who we are

The Change Agency Education and Training Institute is an independent social movement initiative based in Australia with some involvement in international projects.

James Whelan

James Whelan

James Whelan (Director and co-founder)

James is an activist educator committed to building powerful social movements and the challenging work of striving for social and environmental justice. James has worked with small and large civil society organisations on campaigns to protect forests, reduce toxic pollution and uphold human rights. He has also been a researcher, research manager and lecturer at several Australian universities, publishing widely on popular education and social movements, participatory democracy and environmental politics.

James’ community and academic passions blend in his work as director of the Change Agency, a not-for-profit which provides education, training, facilitation and action research support for social change groups in Australia and the Pacific. James has facilitated campaign planning, decision-making and evaluation workshops and meetings with hundreds of social movement organisations in the Australia-Pacific region, working with groups of up 1000. He lives in Newcastle, on the land of the Awabakal and Worimi people.

Email James or phone 0431 150 928

 

Jason MacLeod (Associate)

Jason MacLeod

Jason MacLeod

Jason is a community organiser, educator, and researcher who has been working with local communities and social and environmental justice movements in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region since 1991. The context of this work varies, from conflict settings, to international and local NGOs, to local government, to community-based organisations, neighbourhoods and villages, although most of his work is with grassroots communities and ordinary people working for social change. He teaches civil resistance at the University of Queensland, coordinates Pasifika, a social movement capacity building program in nondemocracies, and is a training associate with the Change Agency, Australia’s leading activist education outfit. Jason is married with kids, wrestles with his Quaker faith, lives in a cohousing settlement, and currently has aspirations to raise chickens. Whenever possible he enjoys a long walk in wilderness country or to ride a perfect pitching wave. He lives on Jaggera land in Brisbane.

Email Jason Macleod

Taya Seidler

Taya Seidler

Taya Seidler (Associate)

Taya is a passionate educator and facilitator supporting activists, communities and businesses to effect positive evolutionary change in the world.  She is particularly interested in the skills and processes that allow individuals and groups to unify in order to work effectively and sustainably to influence systemic change.  Her company, Process Power, helps groups to learn the art and science of strategic relating and acting, connecting the essential inner and interpersonal work needed to catalyse collective strategic action.  Specialising in leadership and team development, Taya has over 14 years experience designing and facilitating learning programs for diverse groups.  She believes in and practises the science of possibility and in spite of the current reality we face she is optimistic about the future. Contact Taya.

Sam La Rocca

Sam La Rocca

Sam La Rocca (Associate and co-founder)

Sam co-founded the Change Agency. He’s now the Deputy Director at the Sunrise Project where he continues to invest in the movement as strategist and facilitator. Sam’s been an activist for more than two decades working as grassroots environmental justice campaigner, political organiser, and activist educator across the country and around the world.

Sam’s thesis:


Email Sam La Rocca

Kate Smolski

Kate Smolski

Kate Smolski (Community Organising Fellowship co-founder)

Kate is an environmental advocate with fourteen years of experience in grassroots organising, campaign strategy, media relations, policy and lobbying. As a grassroots organiser and campaigner Kate has worked for several leading US environmental non-profits including Green Corps, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Through innovative campaigns and trainings she has worked with a range of groups to effectively advocate for action on climate change, clean energy and lands and wildlife protection. From Congressional panels to community halls her work has focused on effective advocacy, capacity building and the development of broad-based coalitions. Kate moved to Sydney in 2012 and is currently the CEO at the Nature Conservation Council. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology from the University of Rhode Island.

What are people saying about us?

anna-keenan

Anna Keenan, Students of Sustainability Collective 2006

Thank you for your involvement in SoS this year and for your continued commitment over the years to effecting sustainable environmental and social change. Your co-facilitated presentations on activist learning, campaign strategy and activist sustainability were all very well received, generating discussion, excitement, considered thought and motivation from the participants, including myself. Not only was the content inspirational, but to see the way that the two of you work together and so effectively co-facilitate was a lesson in itself. At your “Moving beyond Tactic-Led Campaigns”, you so successfully engaged all in the room and drew from their experiences that it was the most effective workshop I attended through the whole conference. Your involvement in SoS 2005 has had a significant impact on the future of Australian environmentalism by sharing the tools of individual, collective, and community organising, and inspiring us to advocate for and take action towards positive social change.
2014-03-30T07:52:56+00:00
anna-keenan
Thank you for your involvement in SoS this year and for your continued commitment over the years to effecting sustainable environmental and social change. Your co-facilitated presentations on activist learning, campaign strategy and activist sustainability were all very well received, generating discussion, excitement, considered thought and motivation from the participants, including myself. Not only was...
dave & gemma

Dave Muhly, Sierra Club

What began at Pittwater as a collection of skilled campaigners became a cadre of skilled organizers by the final day at Baden Powell. On Sunday evening as we gathered, I overheard one participant chatting with another at a picnic table and heard, "challenge, choice, outcome" as part of her conversation. Another commented at the final circle at how what had seemed like such a large group at Pittwater now seemed like a much smaller group, reflective of how closely this group had bonded as a team despite their vast differences in geography or organizational size or style, but based on a common goal and identity. Concepts like "building teams" and "building relationships" were part of the normal parlance and just a cursory review of the evaluations to date show an increased appreciation for and attention to leadership development and strategic planning. A number of participants reminded me of my off-the-cuff set of definitions about the differences between mobilizing, campaigning and community organising (focusing on local power), and one told me she has it on the wall of her office to inspire her every day. This has been the successful launch of an ambitious and visionary program. Many thanks to James and Kate for their vision, wisdom, and care in developing and nurturing the curriculum and the cohort. Kudos!

2014-09-15T10:27:41+00:00
dave & gemma
What began at Pittwater as a collection of skilled campaigners became a cadre of skilled organizers by the final day at Baden Powell. On Sunday evening as we gathered, I overheard one participant chatting with another at a picnic table and heard, “challenge, choice, outcome” as part of her conversation. Another commented at the final...
leigh

Leigh Ewbank, Yes2Renewables coordinator

Usually, organisers learn in the heat of battle – through trial and error, stress, and necessity. The Community Organising Fellowship has provided a rare opportunity to step off the campaign trail, slow down, and do some deep learning. The suite of tools explored in the program will influence my practice for years to come.

 By creating a ‘community of practice’ of organisers, those behind the fellowship have shown strategic leadership. The relationships the program has cultivated (within the cohort and between alumni) will pay dividends. 
2015-03-17T20:58:10+00:00
leigh
Usually, organisers learn in the heat of battle – through trial and error, stress, and necessity. The Community Organising Fellowship has provided a rare opportunity to step off the campaign trail, slow down, and do some deep learning. The suite of tools explored in the program will influence my practice for years to come.  By...
nka

Josey Sharrad, International Fund for Animal Welfare

The Change Agency facilitated our two day intensive strategy workshop to bring together animal welfare and rescue groups from across Australia to set up a National Koala Alliance. James and Taya's facilitation of the workshop was absolutely brilliant and everyone came away with renewed enthusiasm and determination. James' extensive campaigning experience and strategic thinking provided invaluable guidance to this newly- formed alliance and we will continue to tap into his wealth of strategic advice as we go forward to protect koalas. Thank you!

2014-08-18T14:37:24+00:00
nka
The Change Agency facilitated our two day intensive strategy workshop to bring together animal welfare and rescue groups from across Australia to set up a National Koala Alliance. James and Taya’s facilitation of the workshop was absolutely brilliant and everyone came away with renewed enthusiasm and determination. James’ extensive campaigning experience and strategic thinking provided invaluable...
Stu Bowen

Stu Bowen, Environmental Manager (Australia & New Zealand) Patagonia International Inc.

James has helped me better appreciate my unique set of values and understand what inspires me to action, which is a great tool to recognise other stakeholder’s values and what motivates them to action. This growth allows me to communicate far more effectively with all my stakeholders, so we can all achieve greater positive environmental and social change.

 
2015-04-29T18:23:01+00:00
Stu Bowen
James has helped me better appreciate my unique set of values and understand what inspires me to action, which is a great tool to recognise other stakeholder’s values and what motivates them to action. This growth allows me to communicate far more effectively with all my stakeholders, so we can all achieve greater positive environmental...
Peter Archer

Peter Archer, World Vision

I have shared with my friends and family that this workshop was the most valuable training I have done. It came at a time when I had become aware of my passion for grassroots activism. The follow-up support equipped me quickly and powerfully to put my learning into practice and age my confidence a huge boost.
2014-03-30T08:11:05+00:00
Peter Archer
I have shared with my friends and family that this workshop was the most valuable training I have done. It came at a time when I had become aware of my passion for grassroots activism. The follow-up support equipped me quickly and powerfully to put my learning into practice and age my confidence a huge...
cherry

Cherry Muddle, Australian Marine Conservation Society

The Community Organising Fellowship has rooted in me a deeper sense of belonging to an intentional, international movement to create the positive changes we wish to see in society, environment, culture and climate. The program delivery is varied, fluid and always interesting. The strengths and highlights for me include learning through shared experience and critical analysis. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed forging strong connections and bonds between fellow organisers, facilitators and guest speakers.
2015-03-17T21:02:16+00:00
cherry
The Community Organising Fellowship has rooted in me a deeper sense of belonging to an intentional, international movement to create the positive changes we wish to see in society, environment, culture and climate. The program delivery is varied, fluid and always interesting. The strengths and highlights for me include learning through shared experience and critical...
jason

Jason Lyddieth, Greenpeace

There are many learnings, skills, and tools I am keen to take back to my work to empower my teams and improve our campaigns. The people and the vibe at the trainings were amazing and truly inspiring. I feel a deep sense of gratitude to have been able to attend and privileged to be a recipient of such great learnings and in the company of such amazing people.
2014-05-10T21:48:34+00:00
jason
There are many learnings, skills, and tools I am keen to take back to my work to empower my teams and improve our campaigns. The people and the vibe at the trainings were amazing and truly inspiring. I feel a deep sense of gratitude to have been able to attend and privileged to be a...
Anna Rose

Anna Rose, ASEN Convenor and NUS National Environment Officer 2005

The Change Agency has contributed enormously to strengthening the student environment movement in Australia and helping us shift to a culture of strategic thinking, planning and reflection on our activism. The training and advice provided by the Change agency over the last twelve months has been invaluable to tens of campus environment collectives and we are already seeing tangible results in real wins in our Campus Clean Energy Camp. Thank you Change Agency!
2014-03-30T07:37:22+00:00
Anna Rose
The Change Agency has contributed enormously to strengthening the student environment movement in Australia and helping us shift to a culture of strategic thinking, planning and reflection on our activism. The training and advice provided by the Change agency over the last twelve months has been invaluable to tens of campus environment collectives and we...
Govind

Govind Maksay, MarketForces organiser

Workshop sessions are extremely well structured, with small group work, personal reflection time and larger group discussions included throughout. This approach allows all participants to contribute and caters for different learning styles and personalities.

In addition to the formal learning, the personal relationships I have formed with other participants and the facilitators will be extremely important to help me become a more effective and confident campaigner. Without hesitation I would recommend the Fellowship to other campaigners.
2015-03-17T19:34:58+00:00
Govind
Workshop sessions are extremely well structured, with small group work, personal reflection time and larger group discussions included throughout. This approach allows all participants to contribute and caters for different learning styles and personalities. In addition to the formal learning, the personal relationships I have formed with other participants and the facilitators will be extremely...