Jon Owen began as Pastor and CEO 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 140 staff and some 600 volunteers each week at Wayside Chapel.
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.
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. In 2021, Graham also overtook duties of Minister at Bondi Beach for a two-year contract.
James joined Wayside in 2019 and serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Wayside, with oversight of the activities behind the scenes that allow the magic to happen. His background is in Financial Services, Infrastructure and Asset Management. James served on the Policy Roundtable for both the Australian Charities & NFP Commission and the ATO in the NFP space. As a Sydney native, he has always been aware of the Wayside. “It is great to work at a place where an ordinary day for us could be an extraordinary day in the life of someone who visits Wayside.”
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.
Melissa Collins joined Wayside Chapel in 2019 and has responsibility for helping to facilitate a vibrant and inclusive workplace where our 130 staff and 600 volunteers are able to thrive. Melissa has held a variety of People & Culture roles in Financial Services and Management Consulting where she specialised in Talent Management, Leadership, Culture and Organisational Change Management. She has a Masters of Business in Human Resource Management from UTS.
Wayside has been a very special place for Melissa and her family for several years and she is delighted to be able to contribute to Wayside’s vision and mission in a meaningful way.