Our Board

Learn more about the Xanana Gusmão Reading Room Board

Board members Francisca Maia, Mara Bernardes, Sandra Gusmão and João Martires pose with Reading Room Manager, Gaspar Freitas, and Chair, Kirsty Sword Gusmão alongside a bright yellow “Tuk Tuk”. This Tuk Tuk will be converted into a mobile library in 2020 and deliver books and cheer to kids across the capital, Dili.


The way the Xanana Gusmão Reading Room (XGRR) Board fulfils its legal and governance responsibilities is by setting direction, policies, priorities and performance expectations, by anticipating situations and circumstances that might impact negatively on desirable achievement and by monitoring performance and ensuring achievement is consistent with that intended.


  • Patron is Kirsty Sword Gusmão
  • Board members are appointed (two year term)
  • Board appoints advisory panel
  • Board appoints Manager who in turn recruits staff, contractors and volunteers.
  • The Board is ultimately accountable for all organizational matters. Board members are jointly responsible for all decisions taken by the Board.

Responsibilities of the Board

  1. Legal: To ensure that the Xanana Gusmão Reading Room is in compliance with the relevant legal requirements and recommendations of the Labor Code & other national laws.
  2. Strategy and Policy: To determine the future directions and strategy of the Xanana Gusmão Reading Room. This includes ensuring that the organisation is implementing its program based on the vision and mission of the organisation, approving the annual goals and annual program direction, overseeing and approving annual budgets in line with priorities, monitoring and evaluating performance.
  3. Accountability: Responsible for the overall functioning of the Reading Room, including recruitment of the manager, approval and monitoring of the financial plan and annual budget, and asset management.
  4. Community relations: To develop and maintain relations with the community, donors and other organisations.
  5. Risk Management: To identify and understand risks that may affect the Reading Room and develop strategies for mitigation.


Kirsty Sword Gusmão is founder of the Xanana Gusmão Reading Room and chair of both the board of the Reading Room and the Alola Foundation. She is Timor-Leste’s Goodwill Ambassador for Education and is passionate about the role of education, literacy, books and learning in improving the well-being and health of all citizens. Her favourite book is “The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak.

João Martires: Operations & Finance Manager – To’os ba Moris Diak-Farming for Prosperity, an agricultural livelihoods programme funded by the Australian government’s aid programme in Timor-Leste. Studied at the Central Metropolitan College and the University of Western Australia. His favourite books are “Catch-22” by Joseph and “Heller and Papillon” by Henri Charrière.

Dulce de Jesus Soares: Former Minister of Education, Youth and Sports. Former Timor-Leste Vice Minister of Preschool and Basic Education and Vice Minister for Education. Dulce de Jesus Soares received her bachelor’s in education from Udayana University, Bali, and her master’s in international community development from the University of Victoria, Australia. After teaching English and gaining extensive experience in the area of regional development and planning, Ms. Soares worked as a national program officer for UNICEF. She collaborated with international partners to develop laws and policies to guarantee children’s rights, including establishing the National Commission of Children’s Rights. The book that she has found most influential in her work is “Learning from Singapore: The Power of Paradoxes” by Pak Tee Ng.

Ilidio Ximenes da Costa: is former Secretary of State for Vocational Training and Employment Policy (2012 – 2017), National Adviser for Civic Education and Mediation Program at Secretary of State for Security (Feb – Jun 2012), UNDP Facilitator for Community Reintegration Program in IDP’s (2010), Consultant at Asian Development Bank (2011): design training module of Information, education and communication for National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation under Ministry of infrastructure and Telecommunication, Facilitator and Trainer (2010 – 2011) at The Asia Foundation, Vice-Director for Micro Matchmaking and Public Relations (2009 – 2010) and Micro Match making Associate (2007 – 2009) at Peace Dividend Trust, National Program Coordinator (Apr – Oct 2007) for integrated women in politics and decision making at the United Nation Fund for Women, Senior Program Officer for electoral support and local governance program (Oct 2005 – Sep 2007) and Program Officer for civic advocacy and monitoring program (Oct 2004 – Sep 2005) at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for International Affairs, Trainer for Integrated Water Resources Management (2005) at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Senior Lecturer (2003 – 2004) at the Dili University (UNDIL) and Dili Institute Technology (DIT), Assistant Director (1998 – 2000) Project Manager for Small Activity Scheme (1998) with a local NGO Yayasan Bia Hula. Studied at Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Faculty of Pedagogy and Teacher Training. HIs favourite book is “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” Paulo Freire.

Sandra Gusmão: Education Specialist at UNICEF, Former Educational Specialist at United Nations Children’s Fund. Studied at Massey Palmerston North, New Zealand. Her favourite book is “The Apartment by Danielle Steel and The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

Mara Bernardes: Advisor for STAE, Electoral Project- LEARN at UNDP Timor-Leste; Studied at Aveiro University, Portugal. Her favourite book is “The Little Prince by Antoine Saint Exupery.

Sebastião da Costa e Silva: Is a well-known Timorese artist and local business owner. His favourite books are “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho and “Unlimited Power” by Anthony Robins.

Francisca Maia: Filmmaker and Senior Media Advisor, worked as Reporter and News Anchor for UN TV in UNTAET Mission. After Timor-Leste officially got its independence in 2002, worked with Timor-Leste’s First National Television called TVTL, as Feature Program Producer and News Anchor, now working as Media Advisor for Timor-Leste Government. She has written and directed the Award-winning short Films A LETTER TO MY MUM, DESIZAUN(DECISION) and most recently MENSAJEIRU MESSENGER). She has a Bachelor of Creative Media and Minor in Women Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa as recipient of East West Centre Fellowship, and the Australian Development Scholarship Master in Film and Television at Victoria College of Arts, University of Melbourne. Her favourite book is “The Kite Runner Novel” by Khaled Hosseini.

Isabel Ximenes: Former Secretary of State for Arts and Culture. Worked as Senior Program Officer at USAID (United States Agency for International Agency). Studied at the University of Hull, United Kingdom. Her favourite book is “The Central Liberal Truth: How Culture Can Change Politics and Save It from Itself” by Lawrence H. Harrison.

Natalino Guterres: Consultant at Asian Development Bank Timor-Leste Resident Mission, Chair at Hatutan, Former Executive Director at Fundasaun CODIVA, Studied at United Nations mandated University for Peace, University of Nottingham, Luther College, United World College Red Cross Nordic. His favourite book is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.

Del Bovill: Library Adviser, BA Newcastle, Grad Dip LibInf University of Technology, Sydney. Held various roles in Public and Academic Libraries in Australia and New Zealand. XGRR Resource Centre Management Adviser with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) Dili, 2013-2016. She enjoys reading all of the books written by Barbara Kingsolver, Helen Garner and Patricia Grace, three excellent writers who write across the fiction and non-fiction genres.

Jenny Coles: Franchise Manager with over thirty years management experience in establishing productive relationships with key stakeholders, clients, donors and students in the design and implementation of creative sales and marketing business initiatives. More recently, career highlights include ten years as Personal Assistant and Project Manager for Mana Kirsty Sword Gusmão. Her favourite book is “A Dirty Little War” by John Martinkus. Her first introduction and insight into the Timorese resistance.

Hanrog Kang: Innovation Fellow, Big Innovation Center-UK , the secretariat for UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on AI and awarded Think Thank of the Year 2018 by the Public Affairs PRCA Awards; Member of founding preparatory committee for Roh Hoe-chan Foundation, a memorial foundation of a prominent reformist South Korean politician, Roh Hoe-chan; University Lecturer, Department of Medical Humanities and Social Science, The School of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea; Member of Clarendon Scholar, University of Oxford; Export advisor, Medipeace, Medical NGO; Co-director, 2012 Korea Humanitarian Festival with UN and Columnist for The Doctors. His favourite book is “The Stranger” by Albert Camus.

Tony Franklin: IT Development Lead with over a decade of expertise in Australia and Timor-Leste, now operating from Sweden. Recognized for strong technical-commercial prowess and delivering tailored solutions for varied business requirements. Combines leadership and team growth abilities with adept problem-solving skills. Establishes cohesive workspaces and builds firm connections with a myriad of stakeholders.

Working Committees and Responsibilities

  • Human Resources: staff, volunteers, recruitment, counselling, performance appraisals.
  • Finance: reporting, audit, administration
  • Assets: including vehicles, buildings and logistics: maintenance, capital improvements, risk management, OHS, insurance, leases
  • Governance: strategic plan, risk mitigation, policies, partnership management, legal and government compliance
  • Programming: Education partnerships, events, annual calendar, operations plan
  • Library and Museum Services: library collections, museum collections, exhibitions, bookshop, catalogue.
  • Fundraising and Public Relations: communication, networking, online presence

XGRR’s Board Working Committee’s Membership

  • Human Resources: Sandra Martins, Del Bovill & Joao Martires.
  • Finance: João Martires & Del Bovill.
  • Assets: João Martires, Ilidio da Costa & Sebastião Silva
  • Governance: Kirsty Sword Gusmão & Jenny Coles.
  • Programming: Ester Correia (PHD – external), Ilidio da Costa, Francisca Maia, Mara Bernardes & Natalino Guterres.
  • Library and Museum Services: Mara Bernardes, Sebastião Silva & Francisca Maia.
  • Fundraising and Public Relations: Kirsty Sword Gusmão, Ester Correia, Sandra Martins, Ilidio da Costa, Natalino Guterres, Mara Bernardes & Francisca Maia.

Current Legal Framework Of The Xanana Gusmão Reading Room>

  • The Xanana Gusmão Reading Room is formally registered with the Ministry of Justice as a National Foundation, No 239/DNRN-MJ/IV/2015
  • Is formally registered with the Tax Office Taxpayer and Tax Identification No. (T.I.N.) 5002756
  • Is formally registered with Forum Nacional ONG Timor Lorosa’e (FONGTIL) Registration No 307.
  • Is the formal owner of Land and Property Lease contract No 530.00164

Mitigation Of Risk Framework

Internal and external risks are mitigated by our governance policies. They are the ‘umbrella’ which guides all operational activities. The following governance level policies are in place and part of our mitigation risk framework.

  • Constitution
  • List of Delegations
  • Land and Property Lease
  • Inventory and Asset Register
  • Motor Vehicle Use Policy
  • Public Internet and Computer Use Policy
  • Venue hire Policy
  • Collection Development Policy
  • Library Lending Policy
  • Staff Contracts compliant with Labour Code
  • Library Users and Membership Rules and Regulations
  • Fundraising Policy (draft)
  • Strategic Plan (draft)
  • Financial Policy (draft)
  • Customer Service Charter (draft)
  • Risk Register (planned)
  • HR Policy (planned)
  • Operations Manual