gabby gillespie is an Appalachian community organizer who has spent fifteen years building community and resistance. gabby began their activism journey in queer liberation work in 2004 and moved into environmental organizing in 2007. gabby spent many years in leadership with Mountain Justice, organizing spring breaks and summer camps supporting learning around environmental justice, community organizing and non-violent direct action in coal impacted communities around Appalachia. Their learning and sharing was shaped by the popular education model, grounded in the concepts of experiential learning and the idea that we all come into learning spaces with expertise to offer.
gabby was hired by the Sierra Club in 2015 and has since become a core trainer for their new organizer training as well as being involved in designing and facilitating many workshops, meetings and retreats. While their work is mostly grounded in environmental justice communities in Southwestern Virginia impacted by coal and gas extraction, they remain committed to leadership development, mutual aid, and dismantling oppression. As an herbalist and healer with much knowledge passed down from ancestors and chosen family, gabby is dedicated to incorporating healing justice into their work as a trainer and organizer.
Bill Price was a resident of the southern West Virginia Mountains for more than 30 years. He has worked with grassroots groups dealing with irresponsible fossil fuels extraction in Central Appalachia as well as with groups working on social justice issues from health care to childhood poverty.
Bill became active in the environmental movement in 2001 after flooding heavily damaged the community of Dorothy, WV where he lived. The failure of a large sediment pond on a mountaintop removal mining operation directly above this small community contributed to the severity of the flood, which destroyed and damaged several hundred homes in the valley downstream. In 2003, Bill had the opportunity to begin working with the Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice Program.
Bill continues to work with the Sierra Club as a field organizing manager where he supports and supervises organizers working on a variety of environmental and social justice issues for the Beyond Coal to Clean Energy, Ready for 100, Healthy Communities and Dirty Fuels campaigns in Appalachia and the Southeast. He has facilitated community organizing workshops, strategy meetings and visioning sessions.
Bill has co-facilitated diversity and Dismantling Racism workshops around the country for over 12 years. He is also a trainer and coach for the WV Trainers Project which does trainings of trainers on social activism.
He lives with his wife, stepson and their cat in Charleston West Virginia.
Cat Nadel is a 2017 COF graduate and a lead campaigner at YOUNG Campaigns, where she supports youth activists to find their power, call out systemic inequality and win campaigns for economic justice.
Cat cut her teeth in campaigning while still at university, where she was part of the student powered campaign that successfully got Monash University to divest $450 million from coal. Before co-founding YOUNG, Cat spent four years as a climate campaigner and organiser at Environment Victoria. This role involved working with communities in the Latrobe Valley, Westernport Bay area and suburban Melbourne to build power for strong climate policies and a just transition.
Cat grew up on the banks of the Maribyrnong River on Wurundjeri country, and still lives and works in Naarm.
Louise Hislop studied political economy in the 1980s and has always taken an interest and a part in her democracy and the environment. As ‘things got more and more out of hand’, she’s become more and more involved, to the point where she found herself leading the charge for lasting change in Warringah.
In 2016, Louise was campaign manager for James Mathison in Warringah. Then in 2019, she was campaign co-manager for Zali Steggall’s federal election campaign. Louise is now Steggall’s electorate officer and project manager for Warringah’s Roadmap to Zero. She is the founding president of Voices of Warringah.
Thuy Linh is working with the Vietnamese and Filipino communities on issues of affordable and clean energy. Thuy has experience in advocating for climate action with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. She has also been involved in policy and research regarding Australia’s asylum seeker policy and international human rights. Thuy is particularly passionate about working with ethnically diverse communities to ensure equal access to opportunities and resources so these community can thrive. She hopes that through this project, she will be able to engage with the vibrant Vietnamese community in Sydney and help them address their concerns regarding power and the environment. Thuy has a Bachelor of International Studies and Law.
Miriam Lyons is GetUp’s Organising Director. She ran the Wentworth by-election and Warringah election campaigns at GetUp.
Miriam was the founding CEO of the Centre for Policy Development, where she is now a Fellow.
Workshop 1, 2019
Ian Lisser is Lead Organiser with the Finance Sector Union in Sydney and currently a member of the Community Organising Fellowship Reference Group. As well as having a long history in various roles in the union movement spanning 30 years, from shop floor delegate to union President of the Industrial Staff Union. Ian is also known for his work in GetUp! and Amnesty International as an activist trainer and facilitator. Ian undertook the COF Fellowship in 2017, the Australian Progress Fellowship in 2016 and the Harvard Leadership, Organising and Action: Leading Change executive program in 2018 as well as having undertaken training with Sydney Alliance, ACTU Organising Centre, Plan to Win, Ayni Institute and the International Institute for Peace (IIP) and International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict. Ian’s passion is organising and building workers power through developing representative workplace structures and networks, member to member recruitment, leadership development, and mentoring and training of both organisers and workplace leaders.
Josh Creaser is a Co-founder and coordinator of Tipping Point. He works with over 20 Stop Adani community groups in NSW and ACT, as they build community power to shift the politics of coal. Hailing from Canberra, Josh spent 5 years helping grow an active climate movement in the nation’s capital through training and mentoring dozens of volunteers, building collaborations and leading the successful campaign to get the ACT Government to divest from fossil fuels.
Josh spent 3 years as Frontline Projects coordinator with 350.org Australia working on the Maules Creek, Galilee Basin and other big polluter campaigns.
Isaac Astill is a #StopAdani campaigner and has worked for six years to keep Galilee Basin coal in the ground. Isaac co-founded Tipping Point, an organisation that supports the #StopAdani grassroots network.
For his efforts, Isaac has been awarded the Bob Brown Young Environmentalist of the Year.
Workshop 2, 2019
Tim Lo Surdo is the Founder and National Co-Director of Democracy in Colour – Australia’s first racial and economic justice organisation led by people of colour. Before starting Democracy in Colour, Tim was a Senior Organiser at United Voice where he helped young, low-paid workers start Hospo Voice – a new union in hospitality. He has led campaigns at Oaktree, been an adviser to two Senators, was the Campaigns Director at Jhatkaa (the Indian equivalent of GetUp!), led national communications at UN Youth Australia, and co-founded Open Sky – one of India’s most well-known performance art communities. Tim is also on the Boards of Plan International Australia, the Southern Migrant & Refugee Centre, Stop the Traffik, Climate for Change, and The Wilderness Society (Victoria).
Tim is a graduate of COF2016.
Neha Madhok has over ten years of experience in Australian political campaigning and is driven by the power of grassroots organising to win tangible outcomes for social justice.
Currently, Neha is a National Co-Director at Democracy in Colour – a nation -wide organisation led by and for people of colour and for economic justice. Previously she was a Senior Campaigner at 350.org Australia. Neha has worked on the Yes campaign at Australian Marriage Equality, and she was a Digital Campaigner in the Australian union movement.
Neha is a graduate of COF2014.
Rachel Deans has been working for Market Forces as a shareholder action campaigner for the past three years.
In 2017 she undertook the COF Fellowship and the Groupwork Institute Diploma of Facilitation both of which have been invaluable to her work.
Rachel is very excited to come back to COF this year to discuss how we can use shareholder activism to change corporate Australia.
Bernadette Maheandiran is a Research and Legal Analyst, having worked with Market Forces on their South East Asia coal finance campaigns since April 2017. In this role, Bernadette works with different groups in Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan to provide finance-related analysis and information to assist in their campaigns. Before coming to Australia, she trained as a lawyer in Canada and worked in Toronto in human rights law for seven years.
Workshop 3, 2019
Naomi Hogan coordinates community action in the face of expanding coal and gas projects across Australia. She has trained in science communication and natural resource management, with experience in science writing, community organising and media outreach.
Over the past decade, Naomi has worked with regional communities, farming groups and Traditional Owners across Australia on the frontline of proposed new gas fields and open cut coal mines. From company board rooms to parliament meetings and media stories, her approach has been to help facilitate local representatives to have a powerful voice.
Naomi is currently a National Coordinator for the Lock the Gate Alliance. The mission of Lock the Gate is to protect Australia’s agricultural, environmental and cultural resources from inappropriate mining. The charity aims to educate and empower all Australians to demand sustainable solutions to food and energy production. A large part of her current role includes mobilising community representatives and researchers to challenge the increasing threat of large-scale fracking and new gas fields across the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Kara Stuart is the co-chair and Victorian state coordinator of the Women’s Climate Justice Collective, a national collective led by women, aiming to mainstream feminist climate justice and support women in the climate and women’s rights movements.
Kara has previously been involved with 350.org and ActionAid, and currently volunteers with Stop Adani Melbourne.
Carly Willoughby-Rolls has volunteered, led and worked on community organising and politically engaged projects for the past 23 years.
In 2018 she launched Minimalista through which she speaks about and advocates the minimalist lifestyle and coaches successful women entrepreneurs to do less and thrive in motherhood, business and life.
For the 19 years before that she worked as an organiser and campaigner across progressive and social change issues and volunteered on community, political organising and culture and arts projects. Carly stands proudly with change makers in the union, community organising, environment and political movements to protest, campaign and lobby to see the changes we desire enacted.
She is a qualified and experienced Facilitator, Adult Educator and Life Coach who has trained and developed hundreds of activists and changemakers over the past two decades.
Laura Melville is a community organiser with Environment Victoria, working mainly on the lands of the Braikalung people of the Gunaikurnai nation in the Latrobe Valley. Laura developed her organising skills at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), building the power of young people to take action on climate justice. As the national organising director at AYCC, Laura developed AYCC’s national training program, ‘Climate Leaders’, was the project manager for ‘Powershift’ in 2017, and lead the development of AYCC’s new organising and leadership development model.
Growing up in Gippsland, Laura is passionate about ensuring that the transition beyond coal provides regional communities with opportunities to thrive.
Huong Truong is currently a union organiser with the National Union of Workers and mum of two. In 2018, Huong served as Greens Member for Western Metro of the Legislative Council (Upper House) in the Victorian Parliament. Huong Truong is a public servant by trade, with a Masters in Environment and Planning.