Meet the Team

Director
Micaela Cronin

Micaela Cronin is an outstanding contributor to her field, having begun her career as a family violence social worker, she has held leadership and service delivery roles across a broad range of fields, both in Australia and internationally.She comes to the FSSI Director’s role from Hagar International, where she has been the global CEO for three years based in Asia, building service delivery and strategic partnerships across the Asia Pacific region to tackle human trafficking and human rights abuses.

Micaela is a past CEO of MacKillop Family Services and has extensive leadership and governance experience including being President of both the Victorian Council of Social Services, and the Australia Council of Social Services. Micaela is also an alumnus of RMIT and a past President of its Student Representative Committee.
 
Dr Jess Lee-Ack
Deputy Director
Jess’s own life changing experience of higher education has been the key driver shaping her career. A passionate believer in the potential of higher education to broaden horizons and create opportunities, Jess dabbled in lecturing and tutoring roles while she was studying for her PhD at Monash University. While Jess did not pursue an academic career, universities have always felt like “home” so she moved into advisory and managerial roles in the higher education sector focusing on guiding and supporting the development and implementation of projects and organisation-wide initiatives.

During her time at RMIT, Jess has worked across several areas including research planning and policy, project management and academic governance including serving as Secretary to RMIT’s Academic Board and Education Innovation and Quality Committee from 2015-2017. Project managing the development of RMIT’s Research and Innovation Plan 2011-2015 and being part of the #ShapeRMIT Project Team that developed the Ready for Life and Work Strategy in 2015 are among Jess’s career highlights. Prior to joining RMIT in 2008, Jess worked in State Government and Local Government in the UK in project management roles.

Jess brings a wealth of corporate know-how, intimate knowledge of RMIT’s strategy and well-established networks to her role as Deputy Director. In this role, Jess will work with colleagues from RMIT, VCOSS, service providers and government to develop and implement projects to support the growth and transformation of the social service workforce.
Lee Newnham
Coordinator – FSSI

Lee Newnham provides executive and administrative services to the FSSI Director and staff, and acts as a liaison between FSSI, RMIT University and VCOSS.  Lee was previously Business Development/Marketing Manager at Moores, a legal firm with a focus on the not-for-profit sector.  Lee has a strong understanding of both the opportunities and the challenges faced in the sector and is passionate about assisting FSSI in achieving its goals.
 
Dr Rick Ede
Senior Advisor
Rick joined FSSI in 2019 in a part-time capacity to support the development and implementation by FSSI and RMIT of the “Higher Apprenticeships in the Social Service Sector” pilot project working with DET and industry partners. He also provides support to other FSSI collaborative projects.
 
Rick has over 11 years’ experience as a CEO of major public vocational education providers in New Zealand and latterly Australia. Building on this experience he now focusses on providing support to education providers, government and industry for the development of education and training  partnerships involving innovative education delivery models, deep integration of working and learning experiences, and delivering better outcomes for both learners and employers. He previously held senior research management and business development roles with the CSIRO, and was a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry with the University of Waikato in NZ.
 
Dr Shefton Parker
Senior Advisor – Evaluation

Shefton has evaluation and research expertise across social service, education, health and justice sectors, where he advises, designs and implements the evaluation of FSSI’s complex multi-stakeholder cross sector innovative projects. Utilising developmental evaluation approaches in harmony with evidence-based research methods, he has a passion for investigating continuous improvement models and supporting their upscale and implementation. His evaluation style maximises the social benefits of systems whilst supporting accessibility and minimising their harms. His data analyses techniques are grounded in the lived experience of system users, taking action research and co-design approaches to provide project stakeholders with a 360-degree view of activity and outcomes.
 
Shefton is an active member of various external health organisation governance committees at Alfred Health and Western Health and is an advocate for consumer led service delivery. He is a past Director of the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) and has a strong interest in enhancing cross sector collaboration and engagement, to better address complex community needs, support skilled workforce development and advise on policy.
 
Alyssa Warland
Project Officer
Alyssa Warland joined FSSI in late March 2020 as the Project Officer supporting the Leadership Intensives. Alyssa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from a range of previous roles in higher education. A natural collaborator, Alyssa enjoys working with others and has developed a diverse professional network.

A career highlight for Alyssa was supporting the implementation of a new Learning Management System (Canvas) across RMIT. This project was a major shift in learning and teaching at RMIT, and Alyssa played a critical role overseeing the project for the School of Science. Alyssa is also a keen practitioner of agile working and will bring an agile approach to the design and delivery of the Leadership Intensives.

Holding strong personal passions for the work being done by FSSI, Alyssa comes into the team with a strong desire to support the growth, quality and adaptation of the social service sector for the benefit of everyone in our community.
 
 
Declan Gleeson
Evaluation Officer
Declan commenced at FSSI in June 2020 as a Research Officer supporting research into the impact of the NDIS on the Victorian disability advocacy sector, he now supports the evaluation of a number of FSSI projects including the Innovative Traineeships Pilot Project and the Community Traineeships Pilot Project. He also holds the critical role of FSSI Quizmaster! 

Prior to joining FSSI, Declan worked across a number of initiatives at the Department of Education and Training which aimed to support capability building within the teaching workforce. Declan is passionate about the cause of inclusive education and is most proud of his work in managing projects that built the capability of Department staff to support students with complex behaviours of concern using an evidenced based approach. 
 
Kerry Lyons
Project Officer
Kerry joined FSSI as a casual Project Officer in August 2019, providing research and communications support for the Leadership Intensive Program. Since then, she has worked across a number of FSSI research and evaluation projects, including Stories into Evidence and the Reach, Train, Employ Project. With a background in corporate communications, commercial photography and secondary education, she brings a diverse skill set and an unshakable belief in the power of the written word to change the world.

Kerry is midway through her PhD (Media & Communication) at RMIT. Her research sits at the nexus of feminist philosophy, theory and creative writing and interrogates the relationship between female discomfort and feminism. She has a particular interest in qualitative research methods and is driven by a passion for social justice and equality.
Megan O’Connell
Senior Associate, Education Innovation
Megan joined FSSI in August 2020 and is supporting a range of strategic projects. Megan is a leading policy expert, with experience across the entire education spectrum. Her work frequently underpins policy that improves outcomes for young Australians. Her recent publications include co-authoring Beyond ATAR, an influential policy paper that advocates for change in senior secondary pathways and Those Who Disappear, which casts a spotlight on the tens of thousands of children who are not in the education system.

Megan spent more than two decades dedicated to developing policy and programs to support children and young people to thrive through education. Before joining RMIT she was a consultant, director of the Mitchell Institute at VU and an executive in the public service.

Megan continues to contribute to education and social policy through her membership of the VCAA Senior Secondary Curriculum and Assessment Committee, St Bernard’s College School Advisory Council and as a Director of the Parenthood.
Carolyn Rundell
Academic Developer
Carolyn joins the team for 2021 after having worked at RMIT since 2012. Before working at RMIT, she worked for the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission as an Education Consultant. She has previously held a wide range of roles spanning education, leadership, environmental conservation and art.

In her various roles at RMIT, Carolyn’s focus has been on improving the “student experience” and “student success”. She specialises in authentic and applied andragogy, student engagement strategies and cross-disciplinary collaborative education design. A significant achievement at RMIT was establishing and managing the internationally renowned PASS program for over seven years.

In her spare time, she runs an artist residency in rural Victoria, focused on placemaking – and plants trees.