Our Executive

Stroke Foundation is led in its mission to prevent, treat and beat stroke by Chief Executive Officer Ms Sharon McGowan.

The Executive Team, comprised of the Chief Executive Officer and the Executive Directors, is the primary executive decision-making group of the Stroke Foundation and is accountable to the Stroke Foundation Board for delivery of its strategic objectives.

The Executive Team is responsible for providing strategic leadership and operational management to ensure organisation-wide success.


Sharon McGowan - Chief Executive Officer

Sharon joined Stroke Foundation as Chief Executive Officer in 2016. Having spent her career in the health sector, Sharon has a wealth of experience and expertise that will take the Stroke Foundation forward on the next phase of its journey.

Sharon is an experienced communicator, with a background in management, community engagement, culture transformation, health promotion, fundraising and the volunteer service. Originally trained as a registered nurse, Sharon has worked in Australia and the UK with a range of government statutory authorities and not-for-profit organisations.

Sharon holds a Masters of Business Administration from Cranfield University and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Acutely aware of the devastating impact that a stroke can have on survivors and their family members, Sharon is passionate about bringing government, health professionals and the broader community together to fight this terrible disease. Sharon aims to make a real difference by increasing awareness of stroke and support for it as a major health priority.
Lisa Murphy

Lisa Murphy – Executive Director Stroke Services

Lisa joined Stroke Foundation as Executive Director Stroke Services in May 2020. Prior to joining the Stroke Foundation, Lisa held the role of General Manager Advocacy and Health at Kidney Health Australia, where she has led the development and delivery of the Commonwealth Government commissioned ‘National Strategic Action Plan for Kidney Disease’ including securing $3.7m in Commonwealth funding to support initiatives associated with the Action Plan. She held other executive and senior management roles since joining Kidney Health Australia in 2016 including as National Manager Kidney Cancer, General Manager Research and Interim CEO, leading the peak body for kidney disease in Australia.

Lisa has a deep knowledge of chronic disease through participation as a member of Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance and the Victoria Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance. Her experience also includes a number of consumer engagement and co-design projects, not limited to collaboration with Better Evidence and Translation in Chronic Kidney Disease (BEAT-CKD) and executive sponsor for the Kidney National Consumer Council.

Prior to migrating to Australia, Lisa worked over ten years in the National Health Service in the UK which has provided her with broad medical training in general and emergency medicine, anaesthesia and intensive care. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, and has published a number of publications in chronic kidney disease.

John De Rango – Executive Director Marketing

John joined the Stroke Foundation in 2016. He has more than 15 years of senior management experience in both corporate and non-for-profit environments.

His early career commenced in membership management with a number of AFL Clubs, before joining Save the Children Australia where he led the marketing and fundraising team.

He then co-founded Redstone Marketing, a specialist fundraising strategy and marketing consultancy, working with major NGOs and Charities including Greenpeace International, Cancer Council Victoria, Peter Mac and Save the Children International.

Before joining the Stroke Foundation, John was the Director of the Royal Melbourne Hospital Foundation.

John holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from RMIT University.

Stephen Hughes

Stephen Hughes – Chief Financial Officer

Stephen is an experienced finance and accounting executive, and consultant, committed to operational excellence and improvement. With a background in professional services and corporate businesses, Stephen’s focus has shifted to social businesses, start-ups and not-for-profits.

Stephen has deep expertise in financial management, risk and project management – core skills in financial and management accounting including Board reporting, governance, risk management, performance reporting and metrics. He also has business experience in strategy development, digital technology and marketing.

Specific expertise:

  • Financial management and accounting
  • Board and performance reporting
  • Analytics and research
  • Financial integration
  • Management coaching
  • Project sponsorship and management
  • Business transformation to new technology
  • Business due diligence on potential acquisitions
  • Experience across Australia, New Zealand and Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore).

Stephen has held senior corporate leadership roles across both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors and has 30 years business management experience, including:

  • CFO of World Vision
  • General Manager of the Trading Post publication and website
  • Senior finance manager at ANZ Bank
  • Ernst & Young

Stephen is a Chartered Accountant and has an MBA from the AGSM (UNSW).

profile photo of Cheryl Woollard

Cheryl Woollard – Executive Director People & Culture

Cheryl is an experienced Senior Executive who has worked in complex public organisations, including WorkSafe, Eastern Health and the City of Greater Geelong. She has also worked in multi-national manufacturing companies in Asia, Europe and the US. In these settings Cheryl has led major change and innovation initiatives, building the culture needed to ensure successful transformation. 

Cheryl is passionate about diversity and inclusion and mental health and wellbeing she is a recognised leader in these fields. At WorkSafe Cheryl lead a project to deliver WorkSafe’s Victoria’s new Headquarters in Geelong. The international award-winning building and fit out, was designed to enhance all aspects of wellbeing; working areas and state of the art technology provided places and tools that enabled focus, collaboration and learning. 

Cheryl’s qualifications include a Master of Business in Human Resources and Industrial Relations, Graduate Diploma in Training and Development and a Bachelor of Education. Cheryl is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

Cheryl gives back to the community through Board work with organisations focused on learning, health and social justice. The mission of the Stroke Foundation is close to Cheryl’s heart as her family have experienced loss due to stroke. The opportunity to contribute to the work of the foundation is something she is extremely proud.