Who we are


Marion Halligan, AM

Marion Halligan has published some 20 books. Her novel Valley of Grace won the 2010 ACT Book of the Year Award. One of Australia’s most important writers, she was awarded an AM in 2006. Her most recent book is Shooting the Fox.

Marion Halligan was born in Newcastle NSW, by the sea, and has lived most of her adult life in Canberra, with periods in Paris. She has published some twenty books, and has been short–listed for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. She has been awarded the Age Book of the Year, the ACT Book of the Year (three times), the Nita B. Kibble Award, the Steele Rudd Award, the Braille Book of the Year, the 3M Talking Book of the Year and the Geraldine Pascall Prize for critical writing.

She believes fiction illuminates our lives, and for this reason she loves to read it as well as write it. In 2006, Marion Halligan was awarded an AM for her services to literature.


Chair: Abra Pressler

Abra Pressler joined the ACT Writers Centre board in 2018, and is currently Deputy Chair. She is a freelance writer with substantial experience working within education and not-for-profit community-based organisations. Abra has a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing (screenwriting) from RMIT University. She been involved in Canberra writers collective, Scissors Paper Pen, which supports the professional development of young writers in the ACT and surrounds since 2016 and is passionate about developing writers and writing. From 2012–2015, she edited fiction for GORE journal. Abra is an enthusiastic advocate for writing and the support of writers to further their craft. When not writing, she works in Project Management.

Treasurer: Bernadette Pont

Bernadette Pont joined the ACT Writers Centre board in 2017, and is currently Treasurer. She is an experienced Chief Financial Officer with a demonstrated history across the Commonwealth and the private sector. She currently works in finance at the Department of Education and Training, and is former CFO of the Royal Australian Mint. Bernadette has extensive experience developing people and managing programs and projects.

Dr Kathie Barnes

Kathie Barnes joined the ACT Writers Centre board in 2019. She has a PhD from the Australian National University in Australian Literature. Her book about the Australian poet Christopher Brennan, The Higher Self (2006), won the Walter McRae Russell award for literary scholarship on an Australian subject in 2007, and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s prize for literary scholarship in 2008. Katherine taught secondary English in Canberra, and for a year at Bristol Grammar School, UK. She lectured in creative writing, English literature and speechmaking at the University of NSW at the Australian Defence Force Academy (UNSW@ADFA) from 2004-2007. Katherine currently works in policy and program evaluation.

Sharon Flanigan

Sharon Flanigan joined the ACT Writers Centre board in 2019. She began her career as a health professional in Adelaide and then moved to Canberra to join the Public Service where she remained for 29 years. She has worked in senior positions across government in various roles including policy, program delivery, service delivery, emergency management, national security and corporate. Her last role in the public service was as the General Manager of People and Culture (HR), Prime Minister and Cabinet. She currently works at Woden Community Service managing human resources.

Sophie Mannix

Sophie Mannix joined the ACT Writers Centre board in 2019. She is a bookseller, writer, arts administrator and communications professional. Over the last five years, she has learned the ins and outs of the ACT Writers Centre in multiple positions, including office manager and communications officer. She is currently the Store Manager at local independent bookstore, Harry Hartog, in Woden, Canberra. She has previously acted as Noted Writers Festival’s Communications Coordinator and has managed multi-state book tours. Sophie brings extensive operational knowledge of the Centre along with her marketing, administrative, and event management skills.

Arthur Marusevich

Arthur Marusevich joined the ACT Writers Centre board in 2019. He is a lawyer and a passionate writer. His love for writing took off in India when in 2006 The Telegraph published his first work – a poem dedicated to the victims of the September 11 attacks. That was the start of a new hobby. Today, Arthur regularly writes for a number of media outlets, including Lawyers Weekly, Independent Australia, The New Daily and Ethos: Journal of the ACT Law Society. A book on Arthur’s journey will be published by Wild Dingo Press in 2020, co-authored by former ABC journalist, Dani Cooper.

Jennifer Sullivan

Jennifer Sullivan joined the ACT Writers Centre board in 2019. She has over 15 years of experience managing leading international brands in the United States and Australia including iconic brands such as SunRice, EVIAN water, LG Electronics and Napisan. She has a broad skill set, ranging from setting strategy including new market entry to running award winning advertising campaigns to conducting market research. She is driven by a passion for growing brands and businesses based on understanding consumer and sector needs and thinking differently.