Lena Nahlous Executive Director, Diversity Arts Australia
Lena became Executive Director of Diversity Arts Australia in 2016. She has over 20 years’ experience in arts, cultural and media organisations, and has managed screen and digital media–based initiatives that have engaged thousands of people, particularly women, refugees, migrants and young people.
Lena was formerly the Executive Director of Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE) in Western Sydney for over 10 years. Under Lena’s leadership ICE grew tenfold financially and in terms of projects and scope. Lena established Artfiles, an employment and engagement program for artists, the Switch Digital Arts Centre and co-founded the Arab Film Festival. Other roles include Manager of Auburn Community Development Network and Social History and Exhibitions Curator at Fairfield City Museum and Gallery.
In 2006 she was a recipient of an Asialink Arts Fellowship to Hong Kong and in 2008 completed the Asialink Leadership program. She has sat on the NSW Government Arts Advisory Committee, participated in the Australia 2020 Summit, was a finalist in the CEO of the Year Awards (2008), and was named as one of Sydney’s 100 Creative Catalysts by Creative Sydney/VIVID (2007). Lena has taught at South West Sydney Institute of TAFE and was a special consultant on the Culture Beats program for the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and the City of Sydney. She also sits on the board of the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
Kevin Bathman Producer — Projects and Events
Born in Kuala Lumpur, Kevin Bathman is a visual designer, storyteller, curator, writer and social change advocate based in Sydney. He is interested in using creativity to address environmental, cultural and social justice issues, and believes that the arts is an untapped avenue for catalysing change. As the founder of social enterprise, Coalition of Mischief, Kevin has worked on numerous social justice projects with not-for-profit and arts organisations to help them communicate their message more effectively.
His main areas of interest include multiculturalism, sustainability, storytelling and the arts. In 2010, he commemorated the life of the late Yasmin Ahmad, the Malaysian film maker and visionary with his visual arts and film exhibition, ‘In Her Own Words: A Celebration of Humanity and Universal Love’, that toured in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Melbourne. In 2013, he co-founded an arts initiative called Carnival of the Bold, a festival and movement of social change through the arts. Since 2012, Kevin has been researching the history, connections and crosscultural stories between the Chinese and Indian culture for his project, The Chindian Diaries. In 2014, it showcased as part of Parramasala, a South Asian Arts festival in Sydney and in 2016, he showcased the Chindians of Auburn, to highlight the growing Chinese and Indian families in the Auburn area in Sydney.
Rani Haywood Marketing and Digital Consultant
Rani Haywood is a marketing consultant with extensive experience in cultural and arts marketing in Australian and the United States. From 2012-2014 Rani was the Senior Marketing Manager for New York City’s leading not-for-profit theatre producer, Roundabout Theatre Company. In Sydney, Rani has led marketing and communications teams at Sydney Writers’ Festival, the Australia Council for the Arts, Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. She regularly presents at conferences and has lectured in tertiary institutions in both Australia and the United States. Rani was recently appointed to the board of Brand X, and previously served as a director on the board of de Quincey co.
Sonia Mehrmand Admin and Communications Officer
Sonia Mehrmand received her Master’s degree in Public History and Museum Studies at the University of California, Riverside. She’s passionate about increasing access to the arts and cultural resources. During her graduate studies, Sonia discovered her interest in recording oral histories as a way to diversify the historical narrative of her home city, Los Angeles. She collected interviews for a variety of projects, including one that focused on a former resident of Chavez Ravine, which is now the site of Los Angeles’ Dodger’s baseball stadium. She also co-curated an exhibit entitled “States of Incarceration”, which explored mass incarceration in the United States. Her area of focus was on the phenomenon called the “school to prison pipeline”. For this exhibit, she interviewed residents of Riverside, California who were directly impacted by the prison system, as well as local organisations who work with young people to keep them in school and out of prison.
Sonia’s interests extend outside of history and into the arts, having recognised the need for diversity in both of these realms. Her own mixed ethnic background – Iranian and Italian – has informed her interest in wanting to see more art and artists that reflect migration and first-generation experiences. Coming from one extremely multicultural city into another is an exciting opportunity for her to learn new practices and perspectives on increasing access and creating an arts sector that is truly reflective of the people who consume it.
Kevin Nelson Accountant
Kevin Nelson joined the team in 2010 carrying out its finance functions. Kevin is a full member of CPA Australia and was formerly an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators. During his working life, Kevin worked for companies mostly associated with the building industry, as a financial accountant and company secretary. He also had extensive involvement with organisations in the charitable and not-for-profit sector and was the Director, Finance and Administration at Community Aid Abroad for six years.
As the father of a son born with spina bifida, Kevin has been heavily involved with the disability sector including 10 years on the executive of Yooralla. Following retirement, he has undertaken accounting and advisory roles for a number of arts organisations. Kevin emphasises the importance of proper financial controls and budgetary monitoring, providing detailed reporting to the Board.
Monique Choy Strategic Initiatives and Content Producer
Writer, editor, researcher and all-round geek, Monique has worked as a web publisher for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a communications officer for the United Nations Development Programme in Sri Lanka and the Maldives and as a children’s fiction writer for Hinkler Books. She is an author of six Lonely Planet travel guidebooks, the interactive fiction The Last Laugh and has worked with dozens of other organisations, including Information Cultural Exchange, the Arab Film Festival Australia, the Australian Museum and the University of Western Sydney.
With a mixed heritage of Hong Kong Chinese and Anglo cultures, Monique is excited by the potential of the arts to sharpen our understanding of our glorious mongrel culture and to draw on it to create something truly new and truly Australian.
Dr Paula Abood Cultural Researcher in Residence.
Artistic Director/ Editor/Facilitator/Trainer Paul
Maria Tran Screen Production Consultant
Maria Tran is an actor, filmmaker and community arts trainer. She has a degree in Psychology and is passionate about screen culture in the culturally diverse communities in Australia. She made various short films such as Metro Screen grant “A Little Dream” and award-winning “Happy Dent” and action Kung Fu comedy movie “Maximum Choppage”. In 2008 she produced and acted in “Downtown Rumble” Kung Fu action micro-series on JTV-ABC TV. Her mockumentary short “Hot Bread Shop” was official selected for the 2011 Colourfest Film Festival and currently she is completing the mixed genre movie project “Quest for Jackie Chan!. Her other interests include, vlogging, blogging, comedy writing, martial arts, photography and digital storytelling
Julian Lankshear IT Consultant
Julian Lankshear’s work in Information and Communication Technology started in 1999 as a hobby while working as a performer. Since 1993 Julian has worked in Australia and internationally both onstage and behind the scenes bringing with him a wealth of knowledge in that area. As a Qualified IT technician and Tutor, Julian has worked for numerous Not for Profit organisations since 2006 enjoying the challenges the sector brings.