A wonderful network of researchers enriching our community
Our senior associates and global visitors are renowned researchers and practitioners in civil society, think tanks, politics and business whose experience and expertise enriches our work.

Global visitors

Dr Nikita is a Lecturer in Anthropology at SOAS in London and a visiting research associate at the Sydney Policy Lab to advise on the Australia Cares project.  

Nikita researches, develops interventions, and provides policy advisory on mental health, care, and inequality. She completed her doctoral studies at LSE, where, as a Postdoctoral Research Officer in the Department of Anthropology, she was also involved in the EU-Horizon funded Pan-European Response to the Impacts of COVID-19 and Future Pandemics and Epidemics (PERISCOPE) Project. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she worked with Prof. Laura Bear to establish the Covid and Care Research Group, an intergenerational collective of researchers who have influenced policy on Covid-19 at the highest levels of government in the UK and the EU. Nikita’s work has addressed issues such as death and burial, care provisioning, furlough, stigma and racism, and local authority relations. 

Between 2015 and 2022, Nikita worked with the SHM Foundation, where she led the design, implementation and evaluation of psychosocial support programs that leverage digital technology for people living with HIV in South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In this role, she also worked on the Ember Mental Health, an initiative that funds and supports community-based mental health organisations to grow and thrive. Read more about Nikita’s work here.

Jon Alexander is the author of Citizens and cofounder of New Citizen Project UK. Jon began his successful career in the advertising industry, winning the prestigious Big Creative Idea of the Year. Driven by a deep need to understand the impact on society of 3,000 commercial messages a day, he completed three Masters degrees to explore consumerism and its alternatives from every angle. 

In 2014, he left advertising to co-found the New Citizenship Project (NCP) to bring the resulting ideas into contact with reality. In Jon’s book Citizens: Why the key to fixing everything is all of us, he shares them with the world. 

The NCP and Citizens seek a shift from a Consumer Story that blinds us, to the Citizen Story that empowers us. Or, in Jon’s words: “The headlines of our time are enough to make anyone feel helpless. But when we start to think and act like Citizens, not Consumers, everything changes.

Professor Bonnie Honig was a 2020 Global Visitor at the Sydney Policy Lab. Bonnie is Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Political Science at Brown University, and Religious Studies and Theatre and Performance Studies. She is a political, feminist, and legal theorist specialising in democratic theory. She is the editor of several collections and author of six books, including Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair and Antigone, Interrupted.  

Professor Desmond King was a 2019 Global Visitor at the Sydney Policy Lab. Desmond is Andrew W Mellon Professor of American Government and Professorial Fellow at Nuffield College at the University of Oxford. He specialises in the study of the American state in US executive politics, race and politics in American political development and the financial bases of US politics. His research has contributed to the analysis of racial inequality and the American State, the distributional implications of Fed Reserve policy, workfare and conditionality in the welfare state, the politics of eugenic schemes, the radical right and state policy and US immigration policy. He is the co-editor of nine collections and author of 10 books.

Professor Nick Pearce was a 2018 Global Visitor at the Sydney Policy Lab. Nick is Director of the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Bath in England and has extensive experience in policy research and government policymaking. He is an author and regular commentator on public policy in print media, and he writes on a wide range of issues, from contemporary British politics, public service and welfare state reform to the changing nature of political leadership. Nick was formerly director of the Institute for Public Policy Research and head of the 10 Downing Street Policy Unit between 2008 and 2010, with responsibility for the formulation of policy advice to the Prime Minister.

Professor Meira Levinson was a 2018 Global Visitor at the Sydney Policy Lab. Meira is a normative political philosopher at the Harvard Graduate School of Education who writes about civic education, multiculturalism, youth empowerment and educational ethics. In doing so, she draws upon scholarship from multiple disciplines as well as her eight years of experience teaching in Atlanta and Boston public schools. Her most recent books include the co-edited Making Civics Count and No Citizen Left Behind. Levinson has been awarded a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship to support her newest project, ‘Justice in Schools’. This project, like her previous research, reflects Levinson's commitment to achieving productive cross-fertilisation – without loss of rigour – among scholarship, policy, and practice.

Current Senior Associates

David Barrow is the Executive Officer and Lead Organiser of the NSW Community Alliance, which supports the work of the Sydney and Hunter Community Alliance through supervision, training, HR, legal, financial and governance.

He has organised communities across transport, housing, social inclusion, employment, refugee and energy issues. He works closely with Sydney’s faith communities, unions, schools, charities, and migrant communities to build power for the common good. Before the Alliance, David was the president of the UTS Union Board and then the National Union of Students.

David plays a leadership role within the Uniting Church as a member of the NSW Synod standing committee and is Chair of the Leichhardt Uniting Church Council.

David has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and International Studies from UTS.

Amanda is the CEO of The Next Economy. Originally trained as an anthropologist, Amanda has spent over two decades working on community development projects across Asia, the Pacific and regional Australia. The focus of her work at The Next Economy is to support communities to develop more resilient, just and sustainable regional economies. A large part of this work involves supporting coal and gas affected communities in Australia to transition away from fossil fuels and towards a zero emissions economy.

Amanda is also a founding partner of the Zero-Emissions Byron project, the former CEO of the Centre for Social Change and a founding committee member of the New Economy Network of Australia. Amanda has a PhD in Human Geography from the Australian National University and an adjunct position at the University of Queensland.

Chris is a freelance Advocacy and Strategy Consultant, and previously the Senior Campaign Director and Head of Office in Australia at Purpose. Chris has over a decade of experience in strategic communications, advocacy and content production to our work on digital rights, public health, international development and climate change.  

Through the combination of his early career in media production and cultural anthropology, he has worked with communities to leverage culture and storytelling to shape behaviours and systems, enable change and drive progress. He has a strong commitment to participatory approaches and is driven to work that enables vulnerable and marginalised communities to self-advocate and design their own progress. With this approach and throughout his career, Chris has co-designed, built and implemented issue-driven programs and campaigns across numerous continents and issue areas.

Chris has experience working across the corporate, NGO, and activist sectors, and continues to drive innovative work at the intersections of these areas. After having spent years working in Kenya, Iceland, the UK and Indonesia, Chris is now based in Australia.

Rebecca is Director of Research at 89 Degrees East. She is one of Australia’s foremost researchers on social trends. She has a background in publishing, academia and politics. 

Rebecca has lead research at Essential Media and Vox Populi, part of the CIRCA research group. Before this, she was Director of the Mind and Mood Report, Australia’s longest-running social trends report. She has authored numerous books, including How to Talk About Climate Change in a Way That Makes a Difference (2020) and Still Lucky: why you should feel optimistic about Australia and its people (2017). 

Rebecca works with a range of climate and environment NGOS, is on the board of The Bell Shakespeare Company, is Chair of the Advisory Board of Australian Parents for Climate Action, and has held board positions on The Whitlam Institute and The Dusseldorp Forum. She writes, broadcasts and hosts podcasts for a range of media outlets, including The Guardian, the ABC, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, Marie Claire and Griffith Review. She was a feature writer for Australian Vogue, a columnist for BRW and the presenter of Drive on a Friday on ABC Radio National. 

Rebecca holds degrees in law and film studies and a PhD in Gender Studies. She is an adjunct senior lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales.

Before taking up his present position as CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, David worked for Greenpeace in London in a series of senior campaign positions. Before joining Greenpeace, David was one of Australia’s leading Indigenous rights lawyers.

David is a widely published commentator on current affairs and is the author of two books on Indigenous land justice: Contesting Native Title (2009), and The Native Title Market (2009). David is the lead author of The Coal Truth: The fight to stop Adani, defeat the big polluters and reclaim our democracy (2018). He has two daughters and lives in Sydney.

Jess Scully is an author, city-maker and advocate for the creative economy and the role of cities in a fair future. She was an elected Councillor of the City of Sydney from 2016 to 2023 and Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney from 2019 to 2022. Over a 20-plus-year creative career Jess has worked as a festival director, public art curator, cultural strategist, policy adviser, magazine editor and radio host. She is currently a consultant to the World Bank on sustainable urbanism, and the host of Saturday Afternoons on ABC Radio. Her first book, Glimpses of Utopia: Real Ideas for a Fairer World, is published by Pantera Press. 

Past Associates

Simon is Managing Director, Asia-Pacific and Europe, for Purpose, an organisation that builds and supports movements for change. Throughout his career Simon has built unique partnerships across the private sector, civil society, and government to harness the potential of powerful storytelling to mobilise people to action.

He has developed and led projects with partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organisation, Unilever, Liverpool Football Club, and the Fred Hollows Foundation on a range of issues. They include:

  • climate change
  • women's empowerment
  • avoidable blindness
  • youth engagement.

Before Purpose, Simon spent more than a decade working at the intersection of media and social change. He completed a degree in Engineering and Business Finance from University College, London.

Geoff was a Member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly for 20 years. During this time he was a Government Minister, Leader of the Opposition, and State Premier. In 2008 he was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), in recognition of his contribution. After retiring from politics Geoff became the Director of the University of Sydney’s Graduate School of Government, a position he held until 2015.

He currently chairs the Research Committee of the New Democracy Foundation, and continues to contribute to academia as an Emeritus Professor at the University and Adjunct Professor at the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy. Geoff was awarded a doctorate in Political Science from Oxford University in 1983.

Sophie is a Management Consultant at Bain & Company and has worked in London, Johannesburg and Sydney across a number of sectors including private equity, banking, mining and consumer products. Before this Sophie worked as a community organiser at Citizens UK, Europe’s largest civil society institution, and led the North London Citizens chapter of more than 50 civil society institutions. During her time there, Citizens UK won campaigns to end the detention of children for immigration purposes and to persuade Chelsea FC to become the first Living Wage Employer in the Premier League.

She studied History at Oxford University and holds a Master in International Development, Globalisation and Economics at SOAS, University of London.

Jeni is a political scientist, public policy strategist, and author. She works with governments, international organisations, think tanks, non-profits, militaries and universities to solve complex public policy problems and translate ideas into deliverable impact. She is Chief Program Officer at the Paul Ramsay Foundation.

Jeni has worked as an international policy adviser in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Defence, and as a consultant to UN agencies, think tanks and non-profits around the world. Jeni holds a DPhil and MPhil (with Distinction) in International Relations from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.