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.
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 diverse culture and to draw on it to create something truly new and truly Australian.
Joanne Cooper Administration Officer
Joanne has over 30 years’ experience in office administration in a range of industries such as construction, project management, insurance, IT, childcare working across government, private and not-for profit sectors. Her previous roles have included small business management, contracts, finance, personnel admin, tenders and operational duties.
Sonia Mehrmand Assistant Executive Director and Project Producer
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.
Glaiza Perez Social Media Content/Associate producer
Glaiza is a freelance writer, editor and social media producer based in Sydney. She is a graduate of Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and a post-graduate Diploma in Digital Information Management from the University of Technology Sydney. In addition to extensive experience in producing social media content, Glaiza has interviewed artists and writers for publications such as Literary CelebrAsian and Warhol’s Children, Newtown.
More broadly, she is interested in the sharing and preservation of information for communities across all mediums. Glaiza likes to keep up to date with diverse representation and communities in stories both in Australia and abroad. She is also a passionate book blogger and supporter of diverse books. Glaiza supports diverse creators as she works on her own writing in her spare time.
Jennifer Macey Podcast Producer
Jennifer is a freelance journalist and podcast producer with extensive experience in radio, podcasting, news and current affairs.
With excellent writing skills and the ability to work well under pressure, Jennifer has a passion for stories, people, the environment, social affairs and an extensive contacts list.
Curious, friendly, open, hardworking, delivers on projects and meets tight deadlines. Understands what makes a good story and how to sell it.
Social media junkie and meticulous editor with an ability to write for the ear and the eye.
Dr Paula Abood Fair Play Lead Trainer/Creative Producer
Artistic Director/ Editor/Facilitator/Trainer Paul
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.
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.
Dr Margaret Mayhew Fair Play Coordinator
Dr Margaret Mayhew is a visual artist, academic and queer performance artist. She has volunteered with refugee community organisations in Sydney and Melbourne since 1991, and co-founded Melbourne Artists for Asylum in 2013. Margaret has exhibited textile works in Australia and Europe, and practiced, exhibited and researched life drawing in Australia, the USA and Europe. From 2012 to 2018 Margaret taught in the only intersectional identity studies program in Australia, and previously undertook participant action research with CALD communities in Sydney and Melbourne. Margaret has developed postgraduate programs in design and community arts and combines academic rigour with imaginative engagement with communities and individuals.
Mahla Karimian Fair Play Project Producer
Mahla Karimiyan is an accomplished visual artist and community arts worker. Her visual arts practice is based around classical Persian scratchboard and professional photography. Since arriving in Australia in 2013, Mahla has exhibited in The Ownership Project, Abbotsford Convent, Library at The Dock, and the Walker Street Gallery, where she was a finalist in the 2016 Home and Art Prize. Mahla is President of Melbourne Artists for Asylum and coordinated its community art workshops at Siteworks during 2018. She has collaborated with Youbi Lee on the Migrant Mothers Art Classes in 2019 and Asylum Silk Road Project in 2017 and is developing a community arts space in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. Mahla is committed to developing and sharing her visual arts practice through collaborating with individuals and organisations who support diverse communities.
Maylei Hunt Lead Producer
Maylei Hunt is a Melbourne Based Photographer, Filmmaker, Curator, Educator and Community Arts Worker. Her career spans over 20 years in the social documentary, commercial and fine arts areas of photography. Hunt’s photography and film making focuses on social justice, community engagement and the arts, including a monograph and exhibition series documenting the Marriage Equality Campaign in Australia. In 2020 Hunt will showcase her photo-documentary series LET’S EAT CAKE in an exhibition and events program as part of the Melbourne Midsumma Festival in Melton. Hunt has worked in remote communities in Balgo, with Information and Cultural Exchange in Western Sydney and with the Community Partnerships team at Yarra City Council. After working on documenting public events for the Fair Play project in 2019, and having recently completed her Diploma in Community Development, Hunt has now joined the Fair Play Melbourne team.
Lena (middle) and Debbie Lee (left), chair of the Diversity Arts board, at the launch of the Pacesetters with participating artist Latai Taumoepeau (right).