Our Board

Ben RocheBen Roche - President/Chair

Ben is the Pro Vice Chancellor, 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?"

Fiona O'Sullivan - Director & Deputy Chair

As Director, External Engagement and International at the University of Sydney Business School, Fiona oversees the strategy, implementation and planning of external engagement with all stakeholders. In her role, Fiona works closely with alumni, community service providers, corporate organisations and other educational institution both domestically and internationally. The aim is to provide opportunities to build on the Business Schools research strengths and create innovative education opportunities to enhance the student learning experience and develop mutually beneficial strategic alliances and partnerships. Fiona has over 17 years in the higher education sector although has been involved in adult education for over 25 years.  Fiona is also the Chair of Judging Panel for the Association for Tertiary Education Management (ATEM) Engagement Australia Excellence in Engagement Awards.

“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.” 

Jodie Duignan-George

Jodie Duignan-George - Director & Secretary

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 - Director & Treasurer

Tony has recently taken the position of Executive Director, Quality and Performance at Western Sydney University. While at Edith Cowan University (ECU) he had line management responsibility for ECU’s Engagement Unit from its creation in April 2012 until December 2016. With more than 22 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 am passionate about  creating positive outcomes in our communities through mutually beneficial engagement and 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 

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."

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."

Jim Nyland - Director & Editor Transform

Professor Jim Nyland took up the role of Associate Vice-Chancellor (Brisbane) at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) in October 2011.  Previously, he has held academic appointments at the University of Queensland, where he was the Director of Corporate Education and Director of UQ Business School Downtown.  Prior to this he was Manager and Principal Advisor in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office for Engagement at Griffith University and has held managerial positions in a number of universities in the UK.  .  He holds a doctorate in Education and has published research covering curriculum change, the nature of learning and the impact of modernity on educational opportunity.  Professor Nyland’s work has been international in scope and he has developed programs in the UK and Australia as well as keynote academic papers in Ireland and South Africa.  He is particularly interested in extending our knowledge and capacities in ‘new learning’ both in work and professional settings and in communities which are in transition and face challenges. He is Editor of the new Australian journal Transform: Journal of Engaged Scholarship and contributes to current educational debates and issues in regional and national publications.

“Engagement remains the next Big Idea on the horizon in higher education.  Its vitality is at the heart of improved education and research outcomes for universities.”

Callista Thillou - Director

Callista Thillou is the Executive Director, Communication and Engagement, at Flinders University and is responsible for leadership of the University’s marketing, media and communications, alumni and development, and external engagement. She has held strategic roles in higher education both nationally and internationally. Before returning to Australia she was responsible for leading the UK higher education’s representation, and engagement with the EU working for the sector body Universities UK. Prior to this Callista was the Director of Communications and Government Relations at the then Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee.

“In today’s rapidly changing Higher Education environment, engagement on all levels is more important than ever. It’s through engagement with our students, staff, alumni, and myriad external stakeholders, that we can continue to build upon the successes of Australian universities and our students, and embrace the opportunities this creates for our society.”

Billy O'Steen - Director

Billy is the inaugural Associate Professor of Community Engagement and Director of the UC Community Engagement Hub at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Based on the success of a community engagement course he and Dr Lane Perry created after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, CHCH101: Rebuilding Christchurch, community engagement has become one of four attributes in a new UC Graduate Profile. To create community engagement opportunities for all UC students, he spends a significant amount of time collaborating with a wide variety of community partners. UC is grateful to Engagement Australia for being an influential supporter of these efforts.

“Sometimes we in higher education choose community engagement and sometimes it chooses us through natural disaster, local issues, or the intersection of town and campus. Our role as community engagement professionals is to keep both the inward and outward channels open.”