Our team

DCA has an experienced and dedicated team passionate about diversity and inclusion in Australia.

Please see below for individual profiles of staff and an interactive infographic showing the diversity profile of the DCA staff and board. 

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 debates on diversity and inclusion in the public arena.

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 Counting Culture and building Asian Leadership Capability, as well as research supporting individuals being “Out at Work” main-streaming flexible work and myth-busting workplace responses to sexual harassment and, domestic and family violence.

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 and in 2021 to the Board on the non-partisan organisation, Women for Election.  Lisa is a member of Chief Executive Women is 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 sectors.

Some of her career highlights include:

  • Developing and launching the #IStandForRespect campaign where over 220 Australian CEO’s have signed up to take a stand against gendered harassment and violence.
  • Advocating for policy action in areas including: making workplaces safer via changes to the Sex Discrimination Act (1984) and Fair Work Act (2009),  on government-funded paid parental leave and accessible, affordable child-care, closing the gender pay gap, achieving Australian Marriage Equality, maintaining protections in the Race Discrimination Act (Cth 1995) and a strengthening of the Workplace Gender Equality Act (2013) 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 at international forums, including recently at the Commission for the Status of Women (virtually) in New York, 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 Annese on LinkedIn >

Ameena Barhoum
Education Intern

Ameena is a fourth-year student at the University of Sydney, studying Law and Arts (International Relations/Politics). She works as the Education intern, assisting staff with their research projects and with developing educational programs for workplaces. She also offers editorial support, having been on the editorial board of two publications during her university career, once as lead editor. She is particularly interested in writing, publishing various pieces on the Australian Muslim diaspora, politics of activism, issues of legal representation for First Nations and racial literacy in the law school.

In her spare time, she is often found reading, writing fiction, or enjoying a scenic bushwalk, usually a combination of all three.

Fiona Austin-Weber
Senior Manager, Member Relations 

As Senior Manager, Member Relations, Fiona supports DCA’s member organisations in building their workplace D&I capability through optimisation of our unparalleled range of D&I resources.

As well as delivering DCA’s Knowledge Program workshops, Fiona has also managed the development of D&I eLearning modules and produced communications content.

With a background in both not-for-profit and corporate sectors in Australia, the UK and Germany, Fiona’s professional experience learning and development, recruitment, project management, consultancy, and communications for a diverse range of organisations.

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 >

Dr 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. 

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.

Dr 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.

Stefanie Kessler
Member Relations Director

Stefanie has over 30 years of experience across a variety of cultures and environments within the not-for-profit sector. For the past 20 years, she has been a senior leader and has worked across a range of charities, leading teams, and developing strategies to deliver multi-million-dollar fundraising programs. 

Stefanie was CEO of Variety Australia, where she coordinated seven state boards to deliver one strategic national plan, and as the Head of Fundraising, has raised much-needed funds within charities to support First Nations People, people with disabilities and environmental causes. 

Stefanie started her career in Membership, working at the Insurance Council of Australia and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK and is passionate about delivering high-quality service to members.

Stefanie has three adult daughters and one granddaughter and lives in Sydney with her partner.

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. 

Dr Virginia Mapedzahama
Member Education Director

Dr Virginia Mapedzahama (PhD, Sociology) is the Member Education Director at Diversity Council Australia. She is a first-generation Black African migrant woman and a critical race Black feminist scholar in the broader field of sociology of difference. Her research interest is in understanding the social construction of all categories of difference. She explores this interest in the context of subjective experiences of race, racism and ethnicity, migration, diaspora, Blackness and Black subjectivities, sexuality, hybridity, intersectionality and gendered violence. Virginia has published extensively in these areas as well as the broader fields of cross-cultural identities, African feminisms, post-colonial feminisms, new African diaspora in Australia and African women diaspora.

Emily Mayo
Media Manager

Emily (she/her) is DCA’s media manager. She works as part of a team to amplify DCA’s leading and trusted voice in workplace diversity and inclusion.

Emily is also a campaigner, communicator and organiser with a background working in social justice, workers’ rights, and gender equality.

Recognised for her trailblazing use of social media as a campaigning and organising medium, and her consent-based collective story-telling models, Emily builds relationships to tell complex stories in accessible, impactful and effective ways.

You can get in touch with Emily on Twitter.

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.

Todd O'Brien
Digital IT Product Manager

Todd is Diversity Council Australia’s Digital IT Product Manager and is responsible for managing DCA’s digital transformation, online assets, and IT operations. He brings with him over eight years’ experience in the end-to-end management of web, software application and digital transformation projects.

He has been involved in projects from a range of NFP and government organisations including the Center of Perinatal Excellence (COPE), Victoria Police, Minerals Council of Australia and Murdoch University, managing website, custom software and mental health mobile apps.

Todd holds a Bachelor of Media & Communication from QUT and is currently studying his Master of Business Administration through La Trobe University.

He lives in Melbourne with his wife and two rescue animals, Benny the cat and Rosie the dog.

Dr 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
Operations/Knowledge Program 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.

Phillip Teale
Research Officer

In his role as Research Officer, Phillip coordinates and implements research projects, manages the administration for the DCA Research Team as well as contributes to research goals.

Phillip is finishing his public health graduate degree from the University of Sydney, and he holds honours in Asia-Pacific Studies. Phillip’s background includes fundraising administration, research and the secondary education sector.

Phillip has a particular interest in disability support and policy, and he spends his time advocating for people with psychosocial disability. He is passionate about fighting stigma surrounding mental health and illness.

 

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 with an academic background in communications, Kelly earned her stripes in the tourism, education, transport industries. 

Kelly has over seven years' in-house and consultancy experience across public and private sector organisations throughout Aotearoa and Australia.

Recognised for an impassioned approach, Kelly is artistic and down-to-earth.

With colourful ideas and a commitment to excellence, Kelly prides herself on creative storytelling and compelling communications and marketing strategies.

As a proud Māori woman from a diverse whānau (family), Kelly has a deep interest in all dimensions of D&I 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.

DCA Staff and Board Diversity

As of October 2021

DCA's outstanding team is representative of many diversity dimensions, explore the interactive* infographic below to learn more.

*Scroll to see all of the charts. Click and hover over the charts to explore the data in detail.

Download an accessible version of DCA's Staff and Board Diversity data