Meet Our Team

(L to R) Francisca Peña (Board Member), Lena Nahlous (Executive Director), Sonia Mehrmand (DARTS Projects) and Monique Choy (Strategic Initiatives)

Our Team

Lena Nahlous CEO/Executive Producer, 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.

 

Rādhikā Ram Tevita Business Manager

Rādhikā (she/her/they), born and raised in Aotearoa, now calls Bidjigal Country ‘home’. A graduate of Victoria University of Wellington (Commerce & Administration), and a lawyer admitted to practice in New Zealand (2004) and New South Wales (2007), Rādhikā has worked in a diverse range of roles across the corporate and public sector on both sides of the Tasman.

Rādhikā has a long history of advocacy, as a third culture kid raised among new refugee arrivals. She gained experience in immigration support services for refugees and migrants as a Pacific Advisor to the Minister of Immigration (NZ), Coordinator of Pacific Island Law Students (faculty position) and gained considerable insight into the systemic challenges working in refugee determination. In these lands of so-called Australia, she is one half of the team leading the collective, we are the mainstream, and manages a Girl Guide Unit in Gadigal/Bidjigal country. It serves as a perfect excuse to engage in her love of working with her hands, using sustainable practices in areas such as yarn dyeing, handcrafts and upcycling. She can occasionally be spotted as a workshop facilitator for The Bower Repair Cafes.

Alexia Derbas Research and Policy Manager

Alexia Derbas recently completed her PhD in Sociology at Western Sydney University, exploring race, gender and religion online. She has been a researcher at Western Sydney University for five years, exploring racism and particularly anti-Arab sentiment, Islamophobia and women’s experiences of exclusion in so-called Australia. She has been working with teams at UNSW and Charles Sturt University on racism as a public health issue. She teaches research methods, social science, and media and communications units on difference and exclusion at WSU and UTS.

Alexia has worked with the Australian Human Rights Commission on their Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces and works with the FARE Network in their efforts against discrimination during the FIFA World Cup and other football tournaments. She has had poetry and fiction published in Cordite, Voiceworks and others, and was shortlisted for the 2014 Judith Wright Poetry Prize.
Thuy Nguyen Communications and Marketing Coordinator

Based in Western Sydney, Thuy Nguyen is a marketing professional with a background in film making and a strong interest in community engagement and development.

She has produced and directed award-winning films about social justice, diversity and inclusion issues. Her works include “For You Page” (2021), as part of Diversity Art’s I Am Not A Virus Project, “Ankara Pride” (2019), produced for Blacktown Shorts as part of the Blacktown Arts Magnify Festival, and “Against The Grain” (2017), produced for Diversity Arts Australia’s Diverse Screens Project.

In 2015, Thuy Nguyen launched Western Sydney Fashion Festival, a platform celebrating Western Sydney’s cultural diversity and multi-disciplinary creative talent with a focus on increasing accessibility and inclusion within Sydney’s fashion industry.

Carielyn Tunion Producer, Creative Projects & Campaigns

Carielyn (she/they) is a multimedia artist and cultural worker with an anti-colonial, anti-imperial perspective. With a background in media arts and digital production, Carielyn has produced content for Emerging Writers Festival, SBS Filipino, and Mascara Literary Review. She has recent experience in the community services sector through Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association, supporting migrant & refugee women in Western Sydney experiencing domestic violence and/or homelessness. She is also an active member of Filipino youth activist organisation, Anakbayan Sydey.

Carielyn uses videopoetry, writing & visual art to explore themes of decolonisation, rage and regeneration. They are interested in promoting the holistic wellbeing of marginalised peoples and communities by interrogating systemic injustice and power relations. Carielyn is of mixed so-called Philippine and Hong Kong ancestry and is currently based on Burramattagal land.

Sonia Mehrmand Consultant

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 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.

 

Colin Ho Creative Equity Toolkit Coordinator

Colin Ho has worked as a digital producer for ABC TV and SBS, and is a proud community radio volunteer. He has written for outlets such as Peril Magazine, LIMINAL, ABC News and Counter Magazine. Over the next few months, Colin will be developing and releasing new sections of the Creative Equity Toolkit website.

Claire Cao Content Producer

Claire Cao is freelance writer from Western Sydney. She recently graduated with a Bachelors of Law/Arts from UNSW, majoring in Media, Culture and Technology. On screen, she is a screenwriter and associate producer for the Screen Australia-funded feature anthology HERE OUT WEST, which is currently in post-production. Her film criticism, essays and fiction have been published in publications such as The Big Issue, Filmmaker, SBS Voices, Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, among many. She is a part of the published anthologies Sweatshop Women Volume One and COLLISIONS (Pantera Press). In 2019, she was part of Melbourne International Film Festival’s Critics Campus and was the runner up for the Liminal Fiction Prize. In 2020, she was a WestWords fellow, and was mentored by award-winning author Melina Marchetta.

She is passionate about uplifting emerging artists from diverse backgrounds, and has taken mentorship/editorial positions in the past through the magazine Voiceworks and Express Media’s Left to Write program.

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.

Glaiza Perez Social Media Content / Associate Project Producer
Glaiza (she/they) is a writer, editor, social media and project producer based in Darug country. They are 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 for publications such as Diversity Arts’ Creative Lives, Literary CelebrAsian, and the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service.
Glaiza is the Associate Producer for Diversity Arts’ national Stories from the Future project. More broadly, they are interested in the resonance and power of speculative fiction, decolonised histories, archives and stories across the world.
Bethany Falzon Development Officer

Bethany is a creative producer and community arts practitioner based on Darkinjung Land, but working across many others. She uses a community-engaged framework and human-rights based approach to tell stories, explore issues and deliver projects, ensuring communities are at the forefront of conversations and cultural autonomy.

She has worked in Museums, Galleries, NFP organisations and Local Government across community-led participatory arts practices, community and cultural development, public programming, project management, policy and strategy.

She is a graduate of Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and a post-graduate Diploma in Museum and Heritage Studies from the University of Sydney. She is also an Alumni of the Australian Council for the Arts Future Leaders Program.

Dr Paula Abood Fair Play Lead Trainer/Creative Producer

Artistic Director/ Editor/Facilitator/Trainer Paula Abood is a writer, community cultural development practitioner, creative producer and educator. She has worked with diverse communities in capacity building projects for 30 years. Her productions include The Cartographer’s  Curse (2016), Auburn Cartographies of Diversity (2016),  Sacred Women’s Voices (2013 / 2011), Parenting Stories (2010), Hurriya and her Sisters (2009), The Book of African Australian Stories (2006), Poetry on Rooftops (2006), and Of Middle Eastern Appearance (2001). Paula was awarded the 2007 Western Sydney Artists’ Fellowship for the blogging project Race and the City and was the 2013 recipient of the Australia Council’s Ros Bower Award for lifetime achievement in community cultural development practice.  She has developed resources and taught widely on subjects including cultural diversity, advocacy, and community development at TAFE and in community education settings. Paula co-developed the Certificate IV in Community Arts and Cultural Development that runs out of St George TAFE in Sydney, and is a leading trainer and educator on human rights approaches across the community, arts and education sectors. Paula was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy from UNSW in 2007 in the area of cultural studies.

Dr Margaret Mayhew Fair Play Coordinator

Dr Margaret Mayhew is a visual artist, academic and queer performance artist who has lived with chronic illness since 1984. She has volunteered with refugee community organisations in Sydney and Melbourne since 1991, and co-founded Melbourne Artists for Asylum in 2013. Margaret worked as a researcher in the Social Relations of Disability Research Network (1997-1998), the CALD capacity building program at the Australian Centre for Diabetes (2009-2011) and smaller projects with Information and Cultural Exchange and Diversity Arts Australia. She has taught in the Gender Sexuality and Diversity Studies program at La Trobe University since 2012. Margaret has exhibited textile works in Australia and Europe, and practiced, exhibited, researched and taught in community arts and life drawing in Australia and Internationally.

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.

Vir Kaula StoryCasters Podcaster

Vir Kaula is currently working as an audio engineer on FORM Dance project’s new podcast “Formidables.” His interest in podcasting began with Diversity Arts’ StoryCasters workshops, of which he is a member. Through recording and editing the stories of artists, Vir has a passion for spotlighting art and diverse artists in Western Sydney.

 

Lena (middle) and Debbie Lee (left), chair of the Diversity Arts board, at the launch of the Pacesetters with participating artist Latai Taumoepeau (right).