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The Social Traders Conference 2019 is a unique opportunity to meet with, reconnect and learn from the largest gathering of social enterprise practitioners in Australia.  This event is open to all social enterprises and interested parties.

View the incredible speaker line up below.

State of Social Enterprise in Australia

20th August 2019

08:00 - 19:00

Abbotsford Convent,
1 St Helier Street,
Abbotsford Victoria 3067

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International Keynote

David LePage focuses on contributing to creating a social value market place, where trading generates community capital rather than merely economic capital. His work involves the developing and advocacy for social enterprise and social procurement.  He is co-founder, Director and Managing Partner of Buy Social Canada. Buy Social Canada facilitates social purchasing relationships and offers a certification program for social enterprise suppliers and purchasers.

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Cinnamon Evans


Cinnamon Evans is the CEO of CERES, a Melbourne icon, known around the world for embodying what is possible when communities come together to support more sustainable and just ways of living. Through Cinnamon’s leadership, CERES has developed an integrated suite of 13 social enterprises that enable customers to engage with and inhabit a more sustainable and just world. CERES is now 95% self-funded through their social enterprises, and remains a collaborative community organisation. Cinnamon is the current Chairperson of SENVIC (Social Enterprise Network Victoria), an emerging network of social enterprise practitioners and supporters. Cinnamon is particularly passionate about the role of social enterprise in delivering environmental and social change, having experienced first-hand the transformative power of this movement. Cinnamon has tertiary qualifications in education and environmental science, collaborative management and group facilitation. Cinnamon is a skilled and experienced facilitator who has worked with a wide variety of not-for-profit, government and industry groups. Cinnamon is a dedicated student of yoga and is a member of Moora Moora and Commonground intentional communities.

Matt Pfahlert

CEO, Australian Rural Centre for Entrepreneurship

One of Australia’s pioneering social entrepreneurs, Matt is helping to shape regional and rural Australia through igniting entrepreneurship in young people and their communities. Matt started his first social enterprise in 1993 at the age of 23, working with ‘at risk’ young people in wilderness settings. His passion and drive for positive social outcomes saw him receive the prestigious Young Australian of the Year Award in 1996. Motivated by a desire to create prosperous, healthy, thriving communities, in 2016 as co-founder and CEO of the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE), Matt led a $2.5M community buy-back of the Old Beechworth Gaol. A neglected Australian heritage icon famed for its connection to Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang and located in Matt’s hometown. The site is being re-purposed as an exemplar of social enterprise, impact investment and rural rejuvenation through community owned assets. In partnership with Scotland’s world leading Social Enterprise Academy, ACRE operates the Social Enterprise Academy Australia, centred on training young people and communities to build sustainable enterprises and achieve greater social impact. In July 2018, Matt co-founded The Social Enterprise Network of Victoria (SENVIC), the state’s first practitioner network for social entrepreneurs. Matt was a speaker and expert panel presenter at the Social Enterprise World Forum in 2018 in Scotland and was one of only four co-convenors of the inaugural Social Enterprise Rural Symposium to coincide with the world forum last year.

Tom Allen

Founder, Impact Boom

With two Australian Good Design Awards under his belt for innovative program design in social enterprise and human centred design, Tom Allen is founder of Impact Boom, a leading social enterprise accelerator, global social impact media agency and trusted intermediary. As a social enterprise, Impact Boom helps entrepreneurs and innovators unleash their greatest potential to create a better world, providing its global community from 189 countries with insights, inspiration and resources. Impact Boom’s core focus is on developing the social enterprise ecosystem, providing capacity-building, growing awareness (over 250 social enterprise leaders are featured on the blog & podcast), and taking a whole of system approach to sector development. Tom is leading the Australian bid for the Social Enterprise World Forum and sits on a number of boards, including the Queensland Social Enterprise Council. He is a Fellow at the Yunus Centre (Griffith University) and has worked closely with tertiary institutions and both Local and State Governments to develop the social enterprise ecosystem in Australia.

Sharon Zivkovic

Founder & CEO, Community Capacity Builders

Sharon has 20 years’ experience in social entrepreneurship. In 2001 she received an Enterprising Women of the Year Award for her work in supporting community enterprises while working on urban regeneration projects. Sharon founded Community Capacity Builders in 2005 which continues to deliver social entrepreneurship and active citizenship programs. She undertook a PhD in 2008 to determine how to increase the impact of these programs. This resulted in Sharon developing a model for addressing wicked problems based on complexity science. A paper on this model took out the Best Paper Award at the 2012 International Social Innovation Research Conference, and in 2016 Sharon received a Fresh Scientist Award for her research. In 2015 Sharon and a colleague received the University of South Australia Pank Prize for Entrepreneurship which funded the establishment of Wicked Lab and the development of an online tool based on the model from Sharon’s PhD. In addition to the online tool, Wicked Lab now delivers a Complex Systems Leadership Program and a Systemic Innovation Lab Program. Wicked Lab’s online tool was included as an Innovation Spotlight in a 2018 OECD report and a 2019 OECD report included a case study on Wicked Lab’s Systemic Innovation Lab approach.

Sally Quinn

CEO & Co-founder – Green Collect

Sally Quinn is CEO and co-founder of Green Collect, and over the last 15 years has led the enterprise as a dynamic business and inclusive workplace. As a leading provider of resource recovery services across Melbourne, Green Collect demonstrates innovation and best practice in the sustainability industry. Sally has guided the enterprise through the phases of start up, growth and now scale, leading it to become a sustainable and impactful social enterprise. At the heart of Sally’s work is a dedication to creating meaningful and supportive work for people who have been excluded from the labour market due to homelessness, mental health diagnoses and refugee experiences. Prior to this, Sally’s 14 years in the homelessness and community development sectors shaped her desire to work outside existing systems and to be part of creating new solutions through social enterprise. Being partner to Green Collect co-founder, Darren Andrews, and parenting 4 kids along the way, means that life is always very full!

Alex Hannant

Co-Director – Yunus Centre, Griffith University

Alex works on number of projects supporting innovation and enterprise for social impact, including the role of Co-Director at the Yunus Centre at Griffith. Alex also serves on the Boards of B Lab Australia and New Zealand, the Aotearoa New Zealand Advisory Board for Impact Investment, and Pomegranate Kitchen. In his previous role, Alex was CEO at the Ākina Foundation, New Zealand’s primary development organisation for social enterprise, and the Government’s strategic partner for sector development. Before that, based in the UK, he was Director of Programmes at LEAD – a global network focussed on leadership and sustainable development, and also Head of Partnerships at the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).

Sabrina Chakori

Founder – Brisbane Tool Library

After a BSc in Biology and a MSc in Environmental Economics, Sabrina started a PhD, researching zero-packaging food systems. In 2017, Sabrina founded the Brisbane Tool Library, a social enterprise that based on economic degrowth works towards reducing household consumption. This “library of things” is based at the State Library of Queensland.
Sabrina worked for a more sustainable society in different countries, such as in Kenya, Mexico, Ecuador, Australia and around Europe. Her experience includes working in international arenas, such as for United Nations, as well as with indigenous communities in remote regions. In Queensland, she collaborated with the Environment Minister Dr Steven Mile to introduce the law to ban single-use plastic bags.
TEDx speaker, author, researcher and activist, Sabrina keeps being invested in creating systemic change that would build a more social just and ecological sustainable economy.

Rob Pekin

CareLord, Food Connect Shed

Over the past 20 odd years Robert has been challenging and transforming the food and agricultural system in Australia. As a former organic dairy farmer and market gardener he has become known as a practical and hands on social entrepreneur working at the systems end of changing the way business can pivot away from the malaise the current food system finds itself in. In 2004 he founded Food Connect, a dynamic multi-farmer food distribution enterprise with an innovative community-based distribution system. In 2009, the Food Connect Foundation was launched to increase the scope of the fair food movement internationally and across Australia. Robert is a member of the national board of Australian Social Enterprise Advisory Group, co-founder of the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, and a founding member on the Board of The global software organisation Open Food Network. He is a contributing author to Fair Food, published by University of Queensland Press. Last year he co-founded the Food Connect Shed to raise over $2 million with the Food Connect community to buy the warehouse they’d been renting for over 12 years, through an equity crowdfunding campaign. Rob is a well known speaker in the Fair Food movement. He loves his blended family of four children, and his favorite foods are beer, butter and good bread.

Carolyn Curtis

CEO, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation

As CEO of The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), Carolyn Curtis brings over 20 years’ experience working in social innovation and child welfare to her role. Starting her career as a frontline child protection worker, Carolyn wanted to help give children the best opportunities in life. After a decade working in government she realised she would struggle to drive the change needed from the inside. Formed in 2009 as a South Australian Government initiative, Carolyn was a founding member of TACSI’s radical redesign team. She went on to become the founding Director of Family by Family, TACSI’s first venture, which is now scaling in Australia and internationally. Since becoming the CEO in 2012 Carolyn has grown TACSI to become an independent not-for-profit organisation working on projects and initiatives across Australia. Under Carolyn’s leadership, TACSI works on some of our most complex social challenges. From the pressures of an ageing population, to growing inequality and out-dated and ineffective public services, Carolyn believes social innovation is key to tackling the challenges of our time. Carolyn is a Non-Executive Director for world-leading social innovation network, The Social Innovation Exchange. She is also on the boards of The Fay Fuller Foundation and The Difference Incubator.

Mardi Brown

Co-founders, PonyUp for Good

Mardi is a trained Behavioural Specialist and Marketer and has worked as Head of People & Culture with TEDxMelbourne and in her own consultancy, helped businesses develop strategies and standards for their own workplace cultures. She has 15+ years experience leading teams as a Senior Marketer across Tourism, Hospitality & HR in both Australia and North America.

Cat Harding

Co-founder, PonyUp for Good

Cat Harding is a communications and project management professional with over 20 years experience across a multitude of industries. She has launched music careers, dressed 20,000 people for the Commonwealth Games and managed communications projects for London Underground, Pacific Brands and CitiPower and Powercor. Cat has two beautiful girls and wants to come home every day proud of the impact she has made in the world so she can teach her children that one person with the right attitude can make a difference. Her dream is to make ‘PonyUp’ as much the common vernacular for what you do with redundant technology as Googling has become the term for how you search for information.

Nina Yousefpour

Manager, Social Impact & Standards

Nina has worked within the social enterprise and community sectors in Australia and Canada. She has worked to support social enterprises through business advisory & education, impact investing, research, and SROI evaluation. Via these different angles, she has developed a deep understanding of the sector, locally and internationally. She is also committed to the development of social enterprises and their access to the tools, resources and markets appropriate to support not only the growth of their impact, but also the organisation behind it.

Nina manages Social Traders certification standards, which is a significant and evolving development for Australian social enterprises.


Associate Professor Ingrid Burkett

Co-Director, Yunus Social Business Centre, Griffith University

Associate Professor Ingrid Burkett is the Co-Director of the Yunus Social Business Centre at Griffith University. She is a social designer, designing processes, products and knowledge that deepen social impact and facilitate social innovation. She has contributed to the design of policy and processes in a diversity of fields, including community development, local economic development, disability, procurement and social investment. Ingrid led the foundation of social procurement in Australia with a number of guidebooks and research reports. She is one of the co-founders of Social Procurement Australasia. She provided much groundwork for Australia’s entry into social and impact investment, having undertaken seminal research work whilst Social Innovations Manager at Foresters Community Finance, and then undertaking comprehensive reviews and blueprint development for initiating place-based impact investment in Australia. Ingrid has designed the foundations for a number of key place-based initiatives aimed at addressing entrenched disadvantage, the most notable of which is GROW, based in Geelong, Victoria. She is currently undertaking further work in regional NSW and in Southern Melbourne on similarly ambitious and ground-breaking initiatives. Her previous leadership role at The Australian Centre for Social Innovation involved building internal and external capability in design for social innovation, and leading TACSI’s portfolio of systems innovation work which focussed on shifting outcomes in relation to some of Australia’s most challenging social issues. Ingrid has worked in the community sector, government and with the private sector and believes that each of these sectors has a valuable role to play in social innovation. She has worked in social innovation and design positions in the community development finance sector and in overseas development. Ingrid is a Past President and Honorary Ambassador of the International Association for Community Development and is committed to fostering an international dialogue about designing innovative methodologies for sustainable development. Ingrid has held a number of University positions, including most recently as Social Design Fellow for the Centre for Social Impact at the University of NSW and UWA. Ingrid has qualifications in Graphic Design, Social Work, Business and Community Economic Development. She has particular expertise in the design of economic processes and products and is recognised internationally for her work in social innovation, community economic development and finance.

Hanna Ebeling

Chief Investment Officer, Social Enterprise Finance Australia (SEFA)

Hanna Ebeling is Chief Investment Officer at SEFA where she leads a team who works closely with mission-driven organisations on developing financial solutions or investment readiness services to suit their needs. She is passionate about working with philanthropy on blended finance deals and innovative housing models. Prior to Australia, Hanna spent two years in the Philippines, managing a social enterprise accelerator program for LGT Impact Ventures and launching an affordable bamboo housing business with United Nations and the Hilti Foundation. Before moving into impact investing, she spent six years in banking with HSBC globally, lastly working for the Chief Investment Officer of Group Private Banking. Hanna holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland, and is a CFA charterholder. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a non-executive Director of Woodville Alliance Ltd.


Sabina Curatolo

Director of Policy & Social Enterprise Development

Sabina is a highly experienced strategist, specialising in public policy and social innovation with more than 18 years’ experience in international institutions, Australian government, politics, civil society and with the private sector. Sabina’s has extensive experience in international development including in impact and evaluation, policy development and government relations. More recently Sabina has been working to leverage the potential of social finance and impact investing as a tool for social change. Sabina holds a Bachelor of Science (Optoelectronics), Graduate Diploma of Computer Studies, and Master of Public Administration.

Tom Dawkins

CEO – StartSomeGood

Tom Dawkins is Co-Founder and CEO of StartSomeGood, an award-winning innovation agency with a mission to connect innovation to capital for social change. They run, a crowdfunding platform which has raised more than $12 million for social benefit projects globally with the highest project success rate in cause crowdfunding, and power impact accelerators and educational programs for partners across business, foundations and government, including ING, Stockland and the Cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Parramatta and Perth. Tom was previously the founder of youth non-profit Vibewire, the first Social Media Director at Ashoka in Washington DC and the founding Director of the Australian Changemakers Festival. Tom has created dance parties and film festivals, conferences and co-working spaces, fundraising platforms and Burning Man theme camps. As a consultant he has supported nonprofits, companies and governments to refine their purpose and build community using technology. Tom and StartSomeGood have been recognised with awards and fellowships from the World Summit Youth Awards, The International Youth Foundation, Nexus Australia, the Social Enterprise Awards and the Australia & New Zealand Internet Awards. Tom has spoken on fundraising, community-building and social enterprise around the world, including at SXSW, SOCAP, The Social Enterprise World Forum and Asian Venture Philanthropy Network.

Steve Betinsky

Director Social Enterprises, ASRC

Steve’s career in senior leadership spans for-purpose and for-profit organisations across a diverse range of sectors. Steve first joined the ASRC in 2016 as the organisation’s General Manager before taking on the role of leading the Social Enterprises in 2018 – ASRC Catering and ASRC Cleaning. Prior to joining the ASRC, Steve was the CEO of Child Wise; a charity which works to prevent the abuse and exploitation of children, where he was also a sitting member of the Federal Government’s Online Safety Consultative Working Group, the Asia Pacific Financial Coalition against Child Pornography and a Director of the ECPAT International Board of Trustees, representing Australia and the Pacific Region. Before moving into the not-for-profit sector, Steve held senior leadership roles within the corporate sector including, General Manager Transaction Banking at National Australia Bank, Head of Payments Solutions at NAB, and Operations Manager, Telstra National Activations Centre Steve holds a Masters of Business Administration with distinctions, and is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Katie Wyatt

Co-Director – Wake by Reach

Katie has more than 17 years of organisation development and people experience working inside and consulting to some of Australia’s largest organisations including PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Accenture and Australia Post. She has held strategic and senior leadership roles in the areas of people and culture, organisation development and design, change and employee experience.
Currently Katie leads the social enterprise unit at The Reach Foundation providing transformative leadership and learning experiences to Australia’s best businesses. Wake by Reach drives business growth through nurturing powerful relationships within teams. Their workshops, retreats, keynotes and train-the-people-leader offerings are delivered by highly trained young facilitators who have developed their accredited skills through the Reach Foundation’s renowned work with the hardest to reach young people in our community.

Belinda Morrissey

CEO, English Family Foundation

Belinda is the CEO of the English Family Foundation, one of the few Australian foundations with a sole focus on driving transformational change through the growth and development of social entrepreneurs and social businesses. For the past 6 years Belinda has worked closely with social enterprises to develop and support their growth, and she has a particular focus on progressing the role of philanthropy in supporting the social enterprise sector in obtaining the “right capital at the right time”. She has spent the past decade in the philanthropic and for purpose sectors and prior to this Belinda had an extensive career in investment management spanning three continents. Belinda holds several not for profit board positions – she is on the Board of ActionAid Australia and on the Advisory Board of the Social Impact Hub.

Luke Terry

CEO & Co-founder – White Box Enterprises

Luke Terry is known as one of Australia’s most awarded ‘serial social entrepreneurs’. Over the last 15 years, he has founded several large-scale employment-focused social enterprise projects that create meaningful work pathways for individuals who would otherwise be excluded from the labour market. In 2017, Luke created Vanguard Laundry Services, an AU$8 million commercial laundry with an in-built mental health career and training centre employing more than 140 people since commencement.
Luke has been recognised as a Westpac Social Change Fellow, the 2015 recipient of the SVA David Clarke Scholarship, a Queensland Citizen of the Year finalist, and winner of the 2015 & 2016 Australian Social Enterprise Awards.

Alex Oppes

Director, Impact Investing, Social Ventures Australia

Alex leads SVA’s $15M SVA Diversified Impact Fund which makes loans and equity investments in social enterprises. Alex also helped establish and is a founding director of Vanguard Laundry Services – a leading Australian social enterprise.


Kevin Robbie

Director – Think Impact

Kevin is a Director at Think Impact where he leads their work on impact-led design, social innovation and social enterprise development. Having worked in the community sector for over 20 years, Kevin is passionate about social change and how to achieve greater social impact. He is a consultant, author, presenter, mentor, social innovator and entrepreneur. He has co-designed and delivered a wide range of projects, managed organisations and has a broad range of expertise across diverse areas including social innovation, social enterprise development, impact measurement, impact investing, collective impact, outcome-based funding models, business-community partnerships, shared value, impact evaluation, collaborative leadership, service redesign and social procurement.

Libby Ward-Christie

Principle Industry Fellow, Social Impact – Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne

Libby is Principal Industry Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne, where she teaches social entrepreneurship as part of the Masters of Social Impact programme. She undertakes applied research in the areas of social enterprise and social finance, informed by her deep experience working with social enterprises to startup and grow. Libby is also the Director of the new Swinburne Social Startup Studio, which supports early-stage social enterprises and has an ‘open knowledge’ commitment to strengthening the social enterprise ecosystem.

Kate Saporta

Manager, Social Startup Studio

Kate is the Manager of the Swinburne Social Startup Studio. She is the main point of support for Studio Enterprises. Drawing on her deep experience of working with social enterprise and her formal training as a chartered accountant, Kate guides each enterprise through the Studio’s four stages of development and supports them to acquire the elements needed to develop impactful and sustainable ventures.

Amy Orange

Founder – Harvest Fair | Principal Consultant – Fourth Sector Solutions

Amy is a multi award-winning social entrepreneur, thought leader and Master Problem Solver with a passion for applying commercial practices and new models to solve complex social problems. Amy is the Founder of Harvest Fair, a food-based profit-for-purpose social enterprise which created flexible employment opportunities for disadvantaged women in Adelaide; Co-Founder of Collab4Good, a social enterprise which encourages collaboration to scale for-purpose and female-led initiatives; and Principal of Fourth Sector Solutions, a consulting service which co-designs enterprising solutions across all sectors to align people, planet and
profit for a better world. A proud millennial, Amy’s mix of MBA qualifications, design thinking skills and grass roots action in often unconventional spaces sets a new standard for purpose-driven business in the emerging fourth sector to drive a healthy, inclusive community and a vibrant thriving economy.

Mark McKenzie-McHarg

Director, Mach2 Consulting

Mark is principal Mach 2 Consulting, a Victorian consultancy which he co-founded in 1993. Prior to this, he had 5 years consulting experience with KPMG Management Consulting. This followed 10 years public sector experience in local government management. Mark’s work in the public and private sectors has given him broad-ranging consulting experience in organisations ranging from governments, councils, and water authorities to merchant banks. The types of consulting engagements he has managed range from strategic and business planning to feasibility analysis, business cases and leadership programs. Mark McKenzie-McHarg was a foundation shareholder and founding chair of the Yackandandah Community Development Company Ltd. Formed in response to the closure of the township’s only fuel station, YCDCo. was set up under social enterprise principles with a community ownership model. Today, 50% of households are shareholders in YCDCo. Ltd. It runs businesses in fuel, hardware, rural supplies and gas, as well as the town’s newspaper ‘Yakkity Yak Mark also initiated and led the Mt Buffalo Community Enterprise proposal (incorporated in September 2010). This involved a group of north east social investors (with the support of Social Traders) who pooled resources to form a company to lease the iconic Mt Buffalo Chalet and operate it as a community enterprise. Under the model proposed, 51% of future profits would go to a Mt Buffalo Community Foundation. The project was not supported by the State.

Chris Ennis

Director, Business Innovation, CERES

At each step along his social enterprise journey Chris Ennis has made almost every mistake conceivable, including once losing $7000 in cash takings out of his back pocket. In 2002 Chris started running Ceres’ new organic market – a pivotal position that enabled him to propagate a slew of food-system enterprises. From The Urban Orchard, Australia’s first produce swap, to an organic mushroom farm employing people seeking asylum Chris and his team have dropped the ball time and time again. Even after founding Ceres’ flagship online grocery, Fair Food, the errors of judgement have kept flowing. Despite all the stuff-ups Fair Food, has generated $30 million in sales, supports 150 farmers & suppliers, employs 45 people and has spawned a microgreens farm and an ethical timber enterprise. Chris thinks the social enterprise sector often gets straight-jacketed into projecting an “everything is awesome” image. He believes social entrepreneurs should be encouraged to share and learn from their mistakes in the same way ordinary entrepreneurs do. Chris Ennis is Director of Business Innovation at CERES. He is a Westpac Social Change Fellow and was winner of Darebin Pitch-IT in 2018.

Joanne Kennett

Senior Manager – Supplier Inclusion & Diversity, Westpac

Joanne has extensive procurement experience covering Oil & Gas, Defence, Aerospace, Electricity Distribution and Financial Services industries. She has worked in the UK, Australia and the highlands of Papua New Guinea, in operational and project roles including procurement transformation projects involving the implementation of procurement systems. In 2018, Joanne followed her passion of using the power of procurement for good by joining Westpac as its Supplier Inclusion and Diversity Manager. In this role she is the advocate for suppliers that are driven by a social or environmental mission, or that support people who have traditionally been financially excluded. Joanne has Batchelor of Arts (Honours) in European Business Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Project Management. She is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) Committee in New South Wales.

Tim Baxter

Senior Growth Marketing Manager, Who Gives A Crap

Tim has had a keen eye on profit for purpose businesses from an early age. Co-founding a social enterprise group that grew to 30 members and starting an online eco friendly textbook marketplace whilst at university. After consulting for businesses in e-commerce, travel and creative services. He is now Growth Marketing Manager at Who Gives a Crap, a company selling eco friendly toilet paper that donates 50% of its profits to build sanitation projects for those in developing countries.

Kirsten Larsen

Director, Open Food Network

Kirsten Larsen is the co-founder and a Director of the Open Food Network – a global network community of independent producers, food hubs and software developers building open source platforms and tools for a stronger, fairer food system. She is also an Honorary Fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI), following 12 years as the Food Systems Research & Partnerships Manager at MSSI and the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab in the School of Design at University of Melbourne. Her most recent project there is FoodPrint Melbourne – focused on the sustainability and resilience of Melbourne’s foodbowl.

Dr Catherine Brown

FAICD Chief Executive Officer Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

Catherine leads the largest and oldest community foundation in Australia. The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation tackles the tough issues facing Melbourne. Priority areas currently include affordable housing, sustainable Melbourne, the health impacts of climate change, social cohesion and youth unemployment. Catherine is a lawyer with a commitment to community philanthropy. After several years in commercial law, she worked in legal and management roles with the MS Society, Wesley Mission and the Brain Foundation Victoria, where she was CEO, and then as an advisor within the not for profit and philanthropic sectors. She joined the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation in 2011. Catherine is the author of Great Foundations: a 360° guide to building resilient and effective not-for-profit organisations (ACER Press, 2010). She has completed a PhD by practice related research related to philanthropic foundations and innovation at Swinburne University (Centre for Social Impact/Faculty of Business and Law). Catherine has held Victorian Government Board appointments as Chair or Deputy Chair of organisations in health, women’s affairs and cemetery management. She believes that foundations can be the catalyst for positive lasting social change using a combination of grants, undertaking research and policy work, convening, impact investment and strategic communications.

Nip Wijewickrema

CEO, GG’s Flowers & Hampers

Nipuni Wijewickrema, more affectionately known as Nip, is a passionate and driven young woman, trying to change the world one flower at a time.

At the age of 20, Nip realised there was a lack of meaningful employment opportunities for people with special needs, specifically – her sister Gayana, who has Down Syndrome. Unable to sit back and let Gayana live a life without purpose, Nip and her family established Australia
s most-loved and fastest growing floral and gift hamper business, GG’s Flowers & Hampers.
In 2016, Nip was named the ACT Young Australian of the Year and is a current Westpac Social Change Scholar.

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