• 'My vision is to create vibrant and sustainable communities through facilitating partnerships.

    I provide creative and energising approaches to build individual and organisational capacity'.

  • Experience

    "My first experience with intersections was while undertaking an undergraduate degree that combined studies in education and environmental science. This inter-disciplinary qualification lay the foundation for what was to become many years of working in public advocacy on environmental education. This led to further post graduate studies in education, visuals arts, neuroscience and research, combined with a guiding principle for diverse and cross disciplinary approaches to program implementation.


    With years of experience working across sectors in various roles, themes have emerged that explain my approach.

    • The preliminary need to raise awareness about the ‘greenhouse effect’ has developed into a deep commitment to build capacity to achieve sustainability outcomes and mitigate climate change;
    • Benefits gained by working with others has matured into facilitating collaborative approaches to creating innovative workplace cultures; and
    • Traditional project management theory are improved by the principles of human centered design and creative problem solving.

    I've has spent many years playing at the intersection of sustainability, capacity building and creative problem solving and I now combine creativity, the arts and sciences to provide vibrant and energising approaches to social change.


    My latest venture, The Creative Catalyst, was borne from these parallel interests and has led to my mission of seeking to support others to achieve their best creative self. What happens at intersections is a rich creative vein that encourages a curious, experimental and human centered approach to problem solving.


    But I’m not alone in this realisation, large corporations have also come to the conclusion that creativity is a means to achieve innovation to deal with the complexity of modern and competitive global environments.


    It’s now time for government, business and community sectors to deep dive into the intersection of creativity and science to discover how to build the capacity of both their staff and organisations, breaking down barriers between disciplines and using human centered design led creative tools to both problem find and problem solve.


    As a sustainability advocate, program facilitator, artist and educator I’m deeply committed to building capacity to solve the difficult problems that confront us. The end game is to bring our best creative capacity to solve the social, environmental and equity problems plaguing this world… starting with our own sphere of influence".



    To join in the Creativity Without Borders revolution, visit the Facebook site

    Or go to the website at www.thecreativecatalyst.com.au

    To explore my art practice, visit www.projectreclaim.com.au or www.mariasimonelli.com.au

    To create a new career, visit www.careerredesign.com.au



    The Creative Advantage: How the intersection of science and creativity reveals life’s ultimate advantage

    Three book series launched 2021

    The Creative Advantage is as much about my own journey as it is a reader’s guide to living a creative life. My ‘why’ is to facilitate creative problem solving approaches with individuals, within organisations and across community, to achieve a more sustainable world. I combine creativity, education, the arts and sciences to provide vibrant and energising approaches to social change.


    Climate change, the declining health of the environment and its relevance to all aspects of sustaining life has given me a greater sense of urgency. The world needs imaginative solutions driven by creatives and supported by teams of innovators to solve our economic, environmental and social challenges to create viable, equitable and sustainable communities. This book is my contribution to reach a broad audience to build the creative capacity and focus on the task at hand to affect that change.



    Founder, Manager & Facilitator

    The Creative Catalyst

    Jan 2017-Present

    The Creative Catalyst supports individuals and organisations to explore their creativity and discover new approaches to problem solving, build creative core competencies, integrate these into our lives and workplaces to facilitate positive social and cultural change.


    A suite of products and services are now available including an online program, a three book series and workshops in various online and in person formats, all catering to individuals and teams.



    Facilitator & Program Manager

    2014- Present

    Be Collective (2021- 2022)

    Be Collective is an innovative technology platform delivering social and community benefit. It supports communities, businesses, government, educational institutions and non-profits, by connecting those providing volunteer opportunities with those that want to help.

    Along the way, it fosters employment pathways, active citizenship, enables  volunteering to be showcased through a unique social resume and demonstrates social impact. My role developed creative approaches to building partnerships across our stakeholder groups.


    Telco Together Foundation (2015-2019)

    The Foundation provides a means for non profit and corporate sectors to create meaningful and effective partnerships to make a significant social contribution.


    I supported this Foundation by providing strategic and project management expertise to facilitate partnerships for social impact. I worked closely with Vocus, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Aussie Broadband to enable engagement opportunities that resulted in positive social change. I also undertook research and facilitation to establish the Industry Impact Hub, a collaborative telecommunications industry initiative to action industry-wide approaches to issues confronting our community. The first two initiatives undertaken focused on supporting members on Domestic and Family Violence and Modern Slavery.


    Greenfleet (2015)
    A non profit environmental organisation, focused on climate protection through restorative planting and biodiverse carbon offsets. I supported this organisation by facilitating a campaign development process to engage individuals, businesses, NGOs, councils and universities.

    Toombak Indigenous Production (2014)
    Toombak, a majority owned indigenous media company, produce television, radio and digital media content from an indigenous perspective for the Australian audience. I assisted by undertaking a strategic facilitation process to support the next phase of their growth phase.

    Melbourne Based Artist

    Sculptor - Ongoing

    I’m influenced by urban trends and contemporary issues and interested in questioning everyday patterns by intervening and provoking alternative forms of discourse. I hope that my artworks assist to transition a viewer to make connections between disparate ideas and give a different perspective on something they are already aware of. Above all I value the awake, curious and creative mind that cross pollinates ideas to join the dots and build new ideas.

    YouTube Channel


    Sculptural Practice Website


    Founder and Creator

    Project Reclaim 2013 - Ongoing

    Director and Artist of The Project Reclaim. This is an organic sculpture series made from antique fabrics and organic materials to create unique sculptural pieces.


    Project Reclaim draws attention to what and how we consume and provides an opportunity to rethink what is waste. This art practices shows how materials can be reused and ultimately diverted from the waste stream.


    Random Acts of Kindness: Some pieces available for auction with funds donated to charity.



    Melbourne Based Sculptor

    Project manager and sculptor of Make Light Not War Series 2017-present

    The Make Light Not War project creates sculptural pieces that challenge perpetuating myths surrounding the acceptance and integration of renewable energy technology into our daily lives. Given the clear science on climate change, I connect people through my sculptural works, to the potential and the optimism that this technology provides.


    Website Gallery

    Digital Change Maker

    Digital Change Maker  2013 - 2017

    Technology is becoming a key tool in creating substantial positive change in the world. There is a huge range of groups and diversity of approaches, all playing their important part. Digital change makers play a key role in supporting these groups and approaches, helping them think and learn about systems thinking, utilising networks, facilitation and working with people to co-create and engage on a larger scale.


    This project enabled me to support community organisations and provide practical advice to enable them to strategically use these social and digital mediums for maximum campaign exposure for greater benefit. My focus is to facilitate the creative community and arts practitioners to use social media in a positive way to manage their profile.


    This project was originally inspired by receiving a Digital Change Maker Apprenticeship.


    Creator, Author & Facilitator

    Sweet Spot Careers 2013 - 2017

    Utilising the unique Career Redesign Program that had at its core, a human centered design method that supports participants to make a successful career move, particularly in the second half of life. The program provides the inspiration, tools and a process to take action. It identifies enablers, addresses challenges and risks and helps find the clarity needed through a focused and practical process.


    Resources currently available include both the online program: " Find Your Career Sweet Spot & Redesign Your Career", the ebook "Sweet Spot Careers-A Practical and Creative Guide to a Successful Midlife or Mid Career Transition" and the Facebook Community support site.



    General Manager

    Climate Positive Foundation 2012

    Climate Positive was a non-profit environmental organisation working with businesses and households to achieve measurable and long-term global warming solutions.

    As General Manager my role was primarily in business planning to successfully increase participation and funding from a number of non-traditional sectors in carbon offsetting. (Maternity leave role)

    Education Director

    Green Building Council 2011

    The Green Building Council Australia (GBCA) is a non-profit organisation committed to a sustainable property industry by encouraging the adoption of green building practices through the Green Rating tools, advocacy, membership services and education programs.

    As Education Director I was responsible for the redesign of the education strategy, facilitation of stakeholder input and the management of the Education Unit during a transitional phase for the organisation.

    Community Engagement Advisor

    Utility Services 2010

    Utility Services, was a for profit alliance made up of South East Water, Thiess Services, Siemens and MWH Designers, to deliver integrated urban development, engineering and construction services.

    This role provided me an opportunity, in the organisation's establishment set up phase, to facilitate community engagement in the delivery of environmental infrastructure to their regions.

    Winston Churchill Fellowship Recipient


    During this period I undertook a Churchill Fellowship to USA, Canada and Europe and studied the motivational factors for organisations integrating environmental principles into business plans.


    As a Winston-Churchill Memorial Fellow I continue to assist and mentor further applicants on this amazing initiative.


    Report available.

    Executive Manager

    The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives 1999 - 2009

    ICLEI_ is a non-profit international association of local governments and the community sector that have made a commitment to sustainable development.

    I was a key player in ICLEI Oceania’s start up since its Australian incorporation in Sept 1999. This entrepreneurial organisation maintained a niche market of capacity building services in their areas of social and environmental development during my 10-year tenure. As part of the executive team, my role was to manage, problem-solve, co-facilitate and scenario plan for effective program development, organisational stability and growth. I was specifically tasked to secure new funding, relationship management and program development.


    Article and Interview

    Climate Change Advisor

    BP 1999

    As part of a Federal Government Scholarship Program and located in the Government Relations and Communication Dept. I assisted with a number of projects including providing advice on relationship management with the Commonwealth. I also undertook two self initiated research reports including “Lessons in Leadership” and “The Business of the Environment: Factors motivating industry to take up environmental initiatives”.

    Environment Advisor

    United Nations Environment Programme 1998

    Located in UNEP’s Paris Oil and Petroleum Unit managing projects that explored best practice in the regulatory and voluntary approaches of the leading oil exploring and exporting countries. The experience provided a great exposure to the working of international diplomacy and cooperative policy making.

    Assistant Director

    Federal Government Environment Department 1991 - 1998

    Program Management, Policy Development and Training Coordinator for the Federal Government. A formative time in personal development of program management, facilitation skills and understanding options to build engagement and capacity across sectors. It was also a role that enabled me to apply my environmental education and community building experience into the formation of government policy.

  • Awards & Scholarships

    Global Governance Initiative IWD Scholarship 2019

    Digital Change Maker Program, 2013

    Melbourne Award Community Organisation & Contribution to Environment, 2008

    Winston Churchill Fellowship, 2001

    Senior Women in Management, Federal Govt Award 1999

  • Achievements

    Facilitation & Training

    Designing and facilitating a range of workshop training formats

    • Facilitator of The Creative Catalyst
    • Trainer with Be Collective digital volunteering platform
    • Facilitation with Telcos to design Industry Innovation Hub initiatives, Telco Together Foundation
    • Consulting facilitator with non profit organisations
    • Digital Change Maker & Facilitator
    • Facilitation, GBCA Education Strategy redesign
    • Facilitation, program design and delivery for 10 years, ICLEI Oceania
    • Facilitator of Sweet Spot Careers
    • Community Engagement Advisor/training, Thiess/SouthEast Water
    • Delivery of environmental education workshops in both paid and voluntary roles

    Partnership Management

    Enabling and facilitating partnerships for social impact between

    • Volunteers, TAFE/education sector and community organisations via Be Collective platform
    • Telcos with charities /non profit organisations to share IT /tech skills to create social outcomes via The Skills Exchange Program, CSR programs and incubating impactful ideas
    • Local, state and federal governments  and community organisations through various sustainability based 'campaigns' while managing ICLEI programs
    • SMEs and business with carbon offset projects while GM with Climate Positive
    • Commonwealth programs with industry and community organisations to deliver strategic  outcomes


    Author & Researcher

    • The Creative Advantage, three book series, 2021
    • Sweet Spot Careers: A Practical and Creative Guide to a Successful Midlife Career Transition (book)
    • Understanding Organisational Creativity in Australian Small to Medium Sized Enterprises: Does size matter? (Monash, Grad Cert research paper)
    • The Business of the Environment: Factors Motivating Industry to Take-up Environmental Initiatives (research paper)
    • The Performance of Progressive Organisations in Sustainable Development; Churchill Fellowship (research paper)
    • Green Event: How to approach conferences with a green lens (case study from actual event)


    Program Development

    • Developed the campaign methodology for the international  programs: Cities for Climate Protection, Cities for Safe and Healthy Communities, Water Campaign and the New Zealand  Communities for Climate Protection
    • Training Coordinator/ Capacity Building development & delivery, Federal Govt
    • Education Manager, Energy Information Centre, Victorian  Govt
    • Literally I've designed, delivered and facilitated hundreds of workshops, skills exchange events, recognition ceremonies and capacity building training across many sectors and as an important element of many of my roles.

    Sustainability Program Delivery

    • Education Director, Green Building Council, development of  Education Strategy with a focus on sustainable building
    • Exec  Manager, Water Campaign, ICLEI, with a focus on water conservation and efficiency
    • Advisor, United Nations Environment Program, program development in voluntary vs mandatory policy delivery in oil and petroleum industry
    • Assistant Director, Coastal and Marine, Federal Govt, advised on community engagement

    Climate Mitigation Program Delivery

    • Campaign Director, Cities for Climate Protection and Communities for Climate Protection New Zealand
    • General Manager, Climate Positive, a Carbon offsetting business
    • Project Manager, advised Farmers on climate change abatement practice
    • Advisor, BP , Communications and Govt Relations
    • Assistant Director, Climate Change, policy and program delivery, Federal Govt
    • Contributing author, Commission for the Future

    Securing Stable Funding

    • Establishing passive income stream through entrepreneurial products and services
    • Generated $13 million from grants, tenders and project submissions over 10 years at ICLEI
    • Developed and Implemented the ICLEI Strategic Guidelines for Corporate Cause Partnerships
    • Grants - adhoc fund raising for community and environmental groups
    • Sales manager,  offset carbon at Climate Positive

    Entrepreneurial &

    Creative Start Ups

    • R&D for The Creative Catalyst delivering books, training and online resources
    • Established the Career Redesign Program, delivered training, online resources and 1:1 services
    • Established Project Reclaim, art  practice
    • Published author of Sweet Spot Careers
    • Sculptor and visual artist, exhibiting regularly

    Board & Committee Experience

    • Live Community Power, City of Port Phillip Community Group (Committee)
    • Sustainable Environment Advisory Committee, City of Port Philip
    • Community Grants Assessment Panel, City of Port Phillip
    • Gould League (Board)
    • ACT Branch of Australian Association for Environmental Education Board
    • Victorian Association for Environmental Education  Board
    • Reported to various non-profit boards through employment roles

    Community & Voluntary Experience

    • Supporting and mentoring women seeking a career transition via the Career Redesign Program and  guidance with submitting for a Churchill Fellowship (current)
    • Connections Art and Dementia Program, Bayside Arts Cultural Centre
    • Website design workshops for mature aged art students
    • Facilitation to build community responses post 2009 Marysville bushfires
    • Media assistance to the World Solar Challenge
    • Donation of my art pieces for  fundraisers (ongoing)
    • Conference organiser Aust Assoc Environmental Education
    • Facilitator, Women in Science

    Cross Sector Experience

    Government Sector

    • Local Govt through executive role with ICLEI
    • Federal government through program role with the Dept of Environment
    • State Govt through project role with Office for the Environment Victoria
    • State Govt role as a teacher and educator with Energy Information Centre
    Private Sector
    • Telcos via program role with Telco Together Foundation
    • Building and construction via roles with the Green Building Council and as an advisor to Thiess and Utility Services
    • BP as climate change advisor

    Cross Sector Experience

    Non Profit Sector

    • Through roles with Be Collective (B Corp), Telco Together Foundation, ICLEI-Local Govt for Sustainability, Climate Positive and Green Building Council
    • Project advisor with the United Nations Environment Program
    Creative and Start Up Sector
    • Creative industries through start ups including Sweet Spot Careers, Project Reclaim  and The Creative Catalyst
    • Numerous volunteering and committee roles


    • Social and digital media for The Creative Catalyst
    • ICLEI Conference Convenor, 400+ participants
    • Advisor, VicHealth Planning and Health Board
    • Advisor, Sustainable Communities Initiatives
    • Advisor, community education and grants, Victorian Govt
  • Check out THeSE videos

    The Creative Catalyst

    Be curious, be inspired, be more

    The Creative Catalyst provides a range of unique programs that build creative competences, skill sets and collaborative workplace cultures.



    The Creative Advantage launched 2020

    7 Steps to Enhanced Creativity

    The Creative Advantage- Find out more about the science that’s revealing how we can establish the foundations of the creative advantage.



    Skills Exchange 2018

    with the Telco Together Foundation

    Bringing together non profits and telco and IT specialists to problem solve.

    Sweet Spot Careers 2014

    with Sweet Spot Careers: A Practical and Creative Guide to a Successful Midlife Career Transition

    Check out the book and online program to support your successful career transition.


  • Accredited Study and Professional Development

    • Mindset Certification and Creative Thinking System, Four Sight, US, 2020;
    • The Creative Thinkers Toolkit, International Centre for Studies in Creativity, Buffalo State Uni NY, 2019;
    • Governex, Global Governance Initiative, Director Training  Course, Aust, 2019;
    • Applied Neuroscience and Brain Health, The Neuroscience Academy, Aust, 2019;
    • Various: Creativity Bootcamp & Design Thinking, Stefan Mumaw  LinkedIn Learning, US, 2018
    • Leading For Creativity, IDEO- License 2541-1391791, US, 2017;
    • From Ideas To Action, IDEO- License 2540-1391791, US, 2017;
    • Key Person of Influence, program to create thought leaders, Aust, 2013-14;
    • Life Change Studio, US based program to unlock creativity ,US,  2013;
    • Co Create Change Maker Program, Social and Digital Media, Aust, 2013;
    • Practitioner Certificate in Public Participation, International Assoc. Public Participation, Aust, 2010;
    • Corporate Cause Partnering, Masterclass Practitioner, Cavill and Co, Aust, 2009;
    • Starting Out in Small Business, CAE Business Connect, Cert IV, Aust, 2005;
    • Neuro Linguistic Programming, Practitioner Certificate, Coaching Institute, Aust, 2005;
    • Technology of Participation, Facilitation Program Practitioner, Aust, 2000-2009.


  • Tertiary Qualifications

    Monash University

    Graduate Certificate Education Research 2016

    Victorian College

    of the Arts

    Graduate Certificate in Visual Arts 2011-2012


    Studio Art 2008 -2014

    Melbourne College of Advanced Education, Melbourne University

    Graduate Diploma in Education /Drama

    Monash University

    Indigenous Studies

    Victoria College, Deakin

    Bachelor in Environmental Science;

    double degree with a Diploma in Education


  • Let's Chat!

    Contact me at: