Sydney Policy Lab Director announced

22 June 2022
Dr Kate Harrison Brennan appointed Director Sydney Policy Lab
The University of Sydney has appointed Dr Kate Harrison Brennan Director of Sydney Policy Lab, a multidisciplinary research initiative that fosters unique collaborations with people from different backgrounds to generate new knowledge and solutions.
A woman facing the camera

Dr Kate Harrison Brennan has been appointed Director of the University of Sydney's Sydney Policy Lab.

Commencing 1 August, as part of her role Dr Harrison Brennan will continue to develop and build the direction of the Lab and engage with partners across governments, industry and civil society, to address some of the hardest public policy challenges today.

As Head of Policy & Design at the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Dr Harrison Brennan has seen the positive impact of good policy and partnerships to help to break cycles of disadvantage across Australia. Prior to this, she was CEO of Anglican Deaconess Ministries, a 130-year-old Christian women’s foundation, where she worked to reimagine the vision of the organisation and re-establish their work in public and practical engagement.

In government, Dr Harrison Brennan was an adviser to former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Working with the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff, Dr Harrison Brennan worked across the policy portfolios and on caucus management. She had also previously served former Deputy Prime Minister Gillard in the portfolio of social inclusion. Prior to joining the Office of the Prime Minister, she was Director of Strategic Communications and Global Affairs at the Australian Consulate-General in New York.

Dr Harrison Brennan is a graduate of the University of Sydney, a NSW Rhodes scholar, holds a PhD in Politics and a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies (International Development) from Oxford University, and editor of Making Global Institutions Work.

I see the Lab as an experimental and innovative place where an unparalleled diversity of expertise can be brought together to create solutions for some of our most pressing social challenges.
Dr Kate Harrison Brennan

Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Kathy Belov welcomed Dr Harrison Brennan as the new Director of the Sydney Policy Lab.

“Kate has a wealth of experience in developing policy and partnerships for the good of society. I look forward to Kate continuing to develop upon the excellent policy work already underway while leading the Lab into the next phase of its development.”

Professor Belov also commended the incredible contributions from Founding Director Marc Stears and Acting Director Tim Soutphommasane.

"We owe a great deal of gratitude to Marc for the extraordinary energy and leadership he has brought in establishing the Sydney Policy Lab, and also to Tim for stewarding the Lab so skilfully through a period of transition."

Dr Harrison Brennan said she was thrilled to join the University, her alma-mater, with her vision to reinforce and advance the Lab as a piece of critical public infrastructure at the nexus between the University and civil society.

“I see the Lab as an experimental and innovative place where an unparalleled diversity of expertise can be brought together to create solutions for some of our most pressing social challenges. The University of Sydney is uniquely positioned to build a strong economy of cooperation, ensuring that our policy solutions are grounded in new forms of community-led design, world-leading research and lived expertise.”

Over the next few months, Dr Harrison Brennan and her team will be working with colleagues from across the University, leaders in different sectors and geographic locations, as well as policy decision makers, to build on the Lab’s existing approach with a strategy for its next phase.

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