Our People

CRSA’s staff, board of directors and ambassadors draw on their breadth of experience and knowledge to implement the organisation’s vision.

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Our Team

Lisa Button

Lisa Button

Chief Executive Officer

Lisa has been leading the work of CRSA and its predecessor, CRSI, since she instigated its establishment in 2018. She began her career as a commercial lawyer and has been working in refugee law and policy for more than a decade with organisations such as the Centre for Policy Development, Save the Children and Refugee Legal. Lisa is also a Fellow with the Centre for Policy Development and has been a director of a number of refugee-led organisations. Lisa holds a Masters in Public and International Law in addition to her BA/LLB(Hons) from the University of Melbourne. She lives in Melbourne and is the proud mum of three boys.

Sophie Bosch

Sophie Bosch

Operations Manager

Sophie is an Operations and Project Manager who specialises in helping to scale early stage startups. She also has a long standing passion for refugee and human rights issues with a particular interest in programs that offer employment, language and literacy support to new Australians. Sophie holds Masters degrees in Journalism and Management from the University of Sydney. She enjoys using her creative and analytical skills to support the sustainability and growth of innovative organisations who are shaping the future.

Romy Vitalien

Romy Vitalien

CRISP Program Manager

Romy has spent more than a decade working in refugee settlement, leading a range of government, philanthropic and participant-funded programs that enable people with refugee backgrounds to establish a home in Australia and to participate fully in all aspects of the Australian community.

Romy has a Master of Social Work, a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Arts, and has worked extensively with people with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds including with Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre, Australian Red Cross, AMES Australia and the Legal Aid Scheme in Ghana. She is a proud mother of two and is driven by the sheer joy of welcoming people with refugee experiences to Australia, and the opportunity to harness the enormous contributions that this resilient cohort can offer to Australian society.

Blaise Itabelo

Blaise Itabelo

Community Engagement Manager

Blaise was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sadly the 1996 war in DRC forced Blaise and his family to flee and for the next decade and a half, Blaise and his family called a Refugee Camp home. Blaise migrated to Australia in 2011 and he’s a proud Australian citizen. He has extensively worked on assisting newly arrived migrants, refugees, and people seeking asylum in their settlement journey in Australia. Blaise has over ten years of experience in Community Engagement and Development with a particular interest in community capacity building and mobilisation and has held various roles with local and International NGOs including Access community services Ltd, SSI, and WorldShare.

Coco Cherian

Coco Cherian

Program Support Officer

Coco is a recent graduate who is motivated to create a positive social impact. She is particularly interested in responses to forced displacement, with a passion for human rights issues and social inclusion. She is excited to facilitate a participatory approach to community development through her role as Program Support Officer. Coco holds a Masters of Development Studies and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne.

Nicole Watkins

Nicole Watkins

Community Development Manager

Nicole is a community development practitioner with ten years experience working in not for profit and government agencies. Nicole completed a Masters of Social Development from UNSW and has extensive experience working in the refugee sector with agencies such as Australian Red Cross and Settlement Services International. She is passionate about building community capacity to drive long lasting and sustainable change that delivers meaningful outcomes for the community.

Shabnam Safa

Shabnam Safa

Community Development Training Lead

Shabnam is a driven community development practitioner passionate about cultivating true partnerships between communities and structures of power to create lasting solutions. Inspired by her own experience of forced displacement from Afghanistan, she is a strong advocate for meaningful participation of refugees in addressing the complex challenges of resettlement, inclusion, and belonging. She has founded and led multiple initiatives in Australia and abroad supporting refugees and host communities, particularly focusing on strengths-based and capacity-building approaches. Shabnam is the inaugural chairperson leading the National Refugee-led Advisory and Advocacy Group (NRAAG), a refugee-led organisation creating spaces for effective elevation of voices with lived experience in key decisions, policies, and discourse about refugees. She was recently inducted to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women for her tireless work in promoting refugee rights and social cohesion.

Mohammad Nawrozi

Mohammad Nawrozi

Community Liaison Officer

Before coming to Australia Mohammad was involved in leading community capacity building initiatives in Afghanistan. He worked to implement programs in micro-financing, education and vocational training with a particular focus on programs that empowered women and young people in their local communities. Mohammad has been involved with Australia’s refugee community for many years. He has extensive experience in supporting refugees from diverse backgrounds having previously worked with AMEP in Victoria, STTARS in South Australia and most recently as a Community Tour Guide for Cumberland Council’s Refugee Camp in my Neighbourhood project in NSW. He was previously an executive committee member for UNAA’s South Australian Division where he was also a volunteer.

Mohammad is currently studying a postgraduate diploma in Australian Migration Law at Western Sydney University as well as a diploma in Community Services. He is Afghan and speaks six languages including Dari, Hazaragi, Urdu, Pashto, Persian and English. Mohammad is enthusiastic, collaborative and empathetic in his approach to his work supporting members of the refugee community.

Rebecca Payne

Rebecca Payne

Marketing & Communications Manager

Rebecca is a marketing and communications veteran with experience across a wide range of organisations within industries including law, media and finance. She began her career as a journalist and holds an MA (Journalism) as well as an LLB(Hons) from University College London. Following a successful corporate career, she transitioned to working with for-purpose organisations and has recently worked with The Aurora Foundation and the Council for Civil Liberties. Mum to a blended family of five teens, she enjoys the outdoors and spends what time she can mountain biking, rock climbing,
snowboarding or bushwalking.

Our Board of Directors

CRSA’s Board currently comprises the following individuals.

Libby Lloyd AO

Libby Lloyd AO

Director & Chair

Libby has a strong background working with refugees. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2022 for her distinguished service to the community, particularly to women and refugees, through a range of social welfare initiatives. This followed her earlier appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia in 1992 for her contribution to refugees and to the international community in Iraq and Kuwait. She co-founded the White Ribbon Foundation in 2007 and is currently patron of the Indigo Foundation and the Chair of CRSA’s board of directors.

Ali Reza Yunespour

Ali Reza Yunespour

Director

Ali Reza Yunespour works as Academic Internships Coordinator and Director of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, Australia. His PhD thesis examines the political economy of Afghanistan’s higher education; and his research interests are education politics in fragile contexts and asylum seeker and refugee issues in Australia. He has extensive community development experience in conflict societies and has helped around 8,000 students in 22 rural schools in Afghanistan through his volunteer work with indigo foundation Australia. Previously, Ali Reza has worked in DFAT and as a lecturer at American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. Ali Reza was a People of Australia Ambassador in 2012 and 2013 and was awarded the National Volunteer Award for his works with refugees and migrants in Australia and his contributions to indigo foundation’s education programs in Afghanistan. Ali Reza arrived as a refugee in Australia in 2005.
Achol Madong

Achol Madong

Director

Intrinsically motivated to service and support the community, Achol Madong has extensive experience in developing, managing, and delivering community engagement strategies and programs for multicultural and Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. As the Inclusion Coordinator for the Royal Life Saving Society WA, Achol is dedicated to promoting safe participation in, on and around water and has successfully implemented multicultural, Aboriginal, and special needs inclusion programs that remove barriers to community participation for vulnerable communities across the Perth metropolitan and regional area.

Achol is Chairperson of the Perth African Nations Sports Association (PANSA), a not-for-profit sports organisation concerned with the development, promotion and implementation of sporting programs and pathways for African Australians who have made Western Australia their new home. She is a super-connector of people from all perspectives, experiences and cultures and is highly skilled in fostering partnerships between community organisations to support the delivery of meaningful and beneficial community programs. Achol holds a Diploma of Business from Australis College and a Bachelor of Business, Sports Management from Edith Cowan University.

Cindy Carpenter

Cindy Carpenter

Director

Cindy is Chair of The Bread & Butter Project, Australia’s first social enterprise artisan bakery, investing 100% of profits to provide training and employment pathways for refugees and asylum seekers.

Cindy also Chairs the advisory groups supporting two refugee-led social enterprises, Aunty’s Ginger Tonics and CommUnity Construction Group, convenes a knowledge sharing group of about fifteen refugee-focused social enterprises, and sits on the work-integrated-social enterprise Hub to promote payment for outcomes models. She is also a Director on the Board of Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia, and coordinator of a neighbourhood group mentoring two young refugees.

Cindy sits on the National Judging Panel for Westpac Foundation’s Social Change Fellowship and is a member of the Steering Committee for the RISE program that connects business mentors to social enterprises impacted by COVID-19.

Cindy was a Principal strategy consultant and then General Manager Aust/NZ for the Boston Consulting Group before co-founding the consulting firm, Cast, 12 years ago. She thrives on helping organisations achieve their boldest aspirations and has advised many corporates as well as not-for-profit and public sector organisations. She has an MBA from AGSM where she was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship, with an exchange to the Wharton School of Finance in University of Pennsylvania.

Ian Smith AM

Ian Smith AM

Director

Ian Smith is the founding partner of corporate and political advisory firm Bespoke Approach, working with national and international blue-chip companies. He is also a Senior Adviser to Albright Stonebridge Group, a Washington-based strategy consultancy. Ian is deeply involved in refugee advocacy, chairing Barefoot to Boots, a charity assisting refugee camps and their host communities. He is a member of the University of South Australia Council. He became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in June 2018. He is married to former Senator and Ambassador Natasha Stott Despoja and they have two children, Conrad and Cordelia.
Cam Venables

Cam Venables

Director

Cam is an Anglican Bishop who loves people and music; and using his little gifts with the gifting of others, to make the world a better place. Born in Northern Ireland, and educated in England, Cam spent many formative years in Papua New Guinea working in Christian education and Community Development.

In Australia Cam has worked in Parish, School, and University contexts and has seen great synergies between these in caring for the homeless (Lismore Soup Kitchen), supporting those in the wider community (Anglicare Central Queensland, and Anglicare Southern Queensland), and assisting those who come to Australia as refugees through community-based settlement (Sanctuary-Northern Rivers; Sanctuary-CQ; Toowoomba Refugee and Migrant Service).

Now based in multi-cultural Toowoomba Cam is very much aware that regional and rural communities are fantastic places for refugees to find welcome and friendship, education and employment, and ultimately… a new sense of ‘home’.

Our Ambassadors

We are grateful for the public and behind-the-scenes support of the following esteemed individuals.

Professor Peter Shergold AC

Professor Peter Shergold AC

Peter led a government-commissioned independent inquiry into Integration, Employment and Settlement Outcomes for Refugees and Humanitarian Entrants in Australia in 2019. He is currently the Coordinator General for Refugee Settlement in NSW and Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney.

Watch Peter Shergold on Community Refugee Sponsorship

Nyadol Nyuon

Nyadol Nyuon

Nyadol is an Australian lawyer and human rights advocate, who was born in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, of a family fleeing the Second Sudanese Civil War. She currently works for the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety and is also a writer, speaker and media commentator. In addition to her role with CRSA, she is Chair of The Harmony Alliance.
Andrew Kaldor AM

Andrew Kaldor AM

Andrew arrived in Australia in 1948 as a refugee from Hungary. He went on to become a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist and, together with his wife Renata, established the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales.

Watch Andrew Kaldor on Community Refugee Sponsorship

Phoebe Wynn-Pope

Phoebe Wynn-Pope

Phoebe is a senior executive with over 25 years’ experience in the humanitarian sector. She has worked extensively with government, business, academia, the media and the public to promote human rights and develop excellence in humanitarian practice. She is currently Head of Business and Human Rights at Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

Watch Phoebe Wynn-Pope on Community Refugee Sponsorship

Tim Costello AO

Tim Costello AO

Tim is the Chairman of the Community Council of Australia. He is Director of Micah Australia and a Senior Fellow for Centre for Public Christianity. He is well known as a leading spokesperson on social justice issues including problem gambling and homelessness.

Watch Tim Costello on the Role of Faith Communities in Community Refugee Sponsorship

Om Dhungel

Om Dhungel

Om, a former engineer, is now a consultant and a practitioner of Strength-Based Approach to refugee settlement and community engagement, offering his services as a trainer, mentor and a speaker. A Graduate and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, he is currently a Director on the Board of Asylum Seeker Centre, a Member of NSW Police Multicultural Advisory Council and has served on a number of other boards. Formerly a refugee from Bhutan, Om is the founding President and currently a senior member of the Association of Bhutanese in Australia (ABA) Sydney. Om is a recipient of the 2017 University of Technology Sydney (UTS) International Alumni Award and 2016 NSW Premier’s Multicultural Community Medal for Lifetime Achievement.

Watch Om Dhungel on Community Refugee Sponsorship

Arash Bordbar

Arash Bordbar

Arash Bordbar is a former Refugee originally from Shiraz in Iran. Arash is the Co-ordinator of the UNHCR Global Youth Advisory Council and is also currently working with the CMRC as a Youth Employment and Enterprise Officer. He has just finished his Bachelor of Civil Engineering(Hons). Arash is the Chair of Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN). He was awarded the Young People’s Human Rights Medal in 2016 for his advocacy on human rights in Australia and the Asia Pacific, chosen to be an Australian Ambassador since 2018 for Australia Day.