Our Staff

    The operations team is made up of dedicated staff and volunteers who are passionate about ethnic and multicultural communities.

    Chris Christoforou
    Chris Christoforou

    Executive Officer

    Chris commenced as Executive Officer in January 2019 and arrived at ECCV with extensive management and senior management experience across the education, community and sport sectors.

    A teacher by profession, Chris is committed to developing the people around him as the foundation of a strong organisation. Chris is the Coburg born son of migrant parents from Cyprus and views it as a privilege to lead an organisation that has been at the forefront of advocating for cultural diversity in Victoria since 1974.


    Jiembra Sheils

    Jiembra Sheils

    Business Manager

    Jiembra commenced as ECCV’s Business Manager in March 2019 and is a Certified Practicing Accountant with a commitment to social justice. Jiem has many years’ experience working in not-for-profit organisations in operational and financial management, including with the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, Oxfam and Women’s Housing Ltd.

    Jiem is responsible for ECCV’s finance, HR, ICT and regulatory compliance and is a Brunswick local with Irish, English and Norwegian heritage.

    Zuleika Arashiro

    Zuleika Arashiro

    Advocacy Leader

    Zuleika commenced as Advocacy Leader at ECCV in June 2019 and is a lawyer by profession, who migrated to Australia from Brazil in the 2000s. Since completing her PhD in Politics and International Relations, Zuleika has lectured in international relations at Australian National University and worked in research, policy and project management with the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Good Shepherd Microfinance.

    Zuleika is responsible for ECCV’s policy and advocacy work, including leading ECCV’s anti-racism campaign, All One Together.

    Diana Mastrantuono

    Diana Mastrantuono

    Projects Leader

    Diana comes to ECCV from Merri Health, where she has held various roles as Co-ordinator, Service Development and Carer Engagement since 2017.

    Prior to this, Diana spent eight years at the Red Cross, working in National Coordination roles in Partnerships & Stakeholder Development, DIAC Contract and Community Assistance Support & Detention Services. Diana also worked for Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre for 5 years where she was Settlement & Family Relationships Services Manager within the context of migrant and refugee settlement programs.

    You can contact her at dmastrantuono@eccv.org.au

    Anjali Nambissan

    Anjali Nambissan

    Communications & Membership Manager

    Anjali joined as ECCV’s Communications & Membership Co-ordinator in July 2019 after having been the Media & Communications Officer at the Centre for Multicultural Youth for three years. Anjali comes to ECCV with a strong marketing and communications background, with proven skills in new media journalism. Anjali will be leading ECCV’s communications, membership activities and events.

    Anjali migrated to Australia from India in 2014 and is currently undertaking a Master’s in Strategic Communications Management at Monash University.

    Matisse Yee

    Matisse Yee

    Office Administrator

    Matisse migrated to Australia from Malaysia few years ago. She can speak several languages fluently, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay, and English.

    Matisse graduated from National Tsing Hua University of Taiwan R.O.C and has the Bachelor’s Degree of Arts in Chinese Literature. She has extensive experience specialising in executive administration and project management in both corporate and community sectors.

    Since 2014, Matisse has been involved in variety roles of administration, project and finance in ECCV. She is passionate about knowing the world and understanding people’s culture through communities engagement projects.

     You can reach her at myee@eccv.org.au

    Gabriele Rukas

    Gabriele Rukas

    Sector Development – Policy & Practice

    Gabriele was born in Lithuania and identifies as a citizen of the world.

    Gabriele has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Cultural History and when she called Tasmania home, she worked for the Multicultural Council of Tasmania and Wilderness Society.

    During her time in the Sunshine state, Gabriele volunteered at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane. She passionately believes in community empowerment, sustainability and innovation.

    You can reach her at grukas@eccv.org.au

    James Houghton

    James Houghton

    Policy Officer

    James is dedicated to influencing governments and changing attitudes for the betterment of multiculturalism and social cohesion. He is passionate about internationalism, breaking down barriers and emphasising our common humanity.

    James has experience working with asylum seekers and refugees at organisations such as Saint Vincent De Paul, World Vision, and Amnesty International.

    James has qualifications in commerce and the arts. He loves cricket, music, science, and snow skiing.

    You can reach him at jhoughton@eccv.org.au

    Tala Abdulhadi

    Tala Abdulhadi

    Seniors Project Officer

    Tala joins ECCV after recently returning to Australia from Palestine, where she has spent the last five years working in a range of roles, related to development, advocacy and capacity building. This includes project work with The Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media, fundraising work with Birzeit University and delivering a range of project consultancies with Solutions for Development Consulting Co.

    Tala is a graduate of the University of Sydney where she holds a Masters of Development Studies and she also holds a Bachelor of Advertising and Marketing Communication from the University of Canberra.

    Tala’s bring her expertise and enthusiasm to the ECCV project team that innovates responses to elder abuse and support options for culturally diverse Victorians experiencing family violence. 

    You can reach her at tabdulhadi@eccv.org.au

    Nikolaus Rittinghausen

    Nikolaus Rittinghausen

    Speak My Language – Disability Officer

    Nikolaus’ areas of responsibility: Ageing, disability policy advocacy and sectorial leadership.

    His experience includes:

    • policy writing, advice and publication of newsletters
    • In-depth expertise of aged care and multicultural sectors
    • Community liaison and advocacy skills
    • Development, planning of creative projects and events.

    Nikolaus has been with ECCV since 2012 and studied International Studies (M.A.) and Political Management (B.A).

    You can reach him at nrittinghausen@eccv.org.au

    Youssif Assafiri

    Youssif Assafiri

    CALD Disability Advocate

    Youssif recently completed a Diploma of Community Services at Melbourne Polytechnic. He has a number of advocacy work placements with disability organisations as part of his course.

    Youssif is a passionate advocate and works towards creating a fair and inclusive community. He has lived experience with disability.

    You can contact him at yassafiri@eccv.org.au.

    Athena Papadatos

    Athena Papadatos

    Disability Advocate for CALD Communities

    Athena is qualified with a Diploma of Community Services, a Diploma of leadership management HR, and a Certificate IV in Advocacy.

    In the past, Athena has worked at a local advocacy service in Shepparton as a data advocate, as well as a peer advisor teaching young people with disabilities to self-advocate for themselves.

    Athena has lived experience with disability.

    You can contact her at apapadatos@eccv.org.au

    Amena Ziard

    Amena Ziard

    Communications and Events Assistant

    Amena completed her Bachelor of Arts at Monash University, where she edited the student-run paper, Lot’s Wife Magazine.

    She has been actively involved in community radio with diversified experience in communications strategy and content creation. In her free time, Amena is an avid podcaster.

    Snm Gray

    Snm Gray

    Sector Communication & Engagement

    Snm was born in Samoa and migrated to Australia when she was 3. She is currently completing her post graduate degree in Public Health. She is passionate about community development and social issues.

    You can contact her on sgray@eccv.org.au.

    John Watts

    John Watts

    Senior Volunteer, Proof-reader

    He started as an English and Literature teacher, before studying journalism at RMIT, and has worked in numerous journalism and journalism-related environments over many years.

    John continues to come into ECCV, where among a number of things, he proof reads and edits written materials when requested.
    John was the former Media & Communications Officer at ECCV.

    You can reach him at jwatts@eccv.org.au

    Con Pagonis

    Con Pagonis

    Senior Volunteer

    Con’s career focus has primarily been migrant settlement and multicultural affairs.

    Following three decades with the Australian Government, he continued for a further eight years doing multicultural policy development with State and local government. Retired since 2015, Con also volunteers with Welcoming Cities.



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    We are proud to recognise the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, as the first Australians, cultural leaders and traditional custodians of the land from which we advocate for ethnic community groups. We pay our respects to their elders, past & present.

    ECCV Statement: Recognising the Rights of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders 


    Connect with ECCV

    Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria
    Suite 101, 398 Sydney Road,
    Coburg VIC 3058
    Phone: 9354 9555
    Email: eccv@eccv.org.au