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2022 Sydney Policy Lab team standing in front of RD Watt building

Our team

Meet the staff team who run the Lab
Led by Director Kate Harrison Brennan, 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

Kate is the Director of the Sydney Policy Lab.

As the former Head of Policy & Design at the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Kate 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, Kate 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.

Kate is a graduate of the University of Sydney, a NSW Rhodes scholar, holds a D.Phil in Politics and an M.Phil in Development Studies (International Development, with Distinction) from the University of Oxford. During her doctoral studies, Kate was awarded a Fleet Fellowship by Magdalen College Oxford to attend Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. She has published an edited volume on Making Global Institutions Work.

Connect with Kate on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Marc 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 multiple 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 is published by Harvard University Press.

Marc is @mds49 on Twitter. There is more information about Marc’s publications here.

Amanda leads education and training at the Sydney Policy Lab and had an international reputation as a community organiser and scholar of social change. She recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Sydney on organising cities.

She is the instigator and academic lead of the Lab’s Real Deal project that works with dozens of places and partners to create community-based solutions to economic and climate transition, and she also leads our training program on collaboration beyond the university and the relational method.

Amanda co-founded the digital campaign group GetUp.org.au and founded community organising in the Oceania region when she established 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 Cornell University Press. With Kurt Iveson she is preparing a book manuscript People Power in Cities that documents their research about urban alliances around the world. She is beginning a research project called the Different Project, using her lived experience of bipolar disorder to reimagine mental illness as a public identity, as a way to change how we live with mental illness and how we challenge the stigma associated with it. She has written about that widely, including for Griffith Review.

Amanda is on Twitter @amandatatts and LinkedIn. There is more information about her research here.

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.

Read more about his research here.

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.

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.

Outside of the Lab, Mark works closely with Just Reinvest NSW, an organisation supporting and advocating for Aboriginal community-led justice reinvestment initiatives. He has also provided strategic support to organisations such as the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) Transforming Justice Australia, and Addison Road Community Organisation.

Mark is an experienced facilitator, trainer and public speaker. He has postgraduate qualifications in cultural studies, creative writing and public policy, and is currently working towards a PhD at the University of Sydney on the importance of community connection for civil society advocacy.

Katie provides support to the Sydney Policy Lab’s executive team, and applies her extensive experience in operational and administrative management to ensure the smooth functioning of the Lab’s office and activities. She is passionate about supporting brilliant teams who make our world a better place by finding innovative solutions to pressing social challenges.

Katie previously was the Executive Officer of the Sydney Peace Foundation, where she managed program and event development, financial reporting and fundraising, and a range of diverse stakeholders to support campaigns to promote peace with justice, and was more recently the Institute Coordinator at the NSW Public Policy Institute, a joint venture of a consortium of three universities supported by the NSW Government.

Katie studied classical music, politics, international relations, and social justice at Butler University (USA) and the University of Notre Dame Australia. 

Connect with Katie on LinkedIn.

Sylvie has decades of experience working for Aboriginal organisations, in government and in politics. Her past roles have included native title lawyer, Policy Manager for the NSW Department of Justice, Policy Coordinator for the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Executive Officer of the NSW Reconciliation Council and Head of Research at Cox Inall Ridgeway.

Sylvie is an experienced community campaigner and law reform advocacy. She is a current City of Sydney Councillor and sits on the board of a number of inner-Sydney not for profit organisations.

Sylvie has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney, a Bachelor of Laws from the University of NSW and is an admitted solicitor. She has published and lectured in cultural heritage and Australian politics.

Connect with Sylvie on LinkedIn.

Elise Ganley is the Lead Organiser for the Lab’s Real Deal project, which is working with partners to build power from the ground up so that communities can be at the negotiating table for changes which impact them.  

She has a decade of experience working across civil society organisations, most recently at Queensland Community Alliance where she organised with diverse constituencies to win action on social isolation and loneliness for a whole of person, whole of community, whole of government approach with the Queensland state government. Elise has worked across a range of campaigns with international students, people seeking asylum and refugees, Christian and Muslim communities, climate groups and unions.

Connect with Elise on Twitter and LinkedIn

Katie is passionate about seeing the reduction of inequalities and injustices in our communities, where she is particularly committed to raising the voice, participation and agency of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

She is a Project Manager within the Lab’s Real Deal project where she leads Indigenous engagement and assists with participation action research initiatives.  Katie co-ordinates the Place Based Action Research Community of Practice and contributes to the planning of the Real Deal’s Place Based Projects.

Additionally across the University, Katie is a member of the SAGE (Science Australia Gender Equality) Self Assessment Team where she chairs the Organisation and Culture Working Group.  Katie is also a member of the Native Grains Consortium strategic working group and a member of the Sydney Indigenous Research Network.

Outside the University, Katie is a board director with Relationships Australia NSW, advisory panel member at Opal HealthCare,  member of KU Children’s Services Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group and Indigenous engagement consultant at TSA Management

Katie holds a Bachelor of Business in International Tourism Management, a Master of Business Administration and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

Katie is proudly Wiradyuri and lives on Darug Country.

Katie is on Twitter @ThisKatieMoore and LinkedIn.

Juliet is a Research Associate and Project Manager at the Lab, providing input and oversight to a range of projects with a primary focus on Australia Cares. 

Juliet brings to the Lab an interdisciplinary grasp of complex social, economic and environmental issues, with over a decade of experience researching and teaching peace and conflict studies. She also has substantial experience in business and non-profit organisations including for several years as Executive Officer and Acting Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, and Strategic Project Manager at the Aged Care Channel. 

Juliet’s PhD examined a shift in thinking underpinning transformations in education, economics and politics to mitigate climate change and global inequality. Her earlier research distinguished education and indoctrination in the context of religious fundamentalism, and examined the role of personal and cultural narratives in building peace and justice.

Juliet has a PhD, MPhil and MA in peace and conflict studies, and a BA in business. She has published numerous journal articles, book chapters and co-edited books. Access these publications and connect with Juliet on Academia.edu and LinkedIn.

Nick is a Senior Policy Fellow with the Lab. During a distinguished career with the BBC, Nick Bryant came to be regarded as one of its finest foreign correspondents. He has covered some of the most momentous events of our times. The attacks of September 11, the war in Afghanistan, the Asian tsunami, the election of Barack Obama and the presidency of Donald Trump. In addition to his broadcast work, he has also written for an array of publications, including The Washington Post, The Economist, The New Statesman, The Guardian, The Independent, Foreign Policy, The Monthly, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. 

He is the author of four books, including the critically-acclaimed When America Stopped Being Great: A History of the Present, which made it onto Joe Biden’s bookshelf in the Oval Office, and The Rise and Fall of Australia: How a Great Nation Lost its Way. He is a history graduate from Cambridge University, who holds a doctorate in US history from Oxford University. He now lives in Sydney with his wife and three children.

Connect with Nick on Twitter.

Claire is a Policy Fellow with the Lab. She is a researcher and freelance journalist, specialising in economics, policy and data governance.

Formerly of Rebuilding Macroeconomics, hosted by the Institute for Global Prosperity at University College London (UCL), and a visiting academic at the Institute for New Economic Thinking in Oxford, Claire spent several years conducting data and methodological research studies, collecting first-hand information from academics, policy makers, regulators, practitioners, and members of the private sector, across multiple disciplines, identifying the data that could significantly enhance our understanding of the macroeconomy, while examining the relationship between policy-relevant knowledge and evidence.

Connect with Claire on Twitter

Marj is Project Manager for Australia Cares, a new initiative from the Sydney Policy Lab with the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation that aims to shape and drive an ambitious, practical and timely program of reform to renovate the ideas and practice of care and caring throughout society and the economy.  

Marj has decades of experience as a campaigner, facilitator, organiser and educator working in unions and community organisations. She has worked across numerous campaigns and has deep experience supporting communities to build power, strategies and plans for change. She is passionate about placing the voices of community and lived experience at the centre as we shape new thinking and practices of care.

Marj holds Bachelor of Education from the University of Sydney and Master of International Social Development from the University of NSW.

You can connect with Marj on LinkedIn.

Sally is the local Community Organiser for the Real Deal Project at the Geelong-Western Melbourne site (on Wadawurrung land). She was raised on a farm as a child, which increased her appreciation of how fragile our land is and how brutal economic systems and climate change can be upon both people and the land.

She comes to community organising after a career which saw her working across three States (Vic, NSW and SA) and eventually returning to Geelong in 2017. After beginning her career in Nutrition and Dietetics and working in health promotion programs and local food programs, she began to realise that inequality and climate change are key features of our food system and need to be addressed if we are to live sustainably on this planet. Following leading the Australian Conservation Foundation Community Geelong group on a local environmental campaign, she was drawn to the Real Deal Project as an approach which has the potential to address both social and environmental sustainability and begin to create the new economy we all need to thrive into the future.

Sally holds a Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics from (Deakin University), Bachelor of Science (University of Melbourne) and a Certificate 4 in Horticulture.

Thanh is the Lab’s Finance Administration Officer, and looks after all the financials within the Lab. Thanh’s diverse background makes her a valued member of the Lab’s professional team. She is an alumnus of the University of Sydney where she studied Secondary Education and Psychology and has worked in a diversity of sectors including property management, retail management and hospitality.

Working at Lab has given Thanh an appreciation and insight of the collaborative work between  academia, civil society, businesses  and government and how we can build trusting relationships across different spectrums to find new policies and solutions to make our world a better place.