Our
team
The Hon Simon Crean
The Hon Craig Laundy
The Hon Rob Borbidge AO
Kirsten Daggar-Nickson
The Hon Simon Crean
Co-Chairman
Member of the Advisory Board
Simon brings unparalleled industry experience and political intelligence to Cornerstone’s Board as a respected former Labor Leader and President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Simon served eight terms as a Federal MP and was a Cabinet Minister in the Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard Governments. In government, he held the ministry portfolios of Science and Technology, Primary Industries and Energy, Employment, Education and Training, Trade, Regional Development and the Arts. Simon is a Director of Linfox International Group, Deputy Chancellor Monash University, Adjunct Professor Deakin University,  Director Melbourne Luna Park. He is on the Advisory Board of GSEM (Greater South East Melbourne), the ATN group of Universities,  the NRRA and Orygen. He is Chair of the European Australian Business Council (EABC) and the Australia Korea Business Council (AKBC).
The Hon Craig Laundy
Co-Chairman
Member of the Advisory Board
Craig brings a wealth of experience in politics and business to his role as Co-Chairman. He was elected as a Federal Liberal MP in 2013 after winning the long held marginal ALP seat of Reid in Sydney’s inner west - and he increased the winning margin at the 2016 election. Craig was Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs in the Turnbull Government, Chair of the House Economics Committee and a member of the select committee for Public Accounts and Audit. He was Minister for Small and Family Business, Industrial Relations and Deregulation and Assistant Minister for Industry Innovation and Science in the Turnbull Government. Craig has been a key driver of growth in the family business, Laundy Hotel Group, initially between 1992 and 2012 before re-joining in 2018 after his stint in Federal politics.
The Hon Rob Borbidge AO
Director
Member Of The Advisory Board
Rob was Premier of Queensland between 1996 and 1998 and served in the State Parliament for more than 20 years between 1980 and 2001, with more than a decade as leader of the National Party. Throughout his political career, Rob served across a number of key portfolios including Tourism, Industry, Environment and Conservation, Police and Emergency Services, Communications and Technology. He is the Chair of LifeFlight and Study Gold Coast and a Board member of StarFlight Australia. He was previously the Chair of the 2018 Commonwealth Games Legacy Committee.
Kirsten Daggar-Nickson
Director
Member Of The Advisory Board
Kirsten brings significant expertise in law, corporate affairs and communications to her clients, having held several senior leadership roles in these areas. Her experience includes work at Ernst & Young, Ashurst and several multinational companies in FMCG, energy and utilities in addition to time within NSW Government. Kirsten has spearheaded extensive and complex campaigns within highly regulated spaces, presented to state and parliamentary inquiries, led complex litigation and disputes and acted as a company spokesperson in times of intense scrutiny, to name a few experiences. She has also held several Company Secretarial and Directorships including within the NSW Government and NSW education system. Kirsten is a qualified principal lawyer with an unrestricted practicing certificate admitted in Australia to the High Court and in New Zealand to the Bar, a Fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia and a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is above all else regarded as tenacious and results-oriented.
Joseph Tannous
Carmel Court
Keren Davies
Damian Power
Joseph Tannous
Founder
Executive Director
First elected to public office in 1999. Joseph was the then youngest Mayor in New South Wales. His more than two decades of service at senior levels of the Liberal Party include serving on the NSW State Executive and successfully managing targeted seats campaigns at State and Federal elections. Joseph has managed several successful campaigns resulting in the election of candidates to parliament. Through his long and successful contributions to the political processes across all levels of government, Joseph has developed proactive working relationships with leaders at all levels of the political spectrum. This combination of experience, personal rapport, and an instinct for what could and should be done to improve public policy has made Joseph a highly regarded advocate and a trusted political advisor. In 2011, Joseph founded Cornerstone Group a national bipartisan firm. For more than a decade, he has worked with and advised a range of major private sector corporations. Today, Cornerstone is one of the leading national firms delivering client focused outcomes across the political spectrum. Joseph brings insight to the complex nature of government and has developed trusted working relationships with leaders in government. He knows how to unpack the complexities of Government leading to successful outcomes through his experience in advocacy, strong partnership and public policy making.
Carmel Court
Senior Associate
Policy, Strategy and Communications
Carmel brings a unique combination of strategic planning, commercial insight and political sensitivity to Cornerstone. She has expert knowledge of human services across health, aged care, disability and community at the highest levels of the Federal Government level as well as with leading not-for-profit and private brands. Carmel has strong experience in sector reform, governance, marketing and stakeholder management and she brings empathy, creative intelligence and political savvy to complex issues. Carmel works closely with clients, organisations and government to develop fit-for-purpose frameworks, pathways and solutions that redesign systems and improve performance.
Keren Davies
Senior Associate
Keren is a respected government affairs and policy professional with broad knowledge and expertise in law, communications, government policy and international diplomacy. Keren was communications advisor to the NSW Customer Service Department ICT and Digital team and a policy advisor to the NSW Justice Department. Internationally, Keren worked at the Australian Mission to the United Nations in New York as Development Advisor for DFAT/AusAID. She represented the Australian Government in UN development and humanitarian forums, working as a highly skilled negotiator and spokesperson at General Assembly, ECOSOC, and UNICEF/UNDP meetings. Keren also worked as a lawyer and senior corporate relations advisor for Telstra for 10 years and was Australasian Corporate Counsel for international real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle.
Damian Power
Director
Damian Power founded Government Relations firm, Govstrat, which entered into a merger with Cornerstone Group in 2021. Damian has been an advisor to the New South Wales and Queensland Governments, with portfolio responsibilities across industries including gaming, licensing and racing, information technology and telecommunications. His significant political experience includes being appointed Treasurer of the Queensland ALP, sitting on campaign committees at a state and commonwealth level, as well as advising on business relationships, policy and campaign resourcing in corporate sectors. Damian also has considerable experience and involvement with the trade union movement developed via his previous position as an executive member and treasurer of the Queensland Services Union.
Daniel Hoare
Nick Melas
Chris Forrester
Taylee Lewis
Daniel Hoare
Director
Daniel has more than two decades of experience in media, corporate communications and Government. He was Chief of Staff to the Victorian Minister for Roads, Road Safety and Ports and has served on the Executive team of V/Line, Victoria's regional rail operator. He has extensive corporate experience in the transport and online wagering sectors and was previously an award-winning  finance and general news reporter over the course of a decade at The Australian newspaper, ABC radio and television and with Al Jazeera’s 24-hour international English news network based in Kuala Lumpur. Daniel has a strong interest in and understanding of government procurement, major infrastructure projects and private sector mergers and acquisitions.
Nick Melas
Director
Nick is a trusted and respected senior government affairs professional with over a decade of experience in the field.  Prior to joining Cornerstone, he was Managing Director of government relations advisory firm, Profile Consulting. Nick worked as an adviser in the offices of the the Federal Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, and the Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations. In 2001, Nick co-founded Specialist Opinions, which provides specialist medical assessments to the insurance industry, Commonwealth and state government departments and the legal fraternity. He is also the Australian representative and current Chair of The Advocacy Group,  a U.S-based government, lobbyist, and public affairs network.
Chris Forrester
Senior Associate
Chris has extensive experience in providing strategic public policy analysis and advice. He has a deep understanding of the current political climate and has an expertise in stakeholder engagement, campaigning and strategic communications. He has served as as a Chief of Staff for a federal member of parliament and was previously an elected official of the Queensland ALP. He has been involved in numerous political and policy campaigns in Queensland and across Australia for the Labor Party at the grassroots and strategic level. Chris has significant experience in and knowledge of the trade union movement in Australia, having spent several years as an official within large trade unions.
Taylee Lewis
Head of Corporate Affairs
Europe
Taylee is a corporate affairs specialist with experience across Fortune 500 companies, multinationals and securities exchanges. She was a senior consultant for a leading Washington-based public affairs firm and has worked on a number of high profile cases relating to cross-border shareholder disputes, patent infringements and mergers and acquisitions. Taylee was previously a finance journalist for leading investment publications. She is based between Sydney and Milan, providing support to Cornerstone’s European-based clients and is also a specialist in assisting Italian firms enter and expand operations within the Australian market.

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