Lisa Dempster, Festival Director/CEO
Lisa is the chair of Right Now Inc. Prior to joining MWF, she was the director/CEO of the Emerging Writers’ Festival (2010–2012), and founder of its innovative online programming arm, EWFdigital. Lisa is a professional writer and editor, and formerly worked as a small press publisher, running indie outfit Vignette Press for five years before selling it in 2011. In 2012 she curated an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Future Bookshop, which explored how Australians will be reading, writing and publishing in the future, and undertook an Asialink residency with the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Bali. Lisa has travelled widely in search of literary and other adventures.
Shona Barrett, General Manager
Born and raised in the UK, Shona spent a decade at the British Film Institute in London, working on the preservation and re-release of films from the UK National Film Archive, before relocating to Melbourne and joining MWF. She is on the board of the National Young Writers’ Festival and of The Ownership Project. Shona loves combining her passion for the creative arts and literature with her enjoyment of planning and organisation. When she’s not working, reading, or in the cinema, Shona can be found reluctantly jogging along the Yarra or rewarding herself with a pint.
Jessica Alice, Program Manager
Jessica is chair of the Kat Muscat Fellowship Custodial Committee and interviews editor of the feminist literary journal Scum. She directed the National Young Writers’ Festival in 2014-15 and spent two years with Regional Arts Victoria as marketing & publicity manager. Jessica was previously books editor of Lip Magazine, deputy online editor for Kill Your Darlings, and presented 3CR’s current affairs radio program Women on the Line. Her writing can be found in The Guardian Australia, Overland, VICE, The Lifted Brow, Spook, Metro Magazine and Cordite Poetry Review, among others.
Jasmeet Sahi, Program Coordinator & Artist Liaison
Jasmeet is a Melbourne-based writer, editor and academic. She was born and raised in India and moved to Melbourne to study creative writing and editing at the University of Melbourne. Her features and op-eds have appeared online for the ABC, ArtsHub, Eureka Street and Peril Magazine. She is interested in the arts, feminism, food and social justice. She writes freelance and is a sessional academic at RMIT, where she teaches nonfiction writing. In her spare time she dreams of reading lots and writing essays.
Hiroki Kobayashi, Program Producer
Hiroki has a keen interest in theatre and community-engaged arts practices and was most recently part of the Emerging Cultural Leaders program at Footscray Community Arts Centre. In the past, he has worked with Malthouse Theatre, TimeLine Theatre in the US and was a participant in Playwriting Australia’s Lotus Asian-Australian Playwriting project. He looks forward to working with both Melbourne Writers Festival and Emerging Writers’ Festival to help showcase Australia’s dynamic literary landscape.
Kylie Eddy, Marketing & Development Manager
Kylie has spent the last decade working for festivals and major events including Melbourne Festival, Optus Yestival, Online Video Awards and Melbourne Queer Film Festival. Her diverse experience includes marketing, development and event management. Kylie is also a passionate screenwriter and film producer. She’s the co-founder of Lean Filmmaking, an agile process for creating video content, and runs the largest filmmaking meetup group in Australia.
Tamsien West, Development Executive
Tamsien has spent time as an intern with Fairtrade, worked in retail for Oxfam, designed marketing strategy for social enterprises, and most recently managed key accounts and fundraising for the Forest Stewardship Council. Like all chai-latte loving twenty-somethings, Tamsien also has a bunch of side-projects. Never one to say no to a challenge, she’s guest lectured at Melbourne University, been interviewed on radio about all-female hackathons, and organised meet-ups for book lovers in 6 different countries. In her spare time, she moonlights as ‘Babbling Books’, a successful multi-platform book-blogging profile – reviewing a variety of genres, producing videos & taking more photos of books than is strictly necessary. When she isn’t working or blogging, Tamsien can be found reading, painting, or planning her next international adventure.
Irene Kalpakas, Marketing Campaign Coordinator
Irene is a lifelong lit lover who began at MWF as a marketing intern. She has worked in marketing but always knew her passion lay within the literary and publishing worlds, and is so excited to now combine the two. A recent media communications and screen studies graduate, Irene is also a balloon inflator extraordinaire after spending many years as a party assistant. She can usually be found curled up with a book or binge-watching television shows while covered in (gluten-free) cookie crumbs.
Joanna Lee, Digital Marketing Coordinator
Joanna has worked in journalism and digital marketing. Born in Taiwan and raised in Australia, she’s never too sure which she prefers to call home more – and as a result, has spent the last few years living and working in both. Locally, she’s written for ArtsHub and Time Out Melbourne, and most recently worked for the Museum of Chinese Australian History. Joanna is interested in race, geopolitics, as well as issues specific to Chinese diaspora. When she’s not working, she’s spruiking fashion as art under iie ie girls.
Andy Butler, Festival Administrator
Andy is a Filipino-Australian writer and curator. His writing has appeared in Overland, Art+Australia and PEN Melbourne Quarterly. He is interested in investigating how structural inequality at a societal level reproduces itself in the arts and cultural sectors. He has worked in audience engagement roles at ACMI and the National Gallery of Victoria, and is writer and editor for Chapter House Lane – a contemporary art space in Melbourne’s CBD. When he’s not reading, writing, looking at art or project planning, Andy is usually drawing, painting or watching Star Trek.
Sarah Jayne Saunders, Sales and Ticketing Manager
Sarah is an arts event enthusiast, following the festival circuit around the country. After completing her theatre qualification Sarah embraced her love of the arts, working in operational roles for Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Perth Fringe, Sydney Film Festival and Melbourne Fringe, returning to theatre in-between. With her passion for both history and books it was no surprise to anyone that Sarah ended up at Melbourne Writers Festival. In 2017 she returns for her second year with the Festival. When not selling tickets or running around backstage Sarah can be found reading multiple travel guides (with a strong cup of tea) planning her next adventure.
Festival Photographer: Timothy Herbert