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 12 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 current role, developed several successful programs at Newcastle Art Gallery including Last Fridays and the Youth Reference Group. Lauren is currently Audience Development and Visitor Services Coordinator at Newcastle Art Gallery, and has been Chair of the Octapod Board since February 2019.

Karen Stace

Vice Chair

Karen has a Masters in Business Leadership and has worked in the community sector for over 25 years. She is currently the Manager, Sector Operations for National Disability Services, NSW. She has a keen interest is supporting community organisations to manage change and develop sustainable operating models.

Chanel Egan


Chanel is a Project Manager at Forsythes Technology, and has prior experience in the tertiary and government sectors. With qualifications in Psychology, IT and Project Management, her work involves solving business problems and leveraging new technology to make people’s work-life easier. Chanel is also the Secretary of Hunter Young Professionals and is a keen advocate for celebrating the diverse talent that the Hunter has to offer.

Zephie Cerny


Zephie, a retired dentist holding a BDS and PhD, has been active on committees both locally and in Sydney. She has an interest in the arts, with membership in local and state galleries, and is interested in supporting the growth of community-based groups.

Jenna Blayden

General Member

Jenna is a performance practitioner in theatre and music and is currently employed at the University of Newcastle. She is an active member of the Creative Industries sector and an advocate for the arts, arts education and community engagement.

Emily Bowen

General Member

Emily holds qualifications in HR, management and psychology, and leads a multi-disciplinary HR consulting organisation, Forsythes Human Resources. She actively seeks opportunities to support the growth and development of community-based initiatives via her highly developed commercial, critical analysis and interpersonal skills.

Emily Davies O’Sullivan

General Member

Emily is a professional Urban Planner in the private sector. Primarily her work involves problem solving and stakeholder management. She is the co-Director and Curator of Idea Bombing Newcastle, a community organisation which ​runs non conventional consultation and networking events which highlight local talent and knowledge.

Leah Emmett

General Member

Leah has worked for the Newcastle Permanent for more than a decade. After starting her career as a trainee in the Branch Network in 2006, Leah has worked in various Head Office roles focusing on innovation and regulation in the payments space, and project and resource management. Having recently graduated from The University of Newcastle with a Master in Business Administration (MBA), Leah is keen to support those in creative industries to reach their full potential.

Stuart Slough

General Member

Stuart has worked as a visual and public art creative practitioner, project manager and cultural planner since 1992. Through his work as a freelance consultant and for various NGOs and local government in Illawarra, Sydney and Central Coast, Stuart has focussed on design, planning and management of site specific collaborative works, the development of arts infrastructure, and, strategic programming and planning for regional cultural development. He is currently Cultural Planner at Central Coast Council.