Engagement Australia Board Members | 2018
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Our Board

Engagement Australia Board

As a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, Engagement Australia is governed by a voluntary Board of Directors that is drawn from its members. At our Annual General meeting, each year in July we receive nominations for 50% of the current Board positions to ensure we maintain corporate knowledge and stability.

The formal structure of Engagement Australia comprises the following subcommittees:

  • Finance, Audit and Risk
  • Member engagement
  • Publications

If you are interested in helping to shape Engagement Australia as a Director of the Board, or would like to assist deliver one of our programs and services as part of one of our sub-committees – please get in touch!

Current Board Members

Jim Nyland

Jim Nyland
Chair / Editor Transform
Australian Catholic University

Callista new image

Callista Thillou
Director & Deputy Chair
Flinders University


Jodie Duignan-George 
Director & Company Secretary

Tony Lazzara

Tony Lazzara
Director & Treasurer
Western Sydney University

Joanne Scott Headshot

Joanne Scott
University of The Sunshine Coast

Circle headshot new director

Kerry O’Neill
Victoria University

Sue Davies

Sue Davies 
La Trobe University

Jess Headshot

Jessica Vanderlelie
La Trobe University

Billy O'Steen

Billy O’Steen
University of Canterbury, NZ

Karen Daley

Karen Daley
Business Administrator

Meet Our Board Members

Jim Nyland – Chair & 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 & Deputy Chair

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.”

Jodie Duignan-George – Director & Company 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 is the Executive Director, Quality and Performance at Western Sydney University. With more than 22 years’ experience in Higher Education, 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 the difference we (HE) can make by building aspirations amongst those who do not traditionally see higher education in their future.”

Jessica Vanderlelie – Director

Jessica is the inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor Student Success at La Trobe University leading the university to develop and implement a sustainable, and integrated strategy to improve the La Trobe student experience. A key focus of this work is to facilitate the successful student transition across the student lifecycle and prepare graduates ready for the changing world of work. Previously, Jessica was the inaugural Innovative Research Universities Vice Chancellors’ Fellow, where she led a collaborative approach to research, design, innovate and disseminate scalable, practices to improve student outcomes across all demographics. Jessica is a passionate academic that has demonstrated sustained leadership in learning and teaching in Australian Higher Education with a key focus on supporting student and graduate success. At Griffith University Jessica was responsible for the embedding of authentic employability-based curriculum across the Faculty of Health. Jessica’s achievements in the development and implementation of practice-based curriculum have been recognised nationally through a series of prestigious awards, including the Australian Award for Excellence in Teaching (early career) in 2012 and an OLT citation for her work in innovative assessment design in Biochemistry. Jessica is a current Australian Office of Learning and Teaching Fellow and leads a national program entitled ‘Engaging alumni for graduate success’.

Innovative, responsive and authentic engagement is fundamental to future proofing higher education.  By facilitating deep and authentic partnership with students, alumni, community and industry, we will unlock the potential to create an engaging university experience and transform the lives of our students and the communities we serve.”

Kerry O’Neill – Director

Kerry is Associate Director Engagement Initiatives and manager of the Footscray University Town initiative.  In this role she is responsible for fostering collaborations and partnerships with local government, industry and community organisations, extending Victoria University’s outward focus and engagement in Melbourne’s west.  Kerry has extensive cross sector experience related to community and stakeholder engagement, and strategic planning, in state and local government, university and community contexts.

“Engagement is the critical bridge to understanding and connectedness between universities and their communities.  It is a key means of fostering knowledge exchange, collaboration, relevance and mutual benefit.”

Joanne Scott – Director
Joanne Scott Headshot

One of the longest-serving staff members at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Professor Joanne Scott is the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Engagement). Her portfolio includes community engagement, partnerships, philanthropy and advancement, marketing, and the University’s Caboolture, Fraser Coast, Gympie and SouthBank campuses. She also chairs USC’s Equity and Diversity Committee. Joanne was previously the Executive Dean of Arts, Business and Law. Her research focus is Queensland and Australian history with an emphasis on communities, organisations and work. She is passionate about the capacity of higher education to transform the lives of individuals and their communities and recognises that her university’s success is entwined with and dependent on those communities.

“To truly make a difference, for our universities to be the best they can be, engagement must be at the heart of what we do. Working in partnership with and for our communities for mutual benefit is what makes me optimistic about our shared futures.”

Sue 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.”

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.”

Karen Daley – Business Administrator

Karen has a Certificate IV in Business Administration, with over 20 years admin experience and 18 years of finance experience. Karen also is experienced in small business management and event management. Karen enjoys working with Engagement Australia’s members and stakeholders, as well as organising Engagement Australia events.

“Working alongside engagement professionals has highlighted the positive things that can come from collaboration between communities and universities.”