Our People

Our People


Associate Professor – Humanitarian Studies – School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Appointed by Deakin as Co-Director of the CHL, Dr Phil Connors’ work is focused on the education and research aspects of the Centre. Phil works across all the Centre’s educational programmes, including the GCHL and GCHH, and is Course Director for the MHA. His research focus is on localization and leadership in the context of improving the humanitarian eco system, and he is a member of the Scientific Committee on the Humanitarian Encyclopedia Project through CERAH – University of Geneva.

Phil’s previous roles include Course Director of the Master of International and Community Development, and Community Development Lecturer in the Bachelor of Social Work at Deakin and Curtin Universities. Prior to returning to study, Phil worked for ten years with ‘at risk’ youth in remote indigenous communities and regional towns, as part of the WA Department for Community Services. He later transferred to the Perth Inner City Youth Service as Coordinator of the Street-work Team providing outreach services to street-present children and youth.

Phil holds a Diploma of Teaching (Primary) from Edith Cowan University and a Bachelor of Social Work (Hons), and PhD, from Curtin University. His published work includes ‘Developing Communities for the Future’ 5th Edition, ‘Leading the Way: Applied humanitarian leadership learning in the Haiyan response’, and ‘Transitioning Communities: communities, participation and the Transition Town movement’ in Community Development Journal 46 (4) 558-572.



Stephen McDonald is co-Director of the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership. He has more than 10 years’ experience in leading humanitarian responses, including in Japan, Thailand and the Ivory Coast. As Head of Humanitarian Programmes with Save the Children, Stephen was responsible for developing global tools and systems to improve Save the Children’s humanitarian response efforts.

Prior to joining Save the Children, Stephen worked in the private and government sectors, and spent a number of years in emergency services in Australia.

Stephen studied at La Trobe and Deakin Universities, and is a member of the Australian Institute of Training and Development. He has lectured on humanitarian issues at City University, London, Warminster, and the Australian Emergency Management Institute. He has also lectured on Civil/Military issues at the Australian Defence Force. Stephen’s current research examines command and control in the digital age.


Sophie Perreard is Senior Lecturer in Humanitarian Studies at Deakin University and one of the founding members of the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership. In her role, Sophie is Course Director of both the Anglophone and Francophone Graduate Certificates of Humanitarian Leadership courses.

Prior to joining Deakin University, Sophie combined humanitarian and academic experience. Sophie lectured in the Master of Humanitarian Action at the Faculty of Law – Aix-Marseille University in Humanitarian Protection and Displacement Camp Management. As a humanitarian practitioner Sophie operated as Team Leader mainly in medium to large scale emergencies in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Middle-East in both conflict and natural disaster contexts. Sophie worked for Save the Children US as Deputy Director Emergency Response and in various capacities with Doctors without Borders (MSF), the German Cooperation (GIZ) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

Aside from a high interest in Protection of Civilians and Forced Migration, Sophie’s research focuses on Women and Leadership, and Humanitarian Leadership Education. In 2014, Sophie co-authored a research report on humanitarian leadership conducted in the Philippines following devastating Typhoon Haiyan. Sophie is also currently lead researcher on a longitudinal study exploring the impact of leadership education on the careers of graduates.

Sophie is a NOHA (Network On Humanitarian Action) and Bioforce Graduate. She holds Humanitarian Logistics and Administration degree, a European Master in Humanitarian Action with specialization in International Law and a Post Graduate Degree in Protection – Rule of Law – Human Security from Aix-Marseille University. Sophie is Hogan Certified.


Senior HR leader in Save the Children UK (special projects) 

Leonie is the Coaching Lead for the CHL Humanitarian Leadership Program (HLP), as well as Senior HR leader for Save the Children UK (SCUK). Leonie has been involved with the HLP since its inception and now works with the CHL team for 50% of her time. A seasoned HR professional, she has also had the privilege of working with SCUK for over 35 years, in a variety of operational, policy and Learning and Development orientated roles.

As part of the set-up of the Save the Children International, Leonie led the HR Workstream, and until recently, also led the People and Organisational Development team. Her work involved supporting learning and development initiatives, including Leadership Development and management development programmes across the Save the Children family.  She was instrumental in setting up the Save the Children pro bono coaching network, has been HR/Family Liaison lead on Save the Children UK’s Crisis Management team, and also supported the creation of the Humanitarian and Leadership Academy.

With a BSc in Psychology, Leonie is a qualified NLP (Neuro linguistic Programming) Practitioner, and Hogan and Belbin trained. She is passionate about the humanitarian cause as well as the development and support of people working in difficult contexts with highly vulnerable people. In 2016 Leonie was awarded an MBE for her contribution to Humanitarian Services.


Sonia has been involved in the Humanitarian Leadership Program as faculty staff since 2015. In February 2017, she joined the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership as Course Director for the Graduate Certificate for Humanitarian Health (GCHH).

A dietitian by background, Sonia started her career in clinical settings in Australia and the UK. She lectured at Deakin University in nutrition and dietetics for five years and has also completed missions as a nutritionist to South Darfur and East Timor. Sonia has a Master of Public Health, and a keen interest in international health, in particular the role of chronic malnutrition and child development.


Project Officer – Humanitarian Health Initiative

Dianne joined the CHL in March 2017 and as Project Officer for the Humanitarian Health Initiative, has played a key role in the establishment of the Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Health (GCHH). She provides support to the administrative, procedural and  budget management of the GSK Humanitarian Health Initiative.  Dianne has also been involved in logistics management of the Humanitarian Leadership Programme (HLP) residential units.

Dianne has over 10 years administration and student support experience in the Australian education sector. Her experience has extended to logistics management of study tours to India and Cambodia and programmes to assist the transition of international students to the Australian tertiary system.

Dianne holds a BA from the University of Western Australia, and Graduate Diploma of Careers Education from RMIT. 


In 2017, Laurette Hargreaves joined the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership (CHL) as Senior Business Development Manager, after volunteering for six months with Save the Children in supporter engagement. In her current role, she develops and strengthens key relationships and business endeavours with CHL partners, supporting the Centre’s growth and sustainability.

Laurette’s recent transition into aid and development follows 15 years in the private sector, and her passion to support the humanitarian sector is bolstered by her comprehensive background in marketing and relationship management. Her professional experience in brand and product management includes product, range and brand launches. She is competent in all facets of through-the-line marketing from TV advertising and PR, to online and event management. In more recent times, her skill set has expanded to include consumer insights, research, and project management.

From 2009-2016 Laurette was Marketing Manager for Murray Goulburn, after which she worked as an independent Marketing Consultant. She holds a double degree in Marketing/Management from Monash University, and recently completed a level 2 course in Auslan (Australian Sign Language).Laurette also volunteers as a Marketing Consultant with Playground Ideas, a non-profit organisation that supports anyone, anywhere to build a stimulating space for play using only local materials, tools, and skills.



Sarah currently works as a lecturer with the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership for the HLP and the Masters of Humanitarian Assistance subjects. She is also the Humanitarian Advocacy and Policy Adviser for Save the Children Australia, based in Lebanon.

Sarah has over eight years of international experience as a humanitarian practitioner, having worked in emergency and post-emergency contexts in Africa, Asia and the Middle East with various humanitarian agencies such as Save the Children, Action Against Hunger and Merlin. Starting her career in logistics and operations, Sarah has led emergency responses in Iraq for the Syrian refugee crisis, in the Philippines for Typhoon Haiyan, Typhoon Bopha, Tropical Storm Washi and the Manila Floods, and in Myanmar during the displacement of ethnic groups caused by violence. Sarah has also designed and led trainings on emergency preparedness and response in country offices throughout Asia.

She has a Bachelor of Journalism and Masters on International Studies (Peace and Conflict Resolutions) from the University of Queensland, and is currently studying a Masters of International and Public Law at University of Melbourne. She is also a graduate of the Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership.


Lecturer in Humanitarian Assistance – School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Daniel lectures at Deakin University in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. He teaches a range of core and elective units within the Masters of Humanitarian Assistance, including Applied Humanitarian Assistance and Humanitarian Settlement. Daniel is also engaged in research on policy and practices associated with state-building interventions, transnational policing, and humanitarian interventions, with a focus on Asia-Pacific (Indonesia and Solomon Islands).

Daniel has over 20 years’ experience working and researching in humanitarian aid and international development. In addition to 8 years’ involvement with the Australian Aid Programme (Solomon Islands, Iraq, Afghanistan and Middle East Programmes), he has worked with Care International (Iraq, Kosovo, and Aceh), and consulted for UNICEF (Solomon Islands), UNDP (Uganda) and OXFAM GB (UK and India).

Daniel joined Deakin University in early 2015 after 6 years lecturing at the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia in the UK. In this role he taught a range of undergraduate courses (Politics and International Development; War, Humanitarian Crises and Aid) and convened a Masters module entitled Conflict Peace and Security. He holds a MA (Anthropology of Conflict, Violence and Conciliation) from the University of Sussex​, and a BSc (Geography) and MA (Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development) from the Australian National University.


Deborah Barry is the Senior Humanitarian and Leadership Advisor at the CHL, and works as part of the business development team, focused on the North America and Europe region. She is also an experienced trainer working with UN agencies, NGOs and social development partnerships. Deb’s key areas of expertise are child protection, development and youth empowerment practitioner, with a 25-year track record in the design, implementation and monitoring of programs in both development and emergency settings.

She has spent the 19 years based in the field, working directly with communities and a variety of governments and cultures. Deb blends a mixture of expertise in high-level strategic planning and direction, along with programmatic inputs including the development of curricular materials and staff training. She has directly managed multi-disciplinary teams, and been invited to serve as an external facilitator in the development of agency wide strategies and national legislation. Deb currently sits on the board of trustees of Care4humanity, a UK organization working with refugee-focused programs in the UK and Europe.

Deb is primarily focused on helping NGOs develop and implement youth leadership programs and youth led research. She studied child development and early years education in Wales, later going back to college to study interpersonal communication and family therapy. She has also studied international development at Guangzhou University, and participated in multiple trainings globally in leadership and youth participation skills.


Yaseen is the Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership. Yaseen’s recent research work features the localisation of humanitarian response in Tonga, Fiji, PNG and Vanuatu; humanitarian managerial capacity in the Asia Pacific; and the militarization of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. Yaseen is trained to design and conduct evaluations and research in the humanitarian and international development spheres.

Over the last 12 years, Yaseen has managed a wide range of development programs and evaluations including community-based livelihood, agriculture, and development projects in Afghanistan. He has worked with major donors such as USAID, Australian Aid and DFID, private sector, academia, and international development organisations.

Yaseen recently completed Master of Evaluation in Melbourne University and Master of International Development at the University of Canberra. He is fluent in English, Pashtu, Dari, Farsi and has basic Arabic.


Jimmy Effendy provides key financial administration support to the Centre for Humanitarian leadership. His role includes working with Save the Children’s Melbourne-based finance team, and programs and finance staff at Deakin University.

Jimmy’s key areas of responsibility include providing CHL with timely financial information, helping to construct budgets and preparing acquittals for the donors. He provides support on matching payments and invoices, and ensures costs are coded correctly. He also performs ad hoc projects and analysis for the Head of Support Services, and Director of the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership. Jimmy previously worked as a Finance Control Intern at Save the Children Australia. His primary role was to process invoices daily and assist the Assistant Accountant and Senior Accountant in the Finance Control team.

Jimmy has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne, majoring in Accounting and Finance. After completing his degree in 2016, Jimmy enrolled in a Professional Year Programme with Monash Professional Pathways. This course is made to help international students adapt in Australian culture and business environments.


Tosin is currently a PhD candidate at the Centre for Humanitarian Leadership. His research focus is on gender-based violence (GBV) in humanitarian settings, with particular emphasis on the role of men as perpetrators of GBV, and the effects on their health.

Tosin holds a Bachelor of Medicine/Surgery (MBChB) degree from Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria, West Africa, and has worked as a medical officer in paediatric and maternal health centres in Nigeria. During the 2015 Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, he volunteered as an educator, a role that proved vital to containing the spread of disease. He has also been actively involved in medical outreaches to different parts of Nigeria as well as other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tosin’s keen interest in public health led him to pursue further study, and in 2017 he obtained a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Deakin University, Melbourne. His PhD candidacy further advances his passion for public health in humanitarian settings and is a direct product of his vision to ensure health equity for disadvantaged groups.


Nick has led learning and development in multinational private sector organisations and is now a consultant and coach to senior leaders and teams. He has over 12 years’ experience in leadership and organisation development, working with central government departments, INGO’s and private sector clients in the UK, the US, Africa and Asia.

He has spent years exploring the challenges leaders face when operating in complex and challenging contexts and what they can do to become more impactful and effective. His practice is informed by the diverse fields of academic theory, professional sport, martial arts and, perhaps most importantly, practical experience of what works.

Nick has an MA in International Relations and became a qualified Executive Coach in 2004. He is a graduate of the NTL Institute’s Certificate in Organisation Development and is certified in Hogan Assessment Systems and the Kaplan Devries Leadership Versatility Index.