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Our team

Meet the staff team who run the Lab
Led by Professor Marc Stears, our core team has expertise in all dimensions of the policy process, from community organising and government relations, to policy analysis and strategic communications.

Our team

Marc is Director of the Sydney Policy Lab and has an international reputation as one of the leading scholars of democratic change and social movements. Prior to arriving in Sydney in 2018, Marc had been Professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford and Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation, one of the UK’s largest think tanks.

Marc has also worked extensively with nongovernment organisations, government and commercial corporations, in almost every continent, conducting research on social engagement, inequality, influence, power and co-operation, and advising on strategic communication, democratic inclusion and community engagement. He has personally coached members of the Boards and Executive Committees of some of the world’s largest companies, including GlaxoSmithKline and Linklaters, as well as a number of social change leaders and politicians, including as chief speechwriter to the UK’s largest political party.

Marc has published six books with the world’s leading academic presses and his new work, Out of the Ordinary: How Everyday Life Once Inspired a Nation and How it Can Again will be published by Harvard University Press.

Louise leads operations and engagement at the Sydney Policy Lab and has more than 15 years experience in local and state governments, universities and entrepreneurial environments in Australia and internationally. Before joining the Sydney Policy Lab, Louise was based in Singapore as Director of Executive Education at the National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, where she worked with governments across Asia and the Middle East to design programs to inspire leaders and transform policymaking.

She has also worked with civil society and advocacy organisations, including sitting on local and national advisory boards. Louise holds a Bachelor of Economics and Social Sciences (Hons) from the University of Sydney and a Master in Public Administration from the National University of Singapore.

Gareth is the Economist-in-Residence at the Sydney Policy Lab and works as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney.

Gareth researches how public policy and public finance can create more sustainable, equal and democratic economies. His research has focused on issues including climate change, higher education, housing, labour and Indigenous justice.

Gareth’s cross-disciplinary research has been published across a wide range of policy, geography and economics journals. He is the author of Carbon Markets in a Climate-Changing Capitalism, published by Cambridge University Press. 

Gareth co-edits the Progress in Political Economy (PPE) blog and associated Manchester University Press book series.

Lisa manages community partnerships and training across all the Lab’s projects and activities. Having worked at the intersection of academia, civil society and advocacy for a decade, she is passionate about building powerful alliances to tackle the most pressing questions of our time.

Previously, Lisa directed the Sydney Peace Foundation, where she elevated voices of some of the world's most effective changemakers. Before this, Lisa coordinated the Electoral Integrity Project at the University of Sydney and Harvard University. Lisa also worked on transitional justice for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in South Africa.

Lisa studied peacebuilding and conflict resolution at Gothenburg University and the University of Amsterdam, and public administration at the Hague University.

Frances Flanagan is a 2019 Sydney Fellow, researching the topic of ‘work and social citizenship in Australia’ as a postdoctoral fellow at the Sydney Policy Lab and in the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies.  Between 2015 and 2018 Frances was the national research director at United Voice, where she worked to deepen the links between policymakers, academics, government, civil society organisations and workers.

Frances trained as a historian at the University of Western Australia and University of Oxford, and has been a senior scholar at Hertford College Oxford, a Royal Historical Society Marshall Fellow at the London Institute of Historical Research, and a researcher at Birkbeck. She is the author of Remembering the Revolution: dissent, culture and nationalism in the Irish Free State, and has published articles in journals that include the Journal of Industrial Relations and the Economic and Labour Relations Review.

Rosie is a researcher at the Sydney Policy Lab with a deep interest in participatory action-research and community-led collaboration. Active in movements for people seeking asylum and the environment throughout her life, Rosie is driven to connect academic work into movements for social change and the common good.

Rosie is also a sociologist of religion at The University of Notre Dame Australia. Her work grapples with the relationship between religion and political action, and how the engagement of religious people and groups in grassroots politics transforms both political spaces and religious communities. She is a leading expert on Islamic environmentalism and on community organising and is the author of Islamic Environmentalism: Activism in the United States and Great Britain, published by Routledge.

Nancy builds connections between research and policy development, with a particular focus on medicine and health, as a project officer for the Sydney Policy Lab and the Charles Perkins Centre, both multidisciplinary research initiatives at the University of Sydney.

Nancy works with academics to translate their research for diverse audiences and to build collaborations between researchers and disciplines within and beyond the university.

She has a BA and PhD in Gender and Cultural Studies from the University of Sydney and was a lecturer and tutor in Gender Studies and Media Studies at Sydney and UNSW. Nancy worked as a researcher and consultant in the private sector before returning to the University.

Isabelle manages policy and research translation and strategic communications across all the Lab’s projects and activities. Isabelle has been building policy and research partnerships that transform understandings of community, environment and policy for a decade.

Isabelle was previously based in Copenhagen, where she managed programs for international non-profit MAD – Danish for “food” – and was a consultant to the Danish Government’s Ministry of Food and Environment. She now manages MAD’s Australian activities in collaboration with art precinct Carriageworks and chef Kylie Kwong. Before this, she held a fellowship at Yale University’s Sustainable Food Program, generating research and teaching partnerships with community, business and government leaders locally and internationally.

Isabelle studied ethics, politics and economics at Yale University and the Paris-Sorbonne University.

Mark is a researcher at the Sydney Policy Lab, with a focus on collaborative policy development and the intersections between communities, governments and civil society. He brings to the Lab skills and experience across over a decade working in politics, campaigning, advocacy, education and communications. Mark’s passion is dissolving barriers to collective action, participatory decision-making and community-led change.

Outside of the Lab, Mark works closely with Just Reinvest NSW, an organisation supporting and advocating for Aboriginal community-led justice reinvestment initiatives as a way to address ongoing injustices experienced by Australia’s First Nations peoples.

Mark has studied cultural studies at Macquarie University and creative writing at University of Technology Sydney, and is currently studying public policy at the University of Sydney.

Amanda leads education and training at the Sydney Policy Lab. She is a well-known community organiser and social change scholar, currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship on organising cities at the University of Sydney.

Amanda co-founded the digital campaign group and founded Australia’s largest community coalition, the Sydney Alliance. She has also been the president of the National Union of Students, co-founder of Labor for Refugees and an elected official of Unions NSW.

She currently hosts the ChangeMakers Podcast, one of the most popular social change podcasts globally. ChangeMakers tells stories of people from across the globe trying to make the world a better place. She holds a PhD on social change strategy, and she authored Power in Coalition, published by Allen and Unwin Academic.