Professor Andy Marks

Executive Director, Centre for Western Sydney
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Strategy, Government and Alliances, Western Sydney University
CEO, NUW Alliance

Professor Andy Marks leads major strategic and development initiatives across the Centre for Western Sydney, NUW Alliance and Western Sydney University in collaboration with government, industry and the community.

He has a PhD and first-class honours in political science and literature.

Andy writes regular columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. He is also a panellist on ABC Sydney’s ‘political forum’.

Andy is also the Chair of the Western Sydney Community Forum and a Non-Executive Director with Wentworth Healthcare Ltd. He is the founder of the CatalystWest interactive policy forum, and co-founder of the Launch Pad start-up incubator.

Prior to his current roles, Andy was a researcher in the social services sector, a Council member at the University of New England, and an ARIA nominated professional musician and composer.

Dr Rhonda Itaoui


Dr Rhonda Itaoui is a social researcher with global expertise in the geographies of diversity and multiculturalism in urban spaces.

Rhonda Itaoui has a PhD and first-class honours in human geography. Her PhD research on the geographies of Islamophobia in Sydney, Australia and the San Francisco Bay Area, USA revealed the need for place-based strategies for cultivating inclusion across public spaces. She has produced anti-racism tools, resources and training in both Australia and the United States of America.

Rhonda is particularly passionate about using research to advocate for communities through consultation, partnership, and meaningful engagement.

Rhonda was appointed as the Centre for Western Sydney’s inaugural Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 2022 and has been appointed as the Centre Director in 2023.

Rhonda is the lead researcher and author of the Centre’s impactful ‘State of the Arts in Western Sydney’ project with Western Sydney Creative and Business Western Sydney.

In 2022, Rhonda contributed to ‘Parramatta 2023: Vibrant, Sustainable, Global’ – also known as ‘The Glover Review’ – which worked to position Parramatta as a global city. Following ‘The Glover Review’, Dr Itaoui spearheaded the consultations with the Parramatta community, which captured the perspectives of residents, workers and visitors on the future development of their city. The resulting Parramatta 2035: Community views on the future of our region’ report was released in May 2023.

She is also a key contributor to the Centre’s Western Sydney Votes commentary on the NSW Election and was a recipient of an inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Centre for Western Sydney Fellowship, producing a ‘Scoping Review on Western Sydney’ which will also be launched in 2023.

Danielle McInness

Centre Manager

Danielle McInness is the Centre Manager of the Centre for Western Sydney.

Danielle has worked at Western Sydney University in a range of roles since 2005. She began her career at the University as a Media Assistant; has held roles as a Web Coordinator, Senior Media Officer and Executive Projects Officer; and acted as the University’s Manager, Media and Public Relations, in 2018.

Danielle is a media and communications professional and was a member of the University’s Coronavirus Communications Team which was awarded a Citation for Meritous Service to the University during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Danielle has a Bachelor of Communication (Writing and Publishing); a Master of Convergent Media; and is currently studying a Master of Research at Western focused on the media representation of Western Sydney.

As Centre Manager, Danielle is responsible for overseeing all administrative functions of the Centre including finance and budgets, human resources and recruitment, research management and reporting. Danielle also oversees the Centre’s stakeholder engagement, communications, and media activities, and coordinates its official social media accounts.

Thomas Nance

Policy and Strategy Lead

Tom Nance is the Manager, Strategy and Delivery with Western Sydney University. He is a leading contributor to the Centre for Western Sydney’s research, partnership and activation platforms, shaping regional narrative and conversation in a way that prioritises equity and

Tom is a key contributor to the Centre’s Western Sydney Votes commentary on the NSW Election, and authored the issues papers ‘Western Sydney Votes – NSW Election 2023,’ ‘Western Sydney Votes: The Results’ and ‘Paying the Price: Gambling-related harm in Western Sydney.’

Tom has an extensive track record of cultivating partnerships and delivering results for government, business and community stakeholders in a way that addresses a range of complex social, economic and systemic issues. He has been sought after to comment on a broad range of issues that affect the region, including gambling-related harm, urban planning and development, education and politics.

Previously, Tom held senior leadership roles in the not-for-profit sector, where he co-authored a range of reports that have shaped policy development and service delivery in Western Sydney, including Communities of Change, Home in Western Sydney and The Culturally Responsive Framework to Address Gambling Related Harm.

Andrew Phong

Project & Research Support Officer

Andrew is the Project & Research Support Officer to the Centre’s Executive Director and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Strategy, Government and Alliances at Western Sydney University.

As a proud member of the multicultural community in Western Sydney, Andrew is passionate about leveraging culture and diversity as a fundamental driver for growth and sustainability. He aims to support the Centre’s efforts in advocacy and impact, to empower people of colour to be proud of their identity and ultimately change the narrative of perceived shame associated with the region.

In acknowledgement of his passion and contribution to Western Sydney as a young professional, Andrew has received numerous recognitions including the University’s The Academy ‘Collegiate’ (2017) and ‘Alumnus’ (2019) Excellence Awards and was the ‘Community Leadership Award’ recipient in 2018. He has represented Western Sydney abroad on eight separate scholarships (China, India, Thailand, Vietnam and the United Kingdom) where he lived, worked and studied in a variety of capacities. He has supported Australia’s soft-power foreign policies through work with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (2018) and in his role as an appointed Alumni Ambassador and Mentor to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s ‘New Colombo Plan’ initiative. He aims to continue this advocacy for global citizenship and emphasise the importance of Western Sydney to the country’s strategic future.

Prior to his time at the Centre, Andrew was an Engagement and Change Consultant with Aurecon, Marketing and Partnerships Officer at the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue and a team member in a number of differing roles across the University. He is a former Co-Chair of the Australia-Vietnam Leadership Dialogue’s Steering Committee and was a member of the Deloitte Australia’s ‘Shaping Future Cities’ SteerCo.”

Gabriella Gerace

Research Assistant

Gabriella is a research assistant and honours student, currently completing an Honours in Psychology with a focus on cognitive psychology.

Gabriella holds a Bachelor of Music and Sound Design and a Bachelor of Psychology and has a strong interest in the arts and social sciences.

Cat-Thao Nguyen

Special Advisor

Cat-Thao Nguyen is the Managing Director of Global Ready LLC and Lumina Learning Partner, specialising in cultural intelligence and inclusive leadership.

Born in a refugee camp in Thailand during the Vietnam War, Cat-Thao has since called Western Sydney home. Her ‘We are Here’ memoir captures the story of perseverance, adversity, and the Australian Dream perfectly and is reflective of the many migrant families settled in Western Sydney.

She is the Co-Founder of the Australia-Vietnam Young Leadership Dialogue, former Head of EY Vietnam and was an Advisory Board Member for SBS Australia, Ethnic Communities Council of NSW, Loreto Vietnam.

In 2019, Cat-Thao was recognised at the 40 under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australian Awards in 2019 for her leadership and contribution to the community.

Cat-Thao assists the Centre for Western Sydney in a volunteer capacity as a Special Advisor – contributing insights on community sentiment in Western Sydney and representing her community at the Centre’s public events and initiatives.