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.

Kate Baartz



I am story teller, business owner, problem solver, wife and mother. I am passionate about supporting people to reach their goals – in whatever endeavour that may be. My superpower is connecting people to each other.

Second to that is almost 20 years experience in corporate communications, community and stakeholder
engagement, issues management, content creation, strategic planning and reporting, project management, event coordinating and managing social media.

Also, puns bring me joy.


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.

Kattie Bugeja



Kattie is an experienced arts administrator with twelve+ years of experience working with commercial galleries, auction houses, large scale public museums, government agencies and not-for-profits both
nationally and internationally. She brings experience in project coordination, curation, economic management, effective stakeholder engagement and leadership. Career highlights include learning the
ropes of the international art trade in London, working with a tiny team to launch a competitive contemporary art fair in Sydney and engaging community stakeholders to shape the future direction of their
regional Gallery.

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.

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.

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.

Judith OHagan

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.

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.

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.

Molly McNeil

General Board Member

An emerging academic, arts practitioner and programmer. Currently the Director of Critical Animals.

Pippa Budge

General Board Member

Pippa Budge is the Curator, Multi Arts Pavilion | mima, a brand-new digital art and performance space situated in Lake Macquarie. In this role Budge works with artists from across Australia to create new work and develop installation and performance art pieces. Prior to working with the Lake Macquarie City Council, Budge was a Producer and Arts Educator at Melbourne Museum. She worked across the museums vast collection, teaching and producing programming for all audiences, including content creation for the museum’s AMAGA award winning online platform, Museum at Home. Pippa is passionate about arts programming and its ability to highlight diverse voices, and create connections across communities. Budge’s belief in the arts as a means of social change have led to a number of overseas adventures, including three years living and working in New York, with tenures teaching and working with audiences at the Guggenheim, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of the Moving Image.

Pippa Budge has also worked at the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, where she taught filmmaking, animation and video production to school groups. Her Masters of Teaching, and Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours) have served her across her well across her career, and her curatorial and producing practice is grounded in creating meaningful audience experiences.

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.