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, 

[email protected] 

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, [email protected]

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, [email protected]

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, [email protected]

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, [email protected]

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.

Office Manager, Sonja Krajcar, [email protected]

Sonja has been with ECCV since 2012 and began her role as the Office Manager in 2013.  As a result she has an extensive corporate knowledge that’s second to none. Sonja started working for ECCV in 2012 as the conference coordinator. She is a skilled multi-tasker with attention to detail and builds inclusive working environments. 

Prior to roles within ECCV, Sonja had worked within childhood trauma.

She has a passion for volunteering across many areas and is a foster carer for rescue dogs.

Communications & Media Officer, Leenie Fabri, [email protected]

A proud Maltese Australian who was raised in the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne.

Leenie has extensive experience within national peak body governance and senior management which enables her to effectively communicate with all stakeholders.

She has specialty knowledge of the LGBTIQA+ communities and brings more than 10 years’ executive management experience of staff and volunteers, grants and community radio, in addition qualifications in communications, cultural competencies, and business leadership.

Leenie is on Linkedin 

Sectoral Development Officer, Gabriele Rukas, [email protected]

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.

Seniors Project Officer, Elder Abuse Prevention, Ross Buscemi, [email protected]

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.

 

Project Officer, Participation for CALD Seniors Grants, Dimitra Kardaras, [email protected]

Dimitra is a qualified social worker, trainer and innovative service development specialist.

With two decades of expertise, Dimitra has worked in community and government settings across aged, dementia, respite, carer, veteran, health, elder abuse and multicultural service sectors.

Dimitra is inspired by creating unique programs and community development initiatives that have the capacity to raise awareness, build resilience and act as catalysts for personal transformation and growth.

NDIS Project Officer, Sector Development, Toula Elefsiniotis, [email protected]

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, [email protected]

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

Project Coordinator, Gambling Harm Prevention, Lyn Dundon, ldun[email protected]

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 

 

Senior Volunteer, e-News Editor, Con Pagonis, [email protected]

Con’s career focus has primarily been migrant and refugee settlement policy and planning, access & equity, and social cohesion. 

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, Multicultural Arts Victoria, the Australian Jazz Museum and Community Radio PBS 106.7FM.

Volunteer, Proof-reader,         John Watts, [email protected]

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.

Finance, Jim Treadwell, [email protected]

 

 

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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: [email protected]