Just like Fred, our CEO gets things done. Brian Doolan is a humanitarian, a fighter for social and economic justice. Most of all, he's fired up to put an end to avoidable blindness.
Meet the heart and soul of The Foundation, Gabi Hollows. She's is an extraordinary woman: a national treasure, an Order of Australia recipient, a skilled orthoptist and the champion of The Fred Hollows Foundation.
Global Board, Australia
Our global board members are a talented and diverse lot. They have extraordinary skills and experience in a wide range of sectors, both public and private. This ensures The Foundation takes a well-rounded approach to everything we do and the decisions we make as an organisation.
Our global directors are responsible for providing strategic direction and governance, ensuring effective financial and risk management oversight and continued organisational viability and sustainability. Also, and perhaps most importantly, they’re custodians of Fred Hollows’ legacy and reputation.
Please visit our global website to view a short biography of each of the current global Board of Directors
When Brian met Fred Hollows in a pub in rural Australia, he could never have imagined that twenty-five years later he would be CEO of The Foundation set up in Fred’s honour. While Fred Hollows was working on the National Trachoma Program in the 1970s, Brian Doolan was also working to improve the health of Indigenous communities in New South Wales, the Northern Territory and South Australia.
Their paths crossed in the late 70s, when Brian was working in Wilcannia, in regional New South Wales, to establish an independent and Indigenous run Medical and Education Centre. Fred Hollows was performing eye surgeries there, and the two men found themselves later having a drink together at the local pub. Little did either know this would be the start of a lifelong connection.
If you cut my working life in two, one half has been working with Aboriginal communities in Australia and the other in international development.
- Brian Doolan
From the early 1990s to 2003, Brian worked as Country Director for CARE International in Iraq and Vietnam. He made such an impact on the country’s economic and social development that in 1994, the President of Vietnam awarded him the Friendship Medal, the country’s highest award for foreigners. Brian then went on to CARE Australia as Principal Executive and later, joint acting CEO.
Before joining The Fred Hollows Foundation, Brian was in Thailand as Regional Director of the US based Global Alliance for Workers and Communities. Also a not for profit organisation, he worked to provide support for factory workers in China, Vietnam, Thailand, India and Indonesia.
I still get to see the patches come off - and the hair still stands up on the back of my neck every time.
- Brian Doolan
Brian has been the CEO of The Fred Hollows Foundation since 2005. He has been the driving force behind our highly successful work in preventing avoidable blindness, both within Indigenous communities and around the world. Brian is passionate about building partnerships and empowering the people in the countries where we work. For him, it’s all about removing any barrier that stops people accessing quality eye health. Once this is done, there’s no reason why anyone in the world should be needlessly blind.
Just like Fred, Brian believes in rolling up his sleeves and getting things done. And that he certainly does.
Gabi knows a little about having eye problems. She had eye surgery when she was three years old and while it sparked her interest in medicine, little did she know this was the beginning of what was to become her lifelong work.
After graduating as an orthoptist, Gabi took up a position at The Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. It was there she first met Fred Hollows
, and a few years later, when Gabi was only 22, she joined him on the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program
. Over three years, the team visited over 465 remote Indigenous communities and treated more than 100,000 people. This trip was a life changing experience for Gabi, not only because she and Fred fell in love, but also because working with the Indigenous communities profoundly changed her view on the world.
You have to deal with linguistic and cultural differentials and be patient and pleasant if you hope to achieve anything. Gabi must have examined two hundred people that day, and she was as soothing and agreeable to the two hundredth as she had been to the first.
- Fred Hollows
Gabi and Fred were married in 1980 and fittingly, their wedding cake was a map of the Trachoma Program. They had five children together, and before each child was a month old, they had already put their feet back in the red sand of Bourke. It was a place both Fred and Gabi had a real affinity with from their years on the road.
Australia was just the beginning of their travels together. Gabi and the kids were always by Fred’s side as he visited South East Asia, Nepal
, Thailand and Bangladesh
in his efforts to put an end to avoidable blindness.
While Fred was fully in the swing of developing blindness prevention programs around the world and trying to build intraocular factories to lower the cost of cataract surgery, he was diagnosed with cancer. In the last few years of his life, Fred, Gabi, their friends and colleagues rallied to build The Fred Hollows Foundation. This was to ensure his work, and also Gabi’s, would live on. And of course, it has.
In the years since Fred died, Gabi has devoted herself to The Foundation she and Fred started together. Being able to restore a person’s sight, bring joy and a chance at a better life is what drives her day after day, just as it did Fred.
I really think that I just enjoy what I do. It blows me away, the field of ophthalmology... if you've given us five cents or five dollars, it's fantastic. It helps somebody get their sight back.
- Gabi Hollows