Our Board

Irene Hendel O.A.M.

Director, Patron of Think Pink Foundation and Founder of The Living Centre

Irene Hendel is a breast cancer survivor, having been first diagnosed in 1995 and then re-diagnosed in 2003. Irene joined The Think Pink Committee in 2000 and became involved in organising the annual Think Pink Ball.

While undergoing radiotherapy at the William Buckland Radiotherapy Centre at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital when fighting her second bout of breast cancer, Irene came into contact with many young and single women who were, due to their breast cancer, finding it difficult to hold down their jobs and make ends meet financially.

In 2004, Irene became Chair of The Foundation, and later fulfilled her dream of creating and opening The Living Centre – a unique, non-clinical based sanctuary for people with breast cancer, their families and carers. In February 2015 Irene became Patron of The Foundation.

Irene was born in England where her professional and commercial background was in the fashion industry. For many years she worked with fashion house French Connection both in England and here in Australia. Until retiring from business in 2015, Irene successfully operated her own giftware business for twenty five years called Private Lives Interiors in Port Melbourne.

In recognition of her commitment and dedication to Think Pink and for her support of hundreds of breast cancer patients in the community over the last seventeen years, Irene was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (O.A.M.) in the 2015 Australia Day Honours List.

Irene is still very much committed to and involved with Think Pink continually raising funds for the Foundation and speaking publicly on its behalf.

Ron Smith


Ron Smith, Managing Director of Corporate Media Communications Pty. Ltd. has over four decades of experience in the media advising both the private sector and government in relation to media and community strategies at a senior level.

Ron has worked with the Urban Land Authority for twelve years; he was responsible for the communication program to establish the Docklands Authority, and was the independent media adviser and strategist for the Local Government Board during the Victorian Council Amalgamations.  He was also an advisor to many of the major local Councils in Melbourne specialising in crisis management.

He has been involved in creating strategies for Kidsafe Victoria on child accident prevention for two decades and has also been involved in developing campaigns for the Victorian Deafness Foundation and the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal Telethon.

In the health field, Ron Smith was the National Director of Communications for Kidney Health Australia for eight years and also created national media programs for SIDS and KIDS and Limbs for Life in regard to helping amputees play golf.

Responsible for the development and launch of Victoria’s first major water saving campaign ‘Save Three Buckets a Day’, and the community strategy for the introduction of compulsory pool fencing for the Victorian Government, he has maintained a career long interest in the environment, the arts and child accident prevention.

David Hendel


David Hendel has been associated with Think Pink for over sixteen years and is our Patron, Irene Hendel’s husband of thirty years.

David brings to the Foundation considerable commercial experience, having operated businesses in such diverse fields as textile production, real estate development, veterinary pharmaceutical distribution and audio visual hire.

David has been instrumental in organising our Masquerade Ball for the last fifteen years and also in the establishment of The Living Centre. On an ongoing basis David is responsible for and manages our events such as the “Putt In For Pink” Golf Day and the Think Pink Coffee Lid Campaign each year.

As Irene’s soul mate and partner, David brings to our Board the experience and perspective of being a carer for and partner of a breast cancer patient.

Robert Whalley

Finance Director

Rob is a Chartered Accountant working in the hospitality, tourism, property and business advisory sectors.

He began his career with EY and continued on to develop a major vehicle franchise over a ten year period, before moving into online technology. Rob is also a fully licensed business, real estate agent and auctioneer. His focus is on business planning and development, and operational change management.

He is a car enthusiast, a keen follower of news and financial markets and is based in Melbourne’s bayside area.

Doreen Akkerman AM


Doreen Akkerman, AM retired in 2010 from the position of Director at the Cancer Information and Support Service at the Cancer Council Victoria, a position she held for twenty years.

At the Cancer Council Doreen was responsible for numerous cancer support programs for people experiencing cancer and their carers. She was also responsible for two innovative health professional education programs that were a first in Australia and both are a huge success: The Breast Care Nurse Distance Education Program, a tertiary level education program for Breast Care Nurses, and the Victorian Cancer Clinicians Communication Program, a unique communication program for oncologists.

Doreen also established the first ‘Sexuality and Cancer’ seminars and workshops for health professionals, patients and their partners.

Doreen was the inaugural President and current serving Board Member of the International Cancer Information Services Group and has published many articles and presented workshops and seminars by invitation in Australia, Europe, United Kingdom and the USA.

Doreen was awarded as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2007 and was inducted into the Women’s Victorian Women’s Honour Roll in 2010.

Think Pink Foundation