Our People

Our Board

John Joyce


John Joyce believes a sound education is the gateway to fulfilling your potential. John has held director and management roles in the public sector across regional development, housing and community care, acute health and aged care. He sees the Country Universities Centre model as a cornerstone to regional development. John is no stranger to giving his time to better his local community. In addition to his role as Chair of CUC Ovens Murray, John is Deputy Chair of Merriwa Industries - a large scale community-based social enterprise - and Immediate past chair of the Rural City of Wangaratta’s Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee.

Dr Werner Vogels

Deputy Chair

A neuropsychologist by trade, Dr Werner Vogels worked at universities and hospitals all over the world before moving to Australia twelve years ago. Dr Vogels is a part-time lecturer at La Trobe University and Charles Sturt University, and part-time Population Health and Evaluation Lead at Murray Primary Health Network. In his spare time you’ll find him hiking with his family, or getting his heart rate up at a Crossfit class.

Kylie Richards


Kylie Richards is surrounded by learning every day in her role as CEO of Mansfield Adult Continuing Education, and understands how difficult it can be for people in our region to connect to, and complete, tertiary qualifications. As well as leading MACE’s delivery of education and community development programs, Kylie is a qualified educational trainer, drawing on her 20 years’ experience in accounting to teach and inspire others. Kylie brings to the Board her skills as a CPA, registered accountant, tax agent and ASIC company agent with international business experience.

Jacqui Bramwell

Non Executive Director

Jacqui Bramwell is passionate about access to education as an enabler of vibrant and sustainable rural communities. She understands personally what it’s like to study remotely. She holds a Graduate Certificate of Australian Rural Leadership from James Cook University which she completed remotely. A Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, Jacqui has had a diverse career in education and natural resource management, with roles in teaching, partnership management and ecotourism. Fun Fact: Jacqui was warden of a bird observatory! Jacqui is now Executive Officer at Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Inc. where she is activating her passion for building capacity in others.

Drew Twigg

Non Executive Director

Drew was born and raised in the NSW Riverina, where his strong country values were established. As a father of five daughters, Drew is passionate about education and making it accessible to all, particularly those in remote and regional areas. Drew is employed by Snowy Hydro Limited, who have a long and proud history with the CUC, as one of the creators and founders of the CUC network. Drew was one of the first students to utilise the initial CUC Snowy Monaro, to complete exams when undertaking engineering studies remotely. He is now relishing the opportunity to give back in the capacity as a non executive director of CUC Ovens Murray.

As a proud custodian of the Snowy Hydro infrastructure and as a major employer in the Upper Murray Area, Drew is actively involved with Local Councils, Emergency Services and Local Emergency Management Committees, Chamber of Commerce and Community Resilience programs across a number of Local Government Areas. The CUC Ovens Murray is a natural extension of the diverse contribution that Drew seeks to make in order to develop a sustainable and growing community, with education opportunities for all community members.

Dr Trudi Ryan

Non Executive Director

Trudi Ryan believes we are better off as a community when everyone has a chance to participate in education and develop their curiosity and capacity through lifelong learning. Trudi brings a depth of experience in research, education and communication to the CUC Ovens Murray Board. She has a long association with the tertiary sector as both a student and lecturer and understands the critical importance of the supportive learning environments provided by the Country University Centres.

Trudi has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and PhD in ecology, post-graduate degrees in marketing communication and behavioural neurobiology, and is currently studying a Master of Arts in linguistics. Trudi works with communities and organisations driving positive change through her consultancy, Words for Change. She previously worked for CSIRO, Deakin University and Land & Water Australia.

Chris Ronan

Non Executive Director

Chris 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).

Our Team

Mark van Bergen

Centre Manager

Mark is passionate about inclusive education, career development and lifelong learning. He has over twenty years’ teaching experience, predominantly in North East Victoria coupled with experiences in Melbourne and China. He understands personally the challenges of studying remotely, having completed his Masters of Educational Research by distance learning.

Sally Mitchell

Education Coordinator (Mansfield)

Sally is our Education Coordinator at Mansfield and lives at her family farm at Samaria. She has had a lifelong interest in promoting educational opportunities for regional and rural students. She has completed several tertiary courses via distance and online education, and knows the pitfalls and rewards that studying solo can bring.

She believes that the CUC can assist students obtain formal accreditation as well as life long personal skills and immense satisfaction. She has also supported her now adult children through their educational journeys. She has a background in primary production and education. When not working she enjoys spending time with her family, horse riding, reading and cooking.

Vicki Kane

Education Coordinator (Corryong)

Vicki first fell in love with the Upper Murray’s beautiful environment over 20 years ago. She found it ideal to raise her children and work in a friendly community as a secondary teacher. It has been an honor for her to watch students from the Upper Murray grow from young children to teens and then see adults with careers and families.

Vicki has a passion for supporting students achieve their best and motivate them to explore possibilities. When on leave with children, Vicki completed a Diploma in Student Welfare to increase her understanding of this. Vicki also learnt it was very difficult to have dedicated time and space to study with young children.

It is exciting to join CUC Ovens Murray in Corryong, bring degrees closer to locals and support more people to study and work locally.

Naomi Laidlaw

Centre Administrator (Wangaratta)

Naomi is passionate about retaining good quality people in the regions. She brings a background in event management to the role, and came to CUC Ovens Murray after more than a decade as an Executive Assistant with Optus.

After living and working in Sydney, Naomi was looking for a change of pace and a different lifestyle for her children, and now calls Beechworth home.

Naomi has seen how much easier it can be to access higher education in the city than the regions, and was attracted to CUC because of the opportunities it provides for young people to stay and study in their local community.

Roxanne Bodsworth

Learning Skills Advisor (Wangaratta)

Roxanne believes that rural people should have access to higher education without having to leave their homes and communities - and without their communities losing them! She has studied at five different universities and has undertaken most of her studies by distance, including her PhD, so she has a thorough understanding of the challenges faced by regional students and ways to help.

Life has taken Roxanne on an interesting journey - from nurse to welfare worker to writer, poet, farmer and celebrant - and she hopes these experiences will help her support local students on their own academic journey.

Roxanne lives in Eldorado and enjoys swimming in the local waterholes, walking with her dogs, and reading a good book.

Tara Saville

Learning Skills Advisor (Mansfield)

Tara is highly motivated by the opportunity to support local students to remain in their communities while studying. Tara truly believes that upskilling and training local people is how our regional, rural and remote communities thrive.

Tara has 15 years experience as an Occupational Therapist with post grad study in Counselling and has worked broadly across community, disability, aged care, mental health and education. Tara has always worked regionally and rurally and believes that people in regional communities should have supports and services like the CUC, so they can remain in the area they love. Within all her roles she has been actively involved in supporting students from a variety of professions and enjoys providing the opportunity to implement theory in practice.

Tara grew up in Mansfield and after attending university in Albury headed north to work in Central Qld, she then spent some time working in Cambodia in a capacity building project before settling on the Fraser Coast for several years and starting her Masters. Tara returned to Mansfield a few years ago and is just starting her homeschooling journey with her two little people. When she’s not at CUC Mansfield supporting students she spends most of her time outdoors exploring or experimenting in the kitchen.

Celeste Oliver

Learning Skills Advisor (Corryong)

Celeste loves meeting learners ‘where they’re at’, helping them take the little steps needed to achieve great outcomes. After 13 years in primary education as a teacher and learning leader, Celeste was inspired to become a Learning Skills advisor to help people in her community learn where they live.

As well as her teaching and mentoring credentials, Celeste brings her own experience as an online student to the role. She achieved two Masters degrees through a combination of face to face and online learning, and earned two leadership qualifications completely online, so she understands both the challenges and opportunities of studying by distance.

Celeste believes that where you live shouldn’t be an obstacle to your ability to learn and grow yourself, and she’s excited to help locals pursue their goals and develop new skills without having to leave the jobs, people and community they love.

While Celeste was born and raised in Melbourne, she’s always been a country girl at heart and enjoyed many childhood camping trips to the Upper Murray. She eventually moved to Corryong in 2015, married a local and now runs a beef cattle property with her husband and two children.