Core Facilitation Team
Max SmithMax is a facilitator and director of the Community Organising Fellowship, with a decade of experience volunteering and working as a community organiser, campaign strategist, and facilitator in a range of contexts from local action groups to the United Nations Climate Negotiations. Max was previously a Clean Air Campaigner at Environmental Justice Australia, a community organiser with the Australian Conservation Foundation, a training facilitator with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and an advisor to a federal Senator. Max also holds a graduate qualification in Community Advocacy. Aside from training, learning, and building the collective power to win positive social change, Max enjoys dancing, playing tennis, and performing stand-up comedy. Max lives on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. He is a proud unionist and delegate of the Australian Services Union.
Edie ShepherdEdie Shepherd is a proud Wiradjuri and Noongar activist. She's a youth worker turned trade union organiser, and has spent the past 6 years working across labour, climate and land rights movements. She led Blackfullas for Marriage Equality, revived the Aboriginal organising portfolio for the Victorian Trades Hall Council, and worked with communities from Djab Warrung in Victoria, to communities across the Northern Territory to protect and defend country from harm, and now works in the First Nations Justice team at GetUp. Edie is passionate about building the strength, skills and capacity of mob to challenge and contest for power in this colonial state.
Kaz UyKaz is the lead community organiser at national campaigning organisation, GetUp. Previously, Kaz organised at Tipping Point, building the leadership capacity and skills of student leaders in the #ClimateStrike movement to take action and build local power in their communities to help move Australia beyond the mining and burning of fossil fuels to 100% clean, renewable energy. Kaz has been an Organiser at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Oxfam Australia, and a Training Officer at Democracy in Colour - a national racial and economic justice organisation led by people of colour. With roots in the Philippines, Kaz is passionate about decolonisation and integrating intersectional feminist leadership and community care practices from her home culture in her activist education work. Kaz also loves surfing and currently lives on the unceded lands of the Wadawurrung People of the Kulin Nation on the Surf Coast.
Isabella is a community organiser and activist trainer who’s been involved in the climate movement for many years. She’s currently the Program Manager of Changemakers Organising School and is passionate about creating leadership and development opportunities for organisers. Isabella also works as the Lead Digital Campaigner at the Australian Democracy Network. Isabella is a COF 2016 graduate.
Behind the Scenes Team
Erin LaurenceErin works behind the scenes to keep the Community Organising Fellowship running smoothly. They have a background in flat-structured organising and take great care to ensure the plethora of intersecting and sometimes competing priorities and needs of people and tasks are considered and addressed as efficiently as possible. Erin takes a great deal of interest in the intersectional political nature of all aspects of life, working through solutions with the prioritisation of needs of oppressed and marginalised groups and people foremost in mind. Erin is a qualified graphic designer, and has worked in a great variety of areas, in varied roles both paid and voluntary. Erin is a regular Food Not Bombs volunteer in Muloobinba (Newcastle).
Holly Buntman-RonnenbergHas fed each and every cohort since the Fellowship began. Her catering provides us with fabulous vegetarian and vegan meals. The food – and Holly’s commitment to sourcing local, organic and fair-trade supplies – are one of the highlights of the Fellowship. Holly thinks seasonally and focuses on slow food principles.
Kate SmolskiKate is an environmental advocate with fourteen years of experience in grassroots organising, campaign strategy, media relations, policy and lobbying. As a grassroots organiser and campaigner Kate has worked for several leading US environmental non-profits including Green Corps, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. Through innovative campaigns and trainings she has worked with a range of groups to effectively advocate for action on climate change, clean energy and lands and wildlife protection. From Congressional panels to community halls her work has focused on effective advocacy, capacity building and the development of broad-based coalitions. Kate moved to Sydney in 2012 and was the CEO at the Nature Conservation Council. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology from the University of Rhode Island. Kate co-founded tCA's Community Organising Fellowship and was a core member of the facilitation team 2014-2016.
Dave CopemanAn experienced community organiser. He was the founding organiser of the Queensland Community Alliance, an alliance of faith organisations, unions, community groups and ethnic associations in Queensland, working to build power for the common good. Dave has been a human rights campaigner for Amnesty International in Queensland and East Africa, and was first inspired to work on human rights after volunteering with the Movement for Democratic Change, the political opposition in Zimbabwe. He has also worked for trade unions as a campaigner and as a political advisor. Dave is currently living in Spain with his family, watching football in more reasonable hours, and trying to write about organising.
Ian LisserLead Organiser with the Finance Sector Union in Sydney. As well as having a long history in various roles in the union movement spanning 30 years, from shop floor delegate to union President. Ian is also known for his work in GetUp! and Amnesty International as an activist trainer and facilitator. Ian undertook the COF Fellowship in 2017, the Australian Progress Fellowship in 2016 and the Harvard Leadership, Organising and Action: Leading Change executive program in 2018 as well as having undertaken training with the ACTU, Plan to Win, Ayni Institute and the International Institute for Peace (IIP) and International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict. As well as being focused on organising and building workers power via representative workplace structures and networks, Ian focus in on member to member recruitment, leadership development, mentoring and training of both organisers and workplace leaders.
Jane StabbCo-Ceo at Climate for Change. Formerly the Community Organising Program Manager at Environment Victoria. Jane cut her teeth grassroots organising and delivering field campaigns in Melbourne’s beautiful south eastern burbs, and is managing a program that uses an organising approach to deliver campaign outcomes on climate and clean energy. She has worked as a campaigner, organiser and facilitator in the climate and environment movements and believes that if we build enough power, we can stop climate change.
Dave MuhlyHas more than 20 years’ experience in student, community and environmental organising and is the Senior Organising Manager in the Sierra Club’s Eastern Region. He supervises seven staff in five states working on retiring coal-fired power plants and promoting renewables and efficiency, ending mountaintop removal coal mining, and addressing community toxics issues. Dave has been with the Sierra Club for 20 years, working on public lands, energy, and environmental justice and economic transition issues and has been a national, regional and local trainer of other staff, activists and leaders.