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Byron Shire
September 27, 2021

New GM for Byron Community Centre

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Byron Bay Community Centre’s new GM Louise O’Connell. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Paul Bibby

Byron Community Centre has appointed the former head of a sizeable fundraising and philanthropic organisation to be its new general manager.

The centre this week announced that Louise O’Connell would be taking the reins from long-running GM Paul Spooner, who stepped down earlier this year.

Ms O’Connell, who is currently living in Mullumbimby, is the former CEO of the University of Newcastle Foundation – the organisation responsible for that university’s fundraising and philanthropic work.

Serving the community

As such, she brings dedication to social welfare and community development to her new role, as well as a passion for the arts.

‘I’d like to start by acknowledging the energy, vision, and wisdom of my predecessor, Paul Spooner,’ Ms O’Connell said.

‘Along with staff, volunteers, and the management committee, he’s laid a great foundation and it is a privilege to continue the great work they have been doing.’

Ms O’Connell said she saw her role as supporting the centre’s staff and volunteers, and ensuring that the centre continued to serve the community for many generations to come.

Need for long-term funding

‘It may come as a surprise to some people that, while the centre’s future is safe, it doesn’t have guaranteed ongoing funding,’ she said.

‘What I hope is to secure long-term funding for all of our projects to ensure that future generations can make use of them.

‘The centre’s building has been used by our community for more than 100 years and I want to help make sure the centre continues to thrive for the next 100.’

The beating heart of the Bay

Ms O’Connell described the Byron Community Centre as the ‘beating heart of Byron Bay’.

‘We make a huge contribution to the community in terms of social welfare, community development, organising the Byron Markets,’ she said.

‘There is also great value that comes from the world-class entertainment at the Byron Theatre and the support for community radio station Bay FM.’

‘I consider myself very fortunate to be joining a fantastic centre that’s very well established in our wonderful community thanks to the efforts of the staff and volunteers.’

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