full and well lives.
Michaela grew up in Sydney and completed her high schooling and university there, too. In 2014 Michaela completed a Bachelor of Events and Leisure Management at UTS. Whilst studying she worked for the YMCA for 3 years in Before and After School Care. Soon after graduating, Michaela serendipitously learnt of Burn Bright through a friend, emailed Andy, volunteered for a few weeks, and then joined the team soon after.
After almost 4 wonderful years with Burn Bright, Michaela embarked on a belated ‘gap year’ that led her to teach English overseas in Thailand. Not wanting to leave Burn Bright for too long, she returned to Australia in September of 2019 with the hope of joining the Burn Bright team for round two. 2020 saw Michaela in a new role as Camps, Programs and Community Manager.
Michaela is her best self when investing in the people and communities around her, both in her personal and professional life. Life’s’ golden moments for Michaela include anything to do with connecting with others, adventure, good food and taking in a pretty view.
Melanie recently graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Social Justice and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language.
She believes leadership and a strong understanding of self and others is the key to positive change, and is passionate about serving others, mentoring, and striving for excellence.
She has been inspired by international leaders and attending leadership events such as the Global Young Diplomats Forum.
She leads several volunteer teams and is a local youth leader.
In her spare time, Melanie loves reading every thing she can get her hands on, cooking and writing.
Peter was born in Perth and moved to Sydney in his early 20’s to continue work as a youth worker and surfboard maker. This was followed by 30 years working in IT as a computer programmer. Following retirement in 2016, Peter searched for an organisation that was aligned with his values of servant leadership and service, especially in the youth space.
This search led to Burn Bright where he now volunteers one day a week and mentors at the National Leadership Camp.
I have been married to Denise for 41 years and they both are very much a part of the Burn Bright team.
When not at Burn Bright you may find Peter running along Manly beach, riding his mountain bike or indulging his passion for photography.
Sarah was born and raised in a small country town in Northern NSW. She moved to Sydney Independently at the age of 16 to pursue her studies for year 11 and 12, and talents as a dancer at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts. After graduating Sarah struggled with Anxiety and Depression and was referred to KYDS, an organisation that provides easy access to mental health and well-being support to young people within the community. Because of the help Sarah received at KYDS she gained the confidence to pursue a 6 month Bollywood contract in India.
Upon returning to Australia Sarah studied a Bachelor of Media and Communications at Macquarie University and then went on to pursue her passion for the Film and TV industry at the International Screen Academy. Along with her studies Sarah was appointed the role of Youth Ambassador for KYDS where she used her own experiences to benefit others, encouraging other young people to seek help, reduce stigma amongst the broader community, as well as raise awareness and funds for the organisation.
Her work with KYDS led her to Burn Bright and cemented her passion for positively influencing the youth of today.
In Sarah’s down time she has a love for rock climbing, karaoke and chasing adventures with her wonderful fiancé and step daughter.
Jemma was born and raised in Sydney where she completed high school and is currently studying a Bachelor of Economics/Bachelor of Laws at the University of Technology Sydney.
Jemma first encountered Burn Bright on a school program in 2018 which saw her attend NLC the same year and return as an agent in 2019. In 2020, Jemma was supposed complete an internship with Burn Bright , however this was postponed due to COVID-19.
Jemma has a passion for ensuring every young person understands the impact they can have regardless of whether they have been elected in specific leadership positions and assisting young people in understanding the importance of their story. This led to her joining the Burn Bright team as a casual facilitator in 2020.
During her free time, Jemma enjoys spending time with her family and friends, visiting the beach or adventuring.
Jackson is a casual program facilitator and has a drive for positive influence and social justice.
Jackson was first introduced to Burn Bright in 2017 as a year 10 student at the National Leadership Camp where he learned about himself and others in ways he did not realise were possible. After being selected to return the following year as an Agent, Jackson realised he wanted to influence others in the same way he had been helped – and so joined the team in 2021 after finishing year 12 and having a gap year.
Jackson’s leadership journey started in 2014 when he joined the Australian Army Cadets (AAC) at 14 in his home state of Tasmania – where he spent the subsequent 6 years coming out of his shell and learning about positive and negative leadership in a variety of forms. Jackson climbed the ranks to finish his time as the Regional Cadet Under Officer – the highest ranking cadet in the state and Tasmania’s representative to the rest of the country.
Jackson loves cooking, dancing terribly and believing he can make it as a voice actor. Jackson has hopes to one day begin his own non-profit and live on a boat.
Moving from Western Australia, Noah came to Sydney after graduating high school. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts and Advanced Studies at the University of Sydney, majoring in Sociology and International Relations.
Passionate about leadership, personal development, and public speaking, Burn Bright felt like a perfect fit for Noah who joined the team at the beginning of 2022. Noah has always loved helping young people develop and grow as individuals and feels that confidence and self-love are some of the most important qualities that young people should have.
In his free time, Noah loves the beach, playing soccer and cricket, and going to watch live music!
Whetū whakapapa’s to Ngāti Porou, and Ngāpuhi, he is a husband and father. He joins the team, bringing his 22 years’ experience working in the youth and community sector. This includes senior management, providing cultural advice and support, project management, leading personal and social development programmes (using both recreational/outdoor adventure and formal learning environments), as well as facilitation and supervision experience.
Whetū is passionate about Te Reo Māori and tikanga Māori, and assisting people to develop their understanding of Te Ao Māori. His interest include hunting, diving, and fishing, and while not on the hills or in the water he can usually be seen with a coffee in his hand.
After knowing Andy (Burn Bright’s CEO) for a few years and hearing about the goal of bringing BB to NZ. Whetū joined the board because it just made sense. The work of BB to positively impact young people to be the best versions of themselves is naturally aligned with his desire to support individuals and communities
Dr. Lehan Stemmet has held various senior commercial and academic leadership roles, and also taught a range of undergraduate and postgraduate management courses, including organisational behaviour, research methods and organisational change and development. He is passionate about seeing people reach their full potential and has an affinity for interdisciplinary applied research, broadly categorized in the cognitive and behavioural neuroscience space, but with particular focus on stress and resilience as well as its moderators and the impact of it on physical and psychological health. He is a popular keynote speaker, coach, mentor and advisor and holds qualifications in biochemistry, microbiology, organizational and experimental psychology. He is a British Psychological Society Chartered Psychologist. Lehan is deeply interested in the great work done by the Burn Bright team to inspire generations to come through the individuals they interact with. He lives in Auckland with his wife, Fredericka, and their three children.
Michaela’s work, governance and voluntary involvement is interwoven with for-purpose projects and roles in community. Michaela is motivated by the power of young people developing their purpose and realising their potential to contribute and influence change.Michaela currently works as Community Liaison Manager for Genesis Energy, leading Ngā Ara, a programme on-ramping rangatahi into STEM education, training and employment. She’s also on the Youth Advisory Group for Philanthropy New Zealand and in 2022 she became a Winston Churchill Fellow, travelling to the US and UK exploring Positive Youth Development.Michaela grew up in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington and now lives in Whāingaroa Raglan. She’s happiest chasing her toddler and spending time surrounded by native bush.
I found Burn Bright in the midst of studying civil engineering at the University of Wollongong, just as I wanted a richer, deeper, more full experience of life.
Through Burn Bright, I have met many students and volunteers who are all seeking to find their place in the world. When we come together at NLC or SLC, no matter our age, we begin on the same page, of wanting to do good for ourselves, our community, and the world. And then we are thrown into a program that brings us closer to each other, our purpose, and how to bring forth this impact. It’s like having your cake and eating it too.
Volunteering with Burn Bright stoked a fire in me – It helped me feel comfortable in myself and made me realise life isn’t just about work, study, or productivity, but our relationships and how we connect with others along the way.
I have learned skills in videography, worked for a top-tier corporation in marketing, and most recently published a book called “18 and lost? So were we”
I have a passion for storytelling, bring loads of energy wherever I go, and am dedicated to helping young people move through the initiation of leaving high school and going into the ‘real world’.
The best part for me is being able to stay connected to the latest generation growing through high school. To see them grow, expand and express more of themselves is like watching an artwork paint itself. It’s magic.
I am Simon Thurston, a Kiwi based in Perth. I work as an Instructional Designer and in my spare time I enjoy reading, running, and board games.
Since my initial connection to Burn Bright I have been onboard with their mission. Burn Bright’s focus on building the capabilities enables students of all ages to see how they can shape their world through connections with others and their own self discovery.
Seeing others grow, learn, and open up is what keeps me coming back, to help others realise their potential and how they can influence their future and their community is a definite highlight. It’s infectious, the atmosphere when they run a program or camp is welcoming, exciting, emotional, and rewarding all in one.
Hi, friends! I’m Kelsie, a psychologist from central QLD working in private practice. I got involved with Burn Bright officially in 2016, but the journey started long before that. I attended the National Leadership Camp (now hosted annually by Burn Bright) in 2009. It had such a profound impact on me that I returned as a mentor and volunteer. Those connections ultimately lead me to joining the Burn Bright team as an adult.
When I transitioned from facilitating with the Burn Bright team to working as a psychologist, I was so grateful for an incredible foundation of skills (particularly facilitation, communication and interpersonal skills) along with a strong grounding in positive psychology that Burn Bright integrates into their ethos.
I can’t imagine my life without volunteering for Burn Bright. I have met some of my dearest friends through the Burn Bright crew. I’ve found that volunteering for BB is rewarding, humbling, and often brings as much personal growth for the volunteer as it does for the young person.
From a professional perspective, I love that Burn Bright programs/camps support the adolescent individuation process by providing an exciting and supportive environment for teens to explore their own sense of self, personality, identify and values alongside other young people.
Imagine this POV: you’re back at school wanting to figure everything out and fit in – and you find
yourself in a room with amazing music that uplifts you and hooks you in. You meet the team of
dynamic, interesting, caring facilitators whose own friendships inspire you. Their facilitation skills bring about amazing light-bulb moments and lessons that light a fire inside you… It makes me want to feel that for myself again. The next best thing, for me, is volunteering for the team who passes that on to other young people.
My start at Burn Bright is one of the best cases of one door closing and another door opening. After losing my job at a local pub while on uni holidays, I started looking for new opportunities that were different and decided to volunteer. Searching for opportunities, I found working bees, community driving and nursing home visits, but the chance to become a National Leadership Camp intern stood out. Over nearly six months, I worked with the team to pull off Burn Bright’s first National Leadership Camp, and had an absolute blast in the process. After camp, I started working for Burn Bright while studying, doing anything and everything — data analysis, hiring strategy and even picking up furniture.
Finishing up working for Burn Bright in 2019, I am still actively involved with the Burn Bright volunteer community. I’ve found that the emphasis placed on investing in your relationships, understanding your values and making an impact allow you to be accepted for you. This has given me the tools needed to make the difficult decisions that life will inevitably throw at you. Besides all that, I’ve had a ton of fun and formed life-long friendships with people I may have never crossed paths with otherwise. “Get involved — you’ll change your life for the better and make life‑long friends in the process”.
I am a health science student from Perth wanting to get into the mental health realm of occupational therapy. In the meantime, I work as a barista and supervisor at a beachside café. In my spare time, I love to play netball, be around my friends and I have just gotten into crocheting. I went to Perth College where I was lucky enough to go to the first Perth College Leadership Camp in 2018 as a student and absolutely loved it. What really drew me in was the atmosphere that was created, the open conversations, and the lasting relationships formed.
Since then I have been a mentor for the Perth College Leadership Camp in 2019, 2020, and 2021 and had the opportunity to go to the National Leadership Camp in 2019. When Burn Bright comes to Perth I also love helping out at their programs as much as I can.
Volunteering for Burn Bright has given me so much that I could never have imagined. I have learned so much about myself and I have so much more confidence in myself and my abilities that I know I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t exposed to the amazing opportunities volunteering for Burn Bright has given me. Before being involved I would never have seen myself being a mentor, role model, and facilitator to students, but now I can confidently say that I am, and I have made an impact on others that I am proud of. I have also made so many meaningful connections to so many amazing people from all around Australia through Burn Bright. I get asked quite a bit why I keep coming back to my old school to volunteer and it’s simply because I was given this amazing opportunity to be a part of the Burn Bright programs and if I can help facilitate that experience to someone else then why wouldn’t I?
I was born in Perth and moved to Sydney in my early 20’s to continue work as a youth worker and surfboard maker. This was followed by 30 years working in IT as a computer programmer.
Following retirement in 2016 I searched for an organisation that was aligned with my values of servant leadership and service, especially in the youth space. This search led to Burn Bright where I am now volunteering one day a week and mentoring at the National Leadership Camp. Volunteering with Burn Bright gives me a great deal of hope and confidence in the next generation of leaders. It is a pleasure to be a part of the Burn Bright family.
I have been married to Denise for 41 years and we both very much feel part of the Burn Bright team.
When not at Burn Bright you may find me running along Manly beach, riding my mountain bike or indulging in my passion for photography.
Hi! I’m Rosie, a 20-something full-time public servant, part-time Tassie tourism advocate.
I am passionate about seeing young people succeed, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching them become the next generation of change-makers.
I have been a champion of the ethos and work of Burn Bright since its inception in 2014, and consider them to be the leading experts in their field. By delivering impactful leadership and wellbeing programs to students across Australia, they offer the knowledge, skills and engagement to invoke lasting positive change in school communities.
The Burn Bright team are dedicated, inclusive and values-driven, which is why I love working with them.