Guest speakers and facilitators

Workshop 1, 2020

gabby gillespie

gabby gillespie

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

Bill Price

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

Cat Nadel

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.

Workshop 1, 2019

Ian Lisser

Ian Lisser

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

Josh Creaser

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

Isaac Astill

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

Tim Lo Surdo

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

Neha Madhok

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

Rachel Deans

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

Bernadette Maheandiran

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

Naomi Hogan

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

Kara Stuart

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 WIllougby-Rolls

Carly Willoughby-Rolls

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

Laura Melville

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

Huong Truong

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.

What are people saying about us?

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+11:00
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.
Chris Rose

Chris Rose, Author of ‘How to Win Campaigns’

They (tCA) really are movement makers... the Aussie inheritors of Alinsky.
2014-03-30T08:05:33+11:00
Chris Rose
They (tCA) really are movement makers... the Aussie inheritors of Alinsky.

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+11:00
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.

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+11:00
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.
Emilie Carey

Emilie Carey, Solar Citizens


I really admired your facilitation skills. I learnt lots watching you guide us through the evening. I'll definitely be using lessons from last night. You're a total pro and I'm really grateful you're generous enough to share your knowledge.

2016-03-25T10:35:26+11:00
Emilie Carey
I really admired your facilitation skills. I learnt lots watching you guide us through the evening. I'll definitely be using lessons from last night. You're a total pro and I'm really grateful you're generous enough to share your knowledge.
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+10:00
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 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!
Jane Stabb

Jane Stabb, Community Organiser, Environment Victoria

The Community Organising Fellowship workshop was extraordinarily impactful for me. I had a chance to investigate the theory behind effective organising and campaigning tools that I can use in my practice every day but very rarely interrogate or reflect on.  I found new frameworks and structures that will improve my practice so much. I had the space and place to interrogate my campaign with the assistance of masters!  And I was given the opportunity to build relationships with leaders in my field, to be supported in my thinking by them and to support them by sharing our practice and experiences... 100% pure gold.
2014-05-23T16:45:53+10:00
Jane Stabb
The Community Organising Fellowship workshop was extraordinarily impactful for me. I had a chance to investigate the theory behind effective organising and campaigning tools that I can use in my practice every day but very rarely interrogate or reflect on.  I found new frameworks and structures that will improve my practice so much. I had the space and place to interrogate my campaign with the assistance of masters!  And I was given the opportunity to build relationships with leaders in my field, to be supported in my thinking by them and to support them by sharing our practice and experiences... 100% pure gold.
Six Degrees

Sam Robb, Six Degrees

When I’m amongst passionate and talented people, I always feel like our movement can be powerful. But after the last 10 days, I not only feel we can be powerful, I know we can. I know how we can be and that is a unique and invaluable gift. The quality and consideration of the facilitation and subject matter was astonishing, and there was a group wide acknowledgement of both an immense privilege of being a part of the cohort and a resounding responsibility to use and share what we felt and learnt.
2014-05-23T17:11:47+10:00
Six Degrees
When I’m amongst passionate and talented people, I always feel like our movement can be powerful. But after the last 10 days, I not only feel we can be powerful, I know we can. I know how we can be and that is a unique and invaluable gift. The quality and consideration of the facilitation and subject matter was astonishing, and there was a group wide acknowledgement of both an immense privilege of being a part of the cohort and a resounding responsibility to use and share what we felt and learnt.

Jono La Nauze, FoE Melbourne

Totally awesome working with you guys. Thanks for your patience, commitment, considered and constructive guidance and generously giving so much time and effort. Thank you also for having faith in the process. Working with tCA was easy and a pleasure.
2014-03-30T08:23:37+11:00
Totally awesome working with you guys. Thanks for your patience, commitment, considered and constructive guidance and generously giving so much time and effort. Thank you also for having faith in the process. Working with tCA was easy and a pleasure.

Glenn Walker, National Campaigner, The Wilderness Society

The Wilderness Society has embarked on a major organisational change project to embrace community organising as our core way of doing business. I’m leading on this project. The Community Organising Fellowship has helped me to define the key principles and approaches of community organising and has provided me with the space and support to plan for this critical change process within my organisation.
2014-03-27T02:09:18+11:00
The Wilderness Society has embarked on a major organisational change project to embrace community organising as our core way of doing business. I’m leading on this project. The Community Organising Fellowship has helped me to define the key principles and approaches of community organising and has provided me with the space and support to plan for this critical change process within my organisation.