Our current cohort

Aleesha Hanczakowski

Engaging with grassroots organising for climate justice alongside my studies had me hooked on the role of community organising and the effectiveness of collective action. Working with the AYCC, convening the WA Student Environment Network and coordinating the Fossil Free Murdoch campaign highlighted for me the unique, empowering and necessary aspects of organising needed in WA. I’ve been involved in organising action and training camps including in the Stop Adani movement, on the frontline, with the Save Beeliar Wetlands campaign and the Women’s climate justice collective. Since returning from a year in Indonesia and after different experiences with communities and resistance I’ve been supporting the school strike 4 climate movement in WA. 


Alex Cassie Alex C
Former diplomat (UNFCCC, Mexico, WTO in reverse order) now building on those skills domestically as Political and Community Organiser at the AMWU WA in my hometown Perth. Working to build workers’ power to create communities we all want to live in, particularly in communities undergoing transition from coal and fossil-fuel based industries. My areas of expertise are Australian political institutions, electoral and single-issue campaigning and organising; international response to climate change; multilateral negotiations. Key interests are in political economy and environmental conservation. Jiu-jitsu purple belt and fiend for a paperback novel.


Alicia WalterAlicia W
Growing up on a biodynamic farm in country Victoria entrenched my connection with the environment from a young age. I was so lucky to see my parents working with nature, be able to explore the forests, grow our own food and have a rosy view of the world. As I grew older, the juxtaposition of my upbringing and the rest of Australia became clearer, which was a really difficult and scary realisation! I decided to study Corporate Environmental Management, only to find that the solutions to environmental degradation and climate change weren’t really possible within our management systems.

I realised that if we actually want to take meaningful action on climate change, we need to change what society does, and what we value and believe, which starts with communities. This is why I started volunteering with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) in North Queensland, and why I’m now lucky enough to be the AYCC’s North Queensland Organiser.
I am endlessly passionate about organising in regional and front-line communities, and am so excited about the potential of North Queensland to embrace the “crisitunity” of climate change and move towards a brighter future!


Ashley Rose
I am a proud Cammeraygal man,
Lead Organiser at the FSU 8 years organising experience, union activist for 16 years and 20 years activist experience in First Nations social justice and cultural protection issues.

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Bernard TonkinBernard T
Passionate about social justice & the environment he dropped out of Uni to go woofing, joined a Catholic sustainable lifestyle community , became a carpenter and went to the Philippines on an Anti-bases exposure tour. He later studied Social Work, embraced becoming a partner and father of 3, built passive solar houses and became a men’s violence program facilitator. After living in East Timor with his family he founded Castlemaine 350.org which occupied Westpac with a 100 people to stop Adani, and spawned School Strike 4 Climate. Still works helping men overcome family violence and on the intersection between the community sector and climate.


Cari LinCari L
The day after the 2019 federal election, I joined the climate movement. Since then, I’ve discovered that action is the best antidote to despair. I am passionate about organising the newly activated grassroots movement that is taking direct action to address the climate, ecological and humanitarian crisis.I am currently a coordinator of Extinction Rebellion Sydney, the core organiser of Lower North Shore Climate Action, and a volunteer organiser at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. I live and work on the land of the Cammeraygal people of the Eora Nation.

I am also a sonic meditation facilitator, and on a (very extended) career break as a lawyer.


Dwayne CoulthardDwayne C
I am a proud Adnyamathanha and Kokatha man from South Australia. I’m currently working as a community organiser with Original Power which is a small community focused organisation that aims to build the power of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through collective action. We are working on a campaign in Adnyamathanha country to protect against dangerous and dirty Underground Coal Gasification.

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Ed MortimerEd M
After years of studying and working as an Industrial Designer, I realised that the design issues of our world couldn’t be solved by objects – but by people working together. That moment of clarity changed the course of my life. I hung up my tool belt and dove deeply into community organising.
That journey has led me through a range of groups and movements, including the Australian Student Environment Network, Uranium Free NSW, Friends of the Earth Australia and now the NSW Nature Conservation Council where I work as a Community Organiser on a campaign to end deforestation.


Edie Shepherd
Edie Shepherd is a proud Wiradjuri and Noongar woman and senior organiser at Original Power. She has worked as a youth worker, community organiser and campaigner within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as in broader social and economic justice spaces. Edie has spent the past 3 years working as an organiser in the trade union movement, running Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organising and political capacity building programs in Victoria.


Hannah Schuch

Hannah S
My first leap into community organising and activism first arose during my time at UQ when I joined the fight for divestment with Fossil Free UQ. I quickly took on the responsibility of leading the recruitment hub, spending most of my last year of uni recruiting eager students and staff to call out UQ’s ties to the Fossil Fuel industry and I haven’t stopped since.
While studying International Relations and Development Studies, I became aware of the inequalities inherent in the political system and how they are exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change and biodiversity extinction.
I went on to solidify my organising knowledge and training as a QLD State Coordinator for AYCC in Brisbane, working with youth all around South East Queensland to fight the climate crisis. Since graduating uni, I’ve spent a lot of time fundraising, recruiting, planning events and taking action with Frontline Action on Coal in Brisbane and on the frontline.

Currently, I work fulltime with the Our Living Outback alliance as the community campaigner. My role involves building and engaging supporters in both the city and Outback Queensland in order to pressure decision makers to expand conservation land management in Outback Queensland through National Parks, Nature Refuges and Indigenous Land and Sea Management.


Hayley SestokasHayley S
Growing up in Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Hayley is now based on Birri Gubba lands in Central Queensland. Since 2013, she has been working with impacted First Nations and non-indigenous communities on the frontlines of dangerous fossil fuel extraction.

Leaving her career as a chef to throw her full force into the movement for climate justice, Hayley’s work with Frontline Action on Coal (FLAC) began at the Maules Creek Leard Blockade. She been fundamental in establishing and coordinating the direct-action camp to stop Adani’s Carmicheal mine.

Her energy in mobilising, facilitating and training for non-violent direct action has enabled hundreds of people to safely and effectively plan and engage in powerful and meaningful action, not only at the blockade, but back in their communities.

Throughout these years, Hayley has also been involved in various other groups and projects. These include; Reef Defenders – a local group that set the scene for non-violent direct action within the Whitsundays community which received the 2017 Bob Brown Foundation ‘Community Environment Award’, Whitsundays Residents Against Dumping (WRAD), Widi/Birri campaign to protect the living waters of Urannah and the Greenpeace Australia-Pacific Boat Team.


Jasmine StoryJasmine_S
I was involved in many different environmental campaigns before I cut my teeth in the Fossil Free campaign, at Deakin University. For me it all clicked into place when Richard Di Natale joined us at an action at the Federal Parliament, before the 2016 climate talks in Paris. He explained that the change we need for a safe climate will come from people power outside the parliament, before the politics inside parliament can be shifted. From there my passion for organising people, to combat organised money was ignited.

I was so inspired and excited to learn the art of bringing new people into the movement on my campus and soon started volunteering as a state organiser for other Fossil Free campaigns in Victoria. I then worked with Market Forces as a Community Organising Intern on their divestment campaign.

I am now working at Arid Lands Environment Centre in Alice Springs, as a Community Engagement Officer. I am working with the Central Australian Frack Free Alliance to protect the Northern Territory from fracking, in partnership with Lock The Gate.

I really love the story telling element of organising and seeing the community’s power increase as people come together to demonstrate that the community says no to fracking and will stop this industry in the Northern Territory.


Jilly MiddletonJilly M
I currently work with Environment Tasmania on an ocean protection campaign. My work is focused on cleaning up the salmon farming industry; I work with chefs and consumers to raise awareness around the practices involved in industrial farming. I grew up watching salmon farms proliferate on the waterways around my home; I want to see these places managed responsibly.

For the last ten years I’ve been involved in regenerative agriculture and local food systems as a berry farmer on Melukerdee land (southern Tasmania). As soon as I got engaged in the food system, it became obvious that we need to fix it! Our farming journey began with selling organic berries to big supermarkets interstate, and is now 100% sold direct and locally in compostable packaging. I’ve been able to contribute to causes around raw milk, small scale egg regulations, keeping Tasmania GMO free, growing accessible food systems and maintaining support systems for regenerative farmers over that time.

Before that I worked as a wilderness guide and outdoor education instructor with school kids and tourists- sharing wonderful (and terrifying) experiences in beautiful places helped me grow a strong sense of place, and reverence for undeveloped spaces. I’m pretty excited about learning how better to help look after them through community organising.


Lisa CliffLisa C
I have a background in environmental science, climate change policy, science communication and advocacy, both in government and environmental NGOs. I’m currently based in Brisbane and working as a Project Officer with Climate Reality, an international organisation founded by Al Gore. So far, my career focus has been on engaging communities to develop and deliver solutions to environment and social justice issues, both in Australia and the United States.
Over the last year, I was working with the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC), the state’s peak environment organisation, to build the collective capacity of local environment advocacy groups where she founded the Greater Brisbane Environment Advocacy Network. Before that, I published a report with QCC, ‘Recommendations for Queensland’s Climate Transition,’ that provides an analysis of the Queensland Governments climate policies and actions and considers the state’s progress towards meeting zero-net emissions by 2050.
About six years ago, I was working with the ACT Government’s climate change policy team and had the opportunity to contribute to building a world-leading low-carbon economy that is supported by an informed and empowered community.
I have a Bachelors degree in Science (Resource and Environmental Management) and a Master’s degree in Climate Change from the Australian National University.
I can be found on Twitter as @Leese_rc


Lou de MattiaLou D
I’m currently working as a sustainability projects officer at COOLmob, the sustainable living initiative of the peak environmental lobby community organisation, Environment Centre NT. Our campaigns focus on energy efficiency education, advocating for climate and tropics suitable housing design principles, encouraging household and apartments solar and low-waste living. I develop and deliver both community education and school programs and am looking to further COOLmob’s involvement in policy advocacy. I’m passionate about positive messaging and deep engagement as the way to educate and activate communities.


Melissa GrayMel G
After years of voluntary hands on river restoration work on the Macquarie River, I was exposed to the complex and emotional world of Murray Darling Basin water management in December 2016. Since that time, I have dived head first into my role as a Healthy River Ambassador for the Macquarie and Castlereagh Rivers. Established in 2017, the community group ‘Healthy Rivers Dubbo‘ is active in giving a voice to the rivers of the Northern Murray Darling Basin environment by:

  • educating the pubic through social media about how our rivers are managed
  • keeping the latest water management news in the public sphere
  • developing a media profile as an environmental representative on river matters
  • representing the environment on several river and water advisory groups
  • writing submissions to various water rule and water policy changes at a NSW and commonwealth level.

In the Murray Darling Basin, rivers are our lifeblood. I am committed to doing all I can to restore and protect the health and resilience of the beautiful and iconic rivers, floodplains, aquifers and wetlands of the Murray Darling Basin.


Minna FeatherstoneMinna F
I first discovered community organising through volunteering with my uni’s fossil free divestment campaign. I met a lot of amazing people and found that being part of a community taking action gave me hope, alongside practical and emotional support whilst I was studying about the climate crisis and feeling a lot of despair.
After graduating I started volunteering with my local Stop Adani group, went on to work on the Repower NSW campaign for 8 months with the Nature Conservation Council with a local group in Monaro, and have spent the last few months of 2019 living at the Adani Blockade camp volunteering with both Frontline Action on Coal and Galilee Rising to build mass peaceful resistance to Adani’s mine on the frontline.


Munira ChowdhuryMunira C
Munira Chowdhury is an Analyst at Market Forces.

Her role is to provide detailed research and analysis to inform Market Forces campaigns, to shift finance away from environmentally damaging projects towards projects that deliver solutions to environmental issues.

Munira is passionate about climate justice and is pursuing a career in environmental advocacy through research support for environmental groups in Australia and South Asia.


Paige ChowdhuryPaige C
I am currently an organiser for the United Workers Union and work in particular with care workers in aged and disability care across NSW. I was introduced to grassroots and community organising through my internship with the Sydney Alliance over 5 years ago and since then have been active in building power for civil society through my union, my community and my education.
I am currently studying my Masters in Human Rights, have been a union organiser for nearly 3 years and run a local Supporter Group for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. I am passionate about empowerment and agency and the strength in collective action, that can be built on the ground within the community.
Standing up, having your voice heard and working in solidairty with others are the key values that drive me and my work.


Shara TeoShara T
My formative experience with community organising was through the union movement. I started out as an organiser at the National Union of Workers and am now coordinating several teams of organisers at the United Workers Union. The team organises across a diverse range of industries, including manufacturing, call centres and animal attendants.

I am passionate about creating a vibrant and militant union movement, one which can bring about change not just on industrial matters, but also on wider issues of social justice. I believe that through deep organising within workplaces and the wider community, working people can take collective action and win on these issues.

As a woman from a migrant background, I am also a firm believer in diversity and intersectionality as the bedrock of any strong social movement. A successful movement must be representative, and as organisers, we must bridge the gap between different communities and bring them into the fold.


Tamika Sadler
Tamika is a proud Aboriginal, Torres Strait and South Sea woman, currently studying a Bachelor of Environmental and Marine Science. Tamika is passionate about climate change, education, human rights and health. Tamika also works at SEED, an Indigenous Youth Climate Network tackling environmental justice and climate change, working towards a sustainable future with strong cultures and communities powered by renewable energy.

She also assisted with the start up of “Take Pride Movement” an Indigenous clothing brand voicing First Nation Australian’s through timeless pieces of clothing and apparel. ‘Take Pride Movement’ is a symbol of unity and strength for all races to wear with pride.

Tamika has also created a social media page known as “First Nations Affirmations”, a page to write and share positive affirmations and quotes to uplift, inspire and empower First Nations people. She is also apart of the Youth Advisory Council with the Queensland Family and Child Commission. And most recently founded “Marara Mentoring” youth program to educate young people of Indigenous history, culture and education.

What are people saying about us?

Claire O’Rourke, National Director, Solar Citizens

The fellowship has helped me further develop the skills and strategic thinking necessary to ensure that we deliver sound policy by working in partnership with our supporters and volunteers in communities across Australia.

Organising helps to build relationships and skills both within and between communities and the fellowship follows the same approach. The fellowship is essential for organisations that are working to build power within communities or considering making the leap into this work. 
The Change Agency
2015-03-17T21:03:10+11:00
The fellowship has helped me further develop the skills and strategic thinking necessary to ensure that we deliver sound policy by working in partnership with our supporters and volunteers in communities across Australia. Organising helps to build relationships and skills both within and between communities and the fellowship follows the same approach. The fellowship is essential for organisations that are working to build power within communities or considering making the leap into this work. 
Nick Aberle

Nick Aberle, Environment Victoria

Learning the theory and engaging with such practical implementation in such depth will definitely make me a more effective and successful campaigner and organiser. I’m looking forward to practicing my new skills in being more rigorous, thinking more strategically, and communicating more effectively. The strength of the bonds formed within the group has already strengthened the climate movement in Australia.
The Change Agency
2014-05-10T21:42:00+10:00
Nick Aberle
Learning the theory and engaging with such practical implementation in such depth will definitely make me a more effective and successful campaigner and organiser. I’m looking forward to practicing my new skills in being more rigorous, thinking more strategically, and communicating more effectively. The strength of the bonds formed within the group has already strengthened the climate movement in Australia.
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!

The Change Agency
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!

Josh Creaser, Frontline Projects Coordinator, 350.org

Most campaigners would probably shudder at the thought of spending ten whole days away from the frantic world of actions and meetings, to invest time in their own reflection and learning. The Community Organising Fellowship forces you to do just that – and what a gift and opportunity that time becomes.

 The Fellowship is a unique combination of ingredients. Time for pause and reflection. Discussion with leading thinkers. Connections to a wide array of campaigns. Guidance from experienced and caring facilitators. Bonds formed with 25 inspiring campaigners from across the country.

 These ingredients are brought together with carefully crafted methods. Thought-provoking stories. Challenging questions. Developing crucial skills. Applying new methods and tools. Preparing new plans for real world projects. 

 The result? Ten days that couldn’t have been better spent for someone that is looking to challenge their assumptions, deepen their understanding of why we organise in communities and feel ready to go forward with greater focus and vigour in their work.
The Change Agency
2015-03-17T20:56:37+11:00
Most campaigners would probably shudder at the thought of spending ten whole days away from the frantic world of actions and meetings, to invest time in their own reflection and learning. The Community Organising Fellowship forces you to do just that – and what a gift and opportunity that time becomes.  The Fellowship is a unique combination of ingredients. Time for pause and reflection. Discussion with leading thinkers. Connections to a wide array of campaigns. Guidance from experienced and caring facilitators. Bonds formed with 25 inspiring campaigners from across the country.  These ingredients are brought together with carefully crafted methods. Thought-provoking stories. Challenging questions. Developing crucial skills. Applying new methods and tools. Preparing new plans for real world projects.   The result? Ten days that couldn’t have been better spent for someone that is looking to challenge their assumptions, deepen their understanding of why we organise in communities and feel ready to go forward with greater focus and vigour in their work.

Claire Van Herpen, Environment Victoria

The Community Organising fellowship provides a positive and nurturing environment in which to learn and apply the practical skills required to effectively mobilise communities to create change. It's a great opportunity to learn from others in the environmental movement and provides space for collaboration and reflection.
The Change Agency
2015-03-17T19:26:27+11:00
The Community Organising fellowship provides a positive and nurturing environment in which to learn and apply the practical skills required to effectively mobilise communities to create change. It's a great opportunity to learn from others in the environmental movement and provides space for collaboration and reflection.

Cate Faehrmann, Director, Nature Conservation Council NSW, 2005

We did a two-day workshop with The Change Agency early this year which provided our organisation with some much-needed tools for strategic campaigning and planning. There was nothing but positive feedback from our staff and board members about what they gained from the two days spent with James and Sam. The power mapping exercise was particularly insightful for staff and board members alike and as a result our campaigns are more pro-active - we are seeing results!
The Change Agency
2014-03-30T07:51:49+11:00
We did a two-day workshop with The Change Agency early this year which provided our organisation with some much-needed tools for strategic campaigning and planning. There was nothing but positive feedback from our staff and board members about what they gained from the two days spent with James and Sam. The power mapping exercise was particularly insightful for staff and board members alike and as a result our campaigns are more pro-active - we are seeing results!

Naomi Hodgson, community organiser, NW NSW

I can emphatically endorse the value of this time to build skills and awareness in strategic thinking and in specific and practical community organising tools. I am sure that with concerted application of the course content I will become a significantly more confident and effective organiser. Furthermore, the value of the relationships that have been forged among the cohort offer great potential for future collaboration and support to help build a more coordinated, cooperative and powerful environment movement in Australia.
The Change Agency
2015-03-17T20:49:16+11:00
I can emphatically endorse the value of this time to build skills and awareness in strategic thinking and in specific and practical community organising tools. I am sure that with concerted application of the course content I will become a significantly more confident and effective organiser. Furthermore, the value of the relationships that have been forged among the cohort offer great potential for future collaboration and support to help build a more coordinated, cooperative and powerful environment movement in Australia.
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.
The Change Agency
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.
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.

The Change Agency
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.

Alycia Gawthorne, GetUp! organiser

The Fellowship has challenged the way I previously thought about campaigning and community organising, and made me rethink how I approach my work. It’s afforded me the space to take a step back and look at the entire movement. I feel like the skills I take away from the Fellowship will be invaluable, but far more important will be the deeper understanding I have about my role and how it fits within a larger movement.
The Change Agency
2015-03-17T19:33:28+11:00
The Fellowship has challenged the way I previously thought about campaigning and community organising, and made me rethink how I approach my work. It’s afforded me the space to take a step back and look at the entire movement. I feel like the skills I take away from the Fellowship will be invaluable, but far more important will be the deeper understanding I have about my role and how it fits within a larger movement.
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The Change Agency