Our team

Louisa Gibbs headshot


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 low-income 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. 


Nicole Burnard, Executive Assistant to the CEO 

“Community Legal Centres provide a vital service for members of our community, and I feel very fortunate to be part of this amazing movement” 

Nicole comes to the Federation with a wealth of experience, having previously worked in executive assistant roles in diverse industries including education, biotech and clean energy. Nicole’s role at the Federation is to support Louisa and the team to support members and the sector. She loves working with an executive team to streamline and improve processes that enhance service delivery and build an organisation’s capacity to achieve its goals.  

When Nicole’s not at work, she enjoys taming her garden, visiting art galleries, watching stand-up comedy and surfing. Nicole volunteers at her local op shop, which she says gives her a great feeling of being part of the community.   

Nicole has a white schnauzer puppy, and a terrible sweet tooth!                        

Rachael Pliner headshot


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.

Bronwyn Lay headshot


Dr Bronwyn Lay, 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.

Logo headshot placeholder


Rohini Thomas, Senior Legal Policy Adviser

"I have a strong appreciation for the invaluable and often underestimated work carried out by the community legal sector and the role it plays in empowering communities experiencing disadvantage. It is great to work with the CLC sector, government, courts and partner organisations to create positive and sustainable change."


As a Senior Legal Policy Adviser, Rohini Thomas works with Community Legal Centres to understand the challenges they face and the injustices experienced by the communities they serve. She uses that information to look for shortfalls in laws and policies and seeks out opportunities to build a fairer justice system. Rohini has a history of working on human rights issues at local, state, Commonwealth and international levels on issues as diverse as modern slavery and trafficking, family violence, discrimination, advancing rights in equal pay and refugee law. She has worked with grassroots organisations in Tanzania and as a community lawyer in Perth. Rohini has just started her Masters in Public International Law and was adopted by her neighbours’ cat during lockdown. When not working, she enjoys interior design and painting and is a committed world traveller who loves learning about new cultures and visiting national parks. If you’re wondering, her favourite is the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

Sarah Lefevre headshot


Sarah Lefevre, Senior 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.  


Tim McMahon headshot


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!

Skye Forster headshot


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.

Logo headshot placeholder


Simon Kuut, Quality and Capacity Development Manager

“I enjoy the genuine passion for social justice and human rights of my colleagues, which is very much in line with my beliefs. I feel privileged to work for a committed peak body and work closely with such a diverse range of centres.”


Simon is the Quality and Capacity Development Manager with the Federation. Simon helps us by conducting the National Accreditation Scheme for Community Legal Centres, overseeing and informing the Federation’s member training calendar, supporting the Professional Standards and Support Committee and helping to administrate the Integrated Services Fund. Hailing from the Netherlands, Simon brings a wealth of experience both from his home country and working here in Australia in various community sectors as a social worker. This career path led Simon towards work in quality improvement, where he discovered a passion for best practice and standards, a culture of continuous improvement, and making services better for clients. When Simon isn’t at the office or cycling to and from work, he has been known to feature on SBS Dutch community radio, to cook up a storm for his family, and to coach a women’s community soccer team.

Logo headshot placeholder


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.

Logo headshot placeholder


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.

Logo headshot placeholder


Katie Wand, Senior Communications Adviser

“Communication plays an essential role not only in spotlighting the sector’s achievements, but in exposing the many challenges that community legal services and the people they serve continue to face.”


As Senior Communications Adviser at the Federation, Katie directs and manages communications that promote and raise the profiles of the Federation and Community Legal Centres. Her experience with a range of not for profits, including other peak bodies, has given her insight into many of the social injustices that exist in Victoria and that she believes can be changed through reform and sound legislation.

Katie has a Masters’ degree in International Development, and has spent time living in Buenos Aires, Kathmandu, Paris and London, where she is originally from. In her spare time she enjoys socialising, cooking and exploring the great outdoors.

Rosanna Di Grazia headshot


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. 

Michelle Taylor headshot



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!


Logo headshot placeholder



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.

Tanya Sawtell headshot


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.

Sign up