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

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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-MaryAnne
team-headshots-MaryAnne

Mary Anne Scully

Executive Director Innovation & Service

Mary Anne Scully

Mary-Anne Scully loves working with and supporting regional people to achieve financial independence. She is an experienced business strategist, educator and communicator.

Mary-Anne grew up on a mixed grazing and cropping property at Coolah in Central West NSW. Now based in Albury Wodonga on the NSW/Victorian border. Mary-Anne led the development of the first regional presence for Global Sisters – an organisation that is about making business possible for women who are excluded from mainstream employment due to their circumstances.

Initially trained as a broadcast journalist, Mary-Anne is adept at identifying and communicating stories and connection points that resonate with people. She later embarked on post graduate studies in environmental management to offer a communication ‘bridge’ between business, science and sustainability.

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team-headshots-Tom

Tom Colcott

Program Manager – Next Generation

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

Executive Director Delivery

Coran Johnson

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

As Executive Director Delivery, Coran leads a high-performing team to deliver learning and development programs that promote a culture of innovation and excellence, exploring new ways of supporting rural and regional Australians.

With strong links to key industry partners and a focus on forming collaborative stakeholder relationships, Coran is passionate about facilitating the growth of the social enterprise community.

team-headshots-Meg
team-headshots-Meg

Meg Allan

Project Coordinator

Meg Allan

Meg Allan, hailing from the remote town of Mallacoota, possesses a deep-rooted passion for thriving rural communities. Meg joined ACRE as the REJUVENATE Program Coordinator in 2023.

Meg’s commitment to rural futures is not limited to her professional role. She’s also a co-founder of the Wilderness Collective Mallacoota, a community-led project propelling the community towards a self-determined and sustainable future through the catalysts of enterprise, education, and co-working.

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team-headshots-Jamie

Jamie Meyer

Executive Marketing Director

Jamie Meyer

As ACRE’s Marketing Director, Jamie is passionate about harnessing her skills and experience to create a positive social impact in rural Australia, for the next generation and beyond.

Jamie brings strategic marketing, communications and community engagement experience from corporate and government sectors.

Having grown up in North East Victoria, Jamie returned to country life with her family after studying and working in Melbourne and abroad.

team-headshots-Rebecca
team-headshots-Rebecca

Rebecca Iliffe

Project Coordinator

Rebecca Iliffe

Rebecca is proud to support the delivery of the Social Enterprise Academy and ACRE’s first larger scale Social Enterprise Schools program in NSW.  ACRE is a recipient of a NSW Department of Education Student Wellbeing Innovation Fund which will see many more schools take part, extending the Social Enterprise Schools program in NSW.  In 2024, 20 primary and secondary schools across NSW will receive a fully funded and facilitated place, helping build a strong network of young enterprising people.

Rebecca is the founder of her own social enterprise, an experienced educator and secondary teacher, project manager, and an Associate Facilitator with the Social Enterprise Academy.

team-headshots-Kimmy
team-headshots-Kimmy

Kimmy Hargraves

Administration Coordinator

Kimmy Hargraves

In her role as Administration Coordinator, Kimmy is driven by a passion of helping others to be their best. She adeptly manages the day-to-day office tasks to ensure everyone has the necessary tools to excel in their roles. Kimmy’s enthusiasm for bringing people together is reflected in her thorough approach to event coordination.

Beyond the office, she spends weekends immersed in family activities. A dedicated supporter of local music, Kimmy’s adventurous spirit is evident in her love for travel, trying new experiences and new foods.

Kimmy grew up in Wodonga and raised her family there, all whilst running a small business with her husband for 18 years.

team-headshots-Sheree
team-headshots-Sheree

Sheree Mullen

Program Coordinator

Sheree Mullen

Originating from rural Virginia in the USA, Sheree has spent the last 7 years living in Australia and currently resides in the Port Stephens area of NSW. As Program Coordinator at ACRE, Sheree has a strong passion for creating positive learning and development opportunities for others.

Sheree has spent the majority of her career in outdoor and experiential education, program coordinating and facilitating across multiple sectors. Sheree’s experience spans multiple countries, fields and audience groups including recreation, not-for-profit, higher education, schools, military, volunteer, disabilities, refugees, all age groups and many different cultures.

Due to the impact of COVID-19 and starting a family her life has taken a shift into finding new and innovative ways to use her skillset of coordination, communication, and facilitation in a new capacity.

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team-headshots-PeteE

Pete Ekstedt

Executive Director - Strategic Initiatives

Pete Ekstedt

Pete Ekstedt is the son of a wool classer and a nurse. He grew up on the Bellarine Peninsula and has lived in Victoria’s central highlands since 2007. Throughout his diverse career, Pete has served as a corporate executive, charity CEO, counsellor, business coach, university lecturer, and consultant. As Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives, Pete’s keen focus lies in promoting the dignity, autonomy, and well-being of both rural communities and individuals. Pete enjoys a laugh and a good story.

team-headshots-Caroline
team-headshots-Caroline

Caroline Novak

People and Culture Manager

Caroline Novak

As ACRE’s People and Culture Manager, Caroline brings to the team a wealth of HR experience from diverse roles in Australia and abroad. Passionate about fostering positive work environments, she thrives on understanding people’s needs and helping them excel professionally. In addition to working at ACRE part-time, Caroline is also studying psychology and enjoys seeing where the course content can be applied in the workplace to positive effect.

Having recently relocated to North East Victoria with her family, Caroline is enjoying the change of pace, exploring new places and trying her hand at gardening.

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team-headshots-Sarah

Sarah Bingle

Program Manager

Sarah Bingle

Sarah has over 25 years experience in the Community Services, Arts, Allied Health, Local Government and Education sectors developing and coordinating a diverse range of community based programs. As ACRE’s Program Manager – Learning and Development, Sarah supports the delivery of learning and development programs offered by Social Enterprise Academy Australia.

Sarah’s lifelong learning journey began with a Humanities Degree and a Degree in Theatre Making at the Victorian College of the Arts, followed by a Masters Degree in Regional Education and Community Development.

Throughout her career Sarah has achieved notable milestones, such as coordinating Arts Education programs for adults with disabilities at the Abbotsford Convent with Interact Australia and overseeing the Green Wedge Exhibition at Mornington Peninsula Shire. Sarah worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, children and families to revitalise traditional languages and cultural practices, earning recognition through the State Library of Victoria Margery Ramsay Scholarship in 2016.

Sarah has contributed to various initiatives, including evaluating the South Sudanese Homework Learning Support Initiative and supporting Aboriginal-focused HIPPY Sites across multiple states.

The impact of COVID-19 brought forward Sarah’s long held dream to study Horticulture and develop her own plot of land for flower farming in regional Victoria. The move led to opportunities with Hepburn Shire Council’s Artisan Agriculture Project and selling her flowers and bouquets to her local community.

team-headshots-jeff
team-headshots-jeff

Jeff Adair

General Manager Typo Station

Jeff Adair

Jeff, a seasoned manager and practitioner, has spent 27 years in Emergency Services in Victoria, including a decade with CFA as Regional Manager of Community Safety and 17 years with 000, where he served as both the Geospatial Manager and Manager of Automatic Fire Alarms.

Jeff specialties include Emergency and Community Safety planning as well as spatial data collection and processing. Jeff has recently retired from 000 Victoria.

Beyond his emergency services roles, Jeff has diversified his skills and experiences in Youth development programs. He has notably served as a former advisor to the Typo Station board during its formative years. Jeff has also delved into corporate leadership and team development, contributing to both the private and public sectors.

Jeff’s interests are broad, reflecting his extensive experiences. He has explored the Asian subcontinent and Africa, leveraging his background as a former adventure tour guide in SE Australia during a previous chapter of his life.

team-headshots-samantha
team-headshots-samantha

Samantha Menzies

Facilitator (Delivery)

Samantha Menzies

Samm has collected over 25 years’ experience in the Disability, Arts, Health and Community Services sectors developing, facilitating and coordinating a diverse range of community based programs and workshops.

Throughout her career, in her capacity as a facilitating artist Samm has worked alongside youth and adults at risk, and with adults with diverse intellectual and physical needs.  In addition to her Artist qualifications, Samm is a qualified Counsellor and has, in her past been a Registered Nurse, and in both capacities, being drawn to working with ageing adults both in clinical and community settings.  Samm has also worked in both mainstream and specialist education settings, as a project based Artist and in her capacity as Counsellor.

Behind the scenes, Samm manages her nature based Creative Residencies business, which invites people to spend time in and around the great outdoors, to work on their own creative endeavours while all the “other things” are taken care of.  The endless beauty of the North East of Victoria has been a lifelong inspiration and is the place that most deeply resonates with Samm. She feels so lucky to be able to share her “home” with others.

Working creatively, listening intentionally and with consideration to others and their stories, and finding “outside of the box” solutions to life’s puzzles are the motivations that drive Samm.   In her role as a Facilitator for ACRE, Samm is excited to use her passion for communicating and sharing knowledge in an inspiring, meaningful and inclusive way.

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team-headshots-you

Our Board

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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.

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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 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-tiffany
team-headshots-tiffany

Tiffany Winters

Tiffany Winters

Tiffany is a proud Murrawari First Nations, born and raised on the lands of the Ngemba people in Far North West NSW.

Holding a BA in Community and Social Development and a Diploma in Aboriginal Studies, she champions the integration of Indigenous knowledge with modern social entrepreneurship. Her advocacy extends towards sustainable and inclusive business practices that honor cultural heritage while fostering community empowerment.

Through her innovative approach, Tiffany is redefining rural entrepreneurship in Australia, blending traditional wisdom with contemporary business models for a more sustainable and inclusive future. Her leadership is pivotal in promoting economic innovation that respects and preserves Indigenous values.

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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.

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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.

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Jacyl Shaw

Jacyl Shaw

Bringing over two decades of expertise spanning industry, government, and higher education, Jacyl is the Executive Director of Harpswell a Foundation that advances young women leaders across South East Asia with education, training and supportive networks.

Her diverse professional background includes roles as a global director of innovation, higher education strategic adviser, corporate lawyer, and Supreme Court Judges’ Associate. Jacyl holds a BA, LLB, LLM, and a Masters in Enterprise. An accomplished MC, speaker and facilitator, Jacyl is passionate about purpose oriented leadership and making complexity accessible through creative storytelling.

ACRE Board Alumni

The ACRE Board and Organisation is incredibly grateful for the dedication of past serving Board members, who over the years have generously committed their time and expertise, helping ACRE to become the purpose driven social enterprise that it is today.

team-headshots-Clayton
team-headshots-Clayton

Clayton Neil

ACRE Co-Founder, COO & Board Director, 2013 – 2023

Clayton Neil

ACRE Co-Founder, COO & Board Director, 2013 – 2023  

Co-Founder of ACRE, for more than a decade Clayton Neil shaped the vision and growth of ACRE, alongside Matt Pfahlert. Drawing from his extensive experience in economic and community development, cycle tourism, rural development, business finance and stakeholder engagement, Clayton has been instrumental in steering the organisation forward. His strengths in financial management and strategic focus on business expansion played a pivotal role in securing funding for ACRE and building a sustainable social enterprise model. The sector continues to benefit from Clayton’s leadership in his role as General Manager of Commercial at Merriwa Industries.

team-headshots-Jonathan
team-headshots-Jonathan

Jonathon Chapman

ACRE Board Director & Chair, 2013 - 2022

Jonathon Chapham

ACRE Board Director & Chair, 2013 – 2022

For close to a decade, Jonathan Chapman committed himself to the ACRE Board, serving in various capacities, notably as founding Chair. His tenure was marked by a wealth of knowledge, mentoring and guidance, drawing from his background as a non-for-profit profit CEO, chartered accountant at PwC in London and Melbourne, and an Executive in Property and Investment.

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Adrian Appo

ACRE Board Director, 2015 – 2018

Adrian Appo

ACRE Board Director, 2015 – 2018

Adrian Appo is a Gooreng Gooreng Man from South East Queensland, who during his five years on the ACRE Board Adrian contributed a wealth of insight and knowledge to guide the early development of ACRE.

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Julia Keady

Board Director, 2018 - 2023

Julia Keady

Board Director, 2018 – 2023

Julia Keady dedicated five years of service to the ACRE Board, bringing her invaluable expertise as a social impact strategist to the table. Her contributions were pivotal in enhancing the ACRE brand, spearheading fundraising efforts, and forging crucial philanthropic alliances.