Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Associate Professor Michelle Evans

Associate Professor Michelle Evans

BCom Theatre/Media (CSU), Grad Dip Arts Mgt (Uni Melb), Master of Creative Arts (Uni Melb), Doctor of Philosophy (Mgt) (Uni Melb)

Dr. Michelle Evans is originally from the Hunter Valley NSW. Now based in Bathurst, she works as an academic, writer, facilitator and cultural producer. Michelle holds a Senior Lectureship in Leadership at Charles Sturt University, is a Fellow at Melbourne Business School and Fellow of the Research Centre for Leadership in Action at New York University. Michelle is Trustee of the Yvonne Cohen Award for Indigenous Creative Young People.

Michelle is the Program Director for Australia's first Indigenous Business Master Class program - MURRA - established to skill up Indigenous entrepreneurs. It is a partnership between Melbourne Business School, Kinaway (Victoria's Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce) and Supply Nation (Australia's Indigenous Minority Suppliers organization). The MURRA program was developed while Michelle worked as a Research Fellow at the Melbourne Business School from 2010 – 2014.

In 2013 Michelle was a Fulbright Scholar. She visited the University of Alaska (Fairbanks); University of California (Davis); and University of Hawaii at Manoa to replicate her doctoral study on Indigenous arts leadership. Michelle interviewed 28 Indigenous artists and arts managers about leadership during her Fulbright program and gave keynote presentations at New York University, the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Michelle submitted her PhD in July 2012. The dissertation draws on the experiences of 29 Australian Indigenous artists and arts leaders, 3 non-Indigenous Australian arts managers and a small case study centred on Aboriginal leadership program at the Banff Centre in Canada. The dissertation explores how leaders participate in expressing and resisting cultural identities of Aboriginality and leadership. Taking a critical perspective, Michelle's thesis argues that public discourses of Aboriginality mean that an identity as a leader in Indigenous communities is a complex, sometimes contested status.

Michelle was the founding Head of the Victorian College of the Arts Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts and Cultural Development from 2003-2010. During her time as the Head of the Wilin Centre, Michelle's key achievements included supporting the graduation of 50 Indigenous artists and arts managers; coordinating a cultural advisory body for the Centre and College; developing, teaching and course-coordinating Australia's only Indigenous Arts Management postgraduate program; supporting the creative development of Australia's first Indigenous opera Pecan Summer; and piloting the Accelerate program - a creative Indigenous Leadership Program in partnership with the British Council/Australia Council/Virgin Atlantic.

Michelle graduated with a first degree Honours in Master of Creative Arts from the University of Melbourne. This qualitative study investigated the long-term impacts of cultural programs on the building of communities and networks. Michelle is published in the Australian Literary Studies journal, has edited monographs through the University of Melbourne, and contributed to a range of diverse conference proceedings in the disciplines of librarian studies, Indigenous education, Indigenous arts and leadership. Michelle is an accredited partnership broker through the International Business Leaders Forum and Overseas Development Institute.

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Teaching Responsibilities

  • MGT 599 Leadership: Theory and Practice

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Research Focus

  • Indigenous leadership
  • Leadership and difference
  • Arts leadership
  • Leadership
  • Indigenous entrepreneurship
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Identity
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies
  • Indigenous performing arts
  • Digital storytelling
  • Qualitative research

Research Project Supervision 

  • Leadership
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Qualitative research
  • Arts/Creativity
  • Arts Management 


Research Project: Be:Longing – Enacting indigenous Arts Leadership on Turtle Island (2012-2014) Role: Chief Investigator 2013 Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow (Uni of Alaska, Uni of California, Uni of Hawaii); This phenomenological study aims to open a dialogue with Native American, First Alaskan and Native Hawaiian artists and arts managers about the nature of leadership and how it makes sense with their world.

Research Project: Australian Indigenous Entrepreneurial Leadership (2010 – 2015) Role: Chief Investigator Collaborator: I. Williamson, K.Milward, K.Morris  Australian Research Council Linkage Grant  (2013 - 2015); Australian Indigenous business development represents an important opportunity to enhance Indigenous economic development. However, extant research suggests that Indigenous entrepreneurs face unique challenges, such as, limited access to formal business training. This study uses a multi-method approach to longitudinally examine Indigenous business leaders participating in a business education program. The study will examine how the business education intervention influences the leadership behaviours and business routines Indigenous participants utilise in their organisations and the resulting impact on firm outcomes. The findings promise to provide new insights into ways to support the development of Indigenous commercial enterprises.

Research Project: Aboriginal Young People in Victoria and Digital Storytelling (2013 – 2015) Role: Chief investigator Collaborators: S.Maquire, R.Chenall, K.Thompson, H.Simondson, J.Rimmer, C.Evely Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2013-2015); This digital storytelling project will draw on these reclamation practices as a framework to support Aboriginal youth in Victoria to connect with their culture and to participate in a process of interactive digital storytelling that is determined by them. It will also facilitate opportunities to maintain cultural knowledge for future generations, for example to support storytelling by young people from or about Elders, family members and friends, about activities, places and histories. It could also include stories related to viewing, researching or working with the material culture and art practices of past generations and contemporary artists today (including visual and performing artists, writers and musicians).

Honours and Awards

  • 2014 Award for Excellence and Innovation in Indigenous Higher Education, University of Melbourne
  • 2013 Fulbright Scholar
  • University of Victoria (Canada), Visiting Fellow 2012, Centre for Co-operative and Community Based Economy, (Working with Professor Ana Maria Peredo)
  • University of Melbourne, Diversity and Inclusion Award, 2012 (inaugural winner)
  • Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc., Wilin Centre Winner of the Wurreker Award for Best University Centre, 2007
  • Women Chiefs of Enterprises International Business Awards, Finalist, Emerging Business Leader Category, 2004
  • B'nai B'rith Anti-Discrimination Awards, Victorian College of the Arts Winner of Education Category,2001

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Professional Activities


  • Yvonne Cohen Award for Creative Young Australians 2008-Present

Editorial Board

  • The International Journal of Creativity and Human Development 2011 – Present


  • Academy of Management 2012 - Present
  • Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management 2012 - Present
  • Australian Human Resources Institute 2014 – Present
  • International Leadership Association 2013 - Present


  • Program Director MURRA Indigenous Business Master Class Program

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Selected Publications

Books Chapters

  • Evans, M.M. (2014). Exploring Indigenous artistic leadership. In Banff Centre. Wise Practices in Indigenous Leadership, Banff: Banff Centre Press
  • Evans, M.M. (2012). This Country. In Gallery Kaella. Malaka, Shepparton: Gallery Kaella
  • Evans, M.M. (2010). The Courage to Speak Out. In Wilin Centre. Courageous Conversations, Melbourne: The University of Melbourne
  • Evans, M.M. & Stott, L. (2008). Hearing the Unheard Voices: Practice-Based Approaches. In Sue McManus and Ros Tenneyson (Eds). Talking the Walk: A Communication Toolbook for partnership Practitioners, pp 15. London: International Business Leaders Forum

Refereed Journal Articles

  • Evans, M.M. (2015) Toward an outward-looking Indigeneity, Artlink: Indigenous 35(2) 81-85.
  • Evans, M. M. and Sinclair, A. (2015) Navigating the territories of Indigenous leadership: Exploring the experiences and practices of Australian Indigenous arts leaders, Leadership 1742715015574318, first published on February 25, 2015 as doi:10.1177/1742715015574318
  • Evans, M.M. (2014) Are the Arts the Economic Engine of Affluence? Public Administration Review, Vol 74(3), 431-433 
  • Evans, M.M. (2005) Review of Mary Rose Casey's Creating Frames, Australian Literary Studies, 22(1), 117-119

Refereed Conference Proceedings

  • Evans, M.M. (2009) Courageous Conversations: Indigenous performing Arts. Proceedings of Cairns Indigenous Arts Fair Symposium, 21-23 August
  • Evans, M.M., Wuttunee, W., Pearce, S. & Ross, L. (2014) Contextualizing entrepreneurship: Indigenous women researchers researching Indigenous women entrepreneurs. Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management, Sydney 3-5 December 2014
  • Evans, M.M., Peredo, A.M., Ospina, S., and Tedmanson, D. (2013) Making Space for Indigenous Ways of seeing the world: From received hegemony to upholding diverse ways of doing, being and knowing. Academy of Management, Orlando Florida 9-13 August 2013
  • Evans, M.M. and Sinclair, A. (2013) Navigating territories of Indigenous leadership. International Leadership Association Oceania Conference: Building the R&D of Leadership, Auckland New Zealand 22-24 April 2013
  • Evans, M.M. and Sinclair, A. (2012) Leadership and cultural identity work among Indigenous Australian arts leaders: Containing, contesting, creating cultural identity spaces. International Studying Leadership Conference Perth, Australia 10-11 December 2012
  • Evans, M.M. (2012) Australian Indigenous leadership: A literature review. Australian New Zealand Academy of Management, Perth 5-7 December 2012
  • Evans, M.M. (2011) Navigating territories of belonging, authorisation and ethics. International Studying Leadership Conference, Bristol, United Kingdom, 11-13 December 2011
  • Evans, M.M. (2011) Indigenous arts leaders disrupt the lexicon of leadership. Participation, Action, Creativity Symposium UTS Sydney, Australia 24-25 November 2011
  • Evans, M.M. (2009) Indigenous ways of teaching and knowing: A case study of teaching Indigenous Arts Management. Proceedings of Forum on Indigenous Learning and Teaching, Centre for Studies in Higher Education, University of Melbourne, 11 December
  • Evans, M.M. (2008) Bibididen Wilin: Sparking a Fire (presented with Aunty Joy Wandin-Murphy, Mark Olive, Mauriel Skuthorpe Spearim and Uraine Mastrasavas). World Indigenous Peoples Conference: Education, Melbourne, Australia, 7-11 December 2008
  • Binns, G. & Evans, M.M. (2008) Fan their flames: a collaborative model for information delivery to Indigenous students at the Victorian College of the Arts Library. Proceedings of Dreaming 08 Australian Library and Information Association Conference, Alice Springs, 2-5 September
  • Evans, M.M. (2008) Growing Indigenous Arts Leadership. Proceedings of Engendering Leadership through research and practice conference, Perth, 21-24 July

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