The Deakin University Alumni Awards acknowledge and promote notable Alumni around the world who have achieved success in their communities and professions, or given outstanding service to the University.
Ms Leigh Sales AM
Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award
Journalist and Host, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Graduate Diploma of International Relations, 1999
Master of Arts (International Relations), 2001
One of Australia’s most respected and influential journalists, Leigh Sales combines her deep curiosity about the world with formidable interviewing and analytical skills.
Since joining the ABC in 1995, Leigh has held many senior positions within Australia’s public broadcaster, including her role as national security correspondent and as co-host of its national current affairs program, Lateline.
After postgraduate studies as an online student at Deakin in international relations, Leigh was the ABC’s Washington correspondent from 2001 to 2005 and won a prestigious Walkley Award in 2005 for her reporting on Guantanamo Bay. She was also nominated for a Walkley Award for her frontline coverage of Hurricane Katrina.
In 2011 Leigh was announced as host of 7.30, ABC TV’s flagship national news and current affairs program. Her widely praised style in interviews with people from all walks of life comes in part, she says, from asking the questions she thinks someone watching at home would most want to hear.
Despite her daily deadlines, Leigh is also a podcaster and the author of three acclaimed books. Her most recent book, Any Ordinary Day (Penguin, 2019), explores the resilience people discover in the wake of life-changing tragedies.
A champion of freedom of the press and public engagement in politics, Leigh was this year awarded an Order of Australia for services to broadcasting.
Ms Karen Stocks
Alumni of the Year Award
Director of Global Measurement, Google
Master of Business Administration, 2008
Karen Stocks has forged a stellar career in the fast evolving world of media technology, with more than 20 years’ experience in a number of highly influential roles.
Karen embarked on her career in the media, technology and telecommunications sphere at Vodafone, where the Bachelor of Financial Accounting graduate and CPA spent 12 years rising to general manager of service strategy.
She joined Google first in 2007, moving through the ranks of the tech giant across a diverse range of roles, including online sales and operations manager, head of media solutions, YouTube and display, and director of products and solutions.
Drawing on her MBA from Deakin, in 2013 Karen was appointed the first managing director of Twitter’s Australian operations, establishing and building the social media platform’s business here. Under her leadership, the Australian market was Twitter’s fastest growth sector.
With deep expertise across media monetisation and customer experience in a fluid media landscape, in 2017 Karen moved to Google as director of global measurement.
Karen was the 2014 Patron for Go Girl, a yearly initiative supported by Deakin to encourage more young women to consider studying business and IT. She was an ambassador for the World Netball Cup in 2015 and now sits on the Board of Netball Australia and the Board of Confident Girls. Karen is a member of Chief Executive Women.
In 2016 Karen was runner-up in the CEO Magazine Managing Director of the Year Awards and, since 2015, has been included in the annual B&T Magazine’s Most Influential Women in Australian Media.
Mr Khyber Alam
Young Alumni of the Year Award
Academic and optometrist, Deakin University
Bachelor of Vision Science, 2016
Master of Optometry, 2016
Khyber was 13 when, with his parents and eight siblings, fled the atrocities and hardship of Afghanistan. Traumatised and deeply shy, the teenage refugee didn’t speak a word of English when the family arrived in Melbourne in 2007. But inspired by his hard working parents, Khyber became fluent in his adopted language and went on to become school captain in his final year.
His childhood experiences have made Khyber determined to help others. With two of his grandparents in Afghanistan suffering untreated vision problems, he was drawn to optometry for its ability to transform lives. As well as working as an academic and clinician, and following his undergraduate and masters studies at Deakin, Khyber is now undertaking a PhD in the School of Medicine on vision impairment.
Khyber has been a volunteer optometrist in rural clinics in Australia, Bangladesh and India, and has raised more than $75,000 for various charities. Using his own savings, he’s also opened an orphanage in eastern Afghanistan. Khyber hopes this orphanage, which he named ‘House of Knowledge’ to reflect its aim of encouraging children towards learning, will be the first of many across the devastated country.
Khyber remains extremely modest about his achievements and says it is his parents Sharifa Alam and Sher Alam, along with Deakin mentors such as Professor Alex Gentle, Dr Heather Connor, Professor Sharon Bentley, A/Prof James Armitage and Jac Kirman, who deserve the credit.
Dr Georgia Birch
Alumni Community Service Award
Cross-cultural consultant and researcher, Department of Education, Victoria and Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
Doctor of Philosophy, 2013
Building rich connections between diverse communities is at the heart of Dr Georgia Birch’s work.
Since first volunteering at a mental health program for Somali women in her own neighbourhood Georgia has spent a decade as a cultural and mediation consultant, creating networks of trust and collaboration with African Australian communities.
Georgia is coordinator of the innovative African Liaison Program, which she established in a Melbourne school in 2016, with mentors helping African Australian families navigate the school system and keep their children in education. The pilot was so successful that, with state government support, 15 Victorian schools are now running the program, with many more keen to be involved.
A tireless advocate for marginalised people and refugees, Georgia recently devised a new cultural competency and anti-racism curriculum for the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. She advises the Victorian Education Department and is a driving force behind the annual African Youth Summit, bringing young African Australians together with local leaders, employers and sportspeople.
Georgia, who completed a PhD at Deakin, also works with groups seeking to encourage mainstream Victorian businesses to employ qualified African Australians.
Underpinning her work is the belief that engaging with other communities can be an enriching experience for all Australians.
Mr Mark Sullivan
Alumni Community Service Award
Founder and managing director, Medicines Development for Global Health
Bachelor of Science, 1989
Mark Sullivan is driven by his vision of eradicating the neglected diseases that bring misery and illness to at least a billion people worldwide.
As founder and managing director of Melbourne-based Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH), Mark and his team are making history in the fight against river blindness, a highly infectious skin and eye disease caused by a parasitic worm. Around 20 million people in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from this devastating disease, which often causes permanent blindness. Another 200 million live at risk in affected areas.
Treatments for Tropical Neglected Diseases are rarely developed because of the lack of markets in lower income nations. Establishing MDGH in 2005 as a not-for-profit biopharmaceutical company is part of Mark’s goal of providing desperately needed drugs at little or no cost.
2018 saw MDGH win US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) approval for the use of moxidectin, the first new drug to tackle river blindness in 20 years. MDGH is the first Australian biopharmaceutical company to be granted US FDA approval.
Mark now plans to trial moxidectin against scabies, a debilitating skin disease affecting 70 percent of Indigenous Australian babies before they turn one.
Mark, who graduated from Deakin with a Bachelor of Science, was awarded Victorian Australian of the Year for his work.
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