Board & Staff

Meet the team at Melbourne Writers Festival.

MWF Board

John Jerome Myers (Chair)
John Jerome was appointed to the MWF Board in February 2012 and appointed Deputy Chair 12 months later. He is a director of, and works within, the finance and management departments of Dunkeld Pastoral Company, a private company that has agricultural and hospitality interests in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria. Over the past ten years other work interests have taken him frequently and for extended periods to both Bangladesh and Poland. John was appointed chair in 2017.

Astrid Edwards (Deputy Chair)
Astrid is a writer, teacher, podcaster and director. Astrid teaches writing at RMIT University. She is one half of Bad Producer Productions, a podcast network with seven successful (and three awarded) podcasts. Astrid has been published in The AgeThe Sydney Morning HeraldFuture Women and Australian Book Review. She is the host of the literary podcast The Garret: Writers on Writing, and has judged the Aurealis Awards each year since 2016. Astrid is also a national advocate for MS Australia, and previously served as the deputy chair of Writers Victoria. She joined the MWF Board in 2019.

Fahim Ahad (Treasurer)
Fahim Ahad is a technology, media and intellectual property lawyer and screen business consultant, advising clients across the arts and education sectors, government and industry. Fahim has been involved with the development, production and marketing of a number of Australian feature films and television series, and has consulted extensively on the development of arts policy. Fahim joined the MWF Board in, and has served as treasurer since, 2016.

Joanna Brand (Secretary)
Joanna has over 20 years legal and governance experience in both Australia and overseas. She is currently General Counsel and Company Secretary for ME Bank, and has previously held General Counsel roles with Jetstar Group, Billabong International, and Epic Energy. Joanna also served as a Director of Powerlink (Queensland Electricity Transmission Corporation Limited). She holds a B.A. from Duke University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.B.A (Executive) from the Australian Graduate School of Management, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She joined the MWF Board in 2020.

Phillip Benedetti
Phillip is a principal at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). He is passionate about the potential for digital to drive real, disruptive innovation and is privileged to help his clients navigate this rapidly evolving landscape. Phillip is also a staunch supporter of BCG’s diversity agenda and leads story-based communication training. He co-founded a non-profit supporting science research while studying in Cambridge (UK). Phillip holds a master of philosophy in bioscience enterprise from the University of Cambridge and both a master of science in chemistry and a bachelor of arts in chemistry, biochemistry and economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the MWF Board in 2018.

Jason Mifsud
Jason Mifsud has been leading cultural transformation in Aboriginal and Multicultural Affairs for over 20 years. He is currently the Managing Director of Mifsud Consulting, and served as the Executive Director for Aboriginal Victoria at the Department of Premier and Cabinet where he led the whole-of government Aboriginal Affairs reform agenda between the Victorian Government and Victorian Aboriginal community. Jason has a unique and broad skill set in business, community and sport, holding senior management and executive roles across numerous sectors as well as coaching experience at AFL level. A proud member of South West Victoria’s Gunditjmara nation, Jason is recognised as one of Australia’s most influential advocates for Indigenous people and inclusion. Jason joined the MWF Board in 2020.​

Jamila Rizvi
Jamila is Editor-at-Large of the Nine Network’s Future Women, host of their podcast Future Women Weekly and columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. She is a regular commentator on The ProjectTodayThe DrumQ and A, and an occasional host on ABC Radio Melbourne. Jamila is the author of bestselling books Not Just Lucky and The Motherhood, and co-founded the popular event series Tea with Jam and Clare which she hosts with Clare Bowditch. Jamila holds bachelors degrees in law and commerce from the Australian National University and previously worked for the Rudd and Gillard Governments, advising on media, women, child care, and employment. She joined the MWF Board in 2017.

MWF Development Sub-Committee

John De Rango (Fundraising Advisor)

John is the Executive Director Marketing at Stroke Foundation and has more than 20 years of senior management experience (across corporate and non-for-profits). His early career commenced in membership management with a number of AFL Clubs, before joining Save the Children Australia where he led the marketing and fundraising team. John then co-founded Redstone Marketing, a specialist fundraising and marketing consultancy, working with major charities including Greenpeace International, Cancer Council Victoria, Peter Mac and Save the Children International. Before joining Stroke Foundation, he was the Director of the Royal Melbourne Hospital Foundation. John is a Board Member at the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) and a Professional Member of the Fundraising Institute Australia.

MWF Staff

Rebecca MacFarling — CEO

Michaela McGuire — Artistic Director

Gene Smith — Associate Director

Sonia Nair — Program Manager

Alexia Jordan — Marketing & Partnerships Manager

Jessica Harvie — Business & Operations Coordinator

Gemma Pass — Marketing Coordinator

Winnie Tsang — Development Coordinator

Nadia Bailey — Copywriter & Content Producer

Rachel Hanley — Box Office Assistant

Jacob Boehme — First Nations Advisor

Ingrid Laguna — Education Advisor

Joey Chen — Bookkeeper

Graphic Design — Sweet Creative

Publicity — CPR Communications & Public Relations