Doug Lees Appointed new CEO of SurfAid

Long time magazine publisher, media entrepreneur and intrepid surf traveller, Doug Lees is set to replace current CEO Andrew Judge from January 2019.

Judge said, “On January 1, 2019 I am stepping down as CEO of SurfAid. I will join the Board and continue to serve as a conduit for the incredible amount of good will and dedication, that you, staff and the boards of SurfAid have brought in. This has been an extraordinary experience.

Adding, “SurfAid is delivering on the idea of surfers and the likeminded giving back to those living in remote places we travel. Doug Lees, joining us as CEO, brings extensive connections to surfing communities and SurfAid.

Stalwart supporters and staff, combined with effective delivery on the ground, gives me a robust confidence in SurfAid’s future. It has been an honour to represent SurfAid.”

Andrew Judge has been instrumental in SurfAid’s success over the last 10 years

Charlie Lancaster, SurfAid Australia’s Board Director, had this to say about the transition, ” I am delighted to welcome Doug Lees as the new CEO of SurfAid International. Doug comes to us having led the team at Coastalwatch and Surfing World for over a decade.

He is deeply connected with the surfing community and a considered advocate of SurfAid’s mission – to improve the health, resilience, and wellbeing of people living in isolated regions, connected to us through surfing.”

“Doug will replace Andrew Judge in January 2019. Andrew, after 10 years of strong leadership, has decided to step down from the role. Andrew has been instrumental in SurfAid’s tremendous success over the last decade, including securing both New Zealand and Australian government support. His perseverance and good humour will be sorely missed. Please join me in thanking Andrew for his fantastic contribution and in welcoming Doug to the SurfAid family. ”

So who is this new SurfAid CEO of whom everyone speaks so highly of?

Thanks for asking. My name is Doug Lees. I live at Queenscliff Beach on the Northern Beaches of Sydney with my wife Pam and our two children Kye (19), and Summer (13), our dog Banjo and our cat, Mr. Snuggles. We also have two chickens who give us daily eggs.

Tell us about your work experience.

Well my current role is General Manager of 3CMG, a multi-platform action-sports media company which includes Surfing World Magazine and the surf website Coastalwatch. I’ve been the publisher of Surfing World Magazine for over 15 years, leading initiatives across the business, including but not limited to, all print and digital publishing. Books I have published include Thrust, the Simon Anderson Story, Live Like Sally with Sally Fitzgibbons, The 9th Wave, Archipelago, and Badlands. Most recently I’ve also enjoyed success spearheading branching into events and experiences such as The Surfing World Camp and distribution of the Andy Irons documentary, Kissed by God. It’s been thrilling both personally and professionally to be able to share stories of the ocean with a passionate and involved global community in so many different ways for so many years now, and it’s something I look forward to continuing in my role at Surf Aid.


Master of Business Administration – University of Technology

Graduate Diploma in Sports Management – University of Technology

Bachelor of Education in Fine Art – University of NSW

What’s your background with SurfAid

SurfAid has shared the same office in Avalon Beach with 3CMG for almost 10 years and I’ve been fortunate to work on many projects alongside the SurfAid team, including many SurfAid Cups and Surfing Chefs events. I have a lot of admiration for the entire SurfAid team, having seen the passion the Sydney staff bring to their work. I’m excited to take their skill and enthusiasm to the next level, making an even greater humanitarian impact.

Enjoyed much surf travel?

I’ve been lucky enough to travel on many surf trips through Indonesia, both with professional surfers for work and with my surfing mates for fun. Any surfer can appreciate the incredible waves, but it’s the beauty of the islands and the wonderful people who live there that make the area unlike anywhere in the world.

Doug has already spend many hours in the very regions he’ll now look after

2019 is looking like a new and exciting time for you!

I’m stoked to say I’ll start work with SurfAid on January 1. Over the past few months I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting SurfAid Directors from NZ, USA and Australia. One of the most exciting prospects of my new role is the opportunity to work with such an amazing bunch of people who have all impressed me with their enthusiasm and passion for SurfAid and the projects they undertake. This is a group of people dedicated to changing people’s lives for the better, and this is where I want to be.

When I look back over my career in the surf industry, I feel as though it’s prepared me for this position with SurfAid, and with the team in place, I’m very optimistic about the year ahead.

The opportunity to give back in a meaningful way to people who live in regions of the world that have given so much to surfers and surfing is something I am truly honoured to be part of.

I’d also like to pay tribute to the outgoing CEO, Andrew Judge, whom I have known for the past 10 years.”

Andrew leaves SurfAid well positioned for the future and he’s a man passionate about his role in improving the lives of others.”

“He recently told me that SurfAid has a culture of people “wanting you to succeed” and I thank him for being a big part of building this culture within SurfAid. I do also need to mention Charlie Lanchester, to whom I have been immensely impressed with in the process of my transition into the SurfAid family and I thank him for his generous allocation of time.

What do you see as the mission of SurfAid?

SurfAid’s mission statement is a compelling one that I love:  a non-profit humanitarian organisation seeking to improve the health, wellbeing and self-reliance of people living in isolated regions connected to us through surfing. I see no reason why every surfer on the planet should not be part of the solution and embrace SurfAid as the surfing community’s way of greatly improving the lives of people who live near some of the great waves of the world.


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