Motivated by a deep sense of connectedness with all living things, Penny’s life goal is to be a catalyst for profound shifts towards a hope-filled, just and sustainable world; especially focusing on providing pathways for people to share their giftedness, enthusiasm, time and energy by collaborating with others to create the world we dream of. Penny founded the Welcome Dinner Project in 2013 and served as the NSW and National Coordinator until June 2018.
Melissa is an environmental town planner, community builder and sustainability specialist. She is the Managing Director of Suburban Town Planners, a purpose-driven town planning consultancy based in Sydney. She has developed and implemented award-winning sustainable development projects across Australia, and is on a mission to activate community cohesion and sustainable forms of living in urban spaces of the future. Melissa’s passion for revealing community as one of the defining factors to successful cities has seen her lead numerous community building programs. She is a founding member of the World Economic Forum Sydney Shaper Hub, and was the National Convener for the United National Association of Australia Young Professionals Network. She believes in a 21st century that works for every one, and every thing, and that cities will be at the heart of that revolution.
Sarah is passionate about the sustainable impact of organisations that are doing good for people and planet. She has dedicated the last two years to her role as Operations & Finance Manager at Good Environmental Choice Australia, fostering best practice in Ecolabelling to ensure consumers and specifiers have a trusted, credible and easy choice in their purchasing decisions. Sarah is convicted that best practice strategies for risk management and governance allow organisations to be resilient as they take on new challenges and ensure their impact is always in line with their values. Since starting with Good Environmental Choice Australia, they have won Best For the World in Governance two years in a row. Sarah believes that partnerships between civil society and the private sector are essential if we are to resolve the social and environmental challenges we face today.
Sophia is a Solicitor and works for a firm in Brisbane. She is experienced in family law, domestic violence, conveyancing, wills and estates and migration. Sophia is also a mother with a 13 year old and a 1 year old. Prior to law, Sophia worked in human resources, business coaching, recruitment and as a volunteer Accredited Telephone Counsellor with Lifeline. In 2014 Sophia set up Wild Horses Women’s Wellness & Empowerment and has trained women in domestic violence prevention and women’s rights in Australia and Mexico. In 2018 Sophia lived in Mexico and volunteered at migrant shelters and was part of projects to support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Sophia believes it is imperative to continue to work towards creating a world where people feel valued and welcomed regardless of their race, nationality, or skin colour.
Rachelle has a husband and two beautiful children and started her career as a Chartered Accountant. She currently works part time as the Financial Controller of a landscaping company. Rachelle was dismayed by the growing attitude of intolerance and distrust of new arrivals in Australia and wanted to do something to change that. With no prior experience in this area she believes that an open heart and a willingness to get involved is all that you need to make a difference, and loves that the Welcome Dinner Project allows ordinary people to show that there is a welcoming Australia.
Phong is a digital strategist, campaigner and designer bringing almost ten years of advocacy and campaign experience across the social change sector. Phong has served in multiple roles across organisations including Oaktree, Road to Refuge, UN Youth, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, and is currently the Community & Operations Coordinator at Australian Progress. Phong holds a BA in International Development and a Masters of International Relations. He is passionate about building a more diverse, inclusive and fairer Australia.