Wayside is led by an Executive Management team, like no other.

Jon Owen, Pastor and CEO 

Jon Owen began as CEO and Pastor of Wayside Chapel in July 2018, taking over from Rev Graham Long after he announced his retirement from the role of 14 years. Jon was the lucky candidate, chosen from 50 potential applicants after a robust and independent selection process conducted by Wayside’s Board. Jon was already a big part of Wayside, working as Assistant Pastor and Head of People and Culture since November 2016 and all of our community was delighted with this decision.

Jon has dedicated his life to closing the gap on inequality, both living and working amongst some of the most disadvantaged communities in Sydney and Melbourne. Jon is a qualified social and worker and prior to Wayside, he built his way up through the organisation Urban Neighbourhoods of Hope, an international not-for-profit organisation specialising in community development and care coordination for families living in poverty. In this role, he shared his family home with those seeking asylum, refugees, people in recovery and ex-prisoners.

Jon lives and breathes Wayside’s mission of creating community of no ‘us and them’ and looks forward to carrying forward Rev Graham Long’s legacy into the future. He is joined by an accomplished team of 110 staff and some 600 volunteers each week at Wayside Chapel.

Rev Graham Anson, Executive Minister – Bondi Beach

Rev Graham Anson joined Wayside in 2015 with the responsibility of overseeing the Wayside mission being lived out in Bondi Beach. After a few years as a trainee accountant Graham moved into community-based ministry in 1985, starting as a youth worker in Redfern. This included running a drop-in centre and youth groups for kids who would otherwise have been on the street. It was during this time the he developed a passion for creating spaces and moments of connection based on acceptance and inclusion, compassion and love. After another similar role in the inner-city he had two lengthy placements in regional oversight of youth work in the Uniting Church. He was ordained in 2008 while in placement at Campbelltown, where he was a community-based minister. Add in a short stint in a state-wide role promoting and supporting new initiatives, and Graham brings a wealth of experience in innovatively growing and developing communities – where everyone’s experiences are respected and their contribution is valued. Along the way Graham has completed degrees in Theology and Sociology.

Craig Corby, Chief Financial Officer 

Craig joined Wayside in 2014 as Business Manager responsible for all aspects of Wayside’s Support Team including financial planning, reporting, risk management, strategic planning and the Op Shop. Prior to joining Wayside, Craig held a number of finance and project management roles within the not-for-profit sector and Qantas Airways. Craig is a Chartered Accountant and Project Manager and has an MBA from Macquarie Graduate School of Management alongside accounting, project management and theology degrees. Craig has previously volunteered in a consulting project alongside Graham Long outside of Wayside and when the role came up jumped at the opportunity to be part of the Wayside team.

Wendy Suma, Head of Programs 

Wendy joined Wayside in 2007 to design and implement the Day to Day Living program and is now Head of Programs, responsible for overseeing the operation of a variety of programs that build community for the most vulnerable in the Kings Cross and Bondi neighbourhoods. These include the Day to Day Living program, Twilight program, StreetReach, Community Service Centres in Kings Cross and Bondi, Pathways and Wingspan Projects, low-cost cafes, as well as the communal gardens and beehives. Wendy has held a wide range of roles in the welfare sector including support worker, crisis centre co-ordinator, commununity development worker and logistics manager. Wendy spent two years living in the Klong Toey Slum in Bangkok, where she taught English and supported a youth football league for slum children. She also volunteered in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Wendy holds a Bachelor of Theology and Diploma of Counselling (Hons) and is an avid beekeeper and gardener.

Guy Cooper, Head of Community Development

Guy is the Head of Community Development at Wayside with over 35 years’ experience in community development in numerous contexts. He started at Wayside in 2011 and had a key focus of assisting Wayside transition from being seen primarily as a ‘crisis centre’ into a centre for the whole community, where Waysides mission of creating Community with no ‘us and them’ became a reality. Before joining Wayside, Guy worked for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service and had a consultancy focusing on workplace training and managing traumatic stress. Guy holds several diplomas in management, OHS, welfare, theology, critical incident management and workplace assessment and training.

Laura Henry, Head of Marketing, Communications and Fundraising

Laura started at Wayside as a volunteer in the Community Services Centre in 2010 and was instantly hooked by the vision of love over hate. When a marketing role became available in late 2011, Laura jumped at the chance to combine her professional experience in corporate communications with her passion for making a difference. Laura is now Head of Marketing and Fundraising and holds responsibility for raising funds to support the programs and services delivered by Wayside and for raising awareness and increasing the public profile of Wayside, as well as the issues facing people who access services. Laura has a Bachelor of Communications. After starting out as a journalist, Laura worked in communication roles in the Australian financial services sector, the UK government and the Canadian tourism industry.

Lee Cooper, Head of Innovation, Strategy & Social Impact

Lee has been working in the nonprofit sector since 1997 starting out in small grassroots community organisations in direct service delivery in regional Victoria through to executive roles in marketing, communications fundraising and strategy. Lee started out working as a drug and alcohol youth outreach worker, in country Victoria for 7 years. From there, he moved into the charity sector, starting at CanTeen, before moving to Cancer Council NSW where he rose to Head Event Marketing Unit. He moved to Wayside Chapel in 2017 in a maternity role as Head of Marketing and Fundraising and now focuses on applying his knowledge to help Wayside identify future opportunities to scale its mission and measure and value the impact Wayside makes. Having worked within service delivery, communications and fundraising Lee understands that the impact of the mission is what matters the most. Lee completed a Masters in Management at UTS specializing in the non-profit and social sector.

Maria Rigas, Head of People and Culture

Maria joined Wayside in October 2018 as the new Head of People and Culture. Maria comes to Wayside with decades of experience in Human Resources, Employee and Industrial Relations with the University of NSW,  Macquarie University, Herbert Smith Freehills and also leading elder abuse workplace investigation cases in Aged Care and most recently heading child protection and HR with the Catholic Church. Maria was attracted to Wayside as she embodies many of Wayside’s values. Maria has also been a volunteer JP since 2005 having served as President of the NSW Justices Association’s Sydney branch and coordinated the JP rosters of the Family, Supreme and Downing Centre court complexes and is looking forward to working with Wayside’s incredibly talented staff and volunteers. Maria holds postgraduate degrees in Commerce (majoring in Strategic Human Resource Management) and currently completing a Master of Laws (majoring in Employment and Family Law) (UNSW).

Rev Graham Long AM, Pastor Emeritus 

Rev Graham Long joined Wayside in 2004 and has become an oracle of Kings Cross. He has been instrumental in creating a community of no ‘us and them’ and each day he is a listening ear to those on and around the streets of Kings Cross. Graham is an accomplished author and speaker. His books include; Wayside (2016), Love over Hate: Finding life by the wayside (2013) and Stories by the Wayside (2011). Graham was admitted to the Order of Australia as an AM in 2015. He has been married to Robyn for 40 years. They have a daughter Mandy. Their son James died in 2009.

Graham trained for ministry from 1979 to 1982. After a few years in church ministry, he became a chaplain to Parramatta Prison and he ran a church welfare agency. After ordination, Graham pursued studies in philosophy achieving degrees from Catholic Theological Union and from the Catholic Institute of Sydney. A Masters with honours degree was halted when a near-fatal motorcycle accident changed all of life’s priorities in 2001. Prior to joining Wayside, Graham was on a sabbatical as a Postie – he had just learnt to master his little bike when Wayside called him to be the next Minister.

Rev Graham Long stepped down from the role of CEO and Pastor of Wayside Chapel in June 2018 and handed over the torch to long-time friend and colleague Pastor Jon Owen. He began the role of Pastor Emeritus, continuing to offer guidance and teachings to Wayside Chapel’s community.