Staff & Associates


Leanne Smith, Director, is an international human rights lawyer by training, with a Masters in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. Leanne has worked in the Australian judicial system, for the Australian Human Rights Commission, in the international NGO sector, regional human rights organisations, as an Australian diplomat (DFAT)  and in various roles for the United Nations in New York and in the field, most recently as Chief of Policy and Best Practices for UN Peacekeeping Operations. Leanne has published a number of articles on Australian foreign policy and international human rights, rule of law and development as well as the United Nations and women, peace and security. She is a visiting fellow at the ANU Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy and the UNSW Australian Human Rights Centre.

Leanne joined the Whitlam Institute in 2017.

Anna Yeatman 

Professor Anna Yeatman took up her appointment as the inaugural Whitlam Institute Professorial Research Fellow in December 2011. She leads the Whitlam Institute's flagship public policy program under the banner of Human Rights and Public Life. Professor Yeatman has previously held professorial appointments at the University of Alberta, Macquarie University and the University of Waikato.  She is a political and social theorist, who also has experience in policy consultancy work mostly in the human services under the 'old' program management and block grant regime.  Recent publications include: (with Peg Birmingham) The Aporia of Rights: explorations in citizenship in the era of human rights, Bloomsbury 2014;  'Feminism and the Technological Age', Australian Feminist Studies 29 (79), 2014, 85-100; and 'A two-person conception of freedom: The Significance of Jessica Benjamin's idea of intersubjectivity', Journal of Classical Sociology 15 (1), 2015, 3-23. Read Professor Anna Yeatman's full CV here.

Our program team:

Sandra Stevenson Sandra Stevenson is the Senior Program Manager. Sandra has a legal background in the private and community legal sectors. For the past 12 years she has worked at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre as solicitor and coordinator of the Public Interest Law Clearing House, managing its pro bono referral scheme and access to justice projects.

Her work on a diverse range of projects including indigenous justice, consumer protection, workplace issues for people with disability, unlawful detention of young people, protection for refugees and education and training for not for profit community organisations, has enabled her to work closely with the public, private and community legal sectors and a range of community sector organisations and peak bodies. Sandra joined the Whitlam Institute in April 2008.

Lyndal Howison Lyndal Howison is the Communications Manager. Lyndal has more than 15 years experience in communications, in not-for-profit organisations, community campaigns and more recently as a political staffer. She has developed and delivered strategies to build audiences, engage supporters and raise funds through media, digital platforms, events and publications. Lyndal holds a Bachelors Degree in Business from the University of Technology Sydney and a Postgrad Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK.
Jenna Beck 

Jenna Beck is the Communications Coordinator. Jenna's background is in digital marketing and loyalty programs, most recently in the horticulture industry.  She holds a degree in Public Communication from the University of Technology, Sydney and is combining her professional skills with long term interests in political theory and policy and history.  Jenna joined the Whitlam Institute in March 2016.

Georgia Vasiliadis  

Georgia Vasiliadis is the Program Support Officer. Georgia has previous experience at Western Sydney University, having worked in the Assessment and Graduation Unit as a Graduation Officer. Her current role sees her supporting all program areas such as our events, exhibitions, schools program and publications. She has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Sydney, and she spends her free time dabbling in various crafts such as cake decorating. Georgia joined the Whitlam Institute in January 2012.

Matthew Meagher Education and Outreach Officer  

Matt Meagher is the Education and Outreach Officer. Matt has taught in NSW public high schools over the last four years, mostly teaching English to speakers of other languages. He holds a Master of Teaching (History and TESOL) from the University of Sydney and has extensive experience in social justice campaigns from Teachers for Refugees to Save Medicare. Matt joined the Whitlam Institute in July 2017.


Our administration team:


Mantej Singh is the Administration Manager. Mantej has more than 15 years experience across community and cultural sectors. He has managed operations and planning for a diverse range of community and cultural facilities and developed and delivered strategies to build audiences and activate places. He has extensive experience across the areas of community programs, exhibition development, event management, property and facilities management, and stakeholder management. Mantej holds a Masters Degree in Arts Administration (Hons) and a Graduate Diploma in Arts Administration from the University of New South Wales, and a Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering from India. Mantej is passionate about community cultural development, place making and social impact. He joined the Whitlam Institute in September 2017.

Valerie Wilden Valerie Wilden is the Institute's Administrative Officer. Valerie joined the Institute as a permanent staff member in 2010. Valerie is very familiar with the Institute having spent several periods on the team in times of peak demand over the past few years. Valerie is greatly valued for her calm and methodical manner and her ability to get the job done efficiently no matter what 'the job' is. Valerie, trained at TAFE and elsewhere, has had a solid grounding in all facets of administration and customer service through her time with Lion Nathan Australia, Malt Shovel and others.
Elizabeth Langton 

Elizabeth Langton joined the Whitlam Institute in 2015 as the Visitor Services Officer. In September 2016, Elizabeth commenced the part time role of Public Policy Program Officer, while continuing as Visitor Services Officer two days per week. Elizabeth has over ten years' experience in a wide range of administrative positions within both the private and not-for-profit sector. Her previous roles have included providing positive customer service, volunteer engagement and management, travel administration, oversight of WHS, bookkeeping, procedure improvement and event coordination. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor of Theology and a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact, which she is currently using to complete her Master of Business Administration (Social Impact).

Steff Fenton  

Steff Fenton joined the Whitlam Institute in 2017 as the Visitor Services Officer, in a part time capacity three days per week. Steff has a background in communications and over 6 years' experience working with not-for-profit organisations. Prior to joining the Whitlam team, Steff worked in the coordination of media, events, volunteer programs and stakeholder relations. Steff holds a Bachelor of Media from Macquarie University.


 Professor Jenny Hocking 

Professor Jenny Hocking is the Whitlam Institute's inaugural Distinguished Fellow. An eminent scholar, political historian and biographer, Professor Jenny Hocking has been researching and publishing in Australia and internationally for some twenty five years. Her work focuses on two key areas: counter-terrorism and Australian political biography. The overarching themes, crossing both these areas, remain consistent: Australian democratic practice, the relationship between the arms of government, and aspects of Australian political history.

Professor Hocking is best known to the wider community for her acclaimed biographies of Attorney-General in the Whitlam government and High Court justice Lionel Murphy, Australian communist author Frank Hardy and most recently her two-volume biography of Gough Whitlam: A Moment in History, and His Time.

This honorary appointment is in recognition of Professor Hocking's substantial and ongoing scholarly contribution to Australian history and the political sciences. The appointment formalises the close collaboration that already exists between Professor Hocking and the Institute.


Professor Margaret Wilson is a Whitlam Institute Distinguished Fellow.

Professor Wilson is not only an acclaimed legal academic but is also one of New Zealand’s most respected public figures having served in several key ministerial portfolios in Helen Clark’s Labour government, including Attorney General. Professor Wilson has also served as Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament.

Professor Scott Holmes  

Professor Scott Holmes joined Western Sydney University in March 2014. He is currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Research and Development) as well as a Professor of Public Policy in the Whitlam Institute. Over the past 17 years, he has held various senior leadership roles at Newcastle, including Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research), Foundation Dean of Graduate Studies, Head of the Graduate School of Business, and Professor of Public Policy. He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland and a Life Member of the Small Enterprise Association of Australia and New Zealand reflecting almost three decades of research and support for the small firm sector.

Professor Holmes economic and business background is extensive, having published 6 books and over 50 Referred articles.

Professor Holmes received the University of Newcastle 2012 Excellence in Innovation Award for development of a course for NSW Health's 7,500 clinical managers aimed at improving budget integrity. He was also the head of one of five groups that delivered the training statewide.


Associate Professor Edward Nik-Kah is a Whitlam Institute Fellow.

Dr Edward Nik-Khah is an Associate Professor of Economics at Roanoke College. He has previously completed research on the historical development of neoliberal pharmaceutical science, the role of George Stigler as architect of Chicago neoliberalism, economics imperialism, and the political economy of market design, for which he won the K. William Kapp Prize from the European Association of Evolutionary Political Economy. Current research of his (with Philip Mirowski) examines the history of the economics of information and market design in twentieth century economics.

Dr Kristen Rundle  

Dr Kristen Rundle is a Whitlam Institute Fellow (appointed 2015). She is an Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies at Melbourne Law School, where she teaches in the areas of administrative law and legal theory. She has previously held appointments at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Sydney, and adjunct and visiting appointments at the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa, Canada, and Erasmus University, The Netherlands.

Dr Rundle's research is located at the interface of legal theory and public law in its effort to trace the relational and institutional conditions necessary for law to act as a limitation on power. Her book, Forms Liberate: Reclaiming the Jurisprudence of Lon L Fuller (Hart Publishing, 2012) was awarded second prize, UK Society of Legal Scholars Peter Birks Book Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship, 2012. Dr Rundle was awarded a Doctor of Juridical Science from the University of Toronto, where she also held the Doctoral Fellowship in Ethics at the Centre for Ethics. She obtained a Master of Laws (honours) in public law and legal theory at McGill University as Australia's 2001 Lionel Murphy Postgraduate (Overseas) Scholar, and also holds a Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Laws (first class honours) from the University of Sydney. Prior to becoming an academic, she worked as an associate at the Federal Court of Australia, and as a Legislative Policy Advisor in the NSW Attorney-General's Department.

  Associate Professor Heidi Norman is the E. G. Whitlam Research Fellow.

Heidi Norman is an Associate Professor in Social and Political Sciences in the School of Communication at the University of Technology, Sydney.  She researchers and publishes in the areas of NSW Aboriginal history and politics with a particular focus on land and its management and the Aboriginal administrative domain.  Her most recent work is a study of Aboriginal Land rights in NSW (published in 2015). This work is a critical account of the interface between the Government’s construction of Aboriginal interests in land and the emerging governance of those land and interests by Aboriginal citizens through their land councils.  Her new area of research is focused on Aboriginal people’s interests in pursuing land management and cultural aspirations on their land, alongside imperatives to pursue economic development.