Panelist Information

Newcastle Herald

Jason Gordon

Jason has worked as a print news journalist for 26 years. He worked with News Ltd in Sydney before serving as editor of the Central Coast Sun newspaper for six years. He later joined Fairfax and ran the company’s news bureau on the Central Coast. He came to Newcastle 12 years ago, spending six years as news editor of the Newcastle Herald before recently deciding to go “back to the coal face” of news reporting in Newcastle.”The absolute beauty of my job is that it creates opportunities to meet some incredibly hard-working people who selfishly devote so much of their lives to others. They are positive role models doing positive things in a world which sometimes seems bereft of good news. I have long admired the efforts of Pastor Rick Prosser and the work being done through the RUSH mentoring scheme, and I am quite excited about helping them with the Aspire competition. What a fantastic way to engage our city’s young people and develop them into our future leaders.”


PRDnationwide Newcastle and Lake Macquarie

Mark Kentwell

Mark is a founding director of PRDnationwide Lake Macquarie Newcastle and in less than 10 short years has grown the business to over 50 staff 3 office locations including Safe Hands Property Management, Newcastle New Projects and has earned the business ranking as high as number 5 in the Real Estate Business Magazines top offices in 2014. Since winning Hunter Business Young Achiever in 2010 and finalist of the NSW Young Business Person of the year in the same year he has gone on to be awarded the prestigious Australian Principal of the Year – Regional across all brands in 2014 Real Estate Awards. Marks passions align with the companies values of being innovative, successful and respectful and he will be talking about one of this innovations, the friendly auction system, to a national audience of approximately 5000 paying guests at AREC June 2015.


Lord Mayor of Newcastle

Nuatali Nelmes

Councillor Nuatali Nelmes was elected Labor Lord Mayor of Newcastle on 15 November 2014 after serving six years on Newcastle City Council, including a time as Deputy Mayor. Cr Nelmes holds a Bachelors Degree in Business from the University of Newcastle, and joined the Labor Party when she was 20. She was elected to the City of Newcastle council in 2008, succeeding her father, long-serving Labor councillor Paul Scobie. She was the Labor candidate for Lord Mayor at the 2012 election, and was endorsed by former state MP Jodi McKay. She has also served as a memeber of the Lasbor Party’s national policy forum. She campaigned on opporition to the truncation of the Newcastle railway line, support for the Newcastle Art Gallery expansion, urgan renewal in the inner city and overturning cuts to council services .


Media Personality KOFM Breakfast Host

Tanya Wilks

Trying to make a difference. I simply mean ‘making a difference in my own backyard’. Whether it’s on the air when we get to do something for someone in need, volunteering in my community, sponsoring kids in India (via a Newcastle based charity – Dunamis), I feel better mentally, spiritually and emotionally when I focus outwardly instead of inward. Encouraging a young person to look beyond the fears that may be holding them back today and exposing them to the endless possibilities of tomorrow is an incredible opportunity for me and, hopefully, them. My goal with Aspire is to impact them so that they walk away believing their goals and dreams are 100% achievable.


Soul Cafe & Director RUSH

Rick Prosser

Rick Prosser was born and grew up in Newcastle and like all Novocastrians’ loves both his city and his nation, Australia. In 2005 Rick established RUSH Mentoring Service for vulnerable high school students and in 2012 established ‘CityServe’ a program that mobilizes thousands of volunteers each October to paint, clean, garden and generally benefit our community. In January 2014 he was awarded Newcastle Citizen of the Year. He is currently the charity coordinator of Soul Cafe that provides 700 plus meals to the homeless and needy in our city. Rick established the ASPIRE Competition in 2015, he is passionate about young people and the community and works towards encouraging and building into both.