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.


Jo Lynch
Jo LJo Lynch hails from Maitland in the Hunter Valley, she holds an Advanced Diploma in Visual Art from Newcastle TAFE and is a Fine Arts Undergraduate of Newcastle University where she fostered a penchant for collaborative and politically-engaged work.

Jo has been a sustained contributor to grassroots environmental and social justice activism in Newcastle since 2017, gravitating towards facilitation, event organising and community engagement.

In her role as Coordinator of the Hunter Community Environment Centre she works alongside community to campaign on water pollution and coal transition in the Lake Macquarie region.


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?

Chris Henderson, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

I want to seriously thank you for the huge contribution I believe you're contributing to the peace/activist community, not only in Brisbane but also nationally and undoubtedly beyond. Profound. For starters, the resources on your website, they are so good and I'll continue to use them with our WILPF branch, and to spread info about them more widely. For WILPF Qld, the MAP workshop and resources have seriously contributed to the transformation of our branch, helping to focus and get into action in relation to the nuclear cycle, in conjunction with many other organisations that have joined the Qld Nuclear Free Alliance. And maybe will have effect way beyond that.
The Change Agency
2014-03-30T07:44:52+11:00
I want to seriously thank you for the huge contribution I believe you're contributing to the peace/activist community, not only in Brisbane but also nationally and undoubtedly beyond. Profound. For starters, the resources on your website, they are so good and I'll continue to use them with our WILPF branch, and to spread info about them more widely. For WILPF Qld, the MAP workshop and resources have seriously contributed to the transformation of our branch, helping to focus and get into action in relation to the nuclear cycle, in conjunction with many other organisations that have joined the Qld Nuclear Free Alliance. And maybe will have effect way beyond that.

Thea Ormerod, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change

Whereas I had been working intuitively and reasonably well as a part of with a team of dedicated volunteers, the Community Organising Fellowship is providing a range of easy-to-understand useful tools which will help ARRCC to be much more effective. The training is carefully crafted to maximise skills development so we can use our limited resources in a way which will deliver results far more strategically. I already have quite a clear vision of how to successfully motivate our volunteers into participating more actively in the change effort.
The Change Agency
2015-03-17T19:24:22+11:00
Whereas I had been working intuitively and reasonably well as a part of with a team of dedicated volunteers, the Community Organising Fellowship is providing a range of easy-to-understand useful tools which will help ARRCC to be much more effective. The training is carefully crafted to maximise skills development so we can use our limited resources in a way which will deliver results far more strategically. I already have quite a clear vision of how to successfully motivate our volunteers into participating more actively in the change effort.

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.
The Change Agency
2015-03-17T19:34:58+11:00
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.

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.
The Change Agency
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.
Richard Yin

Dr Richard Yin, Doctors for the Environment Australia 2020

We had the privilege of working with James Whelan and The Change Agency over two days to clarify our understanding of campaigning and advocacy. With over 20 doctors and medical students from varied experiences in advocacy work present and a very complex and full agenda, the workshop was a huge success made possible through a very thoughtful and professional facilitation process from James. I can only commend the quality of his work and thank him once again for the weekend.
The Change Agency
2020-02-25T11:16:05+11:00
Richard Yin
We had the privilege of working with James Whelan and The Change Agency over two days to clarify our understanding of campaigning and advocacy. With over 20 doctors and medical students from varied experiences in advocacy work present and a very complex and full agenda, the workshop was a huge success made possible through a very thoughtful and professional facilitation process from James. I can only commend the quality of his work and thank him once again for the weekend.

Peter Callender, Quit Coal



Like many campaigning groups, we are constantly grappling with capacity issues, a lack of funding/resources, burnout and how to best manage volunteers. While it's early days, the fellowship is already having significant flow on effects to the rest of the Quit Coal collective and the lessons we are learning are both effective and reinvigorating!


The Change Agency
2014-04-16T22:34:36+10:00
Like many campaigning groups, we are constantly grappling with capacity issues, a lack of funding/resources, burnout and how to best manage volunteers. While it's early days, the fellowship is already having significant flow on effects to the rest of the Quit Coal collective and the lessons we are learning are both effective and reinvigorating!
John Edye

John Edye, March 2017

James and Fee... Thank you for your inspiring leadership, commitment and engagement. You are epic facilitators, and the first workshop was one of the best training experiences I have ever attended. I feel very privileged to be a participant and am looking forward to the next three. Experiencing such a high level of training and working with so many young, intelligent and professional organisers left me feeling a bit overwhelmed by my lack of experience but very optimistic about the future challenges we face, instead of the rather bleak and jaundiced view I came with. Thank you for your compassion and thoughtfulness and the incredible resources that were on our seats on the first day. It was and will be an incredible learning experience.
The Change Agency
2017-03-28T12:18:24+11:00
John Edye
James and Fee... Thank you for your inspiring leadership, commitment and engagement. You are epic facilitators, and the first workshop was one of the best training experiences I have ever attended. I feel very privileged to be a participant and am looking forward to the next three. Experiencing such a high level of training and working with so many young, intelligent and professional organisers left me feeling a bit overwhelmed by my lack of experience but very optimistic about the future challenges we face, instead of the rather bleak and jaundiced view I came with. Thank you for your compassion and thoughtfulness and the incredible resources that were on our seats on the first day. It was and will be an incredible learning experience.
Nic clyde

Nic Clyde, Climate team leader, Greenpeace Australia Pacific

Before coming into this cohort, my community organising ability was – at best – intuitive, with not much structure and theory... or ‘all hat and no horse’ (as the Texans say). This is starting to change. This fellowship has reinvigorated my thirst to become a better campaigner. It has built my skills in strategy and community organising. It has connected me with a mob who are passionate, connected and willing to help out in whatever way they can. Thanks!
The Change Agency
2014-05-23T16:40:41+10:00
Nic clyde
Before coming into this cohort, my community organising ability was – at best – intuitive, with not much structure and theory... or ‘all hat and no horse’ (as the Texans say). This is starting to change. This fellowship has reinvigorated my thirst to become a better campaigner. It has built my skills in strategy and community organising. It has connected me with a mob who are passionate, connected and willing to help out in whatever way they can. Thanks!

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. 
The Change Agency
2015-03-17T20:58:10+11:00
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. 
Shani Tager

Shani Tager, Friends of the Earth

The fellowship has been really useful in helping me become more disciplined in the strategic planning process and able to clearly communicate why we’re doing what we’re doing. The facilitation team have been fantastic and having theory drawn out from our own experiences and then immediately applied to our campaigns means I’ll be returning to my team with a solid analysis of how we can be more effective.
The Change Agency
2014-05-10T21:52:42+10:00
Shani Tager
The fellowship has been really useful in helping me become more disciplined in the strategic planning process and able to clearly communicate why we’re doing what we’re doing. The facilitation team have been fantastic and having theory drawn out from our own experiences and then immediately applied to our campaigns means I’ll be returning to my team with a solid analysis of how we can be more effective.
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The Change Agency