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Influential global and local leaders shape our work
Our associates are renowned researchers and practitioners in business, civil society, think tanks and politics who visit us from across the globe to lend their experience and expertise to enhance our work.

Our global visitors

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.


David is the Lead Organiser at the Sydney Alliance. 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.

Ken was formerly secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet in Victoria, Director-General of the Premier’s Department in NSW, head of the NSW Government Office of Public Management and special adviser to the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea. Ken has chaired the boards of several businesses in the agriculture and infrastructure sectors.

Currently he is a Commissioner on the Australian Productivity Commission, and for many years he was a journalist writing on rural affairs for the Australian Financial Review and the Bulletin.

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.

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.

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.

Rebecca is one of Australia’s foremost researchers on social trends. She has a background in publishing, academia and politics. Rebecca currently heads Vox Populi research and, before this, she was Director of the Mind and Mood Report, Australia’s longest-running social trends report. She has authored numerous books, including Still Lucky: why you should feel optimistic about Australia and its people (2017). 

Rebecca writes, broadcasts and hosts podcasts for a range of media outlets, including The Guardian and the ABC. She currently co-hosts a comedy storytelling night and podcast called the Full Catastrophe. 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 is a curator and creative industries advocate who is passionate about cities and city-making, and in 2016 she was elected as a councillor for the City of Sydney. Jess was the founding director of Vivid Ideas, Australia's largest creative industries event, and has curated creative sector events including Junket, TEDxSydney and Curating Participation. Jess was a founding contributor to the Sydney Culture Network. She is an advocate for the knowledge economy, creative and cultural sector, and encouraging participation in politics, creativity and enlivening our public realm.

As a public art curator, her projects have included the Green Square Library and Plaza. She has served as an arts policy adviser and strategist, directed the Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards and the Creative Cities East Asia project, and began her career as the editor of creative industries publications. They include Yen, Empty and Hotpress.

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.