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Our People

Unicorn Foundation's board and staff are composed by passionate and skilled individuals from a cross section of the medical and professional community. 

 

Dr John Leyden

Dr John Leyden is the eldest brother to Kate Carr (Leyden). The journey that they shared during her battle with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer inspired the formation of the Unicorn Foundation. In light of the experience with his sister, Dr Leyden realised the issues surrounding rare cancers - isolation, ignorance, lack of supports, knowledge and awareness. The ignominy that patients with rare cancers face is compounded by the overiding sense of disenfranchisement from the medical and general community. The Unicorn Foundation endeavours to support and promote the needs of neuroendocrine tumour sufferers and their families.

Dr Leyden graduated from Monash University and completed his specialty training at The Alfred, Melbourne and Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney. He completed a clinical fellowship in Cardiac Anaesthesia at the University of Toronto, Canada, St Michael's Hospital campus.

Dr Leyden is currently a Visiting Medical Officer at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney and is involved in teaching and other College activities.

In addition to being the Founder and Chairman of the Unicorn Foundation, he also Chairs the World NET Cancer Awareness Alliance which consist of International NET patient groups and is a member of the management committee of Health Consumers New South Wales. 

 

Simone Leyden

After finishing her Bachelor of Business Management/Marketing degree from Monash University, Simone went into the field of Advertising/ Marketing and has held various positions. After 12 years in Advertising and various senior positions, Simone took on the full time role of Chief Executive Officer of The Unicorn Foundation in April 2011.

In her role as CEO Simone advocates for greater access to treatments and diagnostics, raises funds for the NET Nurse Support Service and research, and raises awareness about NET cancers within the medical community and general public. Simone is an active member of many associations including Cancer Drugs Alliance (CDA), steering committee member - Health Consumer Advocacy (HCA), communications subcommittee International Neuroendocrine Cancer Alliance (INCA), emerging economies Asia Pacific HTAi subcommittee and consumer advisory group to Private Health Care Australia.

 

Professor Rodney Hicks

As Head of the Centre for Cancer Imaging at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, a major focus of Professor Rod Hicks’ research has been the use of positron emission tomography (PET) to provide molecular characterisation of cancer in order to improve selection and planning of cancer treatment and monitoring response to novel targeted therapeutics. In addition, he is actively involved in radionuclide therapy with a major focus on neuroendocrine tumours. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers and has over 20 years experience in NETs. It is humbling that Professor Hicks, without hesitation, accepted our invitation to join the Board of our Foundation. Rod is someone we admire, as do our patients, for his enthusiasm and dedication to improving the NET Cancer landscape and we know his contribution will take our Foundation to the next level. 

 

Matthew Sheehan

Matt works in asset management, having spent the past 15 years in the legal and finance industries in Australia, the US and UK.  Matt is a long-standing friend of John Leyden, the President and founder of the Unicorn Foundation and jumped at the opportunity to help out when asked.  When not spending time with his family, Matt enjoys long distance running and supporting Collingwood (the latter of which has provided considerably more stress and pain over the years.

 

Kate McGrath

Kate McGrath is the Nine News Chief of Staff for Melbourne. Kate began her career in the Melbourne Ten Newsroom in 2000 just days after completing her Honours year in History at Monash University.  After a stint of work experience in the South Yarra studio, she worked as a Production Assistant after forgoing a place in RMIT’s post-graduate Journalism course.

By 2001, Kate had debuted as a cadet reporter for the network. Over the next ten years, she covered all manner of stories, notably the Melbourne Underworld shootings, and overseas assignments including the death of Pope John Paul II from Vatican City and the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles to Camilla Parker-Bowles from Windsor in the UK.

Kate is best known for her role as Ten News Court Reporter. Well known for presenting live news reports, over nearly four years she covered the high profile trials of Tony Mokbel, Thomas Towle, Peter Dupas and the sentencing of Carl Williams. Kate twice took out the Law Institute of Victoria’s Best TV report award, and was awarded the 2008 Columb Brennan Award for Excellence in Court Reporting.

In 2010, after a six month stint as the Public Relations manager for Myer, Kate took up the role as Ten News Chief of Staff. The following year she moved to the rival Nine Network, in the same role as Chief of Staff. Nine news is the market leader in Melbourne, winning every ratings week for the past 3 years.

Committed to raising awareness and funds for healthcare, Kate is also a St Vincent’s Hospital foundation board member.

 

Bec Carnovale

Today Bec runs a successful present buying Business, however prior to this, Bec completed her Commerce/Arts degree in which she majored in Accounting. During her first year of accounting work in a Private Practice Accounting Firm, Bec studied and completed her Professional Year (PY), which qualified her as a Chartered Accountant (CA).

For 8 years Bec worked successfully in an accounting firm in the Business Services Division, which refined her business acumen skills. 

Bec later spent 4 years working in the Finance and Accounting space of the Recruitment industry in which she developed her networking skills. 

3 years ago, Bec followed her passion and her heart and started her own successful present buying business, thx4thepresent.  

In addition to her qualifications, dedication and skill, Bec brings with her a huge passion to fight neuroendocrine cancer, the disease that took her close (beautiful) friend Kate Carr (Leyden). 

 

Paul Stephenson

Paul graduated with Bachelor of Commerce from James Cook University, Townsville, and gained employment with Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC) in Audit and Business Services, before going on to complete his Professional Year to become a Chartered Accountant (ACA). Four years at C&L were followed by another 10 years in Financial Controller roles in entrepreneurial businesses covering Civil Engineering & Contract Mining, International Shipping, large scale Retail chain operations, and Commercial Kitchens Manufacturing and Equipment supply.

Three years at Linfox extended his knowledge deeper into Supply Chain in the areas of Commercial Management, Business Development and Warehouse & Logistics operations.

A shortened 2 year stint at Ansett-Air New Zealand in IT Program Management, before moving to Telstra, initially in a dedicated IT Program Management role for 3 years. His passion for Supply Chain and the business side of IT implementations saw him promoted to Head Office. Since then he has spent 8 years delivering major Strategic Projects in Business Operations and IT systems for Telstra Procurement, Supply Chain and Telstra Operations – Network Assurance.

Paul is also a NET Patient, and active member of the Victoria Patient Support Group.

He was “luckily” diagnosed in April 2010 following a CT scan for a non-related ailment. Two major surgeries in 2010, have been followed by 26 months of “controlling” injections with Sandostatin LAR Octreotide.

Paul has now been referred for the Lu-177 PRRT therapy which is due to commence in February 2014.]