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Australian journalists on a management track and with at least five years’ career experience were invited to apply for the Walkley Foundation Leadership Program. With thanks to program supporters, Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) at the UNSW Business School, Google News Initiative and the William Buckland Foundation, read more about the successful applicants below.

Top row, L-R: Rebecca Baillie, Craig Butt, Bethany Chismark, Matt Connellan, Katina Curtis, Ashleigh Gleeson. Middle row: Robyn Grace, Jessie Gretener, Caitlyn Gribbin, Rachael Houlihan, Maram Ismail, Eliza Kavanagh. Bottom row: Sashka Koloff, Krista Schade, Martin Silk, Chad Van Estrop, Michael Vincent.

Rebecca Baillie, SBS
Rebecca joined SBS’ flagship weekly current affairs forum program, Insight, as a producer in 2018, before becoming Supervising Producer on the show in late 2021. Across her more than 25-year television career, Rebecca has been a reporter, producer, writer and director specialising in documentaries and long-form current affairs. She worked for two decades at the ABC, as a reporter and producer on 7.30, producer at Australian Story and ABC TV News reporter in Tasmania. Passionate about quality, accurate, ground-breaking journalism and telling unique and diverse Australian stories, Rebecca is committed to public broadcasting and mentoring Australia’s next generation of journalists.

Craig Butt, Nine
Craig Butt is the National Data Editor of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is based in Melbourne. He specialises in data journalism, a relatively new form of journalism that involves finding stories in data and building data visualisations. Before being promoted to the national data editor role, he worked at The Age for a decade as a data journalist and liveblogger. He has also coordinated a subject in data journalism at The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism since 2013.  

Bethany Chismark, Seven West Media
As a leader of innovation in one of the country’s largest integrated newsrooms, Bethany Chismark manages an impressive team of solutions advisors and product specialists tasked with the continual improvement of the business. Across her 20-year career in journalism, Chismark has been a reporter, front page designer, software trainer, product owner and a systems manager. Recently she has been responsible for spearheading the introduction of AI into the newsroom. Her tenacity and dedication have earned her the statuses of both ‘Cheerleader for Change’ and ‘Chief Innovation Officer’. 

Matt Connellan, SBS
Matt Connellan is the National Editor at SBS World News. In his six years at SBS, Matt has worked as a reporter, presenter, and now as an editorial leader. As National Editor, Matt is in charge of setting the domestic agenda for the World News bulletin each night. Matt also looks after the recruitment and development of SBS World News‘s five state and territory correspondents. 

Katina Curtis, Seven West Media
Katina Curtis is the Canberra bureau chief for The West Australian. She has been covering federal politics for more than a decade, reporting on four elections, six prime ministers and 11 budgets – so far. During her time in the Canberra press gallery, Katina has worked for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and AAP before she joined Seven West Media in 2022.

Ashleigh Gleeson, Herald Sun
Ashleigh Gleeson is a chief of staff at the Herald Sun and has more than a decade of experience in journalism. She has held multiple leadership roles, including deputy chief of staff at the Daily Telegraph and chief of staff at News Corp Australia’s national newswire service during its first year of operation. She has also worked as a reporter on the rounds of crime, court, federal politics, education, council and health.

Robyn Grace, The Age
Robyn Grace is Deputy News Director (Daily) at The Age. She has been a journalist for almost 30 years, starting her career as a cadet journalist in regional NSW. She is the 2022 winner of the Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers Fiction Prize. She lives in Melbourne with her two lovely children and in her spare time likes to roller skate. 

Jessie Gretener, CNN International
Jessie Gretener is an Emmy-nominated Producer for CNN International. Currently based in London, Gretener has lived in five cities across three continents. Kicking off her career at the age of 15, she’s spent the last decade building a trusted reputation in the control room and in the field for CNN, the BBC, and Australia’s Seven Network. She’s a rising Gen Z leader in the newsroom, with a particular interest in covering sexual and reproductive rights, human rights, and women’s health. Gretener holds a Bachelor of Multi-Platform Production from Charles Sturt University and a Master of Human Rights from Curtin University. 

Caitlyn Gribbin, ABC
Caitlyn is a national rural reporter for the ABC. Most recently, she worked as a federal political reporter for ABC News at Parliament House, Canberra. Caitlyn has also been based in the ABC’s Brisbane, Gold Coast, Perth, Bundaberg and Mount Isa bureaux, working as a journalist with the ABC’s investigative unit, the National Reporting Team, filing to programs including 7.30, Lateline, Landline, AM, The World Today and PM. Caitlyn is a three-time finalist for the prestigious Walkley Awards for Excellence in Journalism and has won two Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year awards. Caitlyn is currently on maternity leave, following the birth of her second child.  

Rachael Houlihan, The Warrnambool Standard
Rachael Houlihan is the deputy editor at The Warrnambool Standard in south-west Victoria. The multi-platform journalist has worked at the paper for 11 years, starting as a cadet in 2012. She is passionate about regional and rural affairs and one day wants to be the first female editor of The Standard, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2022. 

Maram Ismail, SBS
Maram Ismail is an award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, and a Senior Digital Content Producer at SBS Arabic24. The human-interest journalist holds a master’s degree of Arts in Journalism and Media Production from the University of Technology, Sydney. Maram has 10 years of local experience as a journalist, media producer and community worker. Maram has worked in the community sector for five years based in western Sydney, taking on several projects with youth and families. Fully trained in applying Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) has allowed a deeper understanding in how to tap into assets, skills, and strengths of people and of a community. Applying ABCD refines the skill of drawing out stories and revealing hidden gems that are often not recognised or acknowledged.

Eliza Kavanagh, The West Australian
As Editor (Great Southern), Eliza Kavanagh is responsible for four of The West Australian‘s regional mastheads covering the Great Southern and Southern Wheatbelt regions of WA: the Albany Advertiser, The Extra, the Great Southern Herald, and the Narrogin Observer. Eliza made the move to journalism in 2022 after eight years in book publishing across various editorial and communications roles in Melbourne and London. Eliza holds a Master of International Relations from the University of Melbourne and co-founded Publishing Declares, the first climate declaration for the book publishing industry.

Sashka Koloff, ABC
Sashka Koloff is an award-winning journalist and producer with more than two decades experience. She is a highly skilled investigative storyteller and documentary producer. Sashka is currently Managing Editor of editorial standards with the ABC. Previously, Sashka was a Producer with Australia’s leading investigative current affairs program Four Corners where her work was recognised with three Walkley Awards, the Lowy Institute Media Award, and the Melbourne Press Club’s Gold Quill. Sashka has also worked with Foreign Correspondent and Media Watch. Prior to joining the ABC she was based in America where she produced TV programs, radio documentaries, and covered major news events for media outlets worldwide. 

Krista Schade, The Riverine Grazier
Following on from her love of reading, Krista is a writer and managing director at The Riverine Grazier, an independent weekly publication, founded in 1873. She first joined the Grazier team creating ads and writing copy and sport stories, before the opportunity arose to become a company partner mid 2021. During lockdown she self-published and wrote her first two novels and a children’s book, in collaboration with her sister. Krista has previously written biographies, reports and planning documents tied to her work on environmental projects on Aboriginal lands around Hay, NSW, and the internationally important Gayini Conservation Area.

Martin Silk, Australian Associated Press
Marty Silk is the Queensland Chief of Staff at the national newswire Australian Associated Press. He spent more than 14 years reporting and editing news about politics, economics, business, crime, court, sport and natural disasters in Australia, the Pacific Islands, Europe and the Middle East. His passion is explaining complex events to people to help them better understand their world. He’s now dedicated to sharing his knowledge and experience with the next generation of journalists.

Chad Van Estrop, Geelong Advertiser
Chad Van Estrop is a senior reporter at the Geelong Advertiser newspaper in Victoria. He is responsible for the paper’s coverage of politics from suburban to federal level. He’s worked at the Geelong Advertiser since 2016 and has previously been on the court, business and transport rounds. Chad is passionate about regional journalism, its connection to communities, and reaching new audiences. The son of Sri Lankan migrants, Chad is a cricket tragic. In his spare time he loves listening to ‘90s R&B and rap music, and reading about obscure topics.

Michael Vincent, ABC 7.30
Michael Vincent joined the ABC in Adelaide in 1996 as a technical operator in radio news. Since then he has filed from locations as diverse as an Alice Springs coroner’s court to the US Capitol Building, from Kinglake during the Black Saturday bushfires to a mine in the Atacama Desert as well as the US, Europe, Middle East, Asia, the Pacific and regional Australia. In 2019 Michael completed a documentary on 80 years of ABC’s International Broadcasting. He’s an ABC peer supporter and mentor and is a senior reporter for 730.

The program kicked off on January 31, 2023. Supported by Google News Initiative and the William Buckland Foundation, the program will help participants develop practical leadership capabilities, and will be delivered online through a blend of live, interactive sessions and self-paced learning.

For more about the Walkley Leadership Program, please contact Walkley Foundation development manager Julie Johnson on 0419 644 273 or  ​

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