Our team

DCA's outstanding team is representative of many diversity dimensions including age, cultural diversity, disability, gender, Indigenous and LGBTIQ+. 

DCA Team

Lisa Annese, Chief Executive Officer

Lisa Annese photo

Lisa Annese has been Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Council Australia since 2 June 2014. In this role, she leads a team of professionals who in turn lead debate on diversity in the public arena and deliver innovative diversity practice resources and consultation to Australian businesses.

Under her leadership, DCA has conducted a broad array of ground- breaking, evidence based research, including Australia’s first national index on workplace diversity and inclusion, seminal research on the economics of the gender pay-gap and original work on building Asian Leadership Capability, main-streaming flexible work and creating inclusive workplaces.  Lisa has also established a wide program of events for DCA members including the Annual Diversity Debate in Sydney and Annual Diversity and Inclusion Oration in Melbourne.

Lisa is a regular contributor to publications including The Guardian and Huffington post.  She also makes regular appearances on ABC’s The Drum and speaks widely and publicly in all areas of diversity.

Lisa has had a long career in the diversity and inclusion space across the corporate, government and not-for-profit sector.

Some of her career highlights include:

  • Representing DCA at the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations in both Doha (Qatar) and Kerala (India).
  • Working as the first dedicated Diversity Leader at Corrs Chambers Westgarth who later won the Lawyers Weekly Firm Diversity Award.
  • At the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (formerly EOWA), developing the first ever census of ‘Australian Women in Leadership’, the first ever ‘Business Achievement Awards’, the creation of the ‘Employer of Choice for Women’ citation and the development and implementation of the policy framework for the EOWA Act (1999) with Australian businesses. For her contribution at EOWA, she was awarded a Medal for Significant Contribution to the Australian Public Service.
  • Co-authoring “Chief Executives Unplugged: CEO’s Get Real About Women in the Workplace”, which was named a “must-read business book” by AFR/BOSS magazine.

Lisa has a business degree from UTS (Sydney) and a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources. She is raising three independent and broad minded daughters with her husband in Sydney, along with a large contingent of dogs, birds and rabbits.


Cathy Brown, Policy & Research Manager

Cathy Brown photo

Cathy comes to DCA from a background working as a political advisor across a range of offices in Government and Opposition.

Cathy was an advisor to the NSW Education Minister where she oversaw the introduction of new programs such as an intensive reading centre of excellence, piloting of an anti-bullying initiative for LGBTI students, and dramatic changes to the way support for students with a disability could be provided in schools.

Before that, Cathy worked in policy at the ABC.

Cathy has an undergraduate degree in Communications and a Master’s in Social Inquiry from the University of Technology, Sydney. Her thesis explored issues for gay and lesbian seniors as they aged. 

Cathy is passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion and is a community activist for LGBTI people and their families. 

Cathy lives in Marrickville with her partner, two kids and cat, Paulie.

In her spare time Cathy is a Commonwealth registered Marriage Celebrant. 


Karla Dunbar, Company Secretary / Governance, Policy & Research Officer

Photo Karla DunbarKarla has been with DCA since 2016, filling roles such as the Operations & Support Assistant and Acting Office Manager & EA to the CEO. Karla has recently joined the research team as the Governance, Policy & Research Officer.  In her capacity in this role, Karla assists DCA's governance and policy activities, as well as contributes to the design, implementation, and delivery of DCA research projects.

Karla also provides Board administration and management and facilitates the company's corporate governance processes as DCA's Company Secretary.

Karla has a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Politics and Journalism from the University of Notre Dame Australia. 

Currently living on Sydney’s Northern Beaches she is completing her Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice, whilst volunteering for various community groups.

Simone Empacher Earl, Office Manager / EA to the CEO

Simone Earl photo

Simone Earl joined DCA in 2013 as the Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the CEO.  She provides high level administrative support to the CEO but also plays a crucial role in managing DCA memberships, accounts, handling proposals for consulting work and providing assistance with event management.

Simone has a pertinent understanding of business coordination, bringing over ten years of office management and administration experience to DCA.

Simone’s career has spanned across the entertainment, government, banking & finance and FMCG industries.  Simone also works with the Attorney General & justice Department on a contract basis within their restorative justice programs.  In her spare time she also volunteers with various Sydney and regional community groups.

Yvette Edwards, Member Services Coordinator

Yvette Edwards photo

Yvette re-joined DCA in 2015 as Member Services Coordinator to provide high level assistance for DCA members and event coordination of our Legal and IT networks.  Yvette originally started with DCA in 2009 as Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the then CEO, Nareen Young. 

Her work history revolves around various EA/PA and event management roles in a range of industries.  Most recently Yvette was PA to a retired senior partner at Deloitte whose role was to leverage his relationships with state and national political leaders. 

Prior to this she was in a PA role for a Director of Digital Development at Village Roadshow and EA to the Deputy Chairman at Ray White Real Estate.

Yvette has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in philosophy and psychology from The University of Sydney.

Sue Flockart, Events Manager

Sue Flockart photo

As DCA's Events Manager, Sue's role is to work in partnership with DCA members to present an exciting calendar of events, including face to face events, teleconferences, research launch events, corporate networking and DCA’s annual diversity debate.  All DCA events are designed to ensure that the members have access to cutting edge diversity thinking with a focus on commercial application for member businesses that can be applied within the workplace to drive best practise.

Sue’s key focus in this role involves liaising with academics, industry, and DCA members to engage speakers and coordinate the timely delivery of a robust calendar of events. 

Prior to joining the DCA team in February 2012, Sue had worked for the past 16 years within the broader exhibition and events industry.  Her breadth of event experience includes major corporate events, sporting and tourism events, and trade exhibitions.  As a senior events manager Sue has been involved with the management of all facets of event implementation and logistics for both large and small projects.  Prior to DCA, Sue worked in a senior role for a privately owned small boutique trade event company, Groupe Grand Sud, to deliver three significant retail trade events. She has also spent 8 years working for global sports marketing company, International Management Group (IMG), on a number of events including the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. 

Sue initially started her career as Membership Coordinator, for the then peak tourism industry Victorian Tourism Operators Association (VTOA), now Tourism Alliance Victoria, a non-profit association advocating for and supporting the development of a professional and sustainable tourism industry.  In this position Sue was responsible for the development of member services and the delivery of the association’s seminars and events programs.

Sue has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two primary school age sons and works hard at striking the work life balance that DCA are so passionate about advocating throughout the Australian workplace in general.

Tracy Hocking, Digital Content & Social Media Advisor

Tracy supports a broad range of communication activities. She is striving to improve the organisation's online and social media presence.

Prior to her appointment to DCA, Tracy spent three years at Cystic Fibrosis Victoria (CFV), managing various print and electronic communications seeking to raise awareness and understanding of cystic fibrosis (CF), promoting the work of the organisation and supporting the fundraising activities of this small not-for-profit. During this time Tracy has steadily developed the social media strategy of CFV and helped build a highly engaged CF community. Tracy has also worked in a communications / public relations/ marketing capacity in other the not-for-profit sector, predominantly in health and medical research related areas.   

Tracy holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Monash University and has undertaken Graduate Certificate of Communication at the Deakin University. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, two daughters and Pearl the pampered pussycat.

Andrew Legg, Research Manager

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Andrew Legg has been working on a contract basis with DCA since June 2015, providing assistance and guidance with data analysis and interpretation on various projects.

Andrew is a qualified and practicing clinical psychologist, working privately in Melbourne, with previous experience at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Andrew has a Master of Psychology (Clinical) and was awarded the Australian Psychological Society (APS) College of Clinical Psychologists Student Prize for The University of Melbourne in 2012.

Andrew has experience in undertaking quantitative research (presenting his Masters research at the XIII International Congress on The Disorders of Personality in Copenhagen), and has taught research methods as a class tutor at The University of Melbourne’s School of Psychological Sciences (MSPS) for five years. He is also involved in the development of teaching resources in research methods at MSPS.


Andrea Maltman, Communications Advisor

Photo Andrea MaltmanAndrea Maltman is a journalist, writer and communications specialist. As a passionate advocate for equality of opportunity, she joined DCA in November 2017 and brings a bang to their communications and publications, ensuring they engage and attract members to all areas of diversity and inclusion.

As well as writing and editing DCA’s editorial suite, she is working with fellow team members to produce a podcast that leads the diversity discussion in Australia.

Andrea’s freelance work features in the Guardian, Spectator, BBC and New Scientist. She also blogs for the Huffington Post.

Currently, she lives in Melbourne with her husband and their Border Collie, Lupo. 

Andrew Maxwell, Knowledge & Development Manager

Photo Andrew Maxwell

Andrew Maxwell is the newest addition to the DCA team.  As DCA’s Knowledge and Development Manager Andrew is passionate about bringing our research to life, providing members with engaging practical tools, lively discussion and lived experience of inclusive workplaces backed up by the latest research.

An award winning Facilitator and Coach, Andrew has worked across Australia, the United Kingdom and Asia for a range of companies including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Virgin, the British Broadcasting Corporation, KPMG and the Royal Horticultural Society.  

Andrew believes organisations are more competitive, innovative and empowered when employees can bring their full selves to work.

As well as his work with DCA Andrew is a counsellor and psychotherapist and is completing his Masters in Social Work with a focus on mental health in the workplace.

Jane O'Leary, Research Director

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Jane O'Leary provides a range of research, advisory and consulting services to assist Australian employers drive business improvement through successful diversity management.

In 2008 she took on the role of Research Director to oversee DCA’s mission to work in partnership with members to generate ground breaking diversity research that enables Australian organisations to fully leverage the benefits of a diverse talent pool. Since then, Jane has established DCA's research function and worked with Australia's leading diversity employers to design and deliver diversity research which is ahead of the curve, speaks to the Australian context, drives business improvement and, importantly, leads public debate.

Jane has a PhD, undertaken through the University of Queensland Business School. Her thesis investigated how Australian managers can most effectively manage workforce diversity. Jane also has a Masters of Education degree, which focussed on the area of women in leadership.

Prior to joining DCA, Jane worked in the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) assisting employers on issues relating to diversity and inclusion. She held the senior policy position in EOWA, with responsibility for developing the policy framework for interpreting and administering the amended Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986 and overseeing the development of accompanying educational guidelines for employers. On the basis of her work in this role she was awarded a Medal for Significant Contribution to the Australian Public Service in 2001.


Catherine Petterson, Operations & Communications Director

Catherine Peterson photo

Catherine is Operations & Communications Director and is responsible for internal systems and external communications strategies to ensure DCA can deliver services effectively, retain members and attract and grow the membership base.

Catherine joined the organisation in 2004 and has been its Communications Director, planning and managing communications activities to provide a persuasive rationale for DCA membership to employers. In this role, her key responsibilities included writing and/or editing DCA’s regular publications on diversity such as Diversity Matters and Diversity Matters update as well as its Annual Report and all other member communications. She was responsible for DCA’s website and emarketing capability, and the introduction of a new customer relations management system, all of which have created more effective ways of engaging and communicating with members. She also has oversight of DCA's event program.

Catherine acted in the role of CEO after the departure of Nareen Young in February 2014 and prior to the appointment of Lisa Annese in June 2014. Since then, in addition to communications, she has taken on the operations portfolio and works with the CEO to improve systems, policies and processes to ensure DCA is able to deliver services effectively and improve its performance.

She has a strong background in corporate communications and her expertise spans communicating to a broad range of audiences from business through to consumers, employees, investors, shareholders and the media. Prior to DCA, she worked at public relations firm Hinton & Associates where she provided strategic financial and corporate communications advice to listed companies. She also had a long stint at ANZ Bank in a variety of senior communications roles including in corporate affairs, internal communications, investor relations and major project communications. During her time at ANZ, Catherine was awarded a Silver Serif Award from the Society of Business Communicators for publication of ANZ’s internal magazine ‘Scope’. 

Catherine has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts degree in Communications from Monash University. She lives in Melbourne with her husband, two children.


Karen Soo, Partnership & Programs Director

Photo Karen Soo

Karen has a marketing and strategic business background working with organisations such as IKEA Shanghai, Admerasia New York, Village Roadshow, SeeBeyond / Sun Microsystems, CanTeen and Optus / CCTV.  

Previously the Executive Officer at the Haymarket Chamber of Commerce advocating and promoting the Sydney Asian segment in place making, tourism, government and business, Karen is now on the Chamber’s Executive Committee and has been appointed on the Advisory Panel for Sydney’s Chinese Gardens of Friendship.

Inspired by all forms of media, content and cultural diversity, Karen is committed to the Australasian community with a passion for philosophy, public media and wellbeing.