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 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.
After two years of leading Wayside Chapel’s People and Culture Team, Melissa was appointed to the newly created role of General Manager in 2021. In her new role, she supports Pastor and CEO Jon Owen by undertaking the day-to-day operational leadership of the organisation, in a significant step in the future story of Wayside Chapel. She brings with her a very broad skillset and many years of senior leadership experience, in both delivering projects and leading change. Melissa has a Master’s 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.
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.