Our team

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Louisa Gibbs, CEO

I became a lawyer because I believe communities thrive when there is justice – genuine, fair treatment – for each of us before the law. I have worked in legal systems overseas that are strained and know just how lucky we are in Australia with our legal frameworks and institutions – but there is always room for improvement.”

 

As Chief Executive Officer, Louisa provides strategic leadership for the Federation. Louisa has worked as a Principal Solicitor in the community legal sector and in private practice, and spent 13 years living and working in developing countries. In the Pacific, she was a Justice Adviser to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands and partnered with community groups to advocate for the introduction of family violence legislation. In Africa, Louisa was named Anti-Corruption Lawyer of the Year in the Lawyer’s Weekly Women in Law Awards for her work with Senegalese Law Firms. Louisa is an elected member director of the Law Institute of Victoria Board. She loves helping kids to ‘grow inside outside’ through volunteering with Camp Cooinda and her local Scout troop, and has written two childrens’ books, one of which was presented as an official gift to the Duchess of Cambridge on her 60th Jubilee visit to the Pacific.

 

Linda Loveder, Executive Assistant to the CEO and Board 

I like speaking with our team on new opportunities and chatting through challenges together. However, the best is the organisation’s kind, flexible and caring culture.”

 

As Executive Assistant to the CEO and Board Assistant, Linda is our resident ‘go to’ person for anyone trying to reach our CEO and Board. You’ll find her managing calendars, events and emails, and generally making sure our CEO is equipped for all her meetings and priorities. After working in the corporate sector, Linda moved into not-for-profit organisations and hasn’t looked back. As well as being committed to her family and her cat, Linda has a cookbook collection that would be the envy of cooks the world over – 2,000 in total!

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Rachael Pliner, Manager, Policy and Advocacy

“I feel strongly about the critical role Community Legal Centres play in our community. Working at the Federation gives me an opportunity to advocate on behalf of the sector and to focus on systemic reform.”

 

Before joining the Federation, Rachael was a senior lawyer at Eastern Community Legal Centre in Victoria and Central Australian Women’s Legal Service in Alice Springs where she focused on advocating for women experiencing family violence. Rachael has also worked as a lawyer in Sydney at knowmore Legal Service, the Refugee Advice and Casework Service and at corporate law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills. As our Policy and Advocacy Manager, Rachael is committed to improving social justice outcomes for people experiencing social and economic disadvantage and meeting the holistic needs of clients through collaboration between legal, health and community sectors. She has Masters’ degrees in Public Health and Family Law. When not advocating for social improvement, Rachael can be found playing with her rambunctious and emotional border collie and exploring any national parks she can find on bike or on foot.

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Dr Bronwyn Lay, Senior Legal Policy Adviser, Climate Justice and Disaster Lead

“We live in interesting and challenging times. I feel hope working within a passionate sector committed to realising access to justice in its fullest meaning. The bravery of the Federation to prioritise climate justice and disaster response in order to meet the challenges of the future and the present is affirming.”

 

Bron is a Senior Legal Policy Adviser and Climate Justice and Disaster Lead at the Federation – in other words, she’s our climate justice champion. Bron works with Community Legal Centres and the wider legal sector helping them to prepare, adapt, respond and recover from disasters and the impacts of climate change. Through the Climate Justice Legal Project, Bron is helping Community Legal Centres embed climate justice into their practices to ensure the most marginalised members of our communities have equal access to climate justice. With a background working in Community Legal Centres and consulting with international NGOs on law reform strategies, and a PhD on environmental crime and climate litigation, focusing on climate justice is a natural fit for Bron. But it was working as a firefighter in France that ranks as Bron’s proudest moment. That experience also helped reinforce for her the importance of locally based support for communities. When not advocating for climate justice, Bron can be found indulging in “terrible” TV, gardening, or swimming in any kind of water she can find.

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Rohini Thomas, Senior Legal Policy Adviser

 

 

Rohini is new to the Federation team. We will be adding her bio shortly.

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Sarah Lefevre, Legal Policy Adviser

“Working at the Federation aligns with my values and desire to create a more inclusive community.”

 

 

As a Legal Policy Adviser at the Federation, Sarah helps ensure Victoria’s laws are fair for everyone who lives in the state. After starting her working life in corporate law, Sarah transitioned into a policy role with the Federal Government but was keen to use her skills to help advocate for people who experience disadvantage due to social, cultural or economic circumstances. At the Federation, she gets to align her love of analysing complex legal and policy issues to find practical solutions with working with people who share her values. When not advocating for better laws, Sarah volunteers for the Good Box Enterprise, delivering essential items to people experiencing homelessness. She is also a devoted mum to labradoodle Arlo.  

 

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Tim McMahon, Data Systems Project Manager

“I find my work is greatly appreciated and feel I can make a change for the better. I enjoy working with Community Legal Centres, which are full of people who are genuinely altruistic.”

 

Tim is the Federation’s Project Manager for Data Systems, which means he is helping the sector develop a modern legal management system to better collect, interpret and analyse data. It’s a big job, but ultimately it will help the sector plan for current and future community legal needs. After many years working in management positions for large, complex government organisations, Tim enjoys the flexibility of a small, peak body and values the opportunity to help create changes that will benefit this important sector. Tim is well placed to work with the diverse network that makes up Community Legal Centres across Victoria – after all, he grew up with four brothers and four sisters!

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Skye Forster, Implementation Analyst

“In this role I get all the best bits – diving deep into data, working with some of the smartest and most experienced people in the Community Legal Centre room, doing big sky thinking and asking important questions of those who make the consequential decisions about why something is done a certain way.”

 

As our Implementation Analyst, Skye is helping to build practice management systems and data collection across more than 20 Community Legal Centres. Skye has two decades of experience managing projects, people and stakeholders in a broad range of industries including legal, finance, retail and hospitality. She has overseen change management and innovation projects at Community Legal Centres and has been instrumental to improving significant infrastructure and business processes. As a data crusader, Skye is passionate about streamlining and simplifying data collection and using clever analysis and insights to build better services to help those the sector serves. Once she exits the spreadsheets, Skye loves her caring for her rescue dogs, gardening and has a fascination with vintage fabrics and patterns.

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Kimberly Yeung, Quality and Program Support Officer

“I feel like I’m a part of really important work at the Federation, and it feels like I am contributing to something useful.”

 

As the Quality and Program Support Officer at the Federation, Kimberly supports members with the administrative processes of the National Accreditation Scheme, Professional Standards and Support Committee and the Integrated Services Fund. Kimberly has a BA in Psychology and Sociology and honours in Women’s Studies. After years of working in not-for-profit organisations, she excels in administration, process improvement and operational organisation. When not working at the Federation, Kimberly can be found at the beach swimming or surfing or spending time with her dog  a seven-year-old border terrier named Mickey.

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Gabby Talmadge, Training Coordinator

“This role uses my event and project management skills and does so in a membership organisation – my favourite environment. My work and its outcomes appeal to both ‘the heart and the head’ which is the perfect mix for me.”

 

As the Federation’s Training Coordinator, Gabby spends her days thinking about how to ensure Victoria’s Community Legal Centre staff have the training they need to do their jobs most effectively. From researching training options, working with facilitators, coordinating all aspects of training sessions and following up with attendees afterwards, Gabby ensures the Federation delivers a comprehensive training program that best meets the needs of the sector. With a background in events and project management, Gabby is perfectly suited to manage our training calendar. When not thinking about training, Gabby has a very eclectic set of interests – from reading everything she can to researching early Australian film and theatre, from sewing vintage patterns to listening to live music. But her one true love is MotoGP and World Superbikes.

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Diane Squires, Communications Director

I’m passionate about words! I love that the right words in the right order, said at the right time and in the right manner can change hearts and minds. I love helping organisations find those words. And at the Federation, I get to work with very talented people doing amazing things to help make Victoria a better place to live."

As Communications Director, Diane helps the Federation tell its story. She helps us work out who our audiences are, what we want to say and how we should say it. After working as a journalist in regional and local newspapers, Diane moved into communications. She has managed communications functions, including media relations, social media, publications, digital media, as well as corporate and stakeholder communications in government, universities and the not-for-profit sector. It’s probably no surprise that Diane is a self-confessed ‘word nerd’, but she is constantly searching out stories to understand the world better, and you’ll often find her travelling around Australia, and the world, pen and notebook in hand.

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Izzy Lyndon-James, Digital Communications Officer

“The team at the Federation is incredibly supportive, passionate, and kind. I feel very lucky to be working with this organisation and with the CLC sector – both are full of talented, caring, and motivating people."

 

As Digital Communications Officer, Izzy oversees the website and all our social media channels. She also helps out with broader communications and puts together our newsletters. After studying communications at university and working in digital marketing, Izzy wanted to do something that aligned with her passion for the not-for-profit and social justice sectors. In her role at the Federation, she gets to interact with the wider community and find out what issues matter most to Victorians. Izzy has a passion for screen media and can often be found catching up on the latest TV sensation or behind the lens creating moving art. She also volunteers with Survivors of Suicide and Friends, a regional-based mental health awareness organisation.

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Rosanna di Grazia, Office Coordinator

“I really enjoy supporting members to provide them with the resources to do their job effectively and I particularly enjoy helping new staff settle in at the Federation.”

 

If you’ve ever contacted the Federation, you’ve probably spoken with Rosanna, our frontline Office Coordinator who handles everything from online and phone queries to office coordination and administrative support. Rosanna has more than 25 years’ experience in administrative roles in sectors as diverse as legal recruitment, information technology, children’s services, social work services, mental health services and even a stint in scientific innovation. But she is at her happiest working in the not-for-profit sector. When not at the Federation, Rosanna moderates a 10,000+ strong Facebook group for her local community, and enjoys cooking with her home grown produce or dancing up a storm at a Zumba class. 

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Michelle Taylor, Operations Manager

“Seeing and experiencing the passion for the work that the Federation, Community Legal Centres and the sector do is inspirational. I enjoy being part of the driving force for change and seeing outcomes that help the sector fight for justice.”

 

Michelle is the Operations Manager for the Federation. She’s the team member who makes sure the systems and processes are in place to help us all work more efficiently and effectively. In short, she makes sure our business runs smoothly while quietly making changes in the background that improve our processes. When not thinking about how we can improve our work processes, Michelle loves the beach, nature parks and buying cookbooks despite the fact that she does not love cooking!

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Thanh Coutts, Project Coordinator

“I love being able to use my skills and experience to contribute to the important work of the Federation and making an impact on social justice.”

 

Project Coordinator Thanh Coutts helps ensure the Federation’s IT-related and operational projects are working, are delivered on time and within budget. With more than 20 years’ experience in executive support, corporate governance and project coordination roles in Vietnam and Australia, Thanh is well placed to help keep our projects on track. Along with an accounting and research background, Thanh has a strong focus on continuous improvement and collaboration. And, as a problem solver, she is always looking for different ways to enhance business efficiency. Thanh is bilingual and has many talents, but loves nothing more than spending time with her family and reading a good book.

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Angela McCrorie, Executive Assistant to the COO

“I feel grateful to work with an amazing and approachable bunch of people, who inspire me on a daily basis.”

 

 

As the Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer, Angela works with Federation staff to ensure the wheels of the organisation keep turning. She can often be found playing tetris with calendars. After years spent working in administrative and executive assistant roles, she is adept at helping organisations operate effectively. At the Federation she gets to do all that in a role that aligns with her personal values. She most appreciates the organisation’s willingness to embrace innovative ways of working to ensure we remain effective in what we do. Angela always starts her day with a workout, anything from a HIIT class to pilates or a run, but balances it out with an avid interest in wine.

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Tanya Sawtell, People and Culture Adviser

“I love the outcomes and impact we have on communities – we do great work. And I learn from my colleagues everyday – the organisation is filled with intelligent, passionate and supportive people.”

 

Tanya is all about the people at the Federation. As People and Culture Adviser, Tanya leads the Federation’s workforce planning, recruitment and on-boarding, performance, remuneration, wellbeing, culture, awards and policies, and payroll. For Tanya it’s all about listening, supporting, advising, coaching and enabling – at both the organisational and individual level. After studying psychology and science, Tanya fell into HR and has worked in the higher education and not-for-profit sectors. In her downtime, Tanya regularly cooks for the people in her community who need a meal and is a self-confessed chocoholic.

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