Our People

Our Board

DEAN LYNCH

Dean Lynch

Chair

Dean Lynch is Snowy Hydro Relations Manager and is involved in all levels of government and community stakeholder engagement for the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project. The fifth-generation grazier was Mayor of the Cooma Monaro Shire for eight years, followed by two years as Administrator of the amalgamated Snowy River Regional Council. He sat on the NSW Government Joint Regional Planning Panel and was Chairperson of numerous Council and Community committees. Dean continues to sit on various committees and is also a partner in a retail business. Dean was instrumental in establishing the Cooma Universities Centre during his term as Mayor, during which time Cooma Monaro Shire and Snowy Hydro concept designed and then established the Centre prior to gifting it to the community. He sat on the governing Board of the Cooma Universities Centre (now CUC Snowy Monaro) up until becoming Chair of the Country Universities Centre.

Praveena Karunaharan

Praveena Karunaharan

Non-Executive Director 

Praveena is the Head of Governance and Compliance and Group Company Secretary at Snowy Hydro, where she is responsible for corporate governance and regulatory strategy across the Snowy Hydro Group. Prior to joining Snowy in 2013, Praveena was a Director in PwC's Risk Consulting division where she advised ASX listed clients on governance, risk and compliance practices and led organisational and regulatory change programs. At PwC, she was the Risk Consulting lead for the PwC Foundation where she provided pro bono strategy and governance advice to NFPs including Rob de Castella's Indigenous Marathon Project and the Reach Foundation. Praveena also served as a youth mentor for Mission Australia. Praveena’s prior NFP experience also includes 15 months as Board observer with Habitat for Humanity, Australia, followed by a term on the Habitat Board Risk Committee.

Kim Houghton

Non-Executive Director

Dr Kim Houghton has worked on regional economic development in Australia for almost 20 years. Kim is currently Chief Economist at the Regional Australia Institute and leads the think tank’s policy and research work. Kim works to ensure the Institute’s work has practical application and supports a better policy environment and more vibrant regional economies. Kim established and ran the consulting firm Strategic Economic Solutions and has over 20 years' experience in regional development consulting across Australia and overseas. Kim has a passion for engaging, motivating, informing and connecting regional leaders from business, community and government.

Kim’s previous roles include: Director of consultancy Strategic Economic Solutions, Associate with Elton Consulting; Chief Economist, Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia; Policy Officer, Economic Planning Advisory Commission; Executive Officer, Australian Japan Research Centre and Policy Officer, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Duncan Taylor

Non-Executive Director 

Duncan Taylor is the founder of Country Universities Centre, and previously served as the voluntary CEO. Duncan was the inaugural Chair of the original Cooma Universities Centre which later became the Country Universities Centre Snowy Monaro, and now sits on a number of Centre Boards in NSW and Queensland. 

Duncan is a former Member of the TAFE NSW Commission Board and former President of the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association of New South Wales, and previously sat on the Rural and Remote Education Advisory Group that advised the NSW Government and Department of Education on strategies to improve educational outcomes in rural and remote areas.

Duncan is a farmer on the Monaro and South West Slopes of NSW, and was a founding director of agricultural assets management company Growth Farms Australia.

Alix Greenhill

Non-Executive Director 

Alix Greenhill is the Finance Manager of Cubbie Ag, the largest irrigated cotton farm in Australia, spanning 93,000ha located near Dirranbandi and St George Queensland.

Alix previously was the inaugural Centre Manager of CUC Balonne a successful low-population pilot model in remote Queensland. She has been a strong advocate for the region and CUC having been involved in numerous community and regional committees as part of her current and prior role. Alix understands first-hand the benefits of having access to a CUC as a current Master of Business Administration student and is a strong believer in equitable opportunity to access higher education.

Paul Broad

Non-Executive Director 

CUC Central

Chris Ronan

Chief Executive Officer

Chris leads CUC as CEO, he has worked in the higher education and not-for-profit sectors across the United States, New Zealand, and Australia with a focus on Regional, Rural and Remote higher education policy, student equity, widening participation and rural student transitions.

He holds a master’s degree from the LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management at the University of Melbourne with a focus on Regional, Rural and Remote higher education policy and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD). Chris is the National President of the Society for the Provision in Education in Rural Australia (SPERA) and an Executive Member of Equity Practitioners in Higher Education Australasia (EPHEA).

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Ashlee Jones

Chief Operating Officer

Ash began work with Country Universities Centre Goulburn as Centre Manager from 2017, starting with CUC Central in 2021. She provides facilities and staff support across the network to ensure best practice in operations. She supports both established and emerging CUC Centres to ensure excellent staff are equipped to improve access to study in their communities.

She has experience in the university sector working in student support and has worked as a high school teacher for over 8 years in both teaching and management roles. Ash holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Arts from the University of Wollongong and a Bachelor of Education from Charles Sturt University.

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Danielle Keenan

Director, Student Services

Danielle started working as a Centre Manager at the Country Universities Centre Far West in 2017 and then took on the role of Director, Student Services for CUC Central in 2022. In her current position, she supports centres in creating and executing student-focused initiatives. Dan has over 13 years of experience in the university sector, working in student support and managerial positions. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Applied Business from Charles Sturt University and is pursuing her Master's degree.

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Erin Callaghan

Director, Widening Participation

Erin was the founding Centre Manager of CUC Western Riverina 2019 -2022 and returns to the CUC network after working across multiple roles within the Widening Participation and Outreach team within a higher education institution. Erin's passion for regional, rural and remote communities and their higher educational aspirations has led her to complete a Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education and Master of Education (Wellbeing) in addition to her Bachelor of Education (Secondary).

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Oumi Karenga-Hewitt

Director, Engagement

Oumi joined CUC Western Riverina in 2022 holding roles in Learning Skills Advice, Business Support, and Centre Coordination. Oumi joins CUC Central as Director, Engagement with experience in marketing, regional development, education, arts, and community development.

She holds a BA in English (Language, Literature, and Film Studies) and is studying a Master of Teaching through UNE and is chair of Western Riverina Arts. In 2011, Oumi began a digital content internship with the University of Leicester, which led to joining a London-based educational communications agency delivering national campaigns to schools, students, and parents. Oumi's experience spans across various industries including tourism, agriculture, real estate, education, health, arts and culture, and local government.

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Courtney Westaway

Operations Coordinator

Courtney began her journey with Country Universities Centre in 2022. A proud Cooma local, Courtney completed a traineeship with Snowy Hydro in 2014 and comes to us after 7 years in the Early Childhood Sector shaping her communities youngest minds with the passion and drive for education. Courtney provides administrative support, payroll and bookkeeping for the Network as well as managing the Network database. In 2023 Courtney is studying with the University of New England beginning her Bachelor of Business.

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Maddie Cummins

Design Coordinator

Maddie joined Country Universities Centre Central in 2022 and was one of the first students at CUC Goulburn. Throughout her career, Maddie has been passionate about using her design expertise for story telling. In her current position, she supports the CUC network by providing design solutions for all print and digital collateral items. She also maintains a consistent visual brand across the network. She holds a Bachelor of Creative Arts with a Graphic Design major from the University of Wollongong.

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Erin Miskelly

Policy and Compliance Coordinator

Erin commenced at the CUC in early 2023 after working more than 16 years within the higher education sector across three Australian Universities in various roles within Admissions, Enrolment, Compliance and Policy. She is passionate about ensuring quality education is accessible to all students, especially in rural, regional, and remote Australian communities and growing the skillsets of these communities.

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