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

Jon Owen, Pastor and CEO 

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 130 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 that 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 innovation; 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.

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.

James Flavin, Head of Operations

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.”

Glen Richardson, Head of Marketing and Fundraising

Glen joined Wayside Chapel in 2019, and has responsibility for raising funds to support the programs and services delivered by Wayside and increasing the public profile of Wayside and the issues facing people who access our services. With a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing from the University of New South Wales and over 30 years of corporate and not-for-profit experience, he most recently has held senior roles at Tearfund NZ and Baptist World Aid in the international aid and development sector.

Glen is Sydney born and bred, and is excited to be contributing to the iconic heritage of Wayside. “There’s such a pervasive need for the work of Wayside in our city. It’s an absolute privilege to be part of a team that is building a safe and flourishing community grounded in unconditional love, care and support.”

Melissa Collins, Head of People and Culture

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.

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 Wayside’s 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.

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.