Octapod is governed by a board that is elected annually by its membership. The Board of Directors play an important role in guiding and monitoring the organisation and include representatives from a variety of community and business backgrounds.


A new board was elected at Octapod’s Annual General Meeting on 22 May 2017. We thank the outgoing board for their dedication to the organisation over the past 12 months, and welcome to new board members who bring diverse skill sets, experience and networks.

Jenna Blayden, Chair
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.

Karen Stace, Vice Chair
Karen has a Masters in Business Leadership and has worked in the community sector for over 25 years, the last 20 in management and senior management roles. She is currently the Manager, Sector Operations for National Disability Services, NSW. She has a keen interest is supporting community organisations manage change and develop sustainable operating models.

Chanel Egan, Treasurer
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, Secretary
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.

Emma Levine, General Member
Emma is a communication professional working for corporate innovation agency The Village of Useful. She also teaches an 80s aerobics dance class on the side. Emma is an avid supporter of the Newcastle art community and wants to help artists and organisations to improve their commercial viability.

Emily Bowen, General Member
Emily holds qualifications in HR, management and psychology, and leads a multi-disciplinary HR consulting organisation, Forsythes Human Resources, which is based in the Hunter and Central Coast region. 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 Davies O’Sullivan is a professional Urban Planner in the private sector, holding a Bachelor of Planning (Hons) from the University of New South Wales.  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.  She is a passionate Novocastrian and is focused on engaging with the community and empowering locals to make Newcastle the greatest place to live, work and play it can be.  

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.  

Lauren van Katwyk, General Member
Lauren works in public galleries and is interested in developing young audiences in the arts. During 12 years in the arts sector, she launched ‘The Art Factory’ at Maitland Regional Art Gallery, and interned at the Tate Modern, UK, working with the Tate Collective group. Since 2012, she has worked at Newcastle Art Gallery, coordinating visitor experience and audience development, and this year commenced the inaugural Youth Reference Group.
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, Leah moved into a Head Office role focusing on innovation and regulation in the payments space and is currently working as a Project Officer within Digital Banking and Marketing. 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.