Introducing Stella’s new Co-CEO, Fiona Sweet
Stella is delighted to announce the appointment of our new Executive Director and Co-CEO, Fiona Sweet.
Fiona joins Stella’s incumbent CEO and Creative Director Jaclyn Booton in a new joint leadership model for Stella which will expand our capacity to deliver meaningful programs that support Australian women’s writing.
Fiona is the past Artistic Director and CEO of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale – Australia’s leading contemporary photographic event – and the inaugural Director of National Centre for Photography.
She is an influential and in-demand public speaker, industry judge, photographic portfolio reviewer and assessor in Australia and internationally. She was the director and founder of Sweet Creative, and is recognised for her inspiring and intelligent delivery of uniquely crafted festivals and arts events.
She is also a former Board Director of the Australian Graphic Design Association, the Melbourne Fringe, and co-founded Melbourne’s Acland Street Projection Festival. Fiona currently sits on the LCI University Photographic Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee for the Discipline of Photography at RMIT, and is a Board member of Melbourne Jewish Book Week. Fiona is the recipient of many prestigious design awards, and was identified by her peers, in 2016, as one of the top 25 women to have made a significant contribution to Australian graphic design. She is listed on the afFEMation.com website which aims to firmly place and celebrate these women as heroes in their industry.
We asked Fiona a few questions below.
Welcome to the Stella team, Fiona! You come to us with extensive experience across the Australian arts sector. Can you tell us a bit about your professional background, and what drives you in your working life?
I’ve always been driven in my working life by a passion for the arts – in all its many exciting and interlinking forms – and for arts leadership. My background has primarily been in design, photography and the visual arts, however I have always had a special admiration and passion for literature. The crafting of ideas into words – across many different genres and forms – is a highly skilled artform, and has been, for too long, critically under-supported in Australia. I see my role at Stella as supporting and encouraging Australian women and non-binary writers, and also strengthening the organisation to be able to continue and expand its work long into the future.
Why are you excited to be joining the Stella team?
I’m excited by Stella’s mission to champion Australian women’s writing and drive cultural change in Australian literature. While Stella is a relatively small organisation, it punches well above its weight in terms of impact for writers, readers, and the literary sector at large. I am really looking forward to working with and for women and non-binary writers, and to help elevate their stories and perspectives in our national culture.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
Reading, of course! I’m a great lover of Australian fiction, historical fiction, and the occasional biography. I also invest a lot of energy into my pro bono work as a mentor. Beyond that, I love ocean swimming, hiking, and getting out into nature to walk my dog (whose name, coincidentally, is Stella!)
What was the last book you read and loved?
I absolutely loved Fiona Kelly McGregor’s Iris, which was recently longlisted for the 2023 Stella Prize. It is an incredibly rich and highly visual depiction of the lives and experiences of women in the (very rough!) inner Sydney in the 1930s. I loved the original use of voice within the historical fiction genre, and the way the book shines a light on the experiences of queer and marginalised women.