Our Executive Team
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Dr Catherine Keenan AMExecutive Director

Cath was formerly a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald, working as an arts writer and as literary editor. Prior to that, she completed her doctorate in English Literature at Oxford University.

She and Tim McGregor co-founded the Story Factory in 2012 and Cath has been our much-loved executive director ever since.

In 2016 she was recognised for her work in community, connection and literacy when she was selected as Australian of the Year Local Hero.

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Craig NewOperations Manager

Craig is our much-loved Operations Manager, across every detail of our workshop delivery and the day-to-day running of Story Factory.

The speed of his emailing once broke the sound barrier. He also has a K-12 teaching degree, loves hiking long distances through the bush, and is known for walking and reading at the same time.

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Tommie ClarkSenior Program Manager

Tommie is a trained Speech and Language Pathologist and has worked in education for the past eight years. She is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Research (Education), and her thesis investigates the role of dialogic talk on writing in the Story Factory workshops.

Tommie has previously worked closely with staff and students in schools to develop reading and writing programs that enhance access to the curriculum. She started at Story Factory as a volunteer in 2017, eventually wrangled her way into a Storyteller position and became Senior Programs Manager in 2023.

Tommie loves reading fiction and is in multiple book clubs. She enthusiastically partakes in the Good Weekend Quiz every Saturday morning but is yet to pass.

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Ruth FriedlaenderGrants & Strategy Manager

Ruth has a background in not-for-profit fundraising and grant writing in Australia and The Netherlands and has experience working with a range of diverse communities.

She is a lover of all things related to books, reading and writing and genuinely believes in the power of storytelling. When her head is not in a book, she can be found attending live music gigs, watching rugby or off on adventures with friends.

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Elizabeth ArrigoSenior Manager, Communications and Publishing

Elizabeth is an experienced communications and publishing professional who has worked across a range of Australian sectors, including museums, magazines, not-for-profits, and publishing houses. Most recently, she has been working to publish children’s books and playscripts with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and Currency Press respectively.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) as well as a Master of Publishing from the University of Sydney, and is currently completing a Postgraduate Diploma of Modern Languages at the University of New England.

 

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Vanessa AndresNational Program Manager

Vanessa is an experienced creative and educator with a passion for fostering creativity in young people. Born and raised on Darug land, she has taught across Western Sydney, regional NSW and overseas.

When she’s not creating content to inspire young people you can catch her on the airwaves highlighting the best of local music on FBI Radio.

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Jude-Martin EtukaPeople & Culture Manager

Jude is a Learning and Organisational Development (L&OD) Practitioner with 15+ years’ specialism in Leadership, Culture, D&I, and Personal Development. He has worked with public and private organisations at senior levels across Finance, Education, Engineering, Insurance, Transport, Healthcare, and Consulting in the UK and Australia. His last role was as Head of OD for a firm in the Finance Sector.

Jude’s professional journey began at an early age of 18 when he became a Monk, and lived in Silence, Meditation and Study for 7 years. His subsequent journey took him into Mental Health Nursing, and then working with leaders of organisations as an OD Practitioner and Executive Coach.

A final year PhD candidate in Emotional Intelligence, Deep Self-Awareness, and Transformational Leadership at Notre Dame University, and Lecturer at the Macquarie University Business School, Jude has peer-reviewed publications, and held keynote appearances. He speaks on a range of topics where Mindfulness has been shown to be effective for people, teams, and organisations, bringing a unique pracademic blend of research, Learning and OD, and monastic experience.

Our Storytelling Team
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Nita van den BoogaardStoryteller Manager

Nita has been an English Teacher for over 20 years in South-Western Sydney and has worked with Story Factory as a teacher since 2017. She is a creative and innovative educator with a passion for igniting creativity in young people and empowering them to understand the ways they learn and their creative processes.

She works to create an environment where student voice is central, and where critical thinking, risk-taking, and a range of creative approaches are valued to achieve the best possible learning outcomes for all students.

When Nita isn’t working for Story Factory, she loves to see live music and theatre, spend time near the ocean, and hang out with her husband, three young adult sons, and fur-baby Hugo the whippet.

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Tony BrittenStoryteller Manager

Tony first joined Story Factory in 2016 and became a full-time Storyteller in 2018. He was a high school English teacher for nearly 20 years and has worked as an education consultant and in arts education.

Tony continues to present to teachers and students at state, national and international conferences. He can incorporate a quote from Mean Girls into any workshop and loves that his job allows him to play with words and ideas with kids of all ages.

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Alice FentonStoryteller Manager

Alice is an experienced teacher, writer and community-builder whose love for storytelling has manifested in weird and wonderful ways over the years. She started off as an advertising copywriter, then co-founded a collective called Even Books that put on warehouse parties and exhibitions themed around a different novel each time.

She joined FBi as their Creative Director for a number of years, made a podcast for Kinderling Kids radio, and was the Editor of underground publication TwoThousand. Alice later became an English teacher, working in public and independent schools across Sydney and the Central Coast, and leading professional development workshops for teachers and leaders in NSW, WA, ACT and the UK.

She is passionate about creating and delivering innovative learning experiences that enable agency and equity, and has a particular interest in the role that physical movement and embodied learning can play in student engagement and success.

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Carol QuastStoryteller

Carol was an active volunteer at Story Factory for years before becoming a storyteller. She is passionate about making creative writing fun and enjoyable.

Carol is a trained teacher and has taught in primary and secondary schools. Currently she mentors trainee teachers for UTS as a tertiary supervisor.

Before returning to her home in Redfern in 2011, Carol was a lecturer for post graduate trainee teachers at two London universities and was Chair of Governors at a large comprehensive boys school in London’s South East.

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Russell SmithStoryteller

Russ is a proud descendant of the Ngarrindjeri people. He is a graduate of NIDA and has been performing stories for the last 20 years.

Along with his performing career Russ has a Masters in Teaching from UWS and has been teaching children and adults for many years.

Russ has returned to the Story Factory after a few years at NIDA as the National Program Manager for children and youth.

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Ailsa Liu Digital Storyteller

Ailsa is a creative professional passionate about intersections of technology and art. She is equiped with experiences across facilitating creative writing, arts skills and coding workshops, audio-visual tech, digital live streaming and a Bachelor of Fine Arts/ Arts.

Ailsa is dedicated to participating in marginalised communities by skill sharing, mentoring and art-making. She also makes sound art, performance, fiction and poetry. She is exploring liminal spaces and identities, cultural practice, conflicting feelings and discordant sounds.

Ailsa’s favourite things are brunch, swimming in saltwater and long walks. She is working on practising patience and deep listening.

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Harriet Thomson Storyteller

Harriet is a proud Wiradjuri woman of north east Wiradjuri Country, living and working on Gadigal land.

Currently, Harriet is completing her Bachelor of Education (Primary), in which she hopes to use her knowledge and experience for better supporting the young, deadly children of our community. She has previously worked in primary schools across Sydney in before and after school care programs, where she undertook an inclusion support role.

Harriet particularly enjoys escaping the city and spending time in any Australian terrain where she can find cool bugs or birds.

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Adriana Wainstok Digital Storyteller

Adriana has been working with children and teenagers for over seven years at a non-profit organisation in Brazil. She believes that education is our weapon to change the world and when it is combined with the encouragement of creativity, there are no limits to where one can go.

Graduated in International Relations in Brazil, Adriana has lived in five different countries and is currently completing her Masters in Journalism at the University of Sydney. She is a fan of chronicles and has a long time passion for creative writing, which has allowed her to share her adventures around the world with her friends and family over the years.

Adriana is passionate about cultures, art, and exploring new places with her camera, searching for stories that make her eyes sparkle. In her spare time she loves watching silly romcoms, practicing yoga and taking a swim in the sea.

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Helen CoolicanStoryteller

Helen has over 20 years’ experience as a teacher, and is passionate about putting creativity back at the heart of education. She is a veritable dynamo, has a wonderful warm manner with kids and grown ups, and is a fantastic organiser.

Helen plays a key role in maintaining the Story Factory’s connections with the local community and led the Home Project to success in 2014.

Helen is known far and wide for her mastery of the colour red and can often be spotted sporting a fabulous red ensemble.

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Nick Bryant-SmithDigital Storyteller

Nick is a hip hop artist and songwriter who has has toured and collaborated with many of Australia’s premier musicians.

Nick has extensive experience facilitating poetry and writing workshops in schools, youth centres and juvenile justice around NSW. He started at Story Factory as a volunteer in 2021 before joining the Storyteller team in 2023, working across both digital and face to face programs.

He loves reading and doing crosswords to the soundtrack of his burgeoning record collection and is a certified apple juice connoisseur.

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Oliver TwistStoryteller

Oliver Twist is a writer and actor. He has toured Australia with his critically acclaimed shows Jali and Griot, and appeared on SBS and the ABC.

JALI, a memoir was published by Penguin Random House in 2023, and Family (an anthology Oliver contributed to) was published in 2023 by Text Publishing!

As a comic, he has been chosen to open for the best national and international acts. He has been lauded as a talent both by critics and by audiences, gaining him award nominations for his work.

He has facilitated workshops for performance students around Australia and tutored in creative writing at various levels!

For more writing by Oliver, visit  https://substack.com/@oliveretwist

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Jerry RayStoryteller

Jerry Ray is a multi-purpose creative, who is passionate about doing stuff that brings people together.

He writes and produces theatre and zany variety shows, creates and hosts role-play games (a little like D&D), facilitates community arts festivals, designs and teaches creative writing programs, writes and illustrates picture books and is currently working on a handful of weird sci-fi novels that he’ll likely never convince publishers to print.

When Jerry’s not wringing his brain for dumb ideas to throw at the world, he’s probably hiking, or playing video games.

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Marcus KhoudairStoryteller

Marcus has ten years of experience teaching and tutoring high school English, and, having recently graduated from the Screenwriting Master Program at AFTRS, is in development on two feature films.

He also has trained in facilitating both listening circles and co-creative writing workshops, but has not trained in dance*.

*This doesn’t stop Marcus from dancing. Nothing stops Marcus from dancing.

Our Staff
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Kate ClugstonPhilanthropy Manager

Kate has always worked the intersection of creative industries and social impact. She is a fundraiser with a difference; a creative producer, campaign strategist and impact storyteller.

With an early career in theatre for social change, Kate has had a lifelong interest in the art of storytelling, especially its power to build movements, change minds and enable empathy. She is interested in how we can use creativity to tackle complex problems and contribute to a more equitable, sustainable future.

Kate parents two neurodivergent boys, is studying a Master of Creative Intelligence and Strategic Innovation at UTS and in her spare time loves practicing yoga, walking in nature and exploring a diverse range of interests via literary non-fiction.

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Natalie Goodes Publications Manager

Nat has worked in production and communications in both Sydney and New York. She thrives on sharing the stories of amazing people and where better to do that, than Story Factory!

Nat is the wizard who pulls together our student writing into beautiful publications, fueled by her passion for contributing to the empowerment of Australia’s young people.

With her extensive skills and experience, she looks forward to making a difference and celebrating the amazing creativity of our students.

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Natasha CapstickGrant Writer & Fundraising Coordinator

A lifelong lover of storytelling, Natasha is known for her unapologetic overuse of the em dash punctuation mark.

Natasha is currently completing her graduate studies in psychology and is particularly interested in how arts-based programs can support community wellbeing.

When she’s not working or studying, you will likely spot Natasha tending to her succulent garden, exploring new places with her camera, or absorbed in the latest fantasy novel.

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Purnima MaheshOpen Programs Officer

Purnima has worked as a children’s book editor and a primary school English and additional needs teacher in India. She believes strongly in the power of celebrating process and progress. She completed her Master of Teaching in 2020 and has been on an earnest hunt for inclusive spaces that combine her love of language, stories, childcare, education, and art—for joy, wellbeing and expression. She found Story Factory in 2021 as a volunteer and now helps with Enrolments and Communications.

You might see her chuckling over her terrible trilingual puns every so often. A sucker for metaphors, she’s guilty of mixing and overstretching hers frequently. And she loves the thought of finding fragments of herself in scattered pieces of paper through time—words penned, and words gathered as talismans.

More recently she has been trying to practise being an empathetic adult to herself and embracing Compassionate Cringe (Dahl). She is currently working on a long-term patchwork-blanket-knitting project (isn’t patchwork such a wonderfully warming blanket metaphor for life—oh no, it’s incurable!)

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Sarib HussainVolunteer Manager

Sarib is an experienced volunteer manager with a background in humanitarian work. He has dedicated much of his time towards supporting the well-being of children in orphanages, refugee camps and disaster zones around the world.

Passionate about empowering the youth to find their purpose and create a lasting impact, Sarib combines his professional expertise with a personal drive to inspire the next generation of changemakers.

In his free time, he enjoys travelling, catching up with his friends for brunch and spending time with his family

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Samantha ToddDigital Engagement Officer

Samantha is a teacher, writer, and manager of people and processes, with rich experience in industries that foster creativity in young people. Her career includes work in schools, publishing houses, the fitness industry, and performing arts sectors. With a Masters of Creative Writing, Bachelor of Creative Arts (Hons) and Bachelor of Secondary Education, her love of learning is never-ending.

On a perpetual quest to fulfil her childhood dreams, outside of Story Factory she dangles from aerial silks, wrangles her energetic toddler, and writes young adult and dystopian fiction (and, once, a dissertation on vampires). Her life is both a literal and metaphorical circus.

We’re all motivated to bring the transformative power of writing to kids – building confidence, literacy and helping young people find their voice.

Our Board
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Gemma SalteriBoard Chair

Gemma is the Executive Director of CAGES Foundation; a Private Ancillary Fund that supports organisations working to ensure every Indigenous child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

She is a director of The Funding Network, an advisor for the Roslyn and Carlo Salteri Foundation and a founding member of Philanthropy Australia’s New Generation of Giving program.

Gemma is also a graduate of the Australian Companies Institute of Directors and the Chief Executive Women’s Leadership program. In 2016 Gemma was awarded Philanthropy Australia’s Emerging Philanthropist Award.

Prior to her work in philanthropy Gemma worked in marketing and product development for consumer product businesses such as Avon Products, The Body Shop International and held various senior management positions at Blackmores Australia including most recently heading up their product innovation team for Asian markets.

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Ali GreenDeputy Chair

Social entrepreneur Ali Green is CEO and co-founder of leading independent Australian book publisher, Pantera Press. Green was named in the 2023 Business Elite ’40 under 40′ and is the 2023 APAC Entrepreneur ‘Most Dynamic Female Entrepreneur from Australia Spearheading Change’. She was also named one of Australia’s 100 Most Influential Women by the Australian Financial Review for exemplifying, through Pantera Press, the trend towards integrating business and social good. Ali is a Harvard Business School alumna and sits on a number of industry committees and boards including Writing NSW and the Pantera Press Foundation. Ali was a founding member of Philanthropy Australia’s New Generation program.

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Dr Cath Keenan AMExecutive Director and Co-Founder

Cath was formerly a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald, working as an arts writer and as literary editor. Prior to that, she completed her doctorate in English Literature at Oxford University.

She and Tim McGregor co-founded the Story Factory in 2012 and Cath has been our much-loved executive director ever since.

In 2016 she was recognised for her work in community, connection and literacy when she was selected as Australian of the Year Local Hero.

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Benjamin Law

Ben is a journalist, columnist, TV screenwriter and author of two books – The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012) – both of which have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards.

The Family Law is now a major SBS TV series, translated into a number of languages.

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Garigarra Mundine

Garigarra is a Wiradjuri, Bundjalung, Kamilaroi and Yuin woman from Dubbo, NSW. Garigarra began as an intern at the Story Factory in 2013 on the Home Project, helping to create relationships with local schools, businesses, community organisations, politicians and the police, and facilitating workshops for children and adults.

She graduated with a Bachelor of International Relations from the Australian National University in 2018. She was one of the ACT representatives for the 2017 National Indigenous Youth Parliament, represented the ANU at the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education in Toronto, Canada 2017, and represented the Wiradjuri nation at the Spirit of the Planet, international Indigenous festival in Bergamo, Italy 2016.

Since 2015 Garigarra has also worked part-time in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in international policy, cultural projects, cultural policy and strategic policy within Indigenous Affairs.

She also worked on Australia’s first ever Regional Deal for the Barkly region in the Northern Territory with the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, leading the youth components of the deal, including amplifying youth voices in the region throughout the development and implementation stages of the deal. Garigarra is now at   the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where she works on increasing and implementing First Nations perspectives and voices in Australia’s work in the Pacific. She is also a small business owner, running ‘Waybarra by Garigarra,’ creating traditional weaving and contemporary art.

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James Argent

James is a Principal at the Boston Consulting Group. At BCG, his experience includes working with a range of public and private sector and not-for-profit clients, and he actively supports a range of pro bono initiatives.

Prior to joining BCG, James worked as a paralegal at Herbert Smith Freehills and as a research assistant at the University of Sydney Law School.

James holds a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) from the University of Sydney.

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Grant LovettTreasurer

Grant has more than 25 years of financial markets experience, both in Australia and internationally , culminating as the Head of Fixed Income at UBS Australia. He was then Chief of Staff to Hon Joe Hockey (Shadow Treasurer and Commonwealth Treasurer) from 2012 – 2015. Most recently he was the ASX’s Head of Government and Regulatory Affairs.

Grant has a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Applied Finance from Macquarie University and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the AICD.

He is also a Director of Ascham School and Quest for Life and an avid reader of fiction.

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Dr Amy Thunig

Dr Amy Thunig (B.Arts, M.Teach, PhD) is a Gomeroi/Gamilaroi/Kamilaroi yinarr and mother who resides on Awabakal Country. A full-time academic in the field of education, Amy is also an author, with her first book ‘Tell Me Again’ released in November 2022 via UQP. Amy contributes on various committees and councils including the AECG, and is a media commentator and panellist, regularly appearing on television programs such as ABC’s The Drum.

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Murat Dizdar

Murat Dizdar PSM is the Secretary of the NSW Department of Education, which delivers quality education and training services for the people of New South Wales. This includes the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector, government and non-government schools, and the Vocational Education and Training sector.

Murat’s career began as a social sciences teacher at Ashcroft High School. He has experience in a range of school leadership roles, including senior principal of Belmore and Punchbowl Boys High Schools.

He was awarded the Australia Day Public Service Medal in 2016, an Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL) NSW Fellowship in 2019, an ACEL National Fellowship in 2020 and the Nanga Mai Department of Education and NSW AECG Inc Partnership Award 2021.

Murat is also a proud graduate of the NSW public education system. He never forgets the impact that Mr Griffiths, Ms Johanson, Mr Baker and Mr Sturm had on his life as a young student at Fort Street High School.

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David Hua

David Hua is the Director of Audio and Language Content at SBS.

David Hua has over 20 years experience in the media industry. He has held a number of senior executive roles at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and has been responsible for diverse portfolios across content, marketing, commercial, radio, and digital. Most recently, he led the ABC’s international services including ABC Radio Australia, ABC Australia (TV), and digital services that connect audiences around the world with Australian stories.

David did most of his tertiary education at the University of Technology, Sydney where he received his Honours and Masters degrees in media communications.

Born overseas, David now lives in Sydney and speaks Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.