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Executive Team

Chris Ronan

President & Advocacy Director

Chris is the Equity and Engagement Director for the Country Universities Centre and has worked in the higher education and not-for-profit sectors across the United States, New Zealand, and Australia in a range of management and consultancy roles. He has also worked on national research projects with the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education and the University of South Australia in Regional, Rural and Remote higher education policy, student equity, widening participation and rural student transitions.

Sam Avitaia

Vice-President & Administration Director

Working in the Australian tertiary education sector for over 20 years, Sam is the manager of the University of Wollongong’s regional campus in Bega NSW. Sam grew up in the Bega Valley and has a passion for providing education opportunities to rural people from diverse backgrounds.  She is the coordinator of the Bega In2Uni Schools Outreach Program, manager of the Bega Valley Innovation Hub and the winner of several Widening Participation awards.

Sue Ledger

Research Director & Journal Editor

A dedicated educator, researcher, and advocate for the teaching profession, Sue is Head of School – Dean of Education at University of Newcastle. She draws on her lived experience in rural, remote, international, and diverse settings to inform and lead innovative projects. She has led a range of teaching and learning initiatives that prepare teachers to teach diverse students within diverse schooling contexts. She enjoys researching collaboratively to connect people, projects, and places to improve educational policy and practice around the globe.

Sonal Singh

Conference & Professional Development Director

Sonal Singh is the Manager Student Equity at University of Technology Sydney at the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion. Sonal’s research is focussed on equity in education outcomes, culturally inclusive research methodologies and student equity practice in Australia. She is also a long-term executive member of EPHEA – Equity Practitioners In Higher Education Australasia. Her latest paper is  ‘Making the invisible, visible: A 21st century approach to tertiary preparation, attainment and access for student equity

Adam Gowen


Adam is a Wiradjuri man with cultural connections to Yuin Country and Peoples. He is passionate about Indigenous ways of being, relating, and knowing. He holds a first class honours degree in Indigenous Studies (UOW), and a Graduate Certificate in Theology from Indigenous perspectives (University of Divinity/Whitley College/NAIITS). Adam is the Centre Manager of Country Universities Centre (CUC) Southern Shoalhaven, based in Ulladulla. Adam also sits on the board of two other Not-For-Profit organisations and volunteers as an Advanced Firefighter (AF) with the RFS.

Danielle Keenan


Danielle Keenan is the Centre Manager of Country Universities Centre (CUC) Far West. Since her commencement of this role at CUC in 2018, the Regional Universities Centre has grown to support over 480 students. A born and bred local to the Far West NSW region, Dan has an extensive 13 years working in the higher education sector in Broken Hill. Her passion drives her for supporting regional education, encouraging students to consider their career trajectory in the context of local and regional opportunities.