Ms Jackson succeeds Belinda Robinson, who has built the capacity and profile of the organisation as a respected voice for the university sector.
A highly experienced advocate, Ms Jackson has been Deputy Chief Executive of Universities Australia for the past two years and is former CEO of Science and Technology Australia.
She has also served as Director of Communication and External Liaison in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor at ANU, and as a senior journalist and Ministerial adviser.
She has deep experience of the policy making process, having led Universities Australia’s policy team as Deputy Chief Executive and having acted as Chief Executive on many occasions, including giving evidence to Parliamentary inquiries and briefing key decision-makers.
She is Chair of the Advisory Board for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale Biophotonics, a founding member of the peak body for not-for-profit science groups, the Science Sector Group (SSG), and co-founded the National Research Alliance with the Australian Academy of Science.
Universities Australia Chair Professor Margaret Gardner said the selection panel had reviewed a very strong field of candidates before making its unanimous recommendation for appointment.
“Catriona has proven herself a skilled and principled advocate both as Deputy Chief Executive at Universities Australia and over many years in many other important leadership roles in public policy,” Professor Gardner said.
“She is an outstanding communicator who is held in strong regard in higher education, politics and the media — and we know she will continue to take Universities Australia from strength to even greater strength.”
Ms Jackson said it was an honour to advocate for Australia’s world-class universities and the communities they serve through life-changing education and game-changing research.
“The investments we make in university education and research today lay the foundation for a smart, skilled and socially-cohesive future for Australia,” she said.
Ms Jackson also paid tribute to her predecessor, saying Ms Robinson had built the profile and capability of Universities Australia and recruited an outstanding staff team during her time at the helm.
“I know I have big shoes to fill,” she said.
Ms Robinson’s contributions to Universities Australia will be celebrated in coming weeks.
Professor Gardner said the sector was deeply grateful to Ms Robinson for her energetic leadership and the breadth of achievements during her time at the helm.
“Belinda has achieved a great deal on behalf of Australia’s universities since her appointment as Chief Executive in October 2011 and we will be very sorry to see her go,” Professor Gardner said.
Ms Jackson will commence as Chief Executive designate on 15 May.