The Board

Penny Elsley

Penny Elsley

Founder

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.

Rachelle Rose

Rachelle Rose

Board Director

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.
Katriina Tahka

Katriina Tahka

Board Chairperson

Katriina is a globally recognised diversity & inclusion strategist, advisor and facilitator. She brings a wealth of expertise to the human resources industry with 20 years of experience in employment law, talent management, leadership and diversity & inclusion across many sectors and industries. Katriina is the Co-CEO of A Human Agency, helping organisations connect with their people and realise their goals. Katriina is passionate about intercultural dialogue, inclusion and diversity, and is delighted to be a part of the Joining the Dots team helping to spread the transformative power of the Welcome Dinner Project.

Sarah Sannen

Sarah Sannen

Board Director

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.

Darshana Parek

Darshana Parek

Board Director

Darshana is a commercial lawyer based in Sydney currently working with a travel retail operator and has been a lawyer since 2007. She has a Masters in Intellectual Property Law and has worked across 3 capital cities within Australia. Darshana is acutely aware of
diversity in society having a positive impact on the lives of both immigrants and locals. Coming from an Indian background, Darshana is committed to the mission of The Welcome Dinner Project as she believes in the power of conversation over a warm meal to resolve differences and understand one another. In her spare time, Darshana enjoys reading, Pilates and cups of tea. She is about to begin an MBA through the University of Sydney’s Women in Leadership program.

Lina Mbirkou

Lina Mbirkou

Board Director

Lina is an accomplished facilitator, trainer and presenter. She holds a Master of Commerce, an MBA and a Certificate IV in training and assessment and is highly experienced in design thinking and emergent methods for collective systemic transformation such as Theory U. A former Marketing and Communication executive and university lecturer in marketing principles and consumer behaviour, Lina has spent the last 8 years coaching leaders and facilitating deep dialogue and transformative processes. Her methods develop authentic leadership and build the capability of teams to cultivate a collective way of seeing, doing and being.

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