Meet the Team

Director
Micaela Cronin
Commencing 15 April 2019
VCOSS and RMIT are delighted to announce the appointment of Micaela Cronin as the new Director of the Future Social Service Institute.

Micaela 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.

Micaela will commence full time in the role on April 15. Across the coming months she will be working with the FSSI team, VCOSS and RMIT to develop the Institute’s 2019 work program, while she completes her role at Hagar International.

Sally Thompson
Deputy Director Sector Engagement & Capability Development
Black and white headshot of sally thompsonSally Thompson has worked in leadership roles in TAFE, Higher Education and in the not for profit Adult and Community Education sectors. She began her career as an adult literacy teacher in communities characterised by intergenerational disadvantage, including remote Indigenous communities. She is the former President of the Victorian Adult Literacy and Basic Education Council and former member of the Victorian Adult Community and Further Education Board. She has worked for the Australian Education Union in women’s policy and is a Governance Group member of the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria
Paul Ramcharan
Deputy Director Research
Associate Professor Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University
Black and white photo of paul ramcharanPaul Ramcharan has been involved in research for and with people with disability for over 20 years and has maintained an interest in self advocacy, including acting as an Australian Research Council link with colleagues at La Trobe University and Reinforce (a self advocacy group).  Since arriving in Australia in 2006 from the UK Paul has undertaken research around the views and experiences of people with disability and family carers of restrictive practices and has  developed a Roadmap for Achieving Dignity Without Restraint.  Paul maintains a keen interest in disability research, human rights and inclusive research practice.
Shae Allen
Events and Administration Coordinator
Shae Allen has previously coordinated the delivery of domestic and international industry training programs for the RMIT School of Media and Communication in Australia and Vietnam. She is inspired to deliver innovative educational projects and events and nurture strong stakeholder relationships that link people, projects and causes for progressive social change. Shae also has a background in change and personal transition consulting, managing clients through significant cultural change and unique career transition requirements.
Steve Bruechert
VE Program Manager
Steve has more than 35 years’ experience in the health and community services sector in leadership and management roles. His sector experience includes disability, aged care, and health service provision, at state and regional levels. Steve has been involved with a range of consultancies providing advice and operational responsibility for development and design of new commercial projects. He is an experienced workplace consultant educator in the development of leadership and management programs focused on community service workforce strategies. Academic interests include fundamentals of community service workforce development and the relationship between workplace culture and learning.
Angela Carbone
Project Officer
Angela has held a variety of administrative and project roles in higher education for over 18 years and brings a wealth of experience supporting enterprise-wide projects and events at RMIT University. She is particularly passionate about stakeholder engagement and service design.
Dr Alen Keirnan
Research Fellow, Co-design and Service Evaluator
Alen Keirnan has been involved in design research projects across Victoria’s health and ageing sectors for the past six years. He has co-published research on technology use by older adults; lived-experiences of aged care residents and has offered policy recommendations to design better aged care residential services in Australia. He is an advocate for involving end stakeholders throughout the design process, and adopts a co-design process in his work to evaluate health services, new technologies and experiences. Alen maintains a strong interest in unravelling best practice co-design processes and evaluating services and experiences through a design lens.
Dr Jess Lee-Ack
Senior Advisor, Social Innovation
Jess Lee-Ack has worked in higher education as a researcher and lecturer in history and more recently in senior administrative roles related to strategy, policy, planning and governance. Jess has managed a number of RMIT university-wide projects and was part of the project team that developed RMIT’s Ready for Life and Work strategy.  Jess has an interest in evidence-based policy that supports social justice and has authored policy submissions related to research funding, partnerships, evaluation and sustainable growth of the social service workforce. Jess represents FSSI on the Project Lead Working Group for the Victorian Government’s  Keeping Our Sector Strong strategy and supports FSSI with strategic advice, policy analysis, planning and project management. 
Lee Newnham
Executive Officer
black and white photo of lee smilingLee 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 Shefton Parker
Project Developer and Educator
Shefton Parker has a background in clinical health research and higher education teaching. His research has been in evaluating integrated care delivery and quality of life benefits for patients. He has worked with various health and social service sector organisations in delivering research projects with impact. Shefton is an active member of various external health organisation governance committees and is an advocate for consumer centred service delivery. He is a past Director of the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) and has a strong interest in enhancing collaboration and engagement between the health and social service sectors to better address complex community needs.
Kate Robertson
Communications Advisor
Kate  is an experienced journalist and corporate communications specialist who is able to harness more than 25 years experience on both sides of the media fence to assist FSSI to utilise the power of positive publicity. Kate has worked as a newspaper journalist and as a producer for ABC Radio news and current affairs. Her specialties include translating complex information into interesting content that entertains as well as informs.