Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Our founders and leaders are experienced entrepreneurs who understand the challenges facing rural Australia and see the potential that entrepreneurial activity and social enterprise presents for improved rural prosperity.

Our Team

team-headshots-Matt
team-headshots-Matt

Matt Pfahlert

Chief Executive Officer

Matt Pfahlert

Matt is a well-known social entrepreneur with a long-standing commitment to rural Australia

One of Australia’s pioneering social entrepreneurs, Matt is helping to shape regional and rural Australia through igniting entrepreneurship in young people and their communities.

Matt started his first social enterprise in 1993 at the age of 23, working with ‘at risk’ young people in wilderness settings. His passion and drive for positive social outcomes saw him receive the prestigious Young Australian of the Year Award in 1996.

Motivated by a desire to create prosperous, healthy, thriving communities, in 2016 as co-founder and CEO of the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE), Matt led a $2.5M community buy-back of the Old Beechworth Gaol. A neglected Australian heritage icon famed for its connection to Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang and located in Matt’s hometown. The site is being re-purposed as an exemplar of social enterprise, impact investment and rural rejuvenation through community owned assets.

team-headshots-Clayton
team-headshots-Clayton

Clayton Neil

Chief Operating Officer

Clayton Neil

Clayton has extensive experience in working in rural areas and a strong background in economic and community development

Clayton moved to North East Victoria in 2007 to take up the Cycle Tourism Development Manager role with the local council and become a trusted advisor on this issue nationally. Clayton is an avid cyclist and has a strong background in economic development, tourism, events, business development and business finance.

Clayton brings experience and skills in community development, stakeholder engagement, rural development and entrepreneurship and is leading the community buy back of the Old Beechworth Gaol.

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Cassie Elliot

Program Coordinator

Cassie Elliot

Cassie has a strong background in administration, economic development and organisational skills, working in a variety of sectors including Government and small business within the North East Region as well as the Blue Mountains, NSW.

Growing up in country Victoria, she is passionate about community development to help keep the much valued youth in the region. Cassie is working for ACRE 2 days a week and is assisting in the development of the upcoming programs available.

team-headshots-PeteE
team-headshots-PeteE

Pete Ekstedt

SENVIC

Pete Ekstedt

Pete Ekstedt is responsible for developing SENVIC programs across regional Victoria.

He is also founder and practice principal of Ekstedt Consulting, an innovative coaching and consulting practice focused on the needs of senior leaders and creative entrepreneurs.

From 2011 to 2016 Pete was CEO of a start-up charity dedicated to the development of young rural leaders in Victoria. Before that, Pete had a 20-year management career working in the insurance, banking and IT sectors. Pete has been certified to deliver entrepreneurship development programs by the Micro-Enterprise Acceleration Institute and social enterprise programs by Social Enterprise Academy Australia. He developed a passion for social enterprise in 2009/10 when he was executive sponsor of a network of 51 micro-enterprise development centres spread across the Asia-Pacific region.

Pete grew up on the Bellarine Peninsula and in Geelong. He has lived with his family in Victoria’s central highlands region for more than a decade.

team-headshots-Caz
team-headshots-Caz

Caz Humby

Operations Manager

Caz Humby

Caz has a strong background in community engagement and communications and is well recognised across the region 

Caz has worked in the government sector for over 15 years and has an excellent understanding of project delivery, strategic planning and stakeholder engagement.

Caz has also worked with a diversity of sectors across the community and has experience in team leadership and internal communications.

Caz has also worked as an educator, locally and abroad and provided support to many volunteers across the region.

team-headshots-Geordie
team-headshots-Geordie

George Gooch-Andrew

ACRE Staff

George Gooch-Andrew

Geordie worked for Geelong Grammar Timbertop campus from a young age and it was here that he discovered the long term benefit of immersing young people in the Australian mountains.

Whilst working for Timbertop Geordie was lucky enough to gain employment with the Australian outdoorgear manufacturer One Planet whilst studying environmental science at Deakin University. A perfect combination for a young man with a love for the outdoors!

After a few years with One Planet Geordie decided it was time to get back to nature and was offered a position at Mittagundi Outdoor Education Centre. Mittagundi allowed Geordie to combine his love of the mountains and wild places with young people in a practical way and played a key role in running a small pioneer style farm, in a unique education style and providing an incredible lifechanging experience for young people.

team-headshots-Hanna
team-headshots-Hanna

Hanna McCreath

Program Coordinator

Hanna McCreath

Hanna joins ACRE from a background in innovation consulting with a focus on design for social change.

Her experience spans two continents and a range of industries. Most recently, Hanna was working in Indonesia leading the establishment of a 12-month accelerator program.

Hanna brings a lens of curiosity and critique in order to understand and identify strategic opportunities for programming.

Hanna grew up on a beef and cropping farm in Queensland, before moving to Melbourne for University. She is excited to work with rural communities so that young people don’t need to leave their towns and communities to gain access to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive.

team-headshots-Pete
team-headshots-Pete

Pete Sacco

Program Manager

Pete Sacco

Peter is a highly accomplished, experiential educator, facilitator and project leader

Peter’s role is to facilitate the delivery of entrepreneurial learning and development programs aimed at accelerating and supporting youth entrepreneurship throughout rural and regional Australia.

Peter, is currently working with 22 schools across the north east of Victoria, using social enterprise as a vehicle to engage young people to develop enterprise skills and to put their ideas into practice.

Peter is inspired by the creativity and innovation found within the ideas of young people of all ages and enjoys working with communities to support young people to achieve what they are passionate about.

team-headshots-MaryAnne
team-headshots-MaryAnne

Mary Anne Scully

Program Manager Breakout Accelerator

Mary Anne Scully

Mary Anne is bringing to life a dedicated program for rural and regional innovators called the Breakout Accelerator.

Co-developed by ACRE and Second Muse (a global innovation agency), the Breakout Accelerator is a new way of connecting rural and regional creativity and drive with the power and reach of international networks, experience and expertise.

Mary Anne loves working with and supporting regional people who are striving to build thriving businesses and organisations. She is an experienced business strategist, educator and communicator.

team-headshots-Imogen

Imogen Thomas

Administration Assistant

Imogen Thomas

Imogen has an interest in supporting young people and is keen to work with the team in developing leadership and entrepreneurial skills. 

Imogen is our first trainee and has joined the team on a part time basis. Imogen has lived in Beechworth for the past couple of years whilst studying a Bachelor of Education at Swinburne University by correspondence.

Imogen brings a great energy to our team and plays an important role in the administration of our organisation.

team-headshots-you
team-headshots-you

Our Board

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Jonathan Chapman

Jonathan Chapman

Jonathan has been involved as a volunteer, leader, trustee, board member and a chair for a range of not for profit organisations and is now working with family companies, professional services practices, corporates and charities where there is a need for an executive who can bridge the gap between the different sectors. His specialist skills are in effective leadership, developing and implementing strategic plans and enhanced financial sustainability.
team-headshots-Brady

Brady Cronin

Brady Cronin

Brady is an intern member of the ACRE board. Brady is an honours research student in the agriculture sector, is passionate about creating an environmentally sustainable planet and working with rural communities to build their capacity to thrive.
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Anne Gripper

Anne Gripper

Anne has enjoyed working in leadership roles in sport for 23 years.  She is currently the Executive Director of Sport and Recreation at the NSW Office of Sport. Anne became involved in philanthropy when she founded the June Canavan Foundation in 2010.  As Chair of the Board,  she takes an active role in contributing to  raising the profile of small scale philanthropy.   She is also a Director of Cycling Australia.
team-headshots-Julia

Julia Keady

Julia Keady

Julia is a social impact strategist with 20 years’ experience in strategy, marketing, communications, fundraising and philanthropy. She is the founder of social purpose business The Xfactor Collective, and leads a growing community of specialist consultants who support individuals, enterprises and organisations to achieve their social impact goals.
team-headshots-Clayton

Clayton Neil

Clayton Neil

Clayton brings experience and skills in community development, stakeholder engagement, rural development and entrepreneurship and is leading the community buy back of the Old Beechworth Gaol. Clayton is an avid cyclist and has a strong background in economic development, tourism, events, business development and business finance.
team-headshots-Kerrie

Kerrie OBrien

Kerrie OBrien

Kerrie O’Brien is a journalist, writer and editor with more than 30 years experience. She is currently a senior writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and has covered architecture and design, the arts and entertainment, food and travel, and business and finance.
team-headshots-Matt

Matt Pfahlert

Chief Executive Officer

Matt Pfahlert

Matt has worked as business consultant specialising on projects combining economic and social benefits. This work involved strategic and business planning, organisational development, & leadership programs. For his contribution to rural Victoria and young people Matt was awarded Leadership Victoria’s – Community Leader of the Year in 2004.
team-headshots-you
team-headshots-you