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

The 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 new audiences in the arts. During 13 years in the arts sector, she launched ‘The Art Factory’ at Maitland Regional Art Gallery, interned at the Tate Modern, UK and the Art Gallery of New South Wales 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 is currently on parental leave from her full time role until February 2021, and has been Chair of the Octapod Board since February 2019.

Belinda Collins

Vice Chair

Belinda is an experienced communicator, specialising in content strategy, and most recently led a team design and manage content for the NSW Education Standards Authority. Having worked across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, Belinda is keen to use her experience to grow engagement with the work of Octopod and our creative community.

Emily Bowen


Emily has a background spanning human resources, management, psychology, coaching, talent measurement and not-for-profit board appointments. She believes that we can best create a space for building culture, making an impact and achieving clever outcomes through people. As Manager of Forsythes Recruitment & HR, Emily leads a multi-disciplinary team, specialising across the executive, human resources and IT consulting niches. It is here that she leverages the connection between leadership, people and technology within organisations and across industries. To support this work and continue to extend her interest in the colliding priorities of people, culture and commerce, Emily actively seeks opportunities to contribute to the growth and development of community-based initiatives. She is particularly passionate about the role that arts and culture play in achieving impact and outcomes in a holistic and sustainable way.

Shaun Serafin


Shaun has experience in financial accounting, management accounting, outsourced CFO services and other consulting services at PwC. He also has experience in achieving commercial outcomes and implementing system improvements at nib. Shaun is passionate about analysing drivers behind financial performance and working with businesses to create sustainable practices.

Zephie Cerny

General Member

Zephie is a retired dentist. She was educated at the University of Sydney where she also obtained her PhD. Zephie worked in academic, private and public dentistry for over three decades. In 1996 she was one of the first two women to be appointed to Sydney University’s Continuing Education in Dentistry committee, and she was also the first woman to chair the Newcastle Division of the Australian Dental Association. She was actively involved in the Newcastle division of the Australian Dental Association from 1995 to 2003, and was Chair of the Organising Committee of 22nd NSW ADA Dental Convention. Zephie was also on the Steering Committee for the new oral health program at the University of Newcastle and is a Fellow of The International College of Dentists, the Pierre Fauchard Academy and the Academy of Dentists International..

Susan Withycombe

General Member

Susan is an experienced lawyer who advises on compliance and regulatory matters relating to work health and safety (WHS) and heavy vehicle road transport. She regularly assists clients in the management of workplace incidents and advises on WHS obligations and potential liability under the relevant laws. Susan also advises and represents clients at coronial inquests and inquiries, and assists clients with building defect claims under the home building legislation.