Chris Varney is Founder and Chief Enabling Officer of I CAN Network. Growing up with Asperger’s, Chris was inspired to start I CAN from the support his family, schools and mentors gave him, which he shared in his TEDx ‘Autism – How My Unstoppable Mother Proved the Experts Wrong’.
In the past year alone, I CAN Network has mentored 1,052 Autistic kids, teenagers and adults nationwide through schools, TAFEs, workplaces, camps and online programs. Since inception in 2013, I CAN Network has employed 34 Autistic people to deliver mentoring programs.
Chris has a background in children’s rights. Chris spent 11 years with World Vision Australia and World Vision International where his roles included Youth Ambassador, VGen Co–Director and Manager of Youth Supporters. VGen was instrumental in achieving commitments to fair–trade from big chocolate companies.
In 2009 Chris was Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations. In this role Chris successfully campaigned for the closure of the Magill Training Centre and created Dear Kevin: a book of 789 handwritten letters by children and young people given to then–Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Chris’ efforts as Youth Representative were recognised in this letter from then–UN Secretary–General Ban Ki–moon.
Chris used the stories from Dear Kevin to inform his work on the steering committee of the Australian Child Rights NGO Taskforce. The Taskforce successfully influenced the creation of Australia’s national Children’s Commission.
In addition to I CAN, Chris is currently an advisor on Autism to the Queensland Government and is Patron of the Australian Association for Special Education.
Growth Marketing Associate at SPARK Deakin, WEF Global Shaper
Head of Growth and Innovation, The Dream Collective
Legacy Lego Kid / Future Strategist
Health Technical Lead, Australian Red Cross
Management Consultant, Social Entrepreneur, Accountant and Engineer
Former CEO & Chief Advocate of World Vision Australia, international statesman in arena of poverty reduction and education
Founding Member & Vice–President EARS Incorporated – bringing sustainable and professional audiology services to the two thirds world
Co–Founder, One Love
Director of International Programs at the Australian Red Cross
Consultant and practitioner Asia P3 Hub, building and maintaining cross–sector partnerships in NGOs in Asia
Team Leader, The ORCA Project
Award Winning Social Entrepreneur
Founder, I CAN Network
CEO at SingularityU Australia Summit
Founder, Welcoming Australia
Strategic Adviser, Mental Health and Psychosocial Disability, NDIA
Lead VGen Facilitator, World Vision Youth Engagement
Founder, The Orca Project
Philosopher & Theologian
Music Director, Voices of Frankston
Environmentalist & Theologian
Work that Reconnects
Co–Founder The Good Summit, Founder Youthspirit. Chaplain In Residence Trinity College Dublin
Honorary Executive Director, Open Doors Counselling and Educational Services
Changemaker. World Economic Forum Global Shaper, Brisbane
Chair, Uniting VicTas & Chair, Western Health
Co–Founder The Good Summit, Social Entrepreneur
Aboriginal Spokesperson, Common Grace Justice Movement