Meet the Team 2019-05-02T14:25:19+00:00

Our Board

Jo Barraket
Jo BarraketChair
Jo is passionate about the value of diverse societies and community-led approaches to social change. By day, Jo is Director of the Centre for Social Impact Swinburne and is Australia’s premier researcher of social enterprise. She has extensive experience in nonprofit governance, social enterprise policy and practice, and measuring social impacts. Jo is a passionate veggie gardener and thinks CERES is the most relaxing place in Melbourne, and possibly the universe. When not looking at the veggie plots or doing her shopping at CERES, Jo can occasionally be found meditating on the chickens.
Mikaela Stafrace
Mikaela StafraceDeputy Chair
As a retired lawyer whose speciality was governance, risk and insurance, Mikaela assists with ensuring CERES has an excellent culture and compliance framework. As a former CEO with an MBA, she helps with strategic planning and over the horizon thinking. Having completed the Urban Farming course earlier this year at CERES, Mikaela now walks the talk! She built her own farm in St Kilda incorporating all the knowledge gained during the course. She has enriched the ground with compost from the kitchen, and IBCs were installed to collect rain water from the roof to irrigate the garden. It’s a simple way to live but Mikaela would never have known about it but for her time at CERES. She is amazed by the difference it has made and the joy it has brought her.

Thomas Dobson
Thomas DobsonTreasurer
Thomas has been the CERES Treasurer for the last eight years and a proud CERES advocate for a decade. He believes there is even more potential here to unlock now that we’ve learnt how to complement our prized environmental and social contributions with stable financial management and innovative enterprises. Tom works at NAB in Media & Partnerships and has postgraduate business and company directorship qualifications. He lives locally and rides everywhere. Tom’s favourite season at CERES is autumn.
Noel Blencowe
Noel BlencoweSecretary
Noel retired as a CERES Team Leader (co-CEO) in 2012 but has continued voluntary involvement – particularly on CERES Purposes Review group, and in helping CERES Global trips support excellent sustainability and community development work in India. Noel believes that climate change and social equity are two of the biggest issues needing tackling for creating a safer world and greater well-being for all life on the planet. Government inaction on such issues means that there is a vital role to be played by community organisations in catalysing action. Noel has recently become a grandparent and come to understand more acutely the importance of local spaces like CERES for children and carers.
Jess Dorney
Jess DorneyCouncil Representative
Jess is a strong advocate for sustainable urban development, food production, water conservation and waste reduction. Jess feels strongly about making sure everyone can easily access the services they need to be healthy and has a vision for an effective public transport system powered by renewable energy.
With a Bachelor degree in Public Health and Health Promotion, Jess has worked closely with local government on issues such as supporting access to healthy food and advocating for infrastructure to support walking and cycling. Her skills in policy development, community engagement and research mean she is a strong local voice for the community.
John Burne
John BurneStaff Representative
John grew up the youngest of five in a quiet coastal town of Tasmania and travelled to Melbourne to expand his horizons. Three decades on, he is still here enjoying a vibrant urban lifestyle. John’s career experience and qualifications are in the fields of product design, engineering and environmental management systems. These are put to good use at CERES, in his role as Infrastructure Manager and part of the Green Technology Group. John is passionate about design & technology; how it can be cleverly used to help us appreciate and look after the environment. He is also part of the team contributing to the CERES Global Projects, sharing some of our sustainable technologies knowledge with Indian communities. When not at CERES, John relishes the hunter/gather role of his household, along with the preparation of food for sharing.
Jan Garood
Jan GaroodSite Groups Representative
Jan lives in Brunswick East. CERES is her village: the market place, the frogs, chooks and veggie plots; the learning and sharing; and the diversity of eco-spiritual practices are for her, a living example of sustainable community. Jan is the site group representative to the CERES Board. Her site is Sophia’s Spring, an eco-feminist community of the Uniting Church. She is involved in the Meditation Garden project and is passionate about bringing this beautiful design to life. Jan has worked as a teacher and with the Commonwealth Public Service in policy development and managerial roles. She has served on community boards in Springvale, Morwell and Fryerstown. She is presently a volunteer at the Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre in Brunswick. Jan is a maker and artist and enjoys working with eco-dyed textiles and recycled materials. Other interests include cooking for friends and catching live music around Brunswick.
Rod Duncan
Rod DuncanGeneral Member
Rod is an East Brunswick resident with a diverse career in urban design and planning. He joined the Site Planning and Infrastructure Committee in 2015, and was elected to the Board in Nov. 2016.
Rod believes that genuine engagement supported by thoughtful design can support communities – and CERES – in identifying and pursuing a ‘preferred future’ that is sustainable, equitable and fulfilling. Managing rapid change is increasingly important, particularly transitioning smoothly into a low carbon future.
Tony Marjoram
Tony MarjoramGeneral Member
Tony first met CERES in the later 1980s and 1990s when working at the Development Technologies Centre of the University of Melbourne (1987-94). Tony was also on the Development Committee of Community Aid Abroad. He had previously (1980-87) worked at the University of the South Pacific, first at the Centre for Applied Studies in Development, then the Institute of Rural Development. Tony joined UNESCO in 1994 at the Jakarta regional office, moving to UNESCO headquarters in 1997, responsible for the engineering programme from 2001-2011, retired and moved back to Melbourne. Keen to get back into grassroots tech and development activities, Tony is a guest professor at the Centre for Engineering Science and Sustainability at Aalborg University, editorial board member of the Journal of Humanitarian Engineering (of EWB Australia), committee member of the Senior Engineers Group of Engineers Australia, vice-chair of the Australia-East Timor Association (recently incorporated) and convenor of the AETA Village Technology and Innovation Group.
Sophie Newing
Sophie NewingGeneral Member
Sophie is a long term CERES patron living in the Inner North with a passion for community outcomes, and motivated by a cultural environment that reinforces healthy lifestyle habits and fosters connectedness and a cooperative spirit.
Sophie is an astute community leader and pragmatic project director. She brings 25 years’ experience working in financial services, management consulting and with not-for-profit (NFP) organisations.

Our Senior Managers

Cinnamon Evans
Cinnamon EvansCEO
Cinnamon initially joined the CERES Education Team, delivering sustainability education programs to visiting groups, and in time she became leader of that team. When CERES evolved, through expanding education programs and building social enterprises Cinnamon joined the leadership team, and was appointed CEO in 2012.

Cinnamon is particularly passionate about the role of social enterprise in delivering environmental and social change. She has formal tertiary qualifications in education and environmental science. She has also studied collaborative management and group facilitation, and has provided community engagement and facilitation services to the not-for-profit, government and industry sectors. Cinnamon is a member of Moora Moora Co-operative Community, a residential, off-grid, eco-village in the Yarra Ranges. She is a student of yoga philosophy and practices asana (postures) and kirtan (chanting) as regularly as possible.

Sieta Beckwith
Sieta BeckwithCommunications
Over the past 10 years, Sieta has worked in strategic communications roles in social enterprise, for-profit and non-profit organisations, always engaged in assisting to deliver the mission and vision of the places she works, via articulating their strong social and environmental purposes. Since 2014, Sieta has been actively engaged in the emerging spiritual ecology movement, which seeks to explore what is the role of spirituality in social, economic, political and ecological change.

Through her work at CERES, which has a strong narrative about the power of community to bring about lasting change, Sieta is using stories centred on universal human values, to articulate the potential power of bringing spirituality and action together. When not at CERES she can be found climbing rocks, weaving baskets or talking to chickens.

Nick Curmi
Nick CurmiHabitat
Nick is Melbourne born and bred, with a background in Socio-Environmental Assessment and Policy, Environmental Management and Welding & Blacksmithing. He is committed to preserving the unique character of CERES as a public offering, and feels privileged to be part of an organisation striving for a better future. Having co-ordianted the design and build of many community projects and sculptures, Nick’s expertise lies in collaborating with people on the development of ideas. Nick is passionate about connecting to nature through time in water surfing, rafting and kayaking. When not spending time with family and kids, Nick can be found in his workshop building, making and experimenting.
Chris Ennis
Chris EnnisFair Food
Coming from a family of farmers, general store owners and social activists, Chris really had no choice but to come to work at CERES. In 2002, with a burning passion for urban agriculture, he began his CERES life in the community gardens as volunteer co-ordinator before accidentally becoming the Organic Market manager. Chris worked with Coburg farmer Joe Garita on the handover of Joe’s Market Garden and also started The Urban Orchard, Australia’s first produce swap. Teaming up with Melissa Lawson on the Organic Farm, he launched social enterprises, often working with asylum seekers, growing mushrooms, catering, aquaponic farming and more recently producing microgreens.

In 2010 Chris went offsite to begin Fair Food, which since its launch in 2010 has become Melbourne’s most popular organic online grocery. His hobbies outside CERES are food waste decoupage, and cycling.

Melissa Lawson
Melissa LawsonFarm & Food
Melissa is passionate about connecting people to community food systems and manages all farm and food related projects at CERES including The Merri Table, Tamil Feasts, the Community Kitchen and the Organic Farm.

Melissa initially started as the Office Administration over 15 years ago, before she found her happy place with the Farm Team. Joining forces with Chris Ennis, the early days found her immersed in a wide range of activities including everything from building commercial kitchens to helping start the Propagation enterprise; from making coffees at Market, to wrangling sheep across farm paddocks. Alongside this, Melissa also developed and implemented training programs and enterprises around urban food systems and hospitality, with a particular focus on engaging marginalised individuals. Melissa also loves bringing people together for celebrations around food and the seasons at CERES, as well as at home.

Lorna Pettifer
Lorna PettiferEducation & Training
Lorna has been working in environmental education and presenting to community groups on sustainability for over 10 years. She currently manages education programs at CERES and passionately focuses on adult education and training programs. Her background in sustainability stems from ecology and zoology and has broadened to community engagement, environmental management, behaviour change and farm and food programs.

Lorna has worked as a ResourceSmart Facilitator in schools supporting teachers, students and school systems in sustainability management and whole school behavior change. She has worked with schools, organisations and communities to help integrate environmental and ethical options into their systems, lives and behaviours. Lorna also has experience as a researcher, bush regenerator, environmental consultant for subject design, GIS consultant and environmental modeler.

Nico Porter
Nico PorterFinance
Nico is passionate about helping organisations who do good in the world, achieve financial sustainability. Nico has worked in trade finance in a bank in New York, managed a family business in Brazil and after instructing and coordinating outdoor education programs around Australia, was Finance Manager for Outward Bound Australia. He has recently completed an MBA with a specialisation in Social Impact through the Australian Graduate School of Management and the Centre for Social Impact.

Before joining CERES as Finance Manager, Nico and his wife cycled & walked through South East Asia, Spain, Morocco, India, Uruguay and Argentina for 18 months.