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 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

Deputy Chair

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.

Joey Hespe


Joey is an experienced arts programmer and freelance writer with a demonstrated history of working in the creative industries and with a passion for arts engagement. Joey was involved with the Art Gallery Society of NSW as Vice President of the Young Members Advisory Committee, and later as the Young Members Coordinator, where she managed the Young Members program and the Young Members Advisory Committee. She implemented programming to engage a younger demographic of arts lovers to the Art Gallery of NSW, including the successful Young Professionals Meetup series. While at the Art Gallery Society of NSW, she was given the position of Australian Young Friends Representative for the 2019 World Federation of Friends of Museums General Assembly in Montreal, Canada. She was the recipient of the 2018 Art Gallery of NSW and Art Gallery Society of NSW Annual Staff Scholarship.

Shaun Serafin


Shaun has experience in financial accounting, management accounting, outsourced CFO services and other consulting services. He also has experience in achieving commercial outcomes and implementing system improvements. Shaun is passionate about analysing drivers behind financial performance and working with businesses to create sustainable practices. He has a passion for connecting communities with new ideas and experiences, underpinned by leadership skills, strategic planning, budget management and governance. Shaun has committee experience in a range of spheres, including community, education and industry-specific.

Chris Brown

General Member

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

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

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.

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.