Our Board

Irene Hendel OAM

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

Irene was born in England began her professional and commercial career in the fashion industry, for many years working with fashion house, French Connection, both in London and here in Australia. Until retiring from business in 2015, Irene successfully operated her own interior design and giftware business for over twenty five years called Private Lives Interiors.

Irene Hendel is a breast cancer survivor, having been first diagnosed in 1995 and then re-diagnosed in 2003. In 2000, Irene joined Think Pink Committee and has for the last 20 years actively raised funds for our Cause.

Irene served as Chair of the Foundation for over ten years from 2004-2015 and in 2010, 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 also became Patron of The Foundation.

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 previous fifteen 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.

David Hendel

Director of Operations

David Hendel has been associated with Think Pink for over twenty years and is our Patron, Irene Hendel’s husband of thirty six 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 was instrumental in organising our Masquerade Ball for fifteen years and also in the establishment of The Living Centre. On an ongoing basis, David is responsible for and manages (on a pro-bono basis), the Foundation’s high level administration and our major 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 and Licenced Real Estate Professional.

He acts as Group CFO for the second largest residential building company in Victoria, that builds family and luxury homes for over 2,500 families and investors each year. This remit also includes supply-chain businesses, for construction of homes which also serve the needs of multi-generational, special needs and first home owner buyers across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Rob began his career in audit with EY and continued on to develop a major motor vehicle franchise over a ten-year period, before transitioning into online technology, hospitality and property development. His focus is on strategic planning, business development, workflow and operational change management.

An avid follower of news, trends and financial markets, Rob 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.

Associate Professor Nicolas Hart, PhD AES CSCS ESSAF 

Principal Scientific Advisor  

Associate Professor Nicolas H. Hart, PhD AES CSCS ESSAF is an NHMRC Emerging Leadership Fellow in Cancer Survivorship at the INSIGHT Research Institute, and Program Director of Clinical Exercise Physiology at the Human Performance Research Centre and School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation within the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). His clinical research focuses on improving outcomes for people living with advanced cancer canvassing (1) survivorship and supportive care issues (including exercise, nutrition, psychosocial, and toxicity management), and (2) cancer outcomes (including disease biology, disease progression, and overall survival). He also founded and co-leads a bone research collaborative (www.wabrc.com), and holds academic titles at Flinders University, Edith Cowan University, Queensland University of Technology, and University of Notre Dame Australia.


A/Prof Hart has received >$17.5 million AUD research income as chief investigator to undertake research improving outcomes for people with advanced cancer. This includes two prestigious fellowships from the National Health and Medical Research Council (2023-2027) to improve outcomes for people with bone metastases; and the Cancer Council of Western Australia (2018-2020) to investigate approaches to delay disease progression and extend overall survival in advanced cancer patients through exercise medicine; chief investigator (CIH) for 1 NHMRC project grant, CID and CIE for 4 x MRFF grants; and chief investigator (Co-PI) for several national and international multicentre randomised controlled trials. He has published >140 peer-reviewed research articles (including as senior author in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians – top ranked journal in oncology) and 3 book chapters (including European Society of Medical Oncology Handbook of Supportive and Palliative Care), and presented >110 items of work at national and international conferences. A/Prof Hart has supervised 22 PhD students (12 completed; 5 ongoing; 5 commencing), 1 MSc by Research (ongoing), and 1 Honours (completed) student. He has also mentored or supervised 9 postdoctoral fellows (5 previous; 4 current) across exercise medicine; cancer survivorship; and health services research fields.


A/Prof Hart is the inaugural Multinational Association for Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) Survivorship Fellow who led the development of international survivorship care standards, practice recommendations, and research priorities for people affected by advanced or metastatic cancer; MASCC Founding Chair of Exercise Oncology; and current MASCC Chair of Fatigue. He sits on several national committees within Exercise and Sport Science Australia including the Standards Council; Chair of the Survivorship Executive Committee of Clinical Oncology Society of Australia; Scientific Committee of the Primary Care Collaborative Cancer Clinical (PC4) Trials Group; Co-Chair of PC4 Survivorship; Chair of Fatigue for the Cancer Symptom Trials (CST) group; and international committees including the research committee of the Australia and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society (ANZBMS). He is the only Australian member of the international Survivorship Research in Prostate Cancer (SuRECaP) group; 1 of 3 Australian members of the International Bone Metastases and Exercise Working Group (IBMEWG) who developed the worlds’ first clinical exercise guidelines for people with bone metastases; 1 of 2 Australian members on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Cancer Development Group, who created a Package of Interventions for Rehabilitation in cancer survivors worldwide.

Dr Darren Haywood, PhD, BPsych(Hons), Dip. Fit 

Principal Scientific Advisor  

Dr Darren Haywood (PhD, BPsych(Hons), Dip. Fit) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Cancer Survivorship) at the INSIGHT Research Institute, Human Performance Research Centre and School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation within the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

His research is within cancer survivorship broadly (from diagnosis to end-of-life), across domains. His primary focuses are; mental health, cognitive functioning, and models of care. His research also includes the mechanisms driving psychopathology across populations.

Dr Darren Haywood is a MASCC Cognition Fellowship Recipient and has received multiple research grants as CI-A, CI-B and co-investigator across both oncology and psychopathology.

Dr Darren Haywood is an active member of a number of research groups and societies including MASCC, IPOS, PC4, COSA, PoCoG and the HiTOP Consortium. Dr Darren Haywood also holds a number of leadership positions including being a Committee Member of the IPOS Early Career Professionals in Psycho-Oncology group, and the Co-Chair of the UTS Mental Health Research Network.

Dr Darren Haywood holds adjunct/honorary positions at the University of Melbourne, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, and Curtin University. Dr Darren Haywood’s work has been featured in multiple media outputs, such as The Limbic and OncoDaily. Dr Darren Haywood has also been interviewed live on Triple R 102.7FM Radio regarding his work in cancer-related cognitive impairment.

Think Pink Foundation