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.

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

    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 Better Together.

    Ross Buscemi

    Ross Buscemi

    Projects Leader

    Ross accepted the position of Projects Leader at ECCV in July 2019, after commencing with the organisation as a project officer in August 2018. Ross spent 15 years as CEO of New Hope Foundation and has an extensive work history in migrant settlement and aged care services.

    Ross is responsible for ECCV’s broad range of projects, including in the areas of family violence, aged care and disability and is an outstanding mentor and support to his team. Ross migrated to Australia from Italy as a child and was raised in Brunswick.

    Anjali Nambissan

    Anjali Nambissan

    Communications & Membership Coordinator

    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 International Relations and Journalism at Monash University.

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

    Matisse Yee

    Matisse Yee

    Speak My Language Project Officer & Finance Support

    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.

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

    Nikolaus Rittinghausen

    Nikolaus Rittinghausen

    Senior Policy Officer

    Nikolaus has a Master in International Studies from the University of Wollongong and has been with the ECCV since 2012. 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. He was born in Australia and grew up in Germany. He has spent time volunteering and studying in Russia, Ecuador, and Brazil. 

    You can reach him at nrittinghausen@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. 

    Gabriele Rukas

    Gabriele Rukas

    Sector Development Officer – Aged Care & Disability

    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

    Hanaa Grave

    Hanaa Grave

    NDIS Project Officer, Community Engagement

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

    Snm Gray

    Snm Gray

    Projects Support Officer

    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. 

    Con Pagonis

    Con Pagonis

    Senior Volunteer, e-News Editor

    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.

    You can reach him at cpagonis@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 volunteer.john@eccv.org.au



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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