Paul Ntoumos, Chair
Paul is an information technology consultant with strategic leadership and management experience. He has worked with large and medium-sized corporates in banking, telecommunications, government, and public utilities (Yarra Valley Water). He has also been a founding member of a community-run Steiner school, and has trained in Ontological and Purpose-based Coaching. He was a member of an Australian Peace Initiative for Cyprus, funded by the UN Development Program (UNDP), which resulted in beginning national-level peace negotiations between Turkish-speaking Northern Cyprus and Greek Cyprus (2006 to 2010).
He holds a Master’s in business management and computer science from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.
Laurence Gray, Assistant Chair
Laurence supports refugees and new arrivals to Australia in his role as Interfaith and Humanitarian Settlement Officer, Wyndham Community and Education Centre. He promotes the application of social justice for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) comunities in social planning, linking personal values to positive action. Laurence is a graduate of Deakin University with a Masters in Politics and Policy. He also holds a Certificate in International Law and Child Rights from the London School of Economics, a Bachelor of Arts in Youth Affairs and a Graduate Diploma in Management from RMIT.
Paul Wilkins, Treasurer
Paul Wilkins was introduced to MRA/IofC in 1977 by Denys Lloyd who learned of his involvement in Commonwealth Public Service Union and Uniting Church social justice issues. Paul worked for Telstra and IBM as an IT professional for over 30 years. Hr joined the Board to contribute his financial analysis, budgeting and reporting skills.
Francis Halim, Board member
Francis came to Australia from Indonesia in 1977, and has been involved with IofC since his student days at the University of Queensland in 1978. He has worked in senior management roles in the telecommunications industry, including as general manager of operations with Optus Communications, and CEO of Siemens Telecommunications Services, Australia & Asia Pacific. He holds an MBA from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and became a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors in 2003, after successfully completing its Company DIrectors Course and examination. He was invited to to join the board of IofC Australia in 2008.
Jonathan Lancaster, Board member
From 1965, Jonathan worked with IofC in India, Europe and South-East Asia as a vocational full-time volunteer, before returning in 1981 to support IofC Australia's national administration, serving as Secretary and Treasurer for an extended period. He now attends particularly to matters relating to IofCA's transparency, accountability, compliance and sustainability as a registered charity.
Sudarshan Suresh, Board Member
Sudarshan Suresh is a Chartered Accountant & CPA by profession with a demonstrated history of working in financial services, operations and consultancy. He currently works with PwC in the Financial Services sector.
Sudarshan has been associated with Initiatives of Change for the last 10 years and his journey with IofC has led him to participate in and facilitate programs in India, Cambodia and Australia. In Australia, he has facilitated the Life Matters program, Creating Space, and the Solstice of Hope festival.
Sudarshan is driven by the urge to make a positive impact on people while living out his full potential and enjoys working with high-performing teams to drive results through stakeholder engagement, collaboration and innovation. He is passionate about facilitating individual and social transformation.
He enjoys leading an active lifestyle, playing table tennis & chess. His other hobbies include writing, travelling and hiking.
Maurice Clisby, Board Member
Maurice has been drawn to Initiatives of Change's mission to inspire and equip people to make positive change, starting with themselves. He was initially co-opted to the Financial, Assets and Investments Committee to facilitate workshops to align the organisation's asset and financial structure with its vision and purpose. He has now been elected to the board to help lead the organisation's journey to financial sustainability.
Maurice holds a BEng and BA from Monash University and an MBA from Melbourne Business School. He has been in project management roles in many well-known manufacturing organisations, and is currently a Management Consultant with Partners in Performance.
Elisse Higginbotham, Board Member
Elisse took part in a Life Matters workshop and the experience was one that she wanted others to have. Besides her ‘day job’ as an optometrist, she now volunteers with the Life Matters team and is part of the core organisation team for the IofCA Leadership in Practice Community. Elisse was elected to the Board at the June 2021 AGM, having been earlier appointed to fill a vacancy in April 2021.
“I found the community at Initiatives of Change Australia has been a place where I have always felt very welcome. I have felt surrounded by people with passion and integrity, and it’s been lovely to be gradually more and more a part of that. It used to be something that I did, now I kind of feel like it is something I am.”
Renuka Kapadia, Board Member
Elizabeth Lee, Company Secretary
Elizabeth has over 20 years’ experience in the areas of corporate governance and company secretarial functions. She has held company secretarial positions for Phosphate Resources, Macmahon Holdings, Lend Lease Primelife, Macquarie Bank and Austock Group. She holds a Bachelor of Business with majors in Finance and Business Law from Edith Cowan University, and a Graduate Diploma in Corporate Governance from the Governance Institute of Australia.
Margaret Hepworth, Executive Officer
Margaret has been a long-term member and contributor to the work of IofC in Australia as well as internationally. She is an experienced leader and manager of the education initiative, ‘The Gandhi Experiment’ and has also been a former Head of Campus / Assistant Principal at The Preshil School and at the Berry Street School in Victoria. Margaret has taken her work in global citizenship and ethical leadership across Australia and India, and into Pakistan, Indonesia, China and Fiji.
Margaret has experience in governance, finance management, collegial team-building, public speaking, networking and course creation. She has created the methodologies of 'Positive Reality' and 'Collaborative Debating.' She is the author of the books, The Gandhi Experiment—Teaching our teenagers how to become global citizens and Collaborative Debating.
Margaret has a strong sense of social equity with people-centred leadership qualities. She has experience of taking trust-building and peace-building work into the community, and has worked with diverse groups of people—multicultural, multi-faith and intergenerational.
Uncle Shane Charles, Cultural Integrity Lead
Uncle Shane is a Yorta Yorta, Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung man and a highly experienced and inspirational community leader. Born and bred in Shepparton, Victoria, he has a strong track record in the education and training, justice, and cultural heritage sectors. He is Co-Chair of Reconciliation Victoria, and also leads the Aboriginal Studies and Indigenous Strategies Committee at La Trobe University. He recently worked at the City of Melbourne for more than three years in a newly created position to develop its ‘Aboriginal Melbourne’ team. He is a passionate advocate of reconciliation who enjoys sharing cultural knowledge to make a difference.
Sarah Naarden, Trustbuilding Project Manager
Sarah Naarden is an architect, educator and mother passionate about social and ecologicial sustainability. Sarah is a member of the Victorian Design Review panel with the Department of Premier and Cabinet. In 2015 Sarah founded Design Think Lab for intercultural and intergenerational inclusion with intention to collaborate with First Nation leaders. With Wurrundjeri Traditional Owners, Sarah co-designed The Monash Health Aboriginal Healing Garden, an initiative to support 'Closing the Gap' which won a Federal Government community service award. As a former Associate director at Bates Smart, Sarah led an architectural team on the international award winning Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Sarah has also participated in Wonderlab, a Monash University PhD co-design cohort, and then created the design curriculum for RMIT University.
Currently, Sarah is studying a Masters of Therapeutic Arts, hoping to apply actionable research to healing intergenerational trauma.
Mike Lowe, Lead Facilitator and Trainer
Mike has over 25 years of international experience with IofC leading transformational workshops in the areas of trustbuilding and reconciliation. He has worked with politicians and young leaders in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism, and has worked on programmes of reconciliation with police and former militia leaders in the Solomon Islands.
His particular gift is in creating safe spaces in which transformation can occur, and he has a particular interest in earth-based spirituality, indigenous wisdom, process-oriented psychology, trauma healing, men's work and supporting the rise of healthy and authentic Masculine and Feminine energies as we transition from patriarchal and colonial ways of being. He co-facilitates healing workshops Innate Wisdom Connection and blogs at www.mikelowe.com.au
Abe Schwarz, Senior Consultant - Sponsorship, Special Projects & Relationship-Building
Passionate about "Be the change you want to see" - particularly across the world's Intercultural divides, Abe Schwarz Consultancy brings to Initiatives of Change a long history of professional involvement in Community Development, Media & Project Management, Philanthropic & Government Fundraising, Event Management and Funds Acquittal - after an earlier career in Education, Youth Work, Juvenile Justice and specialising in grassroots Community Engagement that is empowering, self-determined and respectful.
After studying in Jerusalem to be a Rabbi, Abe immersed himself in the age-old Jewish philosophy of "Tikun Olam" (Social Justice activism), being the Catalyst for innovative programs like conceptualising and delivering Australia's first-ever "Bi-lingual" University-Accredited Drug Educator's Course, as one example that received the Premier's Award.
Abe brings a refreshing outlook, passion for imaginative solutions and new energy to the IofC team.
Mia Nour, Marketing & Communications Manager
Parveen Muhammed, Communications Officer
Barbara Lawler, Convenor Network Activities & Connection
Barbara worked on a full-time voluntary basis with IofC from 1970 to 1985 in Europe, India and Australia and has over 20 year’s experience in Human Resources and Industrial Relations in two of Australia’s largest media organisations in Sydney. Barbara holds a Master’s Degree in Business (Employment Relations). Since 2003 Barbara has been engaged in building bridges of trust particularly with Indonesia and Timor-Leste and is also currently the Convenor of the International Panel of Elders. From 2010-2014, Barbara was IofC Australia’s National Coordinator followed by roles in a new organisational structure for IofC Australia leading to this current role. She is also a mentor and program developer in Brisbane and also the representative on the Creators of Peace National Advisory Group Australia.
Creators of Peace
Tanya Fox, CoP NSW Administrative Coordinator
Tanya recently retired after 50 years in administration and management roles in the areas of education, advertising and centre management. She has been a dedicated member of Creators of Peace and a facilitator of Creators of Peace Circles for 10 years. She previously served as a member on the CoP International Committee and publisher of the CoP International newsletter, and currently publishes the What’s On CoP NSW newsletter.
She also volunteers in aged care and convenes a support group for people with vision impairment. She has been involved in several areas of social justice advocating for a welcoming attitude to asylum seekers. She is a passionate advocate for environmental consciousness, and desires to leave her 11 grandchildren and future generations a more sustainable and peaceful planet.
Rob Wood, Community Liason
Rob has worked with IofCA for many years, developing and conducting its life direction and leadership programs. He has also engaged in a variety of community building and strengthening initiatives in Australia and in different parts of the Asia-Pacific region. With his partner Cheryl, he helped host the Australia-Pacific Centre for IofC in Melbourne for 28 years.
Cheryl Wood, Facilitator and Mentor
Cheryl is a trained teacher who has worked full-time with IofC for the past 45 years. She previously managed Grosvenor Books, IofCA’s publishing arm, as well as living in community at IofC’s Australia-Pacific Centre for 35 years, working with partner Rob to host the centre for 28 of those years. Her work is built around a lifelong sense of calling to build bridges between people in Australia and other countries in the region. She served on the IofCA Board for 21 years.
Liz Weeks, Centre Support
Prior to working with Initiatives of Change (IofC), Liz trained as a nurse. She and her husband spent 3½ years in Papua New Guinea in the 70's, including Independence and had an ongoing association with that country. In recent years she has been involved in the IofC programme Creators of Peace Circles and has, with others, taken training sessions in Solomon Islands and Bougainville. She is a proud mother of two and grandmother of five.
John Mills, Program Support Coordinator and Centre Support
John took a year off medical studies in 1965 to take an IofC play to a mining dispute in the outback Queensland town of Mt Isa. The healing and life-changing experiences he witnessed convinced him that IofC had something important to contribute to individuals and society. John has since worked with IofC in numerous countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. With his wife Helen, they lived for 10 years in New Zealand where he continues as a Member of the IofCNZ Council of Management. John has been involved with IofC Australia’s leadership programs in Australia and the South Pacific aimed at inspiring the younger generations. He continues to be involved with local Reconciliation groups in Adelaide where he now lives.
Wendy Vanderleest, Administration and Asset Manager
Wendy has worked in local government and university environments, as well as for her family building company. Wendy joined the not-for-profit sector about 10 years ago and specialises in office and facilities management. Time away from work is spent with family or visiting friends all around the globe.
Ildi Klein, Finance and Business Manager
Kylie Barrow, Executive Assistant and Program Liaison
Kylie has over 10 years' experience of working in administration, and as a personal assistant and team assistant. After recognising a disconnect between her corporate role and her personal attitudes and aspirations, Kylie begun her career journey in the not-for-profit sector. She has a BA in sociology and is currently working towards a Masters degree in human rights. She is passionate about animal welfare and environmental responsibility, and is a proud mother, wife and dog owner.