Staff Profiles

Christopher Downes, CEO DVA Navion

With 30 year’s experience in Fundraising, Chris has worked Internationally with clients in Canada, USA, South Africa, New Zealand and throughout Australia.  Since his return from Canada in his role as CFO of DVA Navion International, he has provided strategic counsel to clients throughout Australia and New Zealand achieving exceptional results in the areas of Capital Campaigns, Major Gifts, Bequests, Donor Development and Fundraising strategy development.  

Chris has personally partnered with and guided clients who work in Welfare, Disability, the Arts, Conservation, Education, Research and Healthcare to successful results in their fundraising objectives. Some of his current clients include, Vision Australia, Salvation Army, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Legacy Services. He presents Internationally to conferences and workshops and conducts multiple masterclass sessions each year to the fundraising sector.

He has been a leader in developing fundraising strategies within the professional sporting arena working with many AFL, NRL clubs and elite sporting bodies such as New Zealand Rugby and National organisations i.e. Cricket, Golf, Hockey and some of the most prestigious private sporting clubs in the Country. 

He is an owner and Director of DVA Navion and is a member of the FIA and AICD.


Wm. Edward Laity
CFRE, Partner DVA Navion Australasia

As Partner in DVA Navion Australasia, Ed brings his ongoing significant North American experience to our clients in Australia and New Zealand. His experience of well over 25 years is now shared with DVA Navion's clients during his regular visits to Australia and New Zealand each year. His strategic thinking and ability to review progress and set future goals keeps campaigns seriously on track.

Ed has planned and managed major capital campaigns, directed feasibility studies and helped strengthen annual giving programs working with a number of clients around the world. He has extensive experience working with National and International clients including Salvation Army, American Association for the Blind.

In his career, he has directed campaigns with goals totalling more than $100 million. He is a frequent lecturer, with a background in capital campaigning, board development, direct mail, special events, planned giving, marketing and communications. He is an alumnus of Georgia State University.


Kate O’Farrell, Senior Consultant

Kate has almost 20-years experience in a wide range of sporting and non-profit organisations both here and overseas.

Most recently Kate held the position of Director Marketing, Fundraising and Corporate Partnerships at Save the Children where she helped manage the organisation through a period of significant growth and structural reform.  Prior to her role at STC, Kate was General Manager, Marketing at the Australian Grand Prix Corporation where she managed all aspects of marketing, promotions, digital, PR and media for both Formula 1 and MotoGP events.  Kate's extensive commercial operations experience includes projects for the Western Bulldogs Football Club and AFL Publishing, plus senior media and marketing roles with Johnnie Walker Golf events throughout Asia and the legendary Rugby Sevens Tournament in Hong Kong.


Mia Vassallo, Consultant

With a background in User Experience, Venture Capital and Startups, Mia's has expertise in analysing both commercial and donor journeys/pathways, and designing tailored and customised programs. 

In applying her commercial experience to the not for profit sector, Mia has created, developed and managed programs directed at stakeholder engagement and communications, from cultivation, solicitation through to stewardship.

Her previous roles have involved, designing and creating systems and processes for end-to-end partnership programs; from research, to pipeline creation, preparing proposals, presenting to prospects, solicitation, stewardship and recording and reporting. 

Mia has worked across major gifts, sponsorship and has carried out courses in gift in wills and bequests.


Denise Murray

With over twenty five years' experience writing direct mail fundraising appeals for the whole spectrum of our Southern hemisphere clients, Denise's forte is writing emotive copy that tells life changing stories.

She is also a master hand at creating sincere and moving 'thank you' letters, which she believes are the crucial first step in acquiring repeat gifts.

Denise has been writing for a number of our Australian and New Zealand clients producing exceptional results in both renewal 'warm' and acquisition 'cold' campaigns.


Richard SolomonCreative Director

Richard is one of the Creative Directors of DMI and DVA Navion, He is responsible for developing creative strategies and appeal mailing concepts for a large range of local and international welfare organisations. He leads our team of in house and freelance copywriters and designers.

With a diploma in Journalism, Richard honed his writing and design skills as a newspaper reporter and layout artist. He provides strategic advice on creative presentation and leads a growing 'online' fundraising business which provides counsel and management of online campaigns and assessment of charitable internet sites for DVA Navion clients worldwide.