Meaning is about making a difference. Our contribution is not the scope of our reach but the depth of our impact. Our legacy is not how many footprints we leave - it's how long they last.
Adapted from Adam Grant
So this is how we got started........
Highway Foundation was founded amid the first Melbourne COVID lockdown in April 2020. At that time, Lela McGregor was overwhelmed by the need for her services in helping people adapt to a new way of working and life. People were starting to ask big questions, and they had the time to explore that. Many people had lost their sense of direction in their life and were incredibly restless and frustrated.
Suddenly, she saw her clients were younger and were desperate to make sense of their lives. She found nothing around that could support young people in building self-awareness, self-efficacy, and meaning and purpose. It was not enough to support a few kids, there needed to be a scalable solution. As she shared this with her colleague Dr Tan-Chyuan Chin, an award-winning youth wellbeing and engagement researcher at The University of Melbourne, they both realised there was a great need for an organisation to support young people in their life journey, not just young people in crisis. Evidenced by the overwhelming demand for Lela's services and backed by the research findings of Dr Chin, Highway Foundation was established to meet the needs of young people today.
To that end, Dr Chin left her academic position in the middle of the pandemic and joined Lela to establish Highway Foundation supported by the founding philanthropists John Higgins AO and Dr. Matthew Egan. John Higgins also agreed to be the Chair of the Board. Highway Foundation was formally established on the 4th August 2020 and was given DGR status as a Harm Prevention Charity in March 2021.
One year later, we are a dynamic, thriving youth organisation with an amazing management core team, 23 inspiring accredited Highway Youth Facilitators, wonderful community partnerships across Australia delivering outstanding participant experiences that make a difference to young people.
An organisation is only as good as our people.
At Highway we have a highly skilled, incredibly motivated and effective management team that is powered by our mission. Our core team is agile, lean and collaborative. As we work remotely, we have no office overheads allowing all our funding to be spent on creating amazing youth support and experiences.
Chairman of the Board
John Higgins AO
John’s passion is to see young people thrive. This is evidenced by his tireless support for health, education and positive psychology. He has always believed that if you can catch a young person right when they need it, you can change their life and trajectory.
For that reason, he is excited about Highway Foundation. John is respected and recognised for his distinguished service to the community through philanthropic contributions to education, culture, social welfare, child cancer support organisations, and business. John brings over 35 years of impeccable business experience. John is the Chairman of the Higgins Group of Companies. This privately-owned firm invests and runs companies in Australia, Europe and North America with an increased focus on Medical Research in Cancer and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
At the University of Melbourne, John funded the Gerry Higgins Chair of Positive Psychology and is also the Chairman of the Centre of Positive Psychology, now one of the world's leading well-being teaching and research centres. John assisted the establishment of PESA (Positive Education Schools Association), IPEN (International Positive Education Network) and was the underwriter of the most successful 2019 World Congress of Positive Psychology in Melbourne, held for the first time out of North America, boasting over 1,600 delegates.
He is a Life Member of the National Gallery of Victoria and serves on its Foundation Board. He is also a Director of Camp Quality, a national children's cancer charity, for the past 14 years.
Chief Executive Officer and Master Teacher
MAPP MMKTG BBUS GAICD Accredited MHFA Instructor
Lela has experienced firsthand the positive transformation of young people when given the space to be genuinely heard. She is excited to lead an organisation that can build meaningful connections that help young people to find their way.
Lela is a consummate all-rounder. She is an international positive psychology coach, wellbeing educator and scientific-based wellbeing program designer. Lela has held numerous senior global corporate roles across various industries, including Healthcare, Arts, Automotive, Hospitality, Property and Not-for-Profit. Her extensive international experience in leadership, finance, marketing, corporate strategy, culture management, community and youth engagement has allowed her to understand what drives performance and makes people thrive. From coaching and mentoring professionals, teaching wellbeing to organisations, creating positive school programs now taught in 300 schools in 11 countries, to delivering diversity and wellbeing programs to over 250,000 students annually – her passion is to drive positive outcomes for young people.
Dr. Chin’s research has led her to follow her heart. She is passionate about applying her research in the real world. She believes Highway Foundation’s innovative model will provide relevant services to fill a gap in the market that her research has uncovered. She is excited to work with learning communities, local councils, governments and organisations to make real-world impact for young people today.
Dr. Chin is a multi-award-winning researcher who has done extensive work across the interdisciplinary fields of education, psychology and wellbeing science. She has held an academic position at the University of Melbourne for nine years. TC has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles and chapters and 18 commissioned reports for Local and State Government departments in Australia. She has worked with over 300 learning communities to assess wellbeing using mixed methods such as online surveys, focus groups and interviews. TC's work with schools and youth organisations has reached over 90,000 young people across six countries in the last four years. She has also worked with Tennis Australia, AFL Academy and ArtsReady.
TC has developed five novel measurement tools across the interdisciplinary fields of music psychology and wellbeing. Collectively, her work highlights the use of innovative yet considered approaches to measuring and understanding complex concepts such as music engagement and wellbeing. At The University of Melbourne, TC developed and led the implementation of The Wellbeing Profiler; a wellbeing needs analytical tool, which was recognised as a Finalist of the VicHealth Awards in 2017 for Research in Action and won the 2019 Australian Financial Review Higher Education Award for Community Engagement.
Alaina is Highway's operation's guru that spans planning, logistics, communications, and client management. She also manages the engagement and positive experiences of our Highway Youth Facilitators and Participants to ensure they feel connected and a part of the Highway community. Aside from her excellent operational management skills, she is also an award-winning writer. Growing up in rural Australia, she knows how inaccessible many services are for young people living outside metropolitan hubs. That is why she is excited about Highway's reach and impact on regional communities in the coming years.
Nathan Hugh Robért
Nathan is passionate about two things: people and writing. Nathan oversees writing across online and printed materials. His sharp eye ensures that Highway’s content is edited, relevant, and updated. He manages and creates content for Highway’s comprehensive Take What You Need Resources, The Highway Journal blog and assists in grant proposals. Having a background in anthropology and communications, Nathan hopes to communicate Highway’s vision and work in a way that engages young people and our community for positive change.
Talisa provides operational and administrative support to ensure that all participants experience an amazing Highway Journey session. She also assists in the management of the Take What You Need youth resources. In addition. she supports the implementation of Highway projects and partnerships.
Mark has worked on numerous design projects and clients in the health promotion space. Mark loves the idea of how an image can mean so many things to so many different people but at the same time can also communicate a message that can unite and inspire. Mark hopes his contribution will inspire young people to engage with Highway to find their way.
Video & Media Communications
Melita is a talented media specialist who loves working in the youth sector. She loves using latest media technology for our innovative reels and corporate training videos. She believes film and video as a platform is a powerful platform to communicate to young people.
Nathan Hugh Roberts
Nathan Hugh Roberts
Would you like to get
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Join a Highway session today.
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space where you can be yourself and uncover
what is important to you.