The AFL is pleased to announce that Lisa Lawry has been appointed to the newly created position of General Manager Umpiring within the Football Operations Department.

The position of General Manager Umpiring elevates and creates a standalone umpiring function within the AFL football operations department, whose core focus is on the performance, growth and development of umpires across the AFL, AFLW, State and NAB League competitions.

The role will amplify the current work in building strong pipelines of diverse and experienced umpiring talent through the AFL's accelerator and academy programs, which is closely connected to the community umpiring pathway.  

Lisa Lawry will join EGM Football Operations and Legal Counsel Andrew Dillon's leadership team, alongside Laura Kane (General Manager Competition Management), Brad Scott (General Manager Football), Nicole Livingstone (General Manager Women's Football), Kate Hall (Head of Mental Health and Wellbeing), Stephen Meade (General Manager Legal & Regulatory) and Tony Keane (Head of Integrity and Security).

Ms Lawry will work with Head of Umpiring Dan Richardson and his team to continue to grow and develop the senior AFL/AFLW umpiring panel, strengthen the strategy and expansion for umpiring at all levels of the game, including high-performance elite training, pathway development, participation and recruitment.

An umpire raises the ball before the round eight AFLW match between West Coast and Brisbane at Mineral Resources Park on February 27, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The role will partner closely with the AFL's Game Development team, led by AFL EGM Game Development Rob Auld to lead the advancement and implementation of a roadmap to ensure the game recruits, supports, develops and retains the number of umpires required to service the needs of the game as participation grows.

Ms Lawry is currently on secondment to the AFL Executive team in the role of Acting Executive General Manager People from her regular role as General Manager People and Culture at Essendon Football Club, where she has been a member of the Executive leadership team since 2014.

Ms Lawry has been part of the AFL's GenW Executive Women's Talent Program and brings more than twenty years' senior leadership experience across human resources, culture transformation, diversity and inclusion, employee wellbeing, talent and leadership development and building high-performance teams.  Ms Lawry holds a bachelors and post graduate qualifications in Human Resources/Industrial Relations and a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology.

AFL Executive General Manager Football Operations, Legal & Integrity, Andrew Dillon said the new structure and function ensures the umpiring department continues to drive high performance and growth.

"Umpires play an integral and important role in the game, and quite simply without umpires we don't have football," Mr Dillon said.

"Adding resource and focus to this area will only strengthen our work in performance, growth, and development of umpiring – ensuring a strong, diverse and appealing pathway from community through to the elite AFL and AFLW competitions.

"Ms Lawry has extensive leadership and people and culture experience and brings a clear understanding of high performance, coaching, talent management and cultural change, which will benefit the progression of umpiring nationally and drive greater diversity into our senior umpiring ranks."

The umpires look on before the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on September 25, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Mr Dillon also said that the 'Girls and Women in Australian Football Umpiring' study has been a valuable resource for the AFL in prioritising the key initiatives to accelerate the growth in women and girls taking on umpiring roles across the country, and ensuring we have a safe and welcoming pathway that allows progression from community to AFL and AFLW level. 

"This new role will be responsible for leading change and implementing the action plan which was approved by the AFL Commission last week and we will be announcing other in initiatives across football at all levels as part of the AFL's Gender Equity Action Plan and the Community Gender Action Plan."

The AFL General Manager Umpiring portfolio will include:

  • AFL, AFLW, state and NAB league umpiring; 
  • ARC management; 
  • Implementing actions in umpiring from the AFL's Gender Equity Action Plan; 
  • Supporting community football umpiring projects. 

Brad Scott will retain responsibility for Laws of the game, club education, game analysis and MRO and Stephen Meade will retain responsibility for the tribunal.

Ms Lawry will commence in the role on Monday July 4, 2022.