Octapod is governed by a volunteer board which guides the organisation’s strategic direction and financial management.

Our board is made up of dedicated individuals with expertise in strategic, financial, marketing and business management, a commitment to Octapod’s values and a passion for our community cultural development work in the region.

Lauren van Katwyk



Lauren works in public galleries and is interested in developing young audiences in the arts. During 14 years in the arts sector, she interned at the Tate Modern, UK and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, launched ‘The Art Factory’ at Maitland Regional Art Gallery, and in her most recent role as Audience Development and Visitor Services Coordinator at Newcastle Art Gallery implemented several key programs including Last Fridays and the Youth Advisory Group.

Lauren moved with her young family to rural South West Victoria in March 2020 and has been on the Octapod Board since May 2018. She is currently undertaking a Masters of Business Administration with the University of Adelaide.

0422 559 128

Belinda Collins

Deputy Chair, Service Redesign Sub Committee Convener


Belinda is an experienced communicator and content strategist who finds herself drawn to transformation projects and working with teams designing exceptional customer experiences. Bringing people together, connecting ideas, unleashing creativity and guiding energy towards amazing outcomes is her passion.

After a year with the Board, it’s the perfect time to bring her unique set of strategy, design and collaboration skills to the role of Deputy Chair and help shape the next stage for the organisation. Belinda currently works with the digital transformation team at the Greater Bank and led a team designing and managing content for the NSW Education Standards Authority before that. You’ll also find her co-hosting any one of the IxDA Newcastle Meetups with local designers each month.

Judith OHagan

Secretary, Grants and Fundraising Sub Committee Convener

Judith O'Hagan

Judith is an experienced fundraising and philanthropy specialist who brings a wealth of experience in the not-for-profit sector to the Octapod board. Currently working in the tertiary education space, Judith has also worked for small and large healthcare organisations in Queensland and New South Wales, including a national charity that supports the healthcare needs of children from regional and remote Australia.

Having spent a number of years living in the Hunter Valley, Judith understands the challenges faced by regional communities and sees philanthropy has an exciting opportunity to try and meet these challenges.

Samantha Cooper


Samantha brings a wealth of financial management experience to the board from across different organisations in Australia and the UK. From management accounting in the automotive industry with Futuris in Melbourne,  to digital channels for ITV in London and construction with local business Kingston Building. Samantha is currently Financial Controller for the locally-owned and operated organisation Quarry Mining.

Born and raised in Newcastle, and now raising her young family here, Samantha is excited about supporting emerging local Hunter artists and our vibrant cultural community.

Chris Brown

General Member, Community Engagement Sub Committee Convener


Chris is a community development professional, working in the community services industry for 9 years. His passions and skills are in not-for-profit governance, communications, human resources, training, consultation and facilitation, grant procurement and funding diversity, quality improvement and authentic community engagement. Chris has served on several community boards in the areas of community arts, permaculture, community gardens and domestic violence prevention. He is a practicing artist and photographer, a passionate supporter of the Newcastle arts community and a long-time fan of the This is Not Art festival. As an openly gay man and justice of the peace, Chris is passionate about LGBTIQA+ diversity, equity and inclusion and tackling the systemic oppression experienced disadvantage experienced by the queer community. Chris is also a massive green thumb with over 30 house plants in his tiny apartment, and keen involvement in local community gardens for over 12 years.

Zephie Cerny

General Member


Zephie is a retired dentist with BDS andPhD (University of Sydney). She has worked in private practice, public dentistry and academia and served on numerous committees in dental organisations ( local, state and Dental school). Zephie is also currently Chair of the Dental Museum at Westmead Hospital.

Keryl Collard

General Member, Policy and Procedures Sub Committee Convener


Keryl has worked for many years in local government and has a great passion for connecting communities with new ideas and experiences. She brings experience in service and program development, stakeholder relationships and partnerships in the community and cultural sectors, underpinned by committee experience in a range of community, education and industry-specific spheres.

She believes the fostering of cultural practice is intrinsically related to both personal and community growth, connecting us with meaning.

Catherine Henry

General Member, Strategic Alliances Sub Committee Convener


Catherine is the principal and owner/director of a mid sized law firm based in Newcastle’s CBD with offices in the mid north coast and Sydney. She has 35 years of experience as a solicitor and has worked in legal practice in the public and private sector. The firm’s practice areas are health and medical law, family and relationship law, estates and elder law and conveyancing. Catherine has a broad history of community and board involvement both in the Hunter and Sydney. She regularly undertakes community legal work, both for individuals and community groups, and has been involved in several important community campaigns. Catherine is a passionate supporter of heritage and the arts which she sees as essential for thriving communities.

Emily Rundle

General Member


Emily is a dynamic and highly motivated Media and Communications professional specialising in the development and implementation of proactive and strategic media. She is able to navigate politically sensitive environments and enhance the reputation of agencies and organisations, and is currently a Media Officer within the Transport for NSW media team, working across regional roads and NSW Maritime media portfolios.

Emily is a Patron of Atelier group, the young members philanthropic group within the Art Gallery of NSW and former Art Gallery NSW Society Young Members Committee member for three years.

Matthew Willett

General Member


Matthew is an experienced accounting professional specialising in working with small businesses across a wide range of industries including film, media and marketing. Matthew also works with artists managing the taxation side of their business.