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.

You can hear about Matt and his social enterprise journey in this ABC Radio interview:

The Conversation Hour: social enterprise talkback forum

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.

team-headshots-Cassie
team-headshots-Cassie

Cassie Elliott

ACRE Initiatives Lead

Cassie Elliott

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.

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team-headshots-Joh-1

Joh Lyons

Regional Manager SENVIC

Joh Lyons

Joh Lyons joined the ACRE team in November 2021. As Regional Manager SENVIC Social Enterprise Network Victoria Joh works alongside regional SENVIC leads to build a connected community of social enterprises, facilitate access to learning and development opportunities, and increase the voice and influence of social enterprise across Victoria.

Joh is a proud and active member of the Gippsland social enterprise community where she was the founder of The VRI, a creative community space in Traralgon. Her work at The VRI included development of Digital Shed (digital literacy project), Alt Art (emerging artist collective) and Serving the Valley (pre-accredited hospitality training course) and a number of related community building activities. Joh is co-director of ReActivate and has worked on transition for Latrobe Valley through events, farmers markets, #GetSunflowered and the Impact Boom x ReActivate Masterclass for Social Enterprises.

team-headshots-Chris
team-headshots-Chris

Chris Hayes

Site Host - Typo Station

Chris Hayes

Chris brings a wide range of practical skills and extensive experience in working in the outdoor industry to his new role at Typo Station, including running camps for a wide range of clients.

A local to the region, Chris attended Xavier High School in Albury and then went on to complete a Bachelor Applied Science in Outdoor Recreation and Ecotourism.

Chris and his partner Lleweller relocated to the King Valley in 2021 and are excited to support the activation of the Typo Station site over time.

team-headshots-Pete
team-headshots-Pete

Peter Sacco

General Manager Social Enterprise Academy Australia

Peter Sacco

Peter Sacco is the General Manager of Social Enterprise Academy Australia.

Peter has a background in business management, social enterprise and the delivery of entrepreneurial learning and development programs aimed at accelerating and supporting youth and community – led entrepreneurship and working with people and organisations who are working for social purpose across Australia.

Highly experienced in project management, community and stakeholder engagement, facilitation, social enterprise development and enterprise education for young people.  Peter is inspired by the creativity and innovation found within the ideas of people of all ages and enjoys working with youth and communities to support them to achieve what they are passionate about.

Over the last 20 years Peter has delivered a broad range of successful community based natural resource management and community capacity building initiatives in Australia and internationally.

team-headshots-MaryAnne
team-headshots-MaryAnne

Mary Anne Scully

Marketing 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-Tom
team-headshots-Tom

Tom Colcott

Learning Coordinator - Social Enterprise Schools

Tom Colcott

Tom Colcott started working with young people after he left school, firstly at American summer camps. Back in Australia, he joined the education department team at Zoos Victoria for eight years and then taught at Somers School camp on the Mornington Peninsula for four years.

As our Social Enterprise Schools Learning Coordinator, Tom is supporting young change makers by ensuring high quality delivery and ongoing expansion of the program nationally, and tapping into professional links and resources available across the global Social Enterprise Academy network. The role is a perfect fit for Tom who is passionate about young people being empowered in their learning and believing in their ability to make the changes to the world that they see as important.

Tom grew up in Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula. He and his wife relocated to North East Victoria in 2020 as they wanted their children to grow up in a connected rural community.

team-headshots-Coran
team-headshots-Coran

Coran Johnson

Learning Coordinator - Social Enterprise Academy Australia

Coran Johnson

Coran grew up in a close-knit community in Gippsland, Victoria and shares ACRE’s passion for thriving rural communities.

As Learning Coordinator, Coran supports delivery of learning and development programs offered by Social Enterprise Academy Australia, links with key industry partners and facilitates the growth of the social enterprise community.

team-headshots-Karla
team-headshots-Karla

Karla Florance

Business & Impact Lead

Karla Florance

Karla has a strong background in Innovation, Strategy and Performance Management.

With experience in working for a number of multinationals, Karla prides herself on her work ethic, clear communication and ability to form strong relationships with her team and stakeholders to align on a solution.

Karla will be responsible for providing organisational accountability for the pipeline of work across ACRE to ensure that all commitments and obligations for customers are met. Karla will also play a critical role in the successful development, design and implementation of bids, applications and proposals over the next three months.

Karla grew up in Melbourne and she and her family relocated to Beechworth at the end of 2020.  She shares ACRE’s passion to drive the renewal of Rural communities for her children and future generations to come.

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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.
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Brady Cronin

Brady Cronin

Brady is passionate about creating an environmentally sustainable planet and working with rural communities to build their capacity to thrive.

A Monash University Environmental Science graduate who originates from Maffra, Brady brings a wide breath of experience in science communication, research, leadership and social enterprise education to the ACRE Board.

As Program Coordinator of Youthrive Victoria, Brady delivers leadership and mentoring programs to empower rural young people to lead great lives.

team-headshots-Anne

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 this Foundation,  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-Andrew

Andrew Mair

Andrew Mair

Andrew commenced as ACRE Board meeting minute taker in March 2021. A final year law and commerce student with a strong interest in innovation and community development, Andrew brings experience drawn from a range of team situations and roles, including government and in-house legal internships, customer service and community representation. In previous internships with Telstra and Aboriginal Victoria, Andrew developed his professional abilities and experienced a diverse range of legal environments, leading to new passions in both technology in law and strengthening advocacy for Indigenous Australians. Andrew approached ACRE with an offer to support governance as he is continuing to seek experiences to expand his professional skills, develop new connections, and contribute his unique and forever growing set of skills and passions.
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

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