Our Staff

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

Executive Officer,

Chris Christoforou, 


Chris has extensive management experience within the education and community sectors.

He was the General Manager, Education and Community at the Western Bulldogs, the Business Development Manager for Mission Australia servicing both Victoria and South Australia and a Projects Leader at the Centre for Adult Education (CAE).  

Chris started his career as a teacher and the core of his professional values have remained the same. He values people as an organisation’s number one asset. 

He is a proud child of migrant parents and comes from a Cypriot heritage. 

Chris is on LinkedIn

Senior Policy Officer, Robert Gruhn, rgruhn@eccv.org.au

For the last 14 years, Robert has passionately worked on policy and social justice related issues for the multicultural and community sector. Robert led multiple projects to address inequities in health, disability and aged care. His work includes research reports, policy papers, submissions and presenting at conferences.

Robert graduated from Leipzig University (Germany) and the University of New South Wales with degrees in history, political science and international relations.

Robert is on LinkedIn

Aged Care Policy Officer,              Nikolaus Rittinghausen, nrittinghausen@eccv.org.au

Born in Australia and grew up in Germany. Volunteered and studied in Russia, Ecuador, and Brazil.

Nikolaus has a Master in International Studies from the University of Wollongong.

Since 2012, he has worked for ECCV.

His expertise include policy advice and submissions, grant writing, community liaison, and project management.

He believes in peace and is a founder of the German-Jewish Friendship Group through the Initiatives of Change.

Policy Officer, James Houghton, jhoughton@eccv.org.au

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.

Speak My Language Project Officer & Finance Support, Matisse Yee, myee@eccv.org.au

Matisse was born in Malaysia, from a Chinese Malaysian background.

She studied Chinese Literature and Finance. Matisse has extensive experience in corporate and community sectors specialising in executive administration and project management.

She is passionate about travel, culture, food and photography.

Finance, Jim Treadwell, jtreadwell@eccv.org.au

Sectoral Development Officer, Gabriele Rukas, grukas@eccv.org.au

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.

Project Coordinator, Gambling Harm Prevention, Lyn Dundon, ldundon@eccv.org.au

Lyn is a qualified social worker, who works from a social justice, strengths based perspective.

Her skills are predominately in community engagement, capacity building, and strategic influence. In addition, Lyn uses evidence based qualitative social research and collaborative social action around health inequity and poverty. 

Lyn is on LinkedIn 


Seniors Project Officer, Elder Abuse Prevention, Ross Buscemi, rbuscemi@eccv.org.au

Ross’ migrated with his family to Australia from Italy.

He dedicated his career to migrant settlement and aged care services.

A major achievement as the Director of the New Hope Foundation for 15 years was facilitating the merger between New Hope Foundation and DutchCare to form MiCare. This transition provided ethnic seniors and newly arrived migrants including refugees with access to high quality culturally appropriate aged and community support services.


NDIS Project Officer, Sector Development, Toula Elefsiniotis, telefsiniotis@eccv.org.au

Toula has a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum and Curatorial Studies. She is an artist of Greek/Australian background.

She has over 25 years’ experience in advertising, marketing, public relations, business development, events and project management. Toula is a skilled media, marketing and communications practitioner who owned and ran a magazine publishing business for 12 years.

Toula has also coordinated the 2016 and 2018 ECCV State Conferences.

NDIS Project Officer, Community Engagement , Hanaa Grave, hgrave@eccv.org.au

Hanaa was born and raised in Germany and is of Estonian and Lebanese background.

She migrated to Australia in 2016.

Her academic background is in International Relations, Middle East Studies, Sociology and Anthropology with work experience across three continents in the following fields: refugees and asylum seekers, community engagement, capacity building and cultural consultancy.

Hanaa is passionate about social inclusion and social cohesion.

Hanaa is on LinkedIn

Senior Volunteer, e-News Editor, Con Pagonis, cpagonis@eccv.org.au

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.

Volunteer, Proof-reader,         John Watts, volunteer.john@eccv.org.au

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.

Business Manager Jiembra Sheils jsheils@eccv.org.au

Jiembra has a Bachelor of Business (Monash Uni) and is a Certified Practicing Accountant, with an interest in social justice. She joined ECCV as Business Manager in 2019 having many years’ experience working in not-for-profit organisations including MCWH, Oxfam, Women’s Housing Ltd, CMY and CERES. She also has a Grad Dip in Psychology (Monash Uni) which reflects her interest  in promoting good mental health in the workplace.  Jiembra is passionate about skiing, football (and her kids).  Jiembra is on Linkedin.

Campaigns, Briana Charles bCharles@eccv.org.au

Briana has a long history of involvement in social justice campaigns. From Oaktree, to Oxfam she has been involved in a vast number of campaigns around major social justice issues. she studied communications, journalism and international relations and has been involved in a large number of projects that have brought together these passions. Having directed a documentary, worked as a freelance journalist and helped to run a documentary film festival, her passion for visual, auditory and written narrative is clear.

Snm Gray, Project Officer sgray@eccv.org.au

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. 



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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