Jo Dyer – CEO
Jo joined the Festival in February 2015. Prior to that, Jo held significant roles in the Australian arts industry, including General Manager of Bangarra Dance Theatre and Executive Producer of Sydney Theatre Company. During her time at STC, Jo oversaw the largest theatre program in the country, curating for multiple venues and diverse audiences, and touring the company’s works around Australia and across Europe and the US.
As a film producer, Jo’s debut film, Lucky Miles (2007) was nominated for Best Film at Australia’s AFI and IF Awards, and won awards around the world. Her most recent film, the internationally award-winning Girl Asleep (2016) was also nominated for Best Film at the AACTA awards and has screened in cinemas and at Festivals worldwide, most notably at the Berlin International Film Festival.
As an independent producer, Jo has produced work for a diverse range of presenters through her company, Soft Tread Enterprises. After a sell-out premiere season at the 2014 Sydney Festival, her acclaimed magic show, Band of Magicians, toured widely and included a season at the Tropicana in Las Vegas in November 2016.
Jo is the Chair of Force Majeure, one of Australia’s most celebrated dance theatre companies, and sits on the Board of the City Recital Hall.
Michaela McGuire – Artistic Director
Michaela is a journalist, author, programmer and curator, and joined the Festival in December 2016. Prior to taking up this appointment, she was Director and Co-CEO of Melbourne’s Emerging Writers’ Festival, and in 2016 delivered the organisation’s largest and most successful festival to date.
Michaela is the author of Last Bets: A true story of gambling, morality and the law, the Penguin Special A Story of Grief and Apply Within: Stories of career sabotage. She has worked as a regular columnist for Q Weekend, The Saturday Age and The Monthly, where she wrote a weekly blog on politics and current affairs throughout 2013 and 2014, and regularly reviews books for Fairfax.
In 2010, Michaela co-founded the international ‘literary phenomenon’ Women of Letters. She has programmed and hosted over 160 sold-out shows all around Australia, as well as in the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and New Zealand, and has since established Women of Letters as a monthly series of events in New York City, running concurrently to the Australian shows. With this unique platform, Michaela has created a celebration of women’s voices, the likes of which include Siri Hustvedt, Edie Falco, Suki Kim, Eileen Myles, Molly Ringwald, JD Samson, Susan Orlean, Kathleen Turner, Ariel Levy, Meg Wolitzer, Aparna Nancherla, Tavi Gevison, Alexis Okeowo, Katja Blichfeld and Jean Grae. Women of Letters has been praised widely for fostering a unique intimacy between artists and audiences. Globally, Women of Letters has raised over $850,000 for charity to date.
Michaela continues to co-curate the New York series from Sydney.
Liz Astey – Head of Operations & Production
Liz joined the Festival in August 2015, following a career as a Production and Operations Manager at some of Australia's largest events and festivals. Focusing mainly on large-scale outdoor events, Liz has been involved in Sydney New Year's Eve with both the City of Sydney and Royal Botanic Gardens, as well as taking on roles at Belvoir, Performing Lines, Sydney Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Darwin Festival, and Art Month Sydney.
Liz joins the Writers' Festival as the Head of Operations and Production after five years working on the ground at the event.
Stephen Attfield – Head of Development
Stephen joined the Sydney Writers' Festival team in August 2016. He is a senior arts professional with over 10 years experience writing strategy and delivering profitable relationships between business and the arts, and building successful membership and patrons programs. Stephen is passionate about the arts and has worked with some of its major names – Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Carriageworks and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Nadia Bailey – Digital Marketing Coordinator
Nadia joined the Sydney Writers’ Festival in January 2017. For the prior six years, she worked in the fashion and lifestyle journalism space, most recently as Features Editor for Oyster magazine.
Nadia has a background in writing, editing and digital communication, and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Sydney and a BCA (Honours) from Melbourne University. She has been involved in a diverse range of literary organisations and publishers such as Express Media, Sticky Institute and Pitt Street Poetry.
Daniela Baldry – Programming & Administration Assistant
Daniela joined Sydney Writers' Festival in February 2017. With a BA in Communications (Theatre/Media) and a Masters in English and Drama Education, she places great value on education through the Arts. From 2011-2012 Daniela ran The Fresh Meat Project, an emerging artist community, within which she self-published Fresh Meat – an interview anthology undertaken with a variety of emerging Sydney artists. The work was launched alongside an interactive exhibition in Bathurst, NSW.
Daniela has worked in event production and ticketing management across a variety of Sydney's performing arts venues and festivals, most recently at the Sydney Opera House within the Ticketing Services team, and previously at the Concourse Performing Arts Centre, Enmore and Factory Theatres, Sydney Film Festival and Sydney Festival.
Mel Colvin – Live & Local Project Manager
Mel has a career spanning the arts and events sector working in a diverse range of roles and on a wide spectrum of projects. Recently Mel has worked with NAISDA Dance College to bring their 40th celebrations to Carriageworks; on Mobilise - APACAs performing arts conference; and with Sydney Theatre Company where she devised the Green Design Policy as part of the Greening the Wharf project.
Previously Mel spent several years in Melbourne working as Event Manager and Production Administrator with Melbourne Theatre Company, and has been involved in projects with NIDA, the Really Useful Company Australia, the Sydney Opera House and the NSW Centenary of Federation where she received a Centenary Medal for her contribution as Producer of the Centennial Ceremony. Joining Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2016, Mel is excited to return and work with our regional and national partners to livestream the program to a new and diverse audience.
Jessica Debrodt – Marketing Consultant
Jessica Debrodt is a marketing consultant who specialises in the arts and culture sector. With over ten years’ experience, Jessica has worked in marketing across some of Australia’s leading cultural organisations including Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare and Musica Viva. She is delighted to join the Sydney Writers’ Festival for 2017.
Meg Ebelt – Production Coordinator
Meg is an experienced event manager, having worked on large-scale NSW events including Sydney Mardi Gras Parade, Sydney New Year’s Eve, Newtown Festival, City of Sydney Chinese New Year Festival, NRL Grand Finals and many more government and community-run activities. She also has a long history in television production, working across network and cable stations in reality, documentary, sport and promotions, as well as producing unique advertorial online content for corporate companies.
Erin Garman – Customer Service & Ticketing Assistant
Erin joins the Sydney Writer’s Festival in 2017 following more than 10 years of experience working in ticketing and customer service. She most recently completed her third year as a Ticketing Systems Coordinator at the Sydney Festival with other roles including Darwin Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Ticketmaster and Griffin Theatre Company.
Travis Green – Ticketing & CRM Manager
Travis joined Sydney Writers’ Festival in February 2016. He has over 8 years experience in Arts Management, focusing on the customer experience and developing patron retention in the arts sector.
Travis previously held the role of Education Systems and Client Services Manager at the Sydney Theatre Company, Customer Relations Manager at the Bell Shakespeare Company, Season Tickets Manager at the Sydney Theatre Company, and Customer Services Manager at the Griffin Theatre Company. He has a passion for the performing arts and literature, and its engagement in the wider community.
Julie Greksa – Associate Publicist
Julie joined Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2017 after having worked on the 2016 Children’s Festival of Moving Stories. She also works as a book publicist and events co-ordinator at Zeitgeist Media Group. Julie has a BA in Journalism from the University of Technology, Sydney.
Ellyn Hadley – Marketing Assistant
Ellyn joined the Sydney Writers' Festival in February 2017. She has a background in communications, marketing and administration and has worked across a diverse range of arts and media organisations including Art Month Sydney, Sydney Festival, 10 Group, Architecture & Design and Raven Contemporary. Most recently, Ellyn worked as the Marketing Coordinator for Art Money, the world's first commercial art loans program.
Ellyn holds a Bachelor of Communications and Media (Dean's Scholar) from the University of Wollongong.
Aimee Huxley – Marketing Manager
Aimee returned to Sydney Writers’ Festival in January 2016, having previously worked with us in 2014. Prior to re-joining the SWF team, she had worked in arts marketing for the last six years, most recently at Sydney Theatre Company.
Aimee’s other roles include Publications Editor at Perth International Arts Festival and Sydney Festival. Aimee has a background in publishing, having worked as an editor for education publishing companies in Melbourne. Aimee studied literature at Curtin University in Western Australia, and writing and editing at the University of Melbourne.
Allison Jeny – Production Manager
Allison Jeny, or ‘AJ’ (which she prefers), has spent the last 15 years working across Australia and the world on a variety of interesting projects in sectors of theatre and events – from Belvoir St and Sydney Theatre Company to Sydney New Year’s Eve and The Giants in Perth. AJ has also worked on a number of projects with Destination NSW, SHFA and the City of Sydney, where she has gained knowledge and understanding of the cultural landscape of Sydney. This is AJ's first year with the Sydney Writers’ Festival and she can’t wait to hit the ground running.
Walter Mansfield – Ticketing Coordinator
Walter joined Sydney Writers’ Festival in February 2016 as the Ticketing Coordinator and returns in 2017. He has over 9 years experience in ticketing in the arts sector. Walter previously held the role of Ticketing Specialist at the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Theatre Company. He is passionate about the arts community and is an avid reader.
Misty McPhail – Volunteer Manager
Misty is excited to be leading our amazing team of volunteers once again in 2017. Originally from Perth, her first introduction to Sydney Writers' Festival was in 2012 as a volunteer, then in 2013 she joined the program editing team and took on the FOH Manager and Artist Liaison role at the Festival's major city events. In 2014, Misty returned as the Volunteer Coordinator and since then has expanded the Festival's internship program for university students and led the volunteer team through three successful festivals. In 2017, she returns as the Volunteers Manager.
Misty graduated from WSU with BA (Honours) in 2013, receiving the university medal, and in 2015 began PhD research into innovative digital festival formats. In the Festival off-season, Misty is a co-producer of Made in the West Film Festival, a grassroots film festival for young western Sydney filmmakers. She has worked for Fox Studios, Still Searchin' Production films, and continues to edit in her spare time.
Ashleigh Morton – Volunteer Coordinator
Ashleigh joined the Festival in 2016 under the internship program and, after being asked to return for the 2016 Children’s Festival, she is excited to return as the Volunteer Coordinator for the 2017 Festival. Ashleigh has a background in editing, communications and organisational administration. She holds a Masters in Publishing from the University of Sydney, received under the University’s FASS Scholarship. Ashleigh has spent the last few years working with various organisations within the Art & Literary Publishing industry – her most recent project was supporting the release of a landscape series by John Olsen.
Liam Nesbitt - Ground Transport Coordinator
Liam Nesbitt returns to Sydney Writers' Festival in 2017 to head the Festival Ground Transport. In addition to being our Ground Transport Coordinator since 2008, Liam freelances in Event, Production and Site Management, specialising in outdoor events and festivals such as Splendour in The Grass, Falls Festival, Secret Garden and Boogie. He also produces A Mic in Hand, one of Sydney’s oldest independent stand-up comedy rooms.
Benython Oldfield – Publicity Manager
Benython has been working on the promotion of Sydney Writers’ Festival since 2013. He is the Director of publicity & writers’ agency, Zeitgeist Media Group.
Mouche Phillips – Partnerships Manager
Mouche was recently the Partnership Manager for Byron Bay Writers Festival and the Event Manager and the Business Development Officer for Byron Theatre. For the last 3 years, she also partnered with the Byron Shire Council as curator and project manager of the outdoor event, Soul St New Years Eve, Byron Bay’s annual major festival event.
Before departing Sydney for Byron Bay some ten years ago, Mouche spent five years as General Manager and producer with Jeremy Sims’ production company, Porkchop Productions. Pork Chop produced many acclaimed shows, a number in partnership with the Sydney Opera House, including notable productions such as Last Cab to Darwin and Ruby’s Last Dollar.
Tamara Press – Head of Development (Maternity Leave)
Tamara joined the Festival team in late 2013 after four years in London where she headed the corporate development team at the Barbican Centre. With over 10 year's experience in marketing, activation and fundraising, Tamara is passionate about developing successful partnerships between business and the Arts. As well as working with arts companies, including Sydney Festival, Tamara has worked for two international Sport and Entertainment agencies as Senior Account Director looking after a range of blue chip clients across a portfolio of sponsorships.
Clare Sawyer – Head of Children's & YA Programs
Clare Sawyer is a producer and programmer, specialising in children's, education and Young Adult programming. Since 2016 she has curated the expanded Family Program for Sydney Film Festival. She has also programmed for Flickerfest and Cockatoo Island Film Festivals and worked with the Youth Jury (Generation) at Berlin Film Festival. Clare was previously the Screen Development and Education Manager of Cockatoo Island and Dungog film festivals.
For four years, Clare was the Producer and General Manager of the IF Awards, which screened on SBS TV and Showtime. Prior to that she managed two key independent film festivals, Flickerfest and Mardi Gras Film Festival. Clare has also worked in production roles on numerous features, shorts, music videos and animations, and has produced five films. Her award-winning films have screened at film festivals across the globe including Telluride, Clermont Ferrand, Tampere, Palm Springs, FIKE and Locarno.
Natasha Younger – Finance & Administration Manager
Natasha joined the Sydney Writers' Festival team in 2013. Prior to moving to Sydney, Natasha worked for seven years as the Event and Program Manager for the MBS Festival in London. With over ten years experience in systems, events and teams: her love of learning new things, music and the arts have influenced her career from the onset. Working with Sydney Writers’ Festival combines her love of new ideas, and events that inspire and educate, together with the alphabet, systems and the world of literature.
Tamara Zimet – Program Coordinator
Tam joined Sydney Writers’ Festival in August 2016 after working as the Media Liaison at Screen Australia. At Screen Australia, Tam was the main point of contact for media and was part of a team that delivered the agency’s biggest ever funding project, Gender Matters, which aims to address the gender disparity in the screen sector.
Before moving to Sydney, Tam was the Publicist at the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne for more than four years and was also on the Junior Advisory Board for the Melbourne Festival. She has a BA in Communications (Professional Communications) from RMIT and a Diploma of Youth Work. Tam has worked as a consultant and volunteer in various capacities for organisations including the Girls on Film Festival (GOFF), SlutWalk and The Reach Foundation.