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November 23, 2022

ASA welcomes new Chair, Sophie Cunningham, and new Directors

We are delighted to announce Sophie Cunningham as the new Chair of the Australian Society of Authors, as well as two new Board appointments: Jock Given and Jennifer Mills.

Cunningham brings to the role years of leadership and Board experience in the literary sector as former Chair of the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, former editor of Meanjin, and co-founder of The Stella Prize. She is the author of nine books, including adult non-fiction and fiction and children’s books, and is a Member of the Order of Australia for her contributions to literature. Alongside her role as ASA Chair, Cunningham also sits on the boards of University of Queensland Press and Copyright Agency.

‘I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with the ASA’s excellent staff, and board at what is such a crucial time for authors and illustrators and while the role of the literary sector and its relationship to arts policy sits high on the government’s agenda. Our goal will continue to be the establishment of meaningful recognition of the centrality of literature’s role in Australia’s cultural life,’ Cunningham says.

Outgoing Chair, Nicholas Pickard, who was appointed in 2019, says, ‘It’s been a privilege and honour to serve on the Board for the members of the ASA and to build on the ASA’s legacy as the national voice for authors and illustrators. I want to thank all my fellow Board members, both past and present for your incredible support, hard work and dedication to the Society. I also want to thank ASA CEO Olivia Lanchester and everyone in the ASA executive team for their determination, passion and belief in the Society and all its members.’

Olivia Lanchester, CEO, says, ‘I’d like to warmly thank Nick Pickard for expertly steering the Board through the last three years, and for his tireless and thoughtful advocacy for Australia’s writers and illustrators. I am looking forward to working closely with Sophie Cunningham to lead the ASA through the next chapter, ensuring that the author and illustrator voice is heard by Government, and to continue to improve the support and services we offer authors and illustrators. I know that ASA members will be so proud to welcome a Chair of Sophie’s standing and deep knowledge of the literary community.’

Alongside welcoming Cunningham as Chair, the Board is thrilled to welcome new Directors Jock Given and Jennifer Mills. 

We will introduce the new Board Directors to the membership in our Getting to Know You email series in early 2023.

About our new Directors

Jock Given researches, writes and teaches about media law, policy, business and history. He is professor of media and communications at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne and writes regularly for the current affairs and culture site Inside Story. His work has been published in journals including Telecommunications Policy, Business History and Media International Australia. He was previously Director of the Communications Law Centre and Policy Advisor at the Australian Film Commission. He served for ten years as a director of Screenrights, the Audio Visual Copyright Society, including five as deputy chair. He has degrees in Arts, Law, Economics and Commerce from the University of Queensland and a PhD in history from the University of Melbourne.

Jennifer Mills is an author, editor and critic based on Kaurna Yerta (Adelaide). Her latest novel, The Airways (2021), was longlisted for the Miles Franklin award and shortlisted for an Aurealis Award for Horror. Dyschronia (2018) was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin, Aurealis (for Science Fiction), and Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. A full-time writer for fifteen years, Mills is a strong advocate for better rates and working conditions for writers and artists, both in her own writing, research and activism such as #paythewriters, and as part of the National Freelance Committee at MEAA.