Team


Team

  • Claire Albrecht

    Claire Albrecht

    Operations Manager

    Claire Albrecht is an award-winning poet and editor based on Wiradjuri Country, Australia. She was the 2019 Emerging Writers Festival fellow at the State Library of Victoria, a 2020 Varuna ‘Writing Fire, Writing Drought’ fellow, and a resident at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, New Mexico in 2022. Her work investigates anxiety and the connections between poetry and photography. Claire’s manuscript sediment was shortlisted for the 2018 Subbed In chapbook prize, and her debut chapbook pinky swear launched in 2018. Her most recent book handshake was shortlisted for the Puncher & Wattmann First Poetry Book Prize. Claire is Editor-in-Chief of The Suburban Review and Manager of Australian Literary Studies.

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    Natalie Bühler

    Digital & Administrative Coordinator

    Natalie is an emerging arts administrator and writer with a background in communications, events management and project support in arts, culture and education, living and working on Gadigal Land. Her passion for language(s) and communication has led her to write both professionally as a copywriter and creatively in prose, non-fiction and poetry.

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    Jonty Claypole MBE

    CEO

    Jonty Claypole MBE is a writer, documentary producer and arts administrator living and working on Gadigal land. Born in Sydney, and raised in London, he worked for twenty years in media and the arts in the UK. He produced and directed dozens of arts documentaries, before becoming Director of Arts at the BBC (from 2014-21), where he commissioned landmark series like Civilisations, many films about and by poets, and started the Contains Strong Language poetry festival. He was Chair of HOME, Manchester, one of the UK’s best-loved arts centres and sat on the advisory committees of the Booker Prizeand Art UK.

    In 2021, Jonty was awarded an MBE for services to UK culture and published his first book – Words Fail Us: In Defence of Dysfluency (Wellcome Collection/Profile) – to critical acclaim. It is a cultural history of speech disorders, and their role in neurodiverse thinking, drawing on his long experience of stuttering.

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    Rebecca Cuschieri

    Development Director

    Rebecca’s fundraising career began in the early days of Bell Shakespeare, working with the small team to support the company’s first performances around Australia.

    Since then she has worked in senior development and marketing roles with many of Australia’s best-loved performing Arts organisations, including Sydney Theatre Company, Opera Australia and Sydney Opera House. She was also Chairman of Australian Theatre of the Deaf.

    She comes to Red Room with a reader’s passion for poetry, and a real excitement to be part of the work that Red Room does to make poetry in meaningful ways.

  • Rani Ghazzaoui

    Rani Ghazzaoui

    Marketing & Communications Manager

    Rani Ghazzaoui is a writer, communicator, actor, and poet who lives and works on Gadigal land. Born in Brazil and a naturalised Australian, Rani moved to Sydney in 2007.

    Ghazzaoui received notoriety online when, in 1999, at the age of 13, she began sharing her essays and poems on her now-extinct blog, "Rani Ghazzaoui Said". She gained visibility again in 2020 when she started writing poetry daily on her Instagram, @ranighazzaoui. She writes poetry, prose, fiction and auto-fiction in Portuguese and English about a variety of themes that examine human vulnerability — and the understanding of the complexity of her own humanity. Frequent subjects are love, feminism, relationships, society, politics, and self-analysis. She has published works in the Brazilian anthology Posfácios (Hecatombe Publishing House) and numerous literary digital publications, such as “Ruído Manifesto” and “Diversos Afins”. Selected poems also integrate the literature high school curriculum of several Brazilian schools. Her debut book, an anthology of essays and poems entitled Aorta, was published in Brazil by Lyra das Artes in 2022 and in English, as an e-book, in 2023.

    With a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Casper Libero University, a Diploma in Business and Management from Australian Pacific College, and a Certificate in Acting Techniques from NIDA, Rani has a twenty-year-long career in the Communications field — she has worked in Advertising as a Copywriter, in Broadcast as a Promo Writer, in Digital Media as a Producer and as an Account Manager, in AI-based Ad-Tech as Head of Client Solutions, and in Design and Innovation as Head of Content & Communications.

    Rani joins Red Room Poetry delighted to combine her passion for poems with her desire to promote social inclusion through the art of words.

    (Image: Kathy Luu)

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    Lorin Reid

    Producer - POEM FOREST

    Lorin Elizabeth is a spoken word poet, organiser and teaching artist from Thirroul, who co-founded Enough Said Poetry Slam and is published widely including in the Solid Air anthology.

    Lorin has performed at Yours & Owls Music Festival, Sydney Opera House and on tour in the USA. She was commissioned for Wollongong Art Gallery's 'Future Feminist Archive' exhibition and leads workshops & panels for The Stella Prize’s Girls Write Up. 

    lorinelizabeth.com @lorinelizabethr

    Reflections & Blog

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    Izzy Roberts-Orr

    Creative Producer

    Izzy Roberts-Orr is a poet, writer, broadcaster and arts worker based on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Country. Izzy is Creative Producer for Red Room Poetry and a 2020-2022 recipient of the Australia Council Marten Bequest Scholarship for Poetry.

    Her debut poetry collection Raw Salt (2024) is published by Vagabond Press, and was the recipient of a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship, and longlisted for the Colorado Prize for Poetry.

    Formerly Artistic Director and Co-CEO of the Emerging and Digital Writers’ Festivals, and a Co-Director of the National Young Writers’ Festival, Izzy has also worked with local artists in the Western suburbs of Narrm Melbourne advocated for artists on the Collingwood Yard Board and Moreland Arts Advisory Committee and as a Co-Director of Broadwave podcasting network. She regularly consults on advisory and funding panels as an industry expert.

    (Headshot credit: Leah Jing)

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    Nicole Smede

    Artistic Director - First Nations

    Nicole Smede is a multidisciplinary artist of Worimi and European descent, living and creating on Dharawal Country. A classically trained Mezzo Soprano, she ran away from classical music early on to pursue wider artistic interests. Her voice can be heard on award winning films and soundtracks, and her poetry can be found in exhibitions, visual and sound pieces, anthologies and journals including Australian Poetry Journal, Mascara Literary Review, Never Heard of Them (2019, Baby Teeth Journal), Guwayu: for all times (2020, Magabala Books), What we Carry (2021, Recent Work Press), 20x20x12 Sensing Place (2021, Manta Publishing), Mantle (2022, SCWC), The Anabranch (2022, HWC), and Shoot the Breeze (2022, Girls on Key).

    In 2020, Nicole was the co-recipient of the 2020 Shoalhaven Arts Board Grant for poetry and painting collaboration 20x20x12 Sensing Place (2021, Manta Publishing), a finalist in the Meroogal Women's Art Prize and shortlisted for the 2020 Red Room Poetry Fellowship. In 2022, Nicole was a recipient of the inaugural Space to Create residency through Australia Council, Yil Lull Studio and ANU, a finalist in the Newcastle Poetry Prize and soundtrack composer for play Mt Hopeless (Merrigong Theatre).

    Nicole has extensive experience as a cultural producer across multiple artforms including film, music, performance and visual art and is a passionate advocate for arts education and the revitalisation of First Languages. Nicole is a judge for the Reconciliation NSW Schools Reconciliation Challenge (since 2019) and she has worked with and facilitated workshops for The NSW Department of Education, The Song Company, Red Room, Bundanon Trust, Wollongong City Council, South Coast Writers Centre, Reiby Juvenile Justice Centre and schools across the NSW East Coast.

    Working closely with Elders and community, Nicole is currently the vocal coach for South Coast Yuin women’s choir Mudjingaal Yangumba, who weave language into original songs and storytelling.

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    David Stavanger

    Artistic Director

    David Stavanger is poet, performer, cultural producer, editor and former psychologist living on Dharawal land. His first full-length poetry collection, The Special (UQP, 2014), was awarded several prizes. David is the co-editor of Solid Air: Collected Australian & New Zealand Spoken Word (UQP, 2019) and Admissions: Voices Within Mental Health (Upswell, 2022.) His latest collection, Case Notes (UWAP, 2020), won the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.

    David was previously the co-director of QLD Poetry Festival and part of the Programming Team at Woodford Folk Festival. He is also known for his work with several community writing projects that amplify marginalised voices and lived experience writers including Brotherhood of the Wordless (writers with autism precluded from speech) and as the producer of MAD Poetry (writers with lived mental health experience.)

    Reflection

    "Sometimes the poet is not there when you are there" – Youth Unlocked – David Stavanger 

    "I was not friends with Duchamp on entering. We are not friends on leaving" – Punch Lines: Poets Play Duchamp – David Stavanger

Board of Directors

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    Michael Pembroke

    Chair

    The Hon. Michael Pembroke is Red Room Poetry's Chairman. He is a writer, historian, avid naturalist and former Supreme Court Judge. Michael was born in 1955 and served as a judge from 2010 to 2020. He is the author of four books including Trees of History & Romance (2009). His latest is Play by the Rules (2020).

    Appointed to Red Room Poetry Board in 2020.

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    Chi Ouyang

    Treasurer

    Chi brings financial and business leadership with more than 15 years of diverse commercial experience having worked in a variety of organisational contexts. He has a proven track record as a trusted business partner collaborating with leadership teams to drive organisational transformation and build sustainable business outcomes.

    Chi is currently the Global Head of Commercial and FP&A at Bondi Sands, where he leads group planning and business performance. Prior to this, he held senior commercial finance positions with L'Oreal Australia in Professional Products and Luxury Cosmetics business divisions, where he led the execution of sound financial management and profitable growth. He also worked in corporate finance for the BBC based in London UK.

    Chi has a long standing personal involvement and passion for the arts, having grown up in a literary family, and as a classical musician performing clarinet with various ensembles and repertoires.

    He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and Information Systems from the University of Melbourne, studied in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a qualified CPA.

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    Tamryn Bennett

    Board Member

    Tamryn Bennett is a poet and Artistic Director of Red Room Poetry living on Dharawal land. Her two poetry collections are Icaros (Vagabond Press) and phosphene (Rabbit Poetry). She is also editor of Líneas en tierra / Lines in land— a bilingual collection of Mexican poetry. Tamryn's poetic projects have been exhibited and published widely in Australia and internationally. She is a recipient of the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship and Australia Council Professional Development Grant. Tamryn has a PhD from the University of New South Wales where she also taught Creative Writing.

    Related:

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    Judy Foster

    Board Member

    Judy is a designer-maker and artist born in Lusaka, Zambia and now living on the beautiful land of the Gadigal peoples of the Eora Nation in Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. 
     
    Judy is the National Membership Director at Philanthropy Australia with nine years’ experience working in the philanthropic sector, particularly in structured giving. She has deep relationship management experience across a broad range of relationships including trusts, foundations, organisations, families, individual donors, professional advisers, intermediaries, corporates, government and not-for-profit organisations. 

    Appointed to the Red Room Poetry Board in 2020. 

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    Andrew FitzSimons

    Board Member

    Andrew has been the principal of Dapto High School in the southern Illawarra for the past 16 years; no plan to retire. Initially trained as an English teacher; he remains entranced by the power to language to encourage, to celebrate and to explore the human condition. Andrew is active in the NSW Secondary Principals' Council; chairing the Vocation Education and Training Reference Group. Dapto High School services and supports a middle/working-class community and has 1000 students. A focus on sustainability, Asian Literacy and 'student voice' are thoroughly infused across daily operations. Andrew started building his farmhouse in Kangaroo Valley nearly 40 years ago; its nearly finished! He runs cattle and trees. He is the foundation chair of Brogers Creek Land Care. Married with two fine children. Incurably optimistic. Andrew is honoured to also sit on the board of the 'Top Blokes Foundation'. The TBF does it utmost to nurture positive masculinity in the fine young men of NSW and Qld schools.

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    Martin Green

    Board Member

    Martin has been a director of Sydney-based social purpose book publisher Pantera Press for 15 years, investing in the next generation of Australian reading and writing, and the Pantera Press Foundation, which focuses primarily on literacy programs for marginalised youth. He is also a musician and songwriter.

    Appointed to the Red Room Poetry Board in 2022.

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    Emma Maple-Brown

    Board Member

    Emma is a non-executive director and experienced senior pro bono lawyer who has spent over 20 years working in social justice connecting community need with professional skills. She specialises in the strategic delivery of pro bono legal services to socially, culturally and linguistically diverse groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with disability and people seeking asylum.

    Emma has over 20 years’ experience working with and supporting a diverse range of pro bono clients including not for profit entities, charities, social enterprises, and vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals. She led and managed the Australian Pro Bono practice of global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills for over 8 years before moving to UNSW where she was the Director of the Office of the Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous.

    Emma is an experienced manager of large, diverse teams and has strong governance and strategic planning skills. She holds several Non-Executive Director roles as well as consulting to not for profit organisations on governance, leadership and strategy.

    Emma is a graduate of the University of Sydney – BA (Hons)/ LLB (Hons) - and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

Patron

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    John B Fairfax, AO

    Patron

    John B Fairfax, AO began his career in 1961 as a cadet journalist at The Sydney Morning Herald, joining the Fairfax board in 1979. He is a Director of Marinya Capital and former Chairman of Rural Press. John is President of The Girls & Boys Brigade and an Honorary Vice President of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW. He has acted as Patron to Red Room Poetry since 2008.

Founder

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    Johanna Featherstone

    Founder

    Johanna established Red Room Poetry in 2003 and was Artistic Director from 2003-2015. Her poetry has featured in journals such as Quadrant, and the Best Australian Poems. In 2006 she created a series of literary TV shows, The Wordshed, in partnership with The University of Western Sydney where she is a research associate. Johanna is an honorary associate of The University of Sydney's School of Letters Arts and Media. Johanna received a fellowship from the St James Ethics Center in 2008. Her chapbook Felt was released in 2010 by Vagabond Press