Our Board

Ben RocheBen Roche - President/Chair

Ben is the Director, Engagement at Southern Cross University. In this position he has responsibility for a suite of portfolios that focus on connecting SCU’s research and teaching strengths with the sustainable development needs of its communities. He provides leadership and advice to drive engagement strategies and cultivate key relationships and networks to realise the University’s strategic priorities whilst optimising community benefit, impact and exchange.

" For me, 'relevance' both defines and drives engagement in higher education. Relevance for whom, to what and importantly, why?"

Jodie Duignan-George

Jodie Duignan-George - Deputy Chair

Jodie is the Associate Vice Chancellor, Cairns & Far North Queensland Region for CQUniversity. Jodie has 20 years experience working in Universities, from teaching and student support through to campus establishment. This has given her a breadth of knowledge and deep understanding of the issues facing the higher education sector.

"Developing a solid understanding of local communities is critical to ensuring continued relevance for Universities. The greater the relevance, the greater the potential for the development of significant and sustainable partnerships and projects for mutual benefit."

Tony Lazzara

Tony Lazzara - Director & Treasurer

Tony is the Director of Planning, Quality and Equity at Edith Cowan University (ECU). He has had line management responsibility for ECU’s Engagement Unit since its creation in April 2012. With more than 20 years’ experience in Higher Education (HE), Tony has held a variety of roles including Operational Auditor, Faculty Manager, Manager Strategic Information Services and Associate Director (Student Progress and Systems).

"I relish the role I play in contributing to ECU’s purpose of creating positive outcomes in our communities through mutually beneficial engagement. In particular, I am passionate about the difference we (HE) can make by building aspirations amongst those who do not traditionally see higher education in their future."

Rob Brown

Rob Brown - Director & Secretary

Rob is the Executive Director - Marketing and Relations at Victoria University. Dr Brown serves as a Director on the Boards of Higher Education Services and Engagement Australia, and served as a member of the panel of AUQA auditors.

" The key element to successful long-term engagement in any context is undoubtedly mutual benefit. Universities have to engage externally to be relevant, but they must do so while looking at both sides of the benefit equation."

Jamie McDonald - Director

Jamie is Director, Marketing, Advancement and Community Engagement at Federation University Australia (FedUni). With a background in marketing and communications in higher education and the utilities sector, Jamie has applied skills in community engagement and the IAP2 framework and is a strong advocate of the role of engagement in universities. Jamie leads the marketing, public relations, school engagement, alumni and philanthropy functions across FedUni’s campuses, working closely with the communities within which FedUni is located

"Through a collective understanding of engagement, universities can share and embed their ambitions not only with students and staff, but with the wider community to create a much broader base for their development and growth."

Sue DaviesSue Davies - Director

Sue is the Director Community Engagement & Employability with La Trobe University.  She is responsible for University engagement with industry, government and the wider community, including understanding workforce needs into the future to ensure the University offers a distinctive education for students which supports and equips them in their careers and future aspirations.  This knowledge also reinforces the University’s commitment to contribute to the economic and social growth of the communities we engage with.  Prior to joining La Trobe in 2013, Sue ran her own strategic communications business, for 18 years.

"In a rapidly changing higher education landscape, and the resultant challenges – a University which is truly engaged with its internal and external communities, is a University which will reap the benefits of student, staff and partner satisfaction and success."

Michele Simons

Michele Simons - Director

Michele is Professor and Dean of Education, University of Western Sydney. She has previously held a number of leadership positions at the University of South Australia, including Dean of Education from 2007-2010. Prior to entering the University as an Academic, Michele worked in the non-government sector in community-based organisations providing family services and supporting training and development initiatives for workers 

"Engagement with communities, workplaces and enterprises of all shapes and sizes and types is essential if universities are to realise their mission to contribute to the wellbeing and economic and social development of the regions they serve. Engagement is also essential if we are serious about ensuring that all our students have the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they will need to thrive in their work and lives once they graduate."

Fiona O'Sullivan - Director

As Director of Community Engagement, Fiona oversees the national strategy, planning and implementation for all engagement activities across Navitas Professional Institute’s colleges, the largest college being the Australian College of Applied Psychology.  In her role, Fiona works closely with alumni, community service providers and the relevant professional bodies to further opportunities for research, to enhance the student learning experience and develop mutually beneficial strategic alliances and partnerships.  Fiona has been involved in the tertiary education sector for over 15 years.

"Mutually beneficial engagement between higher educational institutions and external stakeholders can ensure that graduates are equipped for the future workplace and challenges society may face.  In turn, how the outcomes are utilised within the institution and the quality of engagement can impact on the long term viability of the economy.” 

Jacqueline White - Director

Jacqueline is an education professional with over 15 years of global experience in the field. She is an experienced professional in linguistics and language teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels which has developed into a career in International engagement strategy and partnership development for both the higher education and ELICOS sectors. Business development, client relationship management,  marketing & recruitment, stakeholder engagement, project & event management and leadership are skills Jacqui has developed throughout her career in five Australian universities as well as private ELICOS and overseas institutions. Jacqueline’s current role as Executive Manager, External Engagement at University of Technology Sydney is focused on bringing to life the Connect & Engage external engagement strategy as one of the key priorities of the university’s strategic plan. 

"Engagement with all sectors of society is vital for Universities to thrive in these times of unprecedented change, growth and development of the functions of universities. A focus on fostering a spectrum of engagement  from local  grassroots community engagement through to international and corporate partnerships is all about enhancing opportunities in research, learning and teaching, social impact and servicing our communities."

Pranay Lodhiya

Pranay Lodhiya - Director

Pranay currently heads up The Tadishi Group, providing strategic advice to organisations wishing to transform their financial management and also set a course for long term financial sustainability in a competitive and uncertain environment. Previously he was the Financial Manager for La Trobe University.