Our team

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

Lisa Annese,
Chief Executive Officer

Lisa Annese has been the Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Council Australia since 2 June 2014. In this role, she leads the debate on diversity and inclusion in the public arena, and as a result, appears regularly on ABC’s The Drum and in wider Australian media.

Under her leadership, DCA delivers innovative diversity practice resources for Australian businesses and supports in them improving their inclusion capability. She has led 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, as well as research supporting individuals being “Out at Work” and main-streaming flexible work.

In 2018, Lisa was named one of the AFR’s 100 Women of Influence. In 2019 she was elected to the Board of Amnesty International Australia.  Lisa is also Executive Producer of DCA’s podcast, The Art of Inclusion.

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:

  • Advocating for policy action in areas including government-funded paid parental leave, closing the gender pay gap, achieving Australian Marriage Equality, maintaining protections in the Race Discrimination Act (Cth 1995) and more recently advocating for greater representation of women and girls in STEM careers, reducing the incidence of sexual harassment and violence against women and for greater multi-faith inclusion without regressive religious freedom laws.
  • Presenting DCA research internationally, recently at a UNESCO Summit in Baku, Azerbaijan, at the University of Patras, Greece and the University of Texas, US.  She has also represented DCA at the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations in both Doha (Qatar) and Kerala (India).
  • 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”.

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.

Lisa Annese on LinkedIn >

Fiona Austin-Weber,
Member Engagement and Projects Manager

As the Member Engagement and Projects Manager based in Victoria, Fiona’s role is to cultivate and foster existing and new members in their diversity and inclusion journey. She is passionate about supporting members to make the most of their DCA membership and assisting them in utilising the wide array of resources available. 

After completing a Fine Art degree in Melbourne, life has taken Fiona in a variety of career directions with roles in training, administration, client service, design, marketing and communications.  

With a professional background in both not-for-profit and corporate sectors, she has been fortunate to have the opportunity to work in Australia, the UK and Germany where she has experienced a diverse range of working environments.

Her particular area of interest is how organisations can best celebrate and utilise the strengths of neuro-diverse employees at work. 

Fiona lives in Melbourne with her husband, three teenagers, and cat and dog.  In her spare time, she is teaching herself textile design, and enjoys the being by the water.

Fiona Austin-Weber on LinkedIn > 

Cathy Brown,
Communications & Advocacy Director

Cathy is DCA’s Communications & Advocacy Director. Cathy and her team are responsible for planning and executing media and communications strategies, leading DCA public advocacy and policy work, driving projects that enable the organisation to fulfil its strategic vision to increase DCA’s influence, broaden the D&I conversation and attract and retain DCA members.

As part of her role, Cathy leads DCA’s government relations function, consulting with DCA members, writing submissions, liaising with government stakeholders, and providing strategic advice to the DCA Board. Cathy has given evidence to Parliamentary inquiries, and worked with members government officials at all levels.

Cathy was previously DCA’s Policy & Projects Director, and worked in the DCA Research Team. She headed the research project Out at Work, which explored the experiences of LGBTIQ+ Australians at work and provided a framework of action to create inclusive workplaces for LGBTIQ+ people.

Cathy has a background as a political advisor, where she was responsible for engaging and negotiating with diverse groups of stakeholders, speech writing, and developing and implementing new policy initiatives and policy directives.

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 has been involved in human rights activism for many years through a range of community groups. Her interests include advocacy for LGBTQ+ people, and gender equality through an intersectional lens.

Cathy Brown on LinkedIn >

Rose D'Almada-Remedios,
Research Manager

Rose has been with DCA since 2017, working in the role of Research Manager. In this role, Rose works in the development, planning, and writing of research projects, as well as engaging in a number of key research activities.

Rose has a Bachelor of Business (Hons) in Management and Human Resources from the University of Newcastle. She comes from a background of academic research and teaching, and has a PhD in religious diversity, inclusion, and expression in the workplace. Rose has a keen interest in all things surveys and how organisations can explore their data to support diversity and inclusion in their workplaces. 

Karla Dunbar,
Company Secretary

Karla 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. Karla is also on the Board of One Eighty, a youth suicide prevention charity.

Simone Empacher Earl,
Aboriginal Liaison and Events Coordinator

Simone joined DCA in 2013 as the Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the CEO and has now moved over to work in the Events team.  Simone has a pertinent understanding of event coordination, bringing over fifteen years of experience to DCA and has an advanced Diploma in Business Marketing and Events.

As a proud Awabakal women, she was appointed DCA’s first Aboriginal Liaison in 2018 and provides guidance to the DCA team and DCA members on all Indigenous matters.  In 2019 Simone lead the DCA Reconciliation Action working group to successfully create and launch the first Reflect RAP for DCA and continues in this role as the Chair of the working group.  Simone has completed a Diploma of Aboriginal Studies for Professional and Community Practice, Certificate in Aboriginal Culture and a Certificate in Aboriginal knowledge for the workplace.

Simone’s career has spanned across the entertainment, government, banking & finance and FMCG industries.  She has also worked with the NSW Attorney General & Justice Department on a contract basis within their adult and juvenile restorative justice programs. 

In her spare time she focusses on her Aboriginal culture and is currently learning about foraging bush tucker for eating and medicinal purposes.  She also volunteers with various Sydney and regional community groups.

Yvette Edwards,
Membership Services Coordinator

Yvette started with DCA in 2009 as Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the then CEO, Nareen Young.  She then left DCA to pursue other opportunities, returning to the DCA family in 2015 as Member Services Assistant. 

In 2018 Yvette moved into the Events Coordinator role where she managed the CEO Roundtables hosted by DCA Chair, David Morrison and DCA CEO, Lisa Annese.  She assisted DCA’s Events Manager, Sue Flockart in delivering a full calendar of cutting edge diversity and inclusion events and was the point of contact for Sydney based events.

Towards the end of 2019 Yvette returned to the Memberships Team where she is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the membership database and working with her colleagues to build and strengthen relationships with DCA members.

Yvette has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in philosophy and psychology from The University of Sydney.  She shares her life with her husband, two teenage daughters and her eldest ‘child’, Otto the cat.  She enjoys having to spend the majority of her non-work time at the netball courts.

Veronica Eulate, 
Social Media Content Strategist

As the Social Media Content Strategist at DCA, Veronica is responsible for creating and curating content across DCA’s social media platforms, ensuring that content is relevant, valuable and engaging for DCA’s members and audience.

Veronica comes to DCA with a background working in health policy and planning, with a focus on HIV and other health issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities. Previously employed at ACON, Australia’s leading health promotion organisation specialising in HIV prevention, HIV support and LGBTI health, she specialised in strategic planning and evaluation, programs and systems planning and reporting, research support and coordination and held a policy portfolio focused on the inclusion of lesbian, bisexual and queer women in health policy frameworks.

Through professional and personal experience, Veronica is passionate about sexuality and gender diversity and utilising the power of digital technology, such as social media, to elevate the unheard stories of visibility and inclusion of minority voices.

Hailing from Washington D.C. with Bolivian roots, Veronica holds an academic background in Communications and Social Policy.

Sue Flockart,
Senior Events & Sponsorship Manager

As Events Manager, Sue’s role is to work in partnership with DCA members to present a comprehensive Diversity & Inclusion events calendar, including face to face events, teleconferences, research launch events, corporate networking and DCA’s Annual Diversity Debate and Annual D&I Oration.  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 within the workplace to drive best practice.

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.

Sue joined the DCA team in February 2012, and prior to that she has spent the past 16 years working 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 she worked in a privately owned trade event company, Groupe Grand Sud, for five years to deliver three significant retail trade events. Prior to that she spent eight years working for global sports marketing company, International Management Group (IMG), on a number of events.

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. 

Sue has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). She lives in Melbourne, with her husband and two children.

Zach Ghirardello,
Member Engagement & Partnerships Manager

As the Member Engagement and Partnership Manager based in Canberra, Zach works in collaboration with the national team supporting DCA’s members and partners.

Having worked in the private sector, not-for-profit organisations and with government agencies, Zach has extensive experience in both business development and stakeholder management. Zach enjoys supporting organisations of all kinds in their Diversity & Inclusion journey.

In 2017-18, he advocated for victims of institutional negligence and sexual violence as they navigated complex legal processes— an experience that motivated Zach to begin his own legal studies and research. Zach currently works part-time and is completing a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at the ANU.

Due to Covid-19 Zach doesn’t get out much anymore but when allowed enjoys taking advantage of the amazing bushland in the Canberra region, or drinking too much coffee at a local café.

Annika Kaabel,
Research Manager

As a Research Manager, Annika supports DCA’s Research team in the development and planning of cutting-edge D&I research projects. Her expertise lies in cultural and linguistic diversity, and as an immigrant to Australia herself she keeps a keen eye on migration and integration matters.

Annika comes to DCA from an academic background having most recently been employed as a researcher and lecturer at University of Sydney Business School, Macquarie University, and Estonian Business School. 

Annika holds a doctoral degree in Political Science from Kiel University in Germany, where she studied labour market integration of newly arrived refugees, and a master’s degree from Uppsala University, where her thesis dealt with the question of national identity.

Nicole Luxmoore,
Office Manager & Executive Assistant to the CEO

Nicole joined DCA in September 2019 as the Office Manager and  Executive Assistant to the CEO.

She has a diploma in Events Management and Marketing and Business Administration and her career has spanned numerous industries including hospitality and the corporate sector.  

Nicole has a great passion for animals and would love to adopt and rescue all those in need of a loving home. However, her household is already full with her husband, daughter, two dogs and cat.

Andrea Maltman Rivera, 
Media and Communications Advisor, Podcast Producer 

Andrea Maltman Rivera is a journalist, podcast producer, 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 features high profile politicians, journalists, athletes and experts, whose stories reflect the wider social issues facing Australia today.

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 twins. 

Sudha Narthakumar,
Member Relations Advisor

As the Member Relations Advisor based in Perth, Sudha role is to cultivate and foster existing and new members in their diversity and inclusion journey. 

With a background in member engagement, acquisition and relations, diversity, business development, relationship management, training, and stakeholder engagement, Sudha has worked in property, finance and banking and more recently the governance space and marketing communications.

Sudha holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management & Advertising and a Bachelor of Legal Studies in Criminology from Murdoch University.

One of Sudha’s previous roles at the Australian Institute of Company Directors saw her in addition to her member relations role, project manage and lead a diversity initiative exclusive to the AICD WA. She was passionate about helping senior executive women with board aspirations to enhance and develop their skill sets through their diversity program and achieving greater diversity on boards.

As the WA champion for all things diversity, she developed a real passion and keen interest in D&I issues that extend beyond gender, including cultural diversity, mental health, innovation, thought leadership, creativity, and a sense of community.

On the weekends, Sudha loves to relax and spend time with her partner and their daughter by taking their little one out on picnic outings and enjoying the sunshine by the river.

Jane O'Leary,
Research Director

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 Director

Catherine is Operations Director responsible for developing and implementing the systems and platforms to ensure DCA can deliver services effectively, build its capabilities, and grow its membership base. She works to improve systems, policies, processes and governance, that includes being responsible for the IT and HR functions as well as overseeing DCA's comprehensive event program. In particular, she will be working to enhance DCA's digital platforms and capabilities to enable it to deliver on its future strategy. 

Prior to this new role that commenced in July 2021, Catherine was also Communications Director overseeing all DCA’s communications to strengthen the DCA brand and position it as the leader on D&I. She was responsible for creating and developing the Communications function and collaborating across all the other functions to inform and promote the work of DCA. She also acted in the role of CEO prior to the appointment of Lisa Annese in 2014.  

Catherine 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’.  

From 2018 to 2020, Catherine has been a judge for the Gender-wise Philanthropy Award in the Australian Philanthropy Awards. She 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 partner, two children and two furry friends.

Catherine Petterson on LinkedIn >

Tara Somerville, 
Member Relations/Admin Coordinator 

Tara (they/them) is a non-binary, queer, disabled and autistic person. They are passionate about intersectionality, social justice, and advocacy.

Tara's first job was as an assistant dance teacher. They have years of experience working in hospitality, where they loved working with various vegan businesses, and training others. They completed a Business Admin traineeship with the fastest growing council in NSW, managed a high-volume fast-food restaurant, and often had to work multiple jobs to get by - all contributing to their range of experience.

After being involved in many workplaces that had issues with pay and toxic environments and seeing that there were folks in need of safe service providers for marginalised folks, Tara started their own openly intersectional and inclusive business. Their business included cleaning, professional organising, hospitality, administration, entertainment work, and utilising their skills as a child passenger safety technician (they have installed over 700 baby seats!).

Tara has been Irish dancing since they were 7 years old and founded Intersectional Irish Dancers in 2020; creating space for discussion of intersectional issues within the Irish dance world and uplifting marginalised Irish dancers across the globe. They're a member of Trans Action Warrang; are part of ACON's newly formed National Community Advisory Group: Primary Prevention of Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence; and volunteer with harm reduction organisation DanceWize NSW.

Tara is studying Auslan, loves going to gigs and singing karaoke in their spare time, and lives in Sydney with their 2 cats.

Kelly Te Heuheu,
Digital Communications Advisor

As the Digital Communications Advisor for DCA Kelly is responsible for managing content on the DCA website and analytics, preparing engaging storytelling content including DCA's Inclusion Matters, video editing and assisting with the social media program.

A seasoned communications and marketing professional, Kelly earned her stripes in the tourism, education, transport industries. She has an academic background in communications, marketing, media and journalism and over 5 years' in-house and consultancy experience in a range of public and private sector organisations in New Zealand and Australia.

Artistic, enthusiastic and down-to-earth she is recognised for an impassioned approach, colourful ideas and commitment to excellence. Kelly prides herself on creative storytelling and gets her kicks out of analysing, strategising and immersing herself in an organisation.

As a proud Māori New Zealander from a diverse whanau (family), Kelly has a personal interest in all dimensions of diversity and inclusion particularly indigenous cultures, mental health, sexuality and accessibility for the hearing and visually impaired.

Emily Tynan,
Policy & Project Coordinator

In her role as Policy and Projects Coordinator, Emily coordinates DCA strategic projects, manages the administration of Ask DCA enquiries and contributes to DCA’s government relations activities.

Emily holds a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Queensland, and a Graduate Certificate in Workforce Diversity and Inclusion from the University of Southern Queensland. Emily has a background in human resources and in the higher education sector.

Emily has a particular interest in gender equality, and one of her favourite pastimes is dispelling myths and misconceptions about the gender pay gap at parties.

Mariam Veiszadeh,
Member Relations and Advisory Director

As Members and Advisory Director, Mariam is responsible for executing DCA’s member strategy and will deliver excellent member services, advice and support.

Mariam was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and fled as a refugee to Australia where she became a qualified and practicing lawyer working in major Australian corporates. Her most recent corporate role was with Westpac where she was Inclusion & Diversity Consultant.

Through her various ambassador roles, her social media platforms and her speaking and media appearances, Mariam is a fearless advocate for equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion for all.

Mariam has many accolades to her name including Fairfax Daily Life’s Woman of the Year 2016. She is also on the board of Our Watch, writes regularly across a wide range of publications and started the Islamophobia Register.

Mariam Veiszadeh on LinkedIn >

 

Consultants/Facilitators

Maree Burgess, 
Knowledge Program Facilitator Melbourne

As a coach, trainer, facilitator and author, Maree has spent the last couple of decades developing others and helping them bring out their best.

As well as her work with DCA, Maree provides programs to help leaders, teams and individuals communicate more effectively to create high performance and thrive through change. As a people and change expert, she is obsessed with helping others collaborate, work and play well together.

Her diverse variety of careers includes working in a Forestry Commission in a small rural town; as a state registered nurse at a major Melbourne trauma hospital; several senior roles in banking, before commencing her own consultancy practice in 2003.

Maree has a passion for working with women and building a pipeline of females ready to step up into more senior roles. Her book ‘The XX Project - Giving women the skills and confidence to step up in the corporate world’ was published in 2015.

Andrew Legg, 
Research Manager

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. He 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.