Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors is responsible for The Centre for Ecological Learning’s strategic direction, effective governance and leadership.

Tim Fry

Chair

Tim Fry has a wealth of governance and project management experience within the financial services and insurance industry, including Zurich Financial Services Australia and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation. He holds professional and tertiary qualifications in engineering, business administration, project management and education.

Tim Fry is a teacher at Chrysalis Steiner School at Thora. He has lived in Bellingen Shire for around ten years, having moved with his family from the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Tim’s previous Board experience includes Kamaroi Rudolf Steiner School and Chrysalis Rudolf Steiner School, the latter of which he served as Treasurer and Chair.

Through his involvement with CEL, Tim is looking to create opportunities for people to connect and grow with their natural environment, as well as creating opportunity for local employment in these activities.

Lisa Siegel

Treasurer

Lisa is a skilled environmental educator with over 20 years experience in developing and facilitating educational experiences for children, young people, and adults. Lisa was instrumental in helping a group of students establish Bellingen EYE in 2007, and was its Coordinator for the first five years. She worked as Coordinator of CEL until 2017, developing adult programs while still helping facilitate camps and the EYE Leadership Training Program.

Lisa has a Masters in Education from Columbia University in New York, and a Masters in Social Ecology from the University of Western Sydney. She is a fellow with the Australian School of Social Entrepreneurs. Lisa has trained in Deep Ecology/The Work That Reconnects with John Seed and Joanna Macy, and has been a student of Insight Buddhism for the past five years.

She is currently undertaking PhD research in Environmental Education at Southern Cross University. Lisa works as a teacher at Cascade Environmental Education Centre (a NSW Dept of Education field school) and as a tutor for the School of Education at Southern Cross Uni.

Lisa is a founding member of Transition Bellingen, sits on the Steering committee of the Bellingen Shire Learning Alliance, is the convenor of the Mid North Coast Sustainability Educators Network, and is the Chairperson of Tallowwood Sangha Inc.

Alexandra Honor

Secretary

Alexandra Honor has a background in education, research and development. She has worked across the education, not-for-profit and philanthropic sectors and has a Masters in Program Evaluation. Alexandra is a keen gardner and enjoys a range of outdoor activities. As a settler Australian with Celtic and German heritage, Alexandra remains mindful of her obligations and responsibilities living and working in Gumbaynggirr Country.

Thea O’Connor

Director

Thea is a health and business writer, presenter and coach, specialising in Personal Sustainability. Over the last 20 years Thea’s work has spanned nutrition, body image, workplace health and sleep science, in the forms of 1-1 consultations, prevention and early intervention initiatives in schools and workplaces, conference presentations and writing for national media outlets.
In all of these arenas Thea considers herself a long-standing Advocate of the Body in an increasingly disembodied culture that drives us to: over-ride our natural rhythms, then over-rely on artificial stimulation to get us through the day; over-write our natural physical diversity with photo-shopping or cosmetic surgery, then aspire to cruel body ideals that leave us feeling less-than. At the heart of all her work is the vision of creating body-honouring cultures at work, at school and at home, so we can all flourish.

Thea has always loved her work, because she does what she loves: challenging and reshaping the socio-cultural norms that make us sick. Since discovering napping about eight years ago while running her workplace health consultancy in Melbourne, Thea has never had to struggle through the afternoon slump again. As a Naptivist she is committed to normalising the powernap – the ultimate renewable energy practice – in our working lives.

Lisa Brown

Director

Lisa works as a Psychologist, Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) facilitator, Yoga teacher and is mother to four children, two dogs, two horses and a goat. She is inspired and completely obsessed with the possibilities for bringing about collective change through our relationships with ourselves, each other and the planet.

Lisa completed training in MBSR in Australia and in Europe with Jon Kabat-Zinn and Saki Santorelli through the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine and Healthcare at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and has been facilitating mindfulness-based training programmes in the Central West and Mid North Coast areas of New South Wales, since 2007.

Lisa is passionate about integrating mindfulness and compassion in healthcare, education and society, and the implications for stepping into our potential as human beings and developing compassionate hearts, for the wellbeing of ourselves, all beings and this extraordinary, sparkling planet.

Benn Wolhuter

Director

Benn Wolhuter has worked in ecological education for over 15 years. He has a Bachelor of Education from Southern Cross University and a Bachelor of Environmental Science from Wollongong University. A year living and teaching in rural Cambodia helped him to see the value of positive, practical approaches and inspired him to complete a Permaculture Design Certificate in 2003.

Benn has experience in youth & community work, school gardens, mentoring and personal development. He takes this practical, socio-ecological approach into his current teaching roles as a science teacher (at Coffs Coast Alesco School) and gardening teacher (at Chrysalis Steiner School).

He is passionate about living the good life in balance with Earth’s systems and is inspired by the nature-connection approach of CEL.

Benn grew up in Wollongong, NSW, and studied Environmental Science at Wollongong University. A year living and teaching in rural Cambodia helped him to see the value of positive, practical approaches and inspired him to complete a Permaculture Design Certificate in 2003. This lead into working with young people in Permaculture gardens, which in turn, lead to a variety of experiences in youth & community work, school gardens, mentoring and personal development.

Working with CEL has encouraged Benn to see the links between Permaculture and the self. He enjoys collaborating with CEL mentors to enrich his Permaculture approaches by incorporating nature-connection, deep ecology and place-based practices.

When he is not working with CEL, Benn can be found playing with his young family in a Permaculture Playground in the beautiful wilds of Thora.

Richie Brittingham

Director

Richard has over 10 years experience as a natural and cultural resource management practitioner. Since completing his undergraduate degree in Applied Science (Natural Resource Management) in 2005, he relocated to Central Australia to work for Charles Darwin University and then the Central Land Council for about 8 years. During this time, Richard coordinated many landscape scale projects incorporating science and Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (IEK), many of these projects focused on the social and cultural aspects of NRM including economic and community development. Richard consulted and developed land management agreements between Aboriginal communities and the Australian Government in order to develop and fund community ranger programs and conservation initiatives, many of these projects now have ongoing funding under the Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) and Working on Country programs. Other conservation programs he has had significant experience in, include: feral animal management programs – with a focus on large feral herbivores (horses, camels), invasive species management programs with a focus on cats and foxes, threatened species recovery projects and flora snd fauna survey work.

Since relocating to Bellingen about 3 years ago, Richard has worked for the NSW Nature Conservation Council coordinating a federally funded grant to restore cultural fire management practices on Aboriginal lands across NE NSW, this project was working on the coalface of Aboriginal land management in NSW and worked collaboratively with Government Agencies and private landholders to plan and implement prescribed burns for ecological and cultural benefits. He is currently working at the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) coordinating a comprehensive review of threatened flora of NE NSW, this review is too provide current data on threatened species likely to be impacted by development and urban growth. The project will work with expert botanists across NSW to build the most scientifically rigorous and complete dataset, this information will then be collated and fed into the Biodiversity Assessment Methodology under the new Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

Richard is currently studying a Masters degree in Protected Area Management and Governance through the University of Tasmania. As a CEL Director Im passionate to support funding opportunities that can build stronger and more resilient communities that can generate capacity to maintain, connect to and protect their local environment. This community based culture of practice will provide long-term ecosystem services through maintaining healthy rivers, soil and native vegetation.