Our Team

The NSW Regional Health Partners Team

Dr Niko Leka in an Enrolled Nurse with the James Fletcher Mental Health Unit for Older People. His role involves assisting with assessment and providing direct care for older people experiencing severe mental health issues. Niko applied for the scholarship as he would like to develop skills in the critical appraisal of complex situations, involving both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Niko hopes to use these skills to improve workplace relations for the benefit of the health of his clients and colleagues.

Lisa is the Project Lead at NSW Regional Health Partners, coordinating health translation projects being delivered through the Medical Research Futures Fund. Lisa has been working in rural health for almost 25 years, including five years in Broken Hill with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Far West NSW Medicare Local. Lisa has qualifications in business management, research and public health. Her passion is health equity and the provision of health services that meet the specific needs of rural Australians.

Dr Lisa McFayden

Interim Director
Tim Connell

Tim's background is in print journalism and radio, but he's glad to have found a home at NSW Regional Health Partners as our communications officer. While he studies to be a high school English teacher, Tim is excited to share our passion for turning medical research into outcomes for people. He feels like he's barely scratched the surface. Outside of work you might see him running (slowly), exploring Newcastle with his wife Lou or asking their son Hugo not to ride too far ahead on his scooter. 

Tim Connell

Communications Officer

Donella Piper

Donella is a lawyer by background and holds a PhD in Social Science awarded by the Centre for Health Communication at the University of Technology Sydney. She possesses trans-disciplinary qualifications, skills and experience across law, regulation, business, health, policy, evaluation and social science.  Donella has proven project design, management and evaluation skills across inter-disciplinary programs and has a number of high impact publications across health communication and the intersection of health, law and social science. She is currently working for NSWRHP on the embedded Economist Program.

Dr Donella Piper

Programme Manager & Social Scientist

Celia Rae

Celia Rae is a Project Officer at NSWRHP and works on a range of different projects, including the Healthy Weight Strategy Project, the NSWRHP Scholarship Program and the NSWRHP website. With postgraduate degrees in Public Health and Health Management, she has over 15 years of health administrative experience in several different countries. As Celia grew up in a medical family in Central West NSW, she understands the challenges rural communities face in accessing optimal healthcare. She enjoys working on projects that facilitate this access with the aim of improving health outcomes for rural communities.

Celia Rae

Project Lead
(Currently on maternity leave)
Ellen Newman

Growing up on a 5,000 acre farm in Central West NSW access to services was limited, including medical services. I have always had a passion for health care completing a degree in applied science followed by a Master’s in Public Health. I have over 15 years’ experience in health, including working in rural and remote areas. My role as Operations Manager at NSWRHP means I am able to give back to rural areas and help improve equity and access to health care through translational research.

Ellen Newman

Operations Manager

Maree Gleeson

Emeritus Professor Maree Gleeson is an immunologist who has held leadership and professional positions in health services, health policy, academia and medical research. Maree was Director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute (2006-2011), a joint venture between the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health. Under her 5-year leadership a strategic plan was implemented resulting in substantial growth in research funding; an increase in researchers from 400 to over 1000; and capital funding and construction of the $90 million medical research facility on the John Hunter Hospital campus at Rankin Park.

Emeritus Prof Maree Gleeson