Alison Kubler and Michael Zavros, and Mandy Thomas and Peter Høj.
Alison Kubler and Michael Zavros, and Mandy Thomas and Peter Høj.

Queensland’s top 25 power couples — part two

The couples who inspire and support each other at home so they can kick big goals in the workforce.

They juggle busy lives, while also raising families, but remain powerful figures of industry.

In the second of The Courier-Mail/Qweekend's five-part series - meet five of the state's 25 most powerful and influential couples in business, agriculture, media, wellness and sport.

They explain how they inspire each other on the way to the top.

The next parts of the series will roll out every day this week.








Curator and writer Alison Kubler with her husband artist Michael Zavros. Picture: Renae Droop
Curator and writer Alison Kubler with her husband artist Michael Zavros. Picture: Renae Droop


What's it like having been the "it" couple of the Queensland visual arts scene for more than a decade?

Michael Zavros is the dashing former equestrian and painter who is now regarded as one of Australia's leading contemporary artists and one with a growing international reputation.

His wife, Alison Kubler is a respected writer and curator who is editor of the quarterly art magazine Vault and is on the council of Canberra's National Gallery of Australia.

They seem pretty grounded and maybe kids do that to you.

The couple has three - Phoebe, 14, Olympia, 12, and Leo, 8. They live on acreage at Chandler on the outskirts of Brisbane.

Zavros says life as a duo is satisfying and busy.

"We're so busy with our work that we hardly ever talk about it now," Zavros says.

"We just support each other as husband and wife And with kids, your first thoughts are always about them. Everything is about them really and their wellbeing."








Justice Sarah Derrington. Picture: Josh Woning
Justice Sarah Derrington. Picture: Josh Woning


Judicial couple Sarah and Roger Derrington were sworn in as Federal Court judges within 11 months of each other and two of their three children have followed them into careers in law.

Justice Roger Derrington's father, Desmond Derrington, was a judge in the Supreme Court of Queensland for 18 years, until 2000, and Sarah Derrington was once his associate.


Federal Court Judge Roger Derrington. Picture: Supplied
Federal Court Judge Roger Derrington. Picture: Supplied


Sarah, 51, now President of the Australian Law Reform Commission, and Roger, 57, who married in 1990, both studied law at University of Queensland.

Sarah, who was privately educated in Townsville, Southport, Melbourne and Brisbane, graduated with arts and law degrees before being admitted to the Bar in 1990.

She then graduated in 1996 with a masters in law and in 1999 with a PhD in marine insurance law.

She became a Professor of Admiralty Law in 2008 and as a barrister specialised in maritime and shipping law, commercial law and arbitration.

She was sworn in as a Federal Court judge and Australian Law Reform Commission president in January last year.

Rockhampton-born Roger graduated from UQ with an arts degree in 1984 and with first-class honours in law and top of his class in 1986.

He became the first Queenslander to be awarded the Sir Robert Menzies Scholarship to Oxford, where he studied for a Bachelor of Civil Law between 1987 and 1989.

He was admitted as a barrister in 1990, took silk in 2004 and became a Federal Court judge in 2017, after 26 years at the Bar.

Sarah became UQ's first female Dean of Law in 2013 and Roger is an Adjunct Professor at UQ's Law School.

The couple's son, Nicholas, 28, is a barrister and daughter Stephanie, 25, is a solicitor and university research assistant.

The couple's other daughter, Emilie, 22, is studying medicine.









Vice Chancellor of Griffith University, Professor Carolyn Evans, (right) with her family; husband Stephen Donaghue, QC, (Australia's Solicitor-General), daughter Caitlin Donaghue-Evans and son Michael Donaghue-Evans.
Vice Chancellor of Griffith University, Professor Carolyn Evans, (right) with her family; husband Stephen Donaghue, QC, (Australia's Solicitor-General), daughter Caitlin Donaghue-Evans and son Michael Donaghue-Evans.


It was a chance meeting at a Catholic youth camp almost 30 years ago that brought together Carolyn Evans, 48, and Stephen Donaghue, 46.

They were young law students at the University of Melbourne, and their subsequent careers would see them become two of the most highly regarded professionals in both law and education.

Along the way they also welcomed two children, daughter Caitlin Donaghue-Evans, 19, and son Michael Donaghue-Evans, 18.

After growing up, studying and working in Melbourne, an offer to take up the post of Griffith University's vice-chancellor and president in 2019 lured Carolyn to Queensland, to become the university's first female VC.

It meant leaving her post as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Provost at the University of Melbourne.

She had achieved a doctorate from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar and held a stipendiary lectureship for two years before returning to Australia in 2000 to work at the Law School at the University of Melbourne, where she would go on to become the first female Dean.

Meanwhile, Stephen spends much of his year in Canberra. A barrister and QC, in late 2016 he was appointed as Australia's Solicitor-General, a role he commenced in January 2017.

He too grew up in Melbourne and went on to study arts and law at the University of Melbourne, where he received the Supreme Court Prize as the top law graduate as well as serving as editor of the Melbourne University Law Review.

He also attended Oxford University after receiving Menzies and Commonwealth scholarships, where he was awarded a Doctorate of Philosophy.







UQ Vice Chancellor Peter Høj and QUT Professor Mandy Thomas. Picture: Mark Cranitch
UQ Vice Chancellor Peter Høj and QUT Professor Mandy Thomas. Picture: Mark Cranitch


As two of Queensland's leading voices in academia, Peter Høj, 62, and Mandy Thomas, 60, have been a powerful partnership for more than 12 years.

Danish-born Professor Peter Høj has led the prestigious and world-class University of Queensland in his role as Vice-Chancellor and President since 2012.

Earlier this year he announced his intention to retire at the end of June 2020, bringing to a close a combined 13 years of service as a VC between UQ and the University of South Australia.

Before making the move Down Under in 1987, he was educated at the University of Copenhagen, in his home city, where he attained a Master of Science and a PhD.

He would go on to be the Foundation Professor of Viticultural Science at the University of Adelaide, and later the chief executive of The Australian Wine Research Institute.

His Australian wife Robyn passed away in 2003, and the following year he made the move to Canberra to take up the role of chief executive of the Australian Research Council.

It was there he first met Professor Mandy Thomas, an accomplished anthropologist and the Executive Director for the Humanities and Creative Arts section.

It was after she had moved on from ARC to take up the role of Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Research Training at the Australian National University, that they became a couple.

Mandy was born and grew up in Sydney, where she trained as a medical technician before undertaking her BA (Hons) and PhD at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Shortly after Peter began at UQ, in 2014 Mandy was named Executive Dean of QUT's Creative Industries Faculty, a position she has held since 2014.

"It has been great to live together in Brisbane since 2012 and working at two different institutions in the same city is indeed wonderful," Høj says.

Thomas adds, "We love it here, the warmth and openness of people, the scale of the city and of course we love living in a Queenslander - that is such a privilege."

Between them the couple has three children who, like their parents, are global citizens.

When asked what she most admires about Peter, Mandy says "his honesty, his integrity and his "Danish-ness" - his egalitarian nature and focus on innovation.

For Peter, his is in awe of his partner's intelligence, generosity, and her "enormous capacity to always lift the mood in a room of people, even when difficult issues have to be tackled and tough decisions made".

The couple say one of their future goals together is to "spend much more time with each other, with our family, and be helpful with grandchildren".

In addition, Thomas says she would like to write novels, while Høj would like to make a contribution to help address the mounting environmental challenges and use his 22-year chief executive experience to assist organisations "doing good things".







- Fashion designer



Trevor Lee and Keri Craig-Lee OAM
Trevor Lee and Keri Craig-Lee OAM


She is the undisputed doyenne of fashion design and empress of elegance.

He is the agricultural business baron who is one of Australia's biggest landholders.

Together, Keri Craig-Lee and Trevor Lee are a force to be reckoned with.

Keri, a fashion designer and retailer of more than 40 years, has won many national and international awards.

Career highlights include designing a wedding dress for Renate Blauel (who married Elton John in Sydney in 1984) and being inducted into the (then) Retailers Association Queensland Hall of Fame in 1987.

She was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2017 for services in the clothing manufacturing sector, business and community.

The Keri Craig Emporium remains an elegant fixture of the lower floor of the Brisbane Arcade, Queen Street Mall.

Trevor, worth a reported $705 million in the Australian Financial Review 2019 rich list, runs the Queensland-based Australian Country Choice, a third-generation, privately owned cattle-rearing and meat processing company.

With operations spread over two million hectares, running up to 300,000 head of cattle, ACC claims to be the world's largest family owned, vertically integrated cattle and beef supply chain organisation.

It has held a long-term contract supplying Coles (that ends in July).

The couple, married 33 years, lives at Sutherland, a splendiferous home in Ascot, in Brisbane's north.

They have children - Harrisson, 27, Cartier, 22 and Trevor's sons Anthony, 40 and Michael, 38.

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