Hero of ANU: Martha Evans

28 September 2020

When you think about ANU, you might picture the rolling greenery of the Acton campus or the beachscapes at Kiola. But far across the Pacific Ocean, a dynamic ANU duo are getting things done.

Meet Martha Evans: one half of the North American Liaison Office (NALO). We caught up (virtually!) with Martha to celebrate her 10-year anniversary working at ANU.

On the frontlines of partnerships and philanthropy

Martha is constantly hustling to support the various functions of NALO.

But what is NALO?

NALO supports staff and students in their international engagement and raises the profile and standing of ANU. This involves working across five key areas: partnerships; research collaboration and funding; government/policy engagement; student mobility and internships; and alumni engagement and philanthropy. The US is our biggest partner for international research collaboration and also our largest source of international funding.

Since the office opened 10 years ago, Martha has been deeply involved with a significant expansion of activities, including countless visits from senior ANU staff and high-profile events, the establishment of a North American Alumni Association, the creation the ANU Foundation USA and the coordination the ANU Crawford School Congressional Research Fellowship program and the Law School's Work Bank Fellowship.

"All of these examples are valuable ways our office supports the ANU."

One of many hats that Martha wears is as Secretary of the non-profit ANU Foundation USA. The Foundation has raised over $1.6 million USD since 2015 with a mission to promote excellence in education and research, including the exchange of knowledge, faculty and students between Australia and the United States.

"I value working in this space because of the ongoing relationships and its contribution to excellence in education."

When COVID-19 came to Washington

Martha, alongside Paul Harris, are based at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC. Working in the Embassy has some nifty perks.

"I absolutely love meeting our alumni and staff, but I have also enjoyed being exposed to some high-profile people including Ambassadors, former Administration staff and senior officials - Samantha Power, Scooter Libby, Jim Clapper to name a few.  What a diverse group of DC figures that ANU puts before us."

"It has been so interesting to work for Ambassadors' Kim Beazley, Joe Hockey and now Arthur Sinodinos.  I had the opportunity last year to go to the White House lawn remarks during Prime Minister Scott Morrison's state visit.  With all the polarizing politics of the day, the White House was stunning."

Unfortunately, 2020 had different plans for the NALO team. COVID-19 forced NALO to pivot much of its operations. Adapting to the uncertainty, Martha's work has adopted a greater focus on alumni engagement, increasing capacity for philanthropic gifts and business development. She now has a formal role with the Advancement team as well as being part of the Global Engagement portfolio.

Paul Harris applauded Martha's innovation during COVID-19, especially adopting new approaches to nurturing the University's alumni community.

"Martha has collaborated on a series of virtual events and webinars for our alumni community, and a new NALO newsletter that goes out to all our North American partners, alumni and friends. We have had lots of feedback from our community here that they wanted more engagement from ANU due to the strange times everyone is living through."

However, COVID-19 has not detracted from key policy issues that Australia and the US share.

"The current priority issues - space, defence research, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and the future of the Indo-Pacific - are all areas were ANU expertise can make a real difference."

Adapting to COVID-19 was not just a matter of adjusting her professional life. COVID-19 inspired Martha to adopt a dog!

Meet "Denney" - the newest member of Martha's family

“COVID-19 has been tough in the United States. I miss seeing my family who are in all Kansas City.  But I think the best choice we made was to adopt a puppy in April.  “Denney” (my maiden name) is a joy and our older dog “Shandy” has now accepted him as part of the family, finally.  He makes us laugh and his personality continues to change.”

Martha’s contributions over the years

Everyone who has worked with Martha only has glowing things to say.

Reflecting on her time working with Martha to get NALO off the ground, ANU Vice-President (Engagement and Global Relations) Jane O’Dwyer sung Martha’s praises

“Martha is one of the hidden treasures of ANU and is central to our North America community and activity. She is a wonderful colleague, and well respected and loved by our very active alumni and friends community in the US and Canada. Those ten years have flown!”

Likewise, Paul Harris reflected warmly on Martha’s contributions.

“Martha has made a huge contribution to NALO and ANU over the last ten years. She has built up a wide network of positive relationships over that time across the university, the Embassy and with our partners and alumni across America. Many ANU staff and students have interacted with Martha when they have visited the US over the last decade and I often get messages from senior academics asking me to “say hello to Martha!”.”

Congrats Martha on a fabulous 10 years!