Our People

The Tranby Aboriginal Co-operative has always been about working together to make change happen.

For 65 years the Tranby campus has been a community meeting place where Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples come together to share a cuppa, a yarn and skills, to positively impact community. We are an inclusive workplace that values diversity, flexibility and creativity. We are proud to be led by community in all that we create, teach and do.

The Board

Kristy Masella

CHAIRPERSON

Jason Whitty

DIRECTOR

Katriina Heikkanen

SECRETARY

Hagbarth Strom

BOARD MEMBER

Krista Christensen

BOARD MEMBER

Lara Tzafaris

BOARD MEMBER

Glendra Stubbs

Board Member

The Tranby Team

Dr Belinda Russon

Chief Executive Officer

Emma Griggs

Acting Chief Operations Officer

Dirk Drieberg

Academic Director

Eleesa Collis

Program Manager/Learning Designer

Dion Barnett

Trainer

Nancy Davis

Compliance Director

Jacinta Bailey

Research and Community Projects Manager

Tony Duke

Project Manager BLACKBOOKS

Bernice Hookey

Lead Yanalangami Facilitator

Kylie Hannah

Office Manager

Jenni Mattila

Government Relations and Policy Director

Alan Pringle

Maintenance Co-Ordinator

Dr Lisa Sarzin

Partnerships consultant

Jordan Smith

Student Support Officer, Burawa project

Adam Doughty

Digital Projects Officer

Mi-kaisha Masella

Social Media Co-ordinator

Evie Peterson

Student Support Officer

Gavin Ivey

OutLOUD project co-ordinator

Brendan Loizou

Cultural Mentor and Project Manager
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Kristy Masella

Chairperson

Kristy Masella is a Murri woman from Rockhampton, Dharumbal country in Central Queensland. She has been an active member of the Tranby Board of Directors since 2009, a former CEO of Tranby and is currently our Chairperson. Kristy has worked in Aboriginal affairs at the local, regional and state level for more than 25 years across many portfolios in both NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory. She is the CEO of the national Indigenous recruitment and training company AES and is also the Chairperson of Wunanbiri Incorporated, one of the most successful independent Aboriginal community preschools in NSW.

Jason Whitty

DIRECTOR

Jason Whitty has established himself as a leader in the field of Inclusion and Diversity, with a particular passion and focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. With experience in roles across Banking and Finance, and most recently State Government, Jason is currently Head of Inclusion & Diversity for Transport for NSW. Jason’s focus is to ensure everyone has the opportunity to make an effective contribution at work and in their community – to make a difference that really matters. As Jawun secondee at Tranby in 2015, Jason worked closely with our CEO on a number of key initiatives, including Tranby’s rebrand, and is proud to continue to represent Tranby as a board member since that time.

Katriina Heikkanen

Secretary

Katriina Heikkanen is a proud Worimi woman from Forster on the mid-north coast of NSW. She has Finnish heritage on her fathers side and grew up on Darug land in Sydney. Katriina has been working across Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander programs, policy and community development for over 20 years.

Currently employed as the Indigenous & Social Policy Manager within the AFL, she works across several portfolios including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders issues, Gender Diversity and racism. Prior to that she was a Senior Manager in the Commonwealth Government, overseeing Indigenous Employment and Economic Development.

Katriina Co-Chairs the Community Resource Board which runs social enterprises that deliver community services. Katriina is passionate about children, community, education and sports. A career highlight has been developing nutrition and health education programs for school age students.

Hagbarth Strom

Board Member

Hagbarth ‘Haggy’ Strom is a commercial lawyer currently working for Perpetual Limited. He was a lawyer at Clayton Utz and French bank Societe Generale and prior to this, he consulted for Wall Street banks. Haggy is originally from Norway and moved to Australia in 2003. Since then, Haggy has been keenly interested in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs and completed a Native Title legal internship in WA in 2006. In 2015 he spent several months in a remote Cape York community, working closely with traditional owners on a strategic plan for management of their lands as part of the Jawun programme.

Krista Christensen

Board Member

Krista Christensen is a proud Aboriginal woman from Sydney and a descendant of the Worimi people of Forster and Dhunghatti people of Kempsey. She has many years’ experience working with diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across NSW. Krista currently lives in Cairns, and her business National Capital Refunds works with Aboriginal organisations to reclaim lost money across Australia. Her work with committees has helped Indigenous people in the criminal justice system. Krista holds Tranby close to her heart since graduating with her Diploma in National Indigenous Legal Studies and then with the Organisational Leadership Excellence for Aboriginal Leaders and Managers Program.

Lara Tzafaris

Board Member

Glendra Stubbs

Board Member

Aunty Glendra Stubbs is a Wiradjuri Woman and Elder in Residence at Tranby and a current Tranby Board Member.

A founding member of Link-Up – an organisation established to reunite families separated through past welfare policies, and the CEO for many years, Aunty Glendra has spent more than 40 years providing advice and practical assistance to survivors of trauma.

Aunty Glendra is a former NAIDOC Person of The Year and her community efforts and strong voice have seen her awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to the Indigenous community.

Dr Belinda Russon

Chief Executive Officer

Belinda is a proud descendant of the Yugambeh nation and a passionate social justice activist who has worked as the CEO of Tranby Aboriginal Co-operative Limited (Tranby) since 2012. Previously, she worked as a lawyer for Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre in Sydney.

Belinda leads the Tranby team who work actively to create educational opportunities and develop effective community projects for and with our Community. Tranby’s overarching vision is to educate Community, encourage achievement and empower our Mob. Tranby has always been a place rich in stories and memories and recently received a grant to make Tranby a Keeping Place of Indigenous Knowledges- a place to make and share our Indigenous stories.

As the Chair of the Rona Tranby Trust, Belinda is committed to working with Community to support the recording and preservation of Indigenous Australian Oral Histories.

A current board member of the Alliance of First Nations Independent Education & Training Providers, a national peak body, Belinda and the board work with other Indigenous education organisations to ensure that the educational interests of Community are well represented and that self-determination and cultural wellbeing is prioritised.

Belinda is a Fulbright scholar and Churchill fellow and holds a Bachelor of Arts (USYD), Bachelor of Laws (UTS) and an LLM and SJD (UNSW).

Belinda is also the mother of three boys and is an intrepid traveller and avid reader.

Emma Griggs

Acting Chief Operations Officer

Emma is a proud Wiradjuri woman, and her family descends from Sofala NSW. She has brought to Tranby 20 years of experience working in different government sectors including the arts, emergency response, and healthcare. She specialises in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (identified and targeted) human resource development, administration management, cultural inclusion and awareness facilitation.

Emma is responsible for partnership and relationship building for Tranby, and managing the execution and delivery of day to-day operational activities for Tranby’s campus and projects.

Emma’s interests include social justice, animal welfare, geology, horticulture, painting and she has recently started to learn traditional Aboriginal weaving practice.

Dirk Drieberg

Academic Director

Dirk has been involved since 1980 in education and training practice, administration and
management across private and community sectors. He has specialist skills in managing
curriculum development from conceptualisation through to accreditation, implementation
and continuous improvement.

From 1980 to 1993 Dirk worked at the Australian Institute of Music, first as a teacher, and then Deputy Director, in 1989. In 1993 he became Accreditation Officer for the ACE NSW Accreditation Project and later the Manager of Adult and Community Education Training and Consultancy, the professional development division of the Evening and Community Colleges Association.

In 1994 Dirk established Praxis Learning which assists other education and training providers with course accreditation and provider registration.

Since 1998 Dirk has been Academic Director, Compliance Manager and Accreditation
Manager for a number of clients.

‘A great teacher makes complex things simple and makes simple things complex.’

Eleesa Collis

Program Manager/Learning Designer

Eleesa Collis has been working with Tranby since 2015 as the Learning Designer. She works with the Academic team to design and coordinate Tranby’s accredited courses. Through more than 25 years in Vocational Education and Training, Eleesa has experience in training delivery and assessment, program development and coordination, instructional design, training gap analysis, subject matter expert consultation and compliance.

Eleesa spent some years training in Aboriginal communities, primarily in Northern Australia. This work involved coordinating, writing, training and assessing for qualifications in Conservation and Land Management. These programs were designed to support people to stay on Country as rangers and with initiatives such as Caring for Country.

‘Working at Tranby makes you feel like you’re making a worthwhile contribution to education and to Aboriginal self-determination.’

Dion Barnett

Teacher

Uncle Dion is a highly qualified teacher and much loved at Tranby. Dion is the son of a Wulgurakaba woman and currently lives on the lands of the Yuwibara peoples in Sarina, Queensland. He has a Bachelor of Education, a Diploma of Business Administration, a Diploma in Training and Assessment Systems, and a Diploma in Project Management. And, of course, his Diploma of Business Governance at Tranby.

Before working with Tranby, Dion was with the Queensland Department of Aboriginal Affairs for 13 years and then worked in various roles for Queensland and WA TAFE. He re-joined TAFE Queensland and was Manager of the Indigenous and South Sea Islander Support Unit.
Roles at Tranby have included Program Manager, as well as teaching Aboriginal Studies, Governance and Community Development. Dion has also written content for courses such as Community Development and Aboriginal Studies and has promoted Tranby courses and developed links with govt and non-govt entities.

‘I always stress that I am not an expert on the content I deliver because I also learn so much from the experiences that students share in class.’

Nancy Davis

Compliance Director

Nancy Davis is our Compliance Manager, ensuring that Tranby’s operations comply with the required standards for registered training organisations.  Nancy works closely with the
Tranby management team and staff to ensure that the above responsibilities are
completed in line with the necessary Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)
requirements. She is a valued member who has drawn on her depth of experience and
expertise to enable a resilient and robust compliance landscape for Tranby over the last seven
years.

Nancy has a background in applied science and first started working with Indigenous students in 2002, on Aboriginal Community Ranger courses. The courses were run in association with a number of Local Aboriginal Land Councils and the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney and
taught students how to protect and manage land.

‘Learning is a journey, not a destination, and we should all be travelling for life.’

Jacinta Bailey

Research and Community Projects Manager

Jacinta is an enthusiastic and driven researcher who is passionate about community-led
development, life-long learning, gender equity, environmental sustainability and Indigenous rights, both in Australia and abroad.

Originally starting as a Tranby research volunteer in 2017, Jacinta has since created and
implemented a variety of projects for Tranby students and community. Her core objective is to bring people together and expand our community engagement through big-picture projects that educate, achieve and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
With her passion for community-led change and educational empowerment, Jacinta has
lived and worked with the Achuar Peoples of Kuserua in the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador, where she assists the community to run a small not for profit school that empowers their community through language learning on country and through Indigenous pedagogies.

‘Aboriginal controlled and community-led education opportunities are vital if we are to create meaningful change.’

Tony Duke

Project Manager BLACKBOOKS

Tony’s professional practice is framed in a demonstrated commitment to participatory development and the strength-based narrative of First Nations sovereignty and self-determination. Throughout his career he has worked with people and for communities to affirm identity, strengthen culture, create opportunity and enhance the sustainability of lives and livelihoods. Tony has worked in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literary and publishing sector since 1990, when he was the Manager for Blackbooks at Tranby. He has worked with the First Nations Australia Writers Network (FNAWN) as Producer for their 2013, 2015 and 2018 national workshops.

Tony is proud to be working to re-establish BLACKBOOKS as the premier Aboriginal owned and controlled social enterprise that aggregates, distributes and sells culturally appropriate and authentic First Nations Australia literature, educational resources and cultural product.

‘It is a privilege to be working back at Tranby at a time when Australians are starting to acknowledge and embrace the truth-telling that is essential to a just and equitable future for all Australians’

Bernice Hookey

Lead Yanalangami Facilitator

Bernice is a proud Waanyi woman, mum and Changemaker. She is an accomplished speaker, author, mentor and leader. While a student at Tranby, Bernice learned new business skills and enhanced her confidence as a leader by learning alongside other Aboriginal students from around the country.

After completing her studies, she embarked on a journey of leadership and founded MZB Empowerment to improve the quality of life for Mob. She is a voice for the voiceless. In her work as our Lead Yanalangami Facilitator, Bernice seeks to strengthen the empowerment of individuals through unique program delivery in a culturally safe environment. Bernice is committed to walking with other women along their leadership journeys and supporting them to thrive.

‘Tranby is a meeting place where mob gather and learn in a community of inspiring people’

Kylie Hannah

Office Manager

Kylie is a mother of three and a proud Wiradjuri woman, raised in Botany, NSW.

Since 2016, Kylie has worked across many large corporations in the Advertising and Media sector supporting C-suite Executives. She is Tranby’s Office Manager and wears many hats, ensuring smooth running of the national office and all its administration, including venue hire events, students’ engagement, community needs, social media and much more. Kylie takes pride in ensuing all experiences and needs are delivered and met at the highest standard.

Kylie runs a non-profit creative copy school organisation. She has a passion for the ocean, fishing, sport, the bush, cooking, painting and knitting, and most of all enjoys being with family and friends.

‘I am proud to be working at Tranby, connecting with community where I feel that there is a greater sense of purpose and the energy.’

Jenni Mattila

Government Relations and Policy Director

Jenni Mattila has worked with Tranby since 2014, initially focussing on Tranby’s specialised corporate governance requirements as a co-operative. Jenni acts as the returning officer at Tranby’s annual general meetings. Jenni has worked with our CEO Belinda Russon on Indigenous VET policy development, proposals and Productivity Commission and other Government submissions, funding requests and grant applications. Jenni has a strong affinity with remote and regional communities having worked for a few decades in Kununurra and Carnarvon in WA, Cairns, the Burdekin and Mackay in Qld and the Murrumbidgee in NSW and other areas around Australia.

‘Adult education is all about being willing to give it a go – it can change your life.’

Alan Pringle

Maintenance Co-Ordinator

Alan began working at Tranby in early 2018 as a volunteer, doing many general maintenance jobs. Soon after completing much needed painting and other aesthetic jobs in preparation for Tranby’s 60th anniversary, he became an employee. Alan loves the feel of the beautiful Tranby campus and feels that his enjoyment of working there is visible in the work he does.

Alan has a variety of skills and has held licences in several building trades, including electrics and air conditioning. In his spare time, Alan can be found at the beach – rain, hail or shine. He wishes to remain an integral part of the team at Tranby for as long as they need him.

‘I love life and have the fortune of being part of a team that supports me in many ways.’

Dr Lisa Sarzin

Partnerships consultant

Lisa works part-time at Tranby supporting community initiatives and developing external relationships and partnerships with organisations that share Tranby’s values and that wish to support Tranby into the future. She invites individuals, communities and organisations to work and walk together with Tranby to achieve greater impact.

Lisa has a Bachelor of Business and a First-Class Honours degree in Law from UTS, a Master of Laws from the University of Sydney, a PhD from UTS, and has won numerous academic awards. She serves as an independent director on the Board of three not-for-profits in an honorary capacity, including the Rona Tranby Trust which supports the recording and preservation of Indigenous Australian oral history. Lisa is the co-author of Hand in Hand: Jewish and Indigenous people working together (2010).

‘I am passionate about sharing Tranby’s story, especially its success in creating positive social change through education and social action.’

Jordan Smith

Student Support Officer, Burawa project

Jordan Smith is a proud Wiradjuri woman living and working on Dharawal Country. She is currently working on the Burawa project as the Student Support Officer. Jordan has an extensive administrative background working with community and vulnerable people. Her administrative career started at Sutherland Mental Health where she would complete a Certificate III in Business Administration. Jordan then went onto employment with Aboriginal Affairs where she had the opportunity to be the first point of contact for community and members of the Stolen Generation. Before securing her position with Tranby, Jordan worked for the Department of Communities and Justice as the Casework Support in Child Protection working with community and families. Jordan has a passion for delivering effective communication to aid Mob to access support.

‘I am proud to be a part of Tranby and assist with offering culturally safe and appropriate education opportunities for Aboriginal people, helping to empower Mob to achieve their goals.’

Adam Doughty

Digital Projects Officer

Adam is our Digital Projects Officer, supporting students digitally and enabling Tranby to implement online course delivery. Working within the academic team, Adam optimises the digital use of course materials and seeks to enhance the student online experience.
As a Queer and Non-Binary person, Adam is passionate about intersectional allyship and cross-community support of marginalised groups. Equity and Equality can only be achieved if none of us get left behind.

Having a background in Fine Arts & Australian Indigenous studies, Adam has a keen interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and in particular, has spent time researching and exploring the overlap between Australia’s Aboriginal and LGBTQIA+ history.

‘In the process of uplifting ourselves we must also uplift and support those around us.’

Mi-kaisha Masella

Social Media Co-ordinator

Mi-kaisha is a Darumbal Murri and Tongan woman whose community connections stretch from Rockhampton to Sydney and even across the Pacific, to New York City. Mi-kaisha is an alum of Tranby’s Applied Aboriginal Studies Course and is passionate about using social media as a tool to share the diverse experiences and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and to amplify First Nations voices in the education, arts and political sectors. When Mi-kaisha isn’t working in an administrative and social media capacity, she is writing songs, performing and recording music. She is currently completing a Bachelor of Recorded Music at New York University.

‘Tranby is about blak self-determination in its most powerful form – education on our own terms’

Evie Peterson

Student Support Officer

Evie is the Student Support Officer at Tranby. She is responsible for student engagement, retention and progression through supporting and liaising with students during their academic journey at Tranby. Evie’s role also includes assisting the Academic team with course administration and planning.

Evie recently graduated from a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Indigenous Studies at the University of New South Wales after completing her thesis which explored public perceptions of a proposed Indigenous Voice to parliament. She has previously worked closely with First Nations students through UNSW’s tutoring program and is committed to contributing effectively and thoughtfully to the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s educational opportunities and outcomes.

‘Tranby is an exciting and empowering community to be a part of. It provides an opportunity for individuals to invest in themselves and their communities.’

Gavin Ivey

OutLOUD project co-ordinator

Born in Lismore NSW, Gavin (aka NAIAN) is a proud Bundjalung Aboriginal South Sea Islander man with an extensive background in community radio and arts, having been involved with the community radio sector for over 20+ years.

He is a graduate of NAISDA Dance College (Sydney), Moving Into Dance Mophatong Wa Thabo (Johannesburg), and The Australian
Ballet School (Melbourne).

Gavin produces The Drift Zone Podcasts including The Drift Zone at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Fair Day 2021 available via Spotify.

He has been a board member of the Community Media Training Organization, First Nations Media Australia (FMNA) and Positive Life NSW and Gadigal Information Services Aboriginal Corporation.

In 2021, Gavin founded The Current Motion, a volunteer online LGBTIQA+ Radio Station that broadcasts across Australia.

Currently Gavin is producing the outLOUD Podcasts with Blackbooks, a division of Tranby Aboriginal Cooperative in Glebe.

Brendan Loizou

Cultural Mentor and Project Manager

Brendan Loizou is a Warlpiri man and Traditional Owner on his grandmother and mother’s side for Malikijarra – Dog Dreaming – near Ali Currung in the Northern Territory. Brendan previously taught the ATSILA course at Tranby. Brendan most recently was a consultant for the Western Australian Aboriginal Stolen Generations Corporation (trading as Yokai) providing policy advice and appeared before the Senate inquiry into the Institutionalised Sexual Abuse Redress Scheme. He was policy officer at the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages designing policy for First Nations linguistic self-determination. He worked for the Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching designing recommendations for Indigenising Monash University’s curriculum. Brendan also worked as a criminal lawyer for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency.

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