• Summary

    “Tell me what you plan to do with your

    one wild and precious life”

    Mary Oliver poet

    Maria Simonelli is a creative change catalyst, providing creative and energising approaches to build individual, organisational and community capacity to achieve a vibrant and sustainable future.


    A fearless re-inventer who fluidly blends careers and interests, Maria is passionate about encouraging others to dive into the power of their potential. Her vision is a society made richer through meaningful partnerships, exploration and quests borne from curiosity.


    Tidy descriptors elude the Melbourne resident:

    She's an author, trainer/ educator and visual artist.

    A partnership facilitator.

    A builder of community.

    A sustainability advocate and educator.

    A digital change maker.

    And a lifelong student with a swag of educational qualifications, awards and scholarships to her name.


    While the list is ever growing as her side projects tend to take a life of their own, Maria has spent the past two decades playing at the intersection of sustainability, capacity building and creative problem solving. As a true Renaissance woman, she now combines the arts and sciences to provide vibrant and energising approaches to social change.


    Her life is a reflection of her multi-faceted interests.


    A creative catalystas one of those rare people who can effortless hop between the arts and sciences, Maria has an intriguing range of problem-solving tools at her fingertips. From supporting others to seize technological opportunities to drawing on the psychology of the human brain, she is the epitome of agile. Maria has launched a new creative consultancy for those seeking to build their individual creative core competencies or workplaces with problem solving cultures.


    A bridge between worlds...many years of experience in high-level management roles in the sustainability arena have tuned Maria's skills as a creative conduit across diverse sectors. From non-profits and business to governments and community, each role aimed to find common ground, exchange ideas and facilitate partnerships. Maria’s vision... to create vibrant and sustainable communities.


    A sculptress of sustainability... a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, Maria's art works are informed by her desire to offer a different perspective and cross pollinate fresh ideas. She is the director and artist of Project Reclaim, an organic sculpture series that uses remnant fabrics and organic materials to create unique sculptural pieces.


    A career redesigner... Maria is the creator of Sweet Spot Careers, a boutique consultancy for professionals who've reached their mid careers or mid lives, and are baffled by what to do next. With a book and online program, her message is simple: act on your curiosity and explore the next transition without fear to find clarity and a career you love.


    For more about Maria, visit www.msimonelliportfolio.com.au

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

    Or visit the website at www.thecreativecatalyst.com.au

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

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



  • 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

    Founder & Manager

    The Creative Catalyst

    Jan 2017-Present

    The Creative Catalyst is in start up phase. It 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.


    Partnership Facilitator

    Current- Telco Together Foundation Program Manager

    Nov 2014- Present

    Providing a means for non profits and corporates to create meaningful and effective relationships. Telco Together Foundation is a non profit, providing a platform for telecommunications industry to make a significant social contribution. I'm supporting this Foundation through providing strategic and project management expertise to facilitate partnerships and enable engagement opportunities through enhanced use of technology and cross sector partnerships.

    Creator & Facilitator

    Sweet Spot Careers

    July 2013 - Present

    Utilising the unique Career Redesign Program that has at its core, an expertly developed 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.


    Melbourne Based Artist

    Sculptor - Present

    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





    Founder and Creator

    Project Reclaim 2013 - Present

    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. Pieces are sold and donated to charity.



    Digital Change Maker

    Digital Change Maker Jun 2013 - Present

    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.

    I support community organisations and provide practical advice to enable them to strategically use these social and digital mediums for maximum campaign exposure and overall greater benefit. Im also assisting the creative community and arts practitioners to use social media in a positive way to manage their profile.

    General Manager

    Climate Positive Foundation Nov 2011 - Dec 2012

    Climate Positive is 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.

    Education Director

    Green Building Council 2011-2011

    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 and the management of the Education Unit.

    Community Engagement Advisor

    Utility Services 2010 - 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 to explore relationship management and create synergies with the community, within a public-private partnership focused on urban development and infrastructure delivery.

    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 and scenario plan for effective program development, organisational stability and growth. I was specifically tasked to secure new funding, relationship management and new program development.

    Climate Change Advisor

    BP1999 - 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 major 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 - 1998

    Located in UNEP’s oil and petroleum unit managing projects that explored best practice in the regulatory and voluntary approaches of the leading oil exploring and exporting countries.

    Assistant Director

    Federal Government Environment Department 1991 - 1998

    Program Management, Policy Development and Training Co-coordinator for the Federal Government

  • Awards & Scholarships

    Digital Change Maker Program, 2013

    Melbourne Award Community Organisation & Contribution to Environment, 2008

    Churchill Fellowship, 2001

    Senior Women in Management, Federal Govt Award 1999

  • Achievements

    I have been playing and working at the intersection of sustainability,capacity building and creative problem solving for over 2 decades. My vision is to create vibrant, creative and sustainable communities through facilitating partnerships across sectors and building individual and organisational capacity.

    Partnership Facilitation


    • Telcos with charities /non profit organisations to share IT /tech skills and social outcomes via The Skills Exchange Program and support in CSR programs
    • Women seeking a career transition with mentors via the Career Redesign Program and  Churchill Fellowship
    • Commonwealth programs with community based organisations to deliver strategic  KPIs

    Enabling partnerships between

    • 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


    Author & Researcher

    • 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? (Grad Cert paper)
    • The Business of the Environment: Factors Motivating Industry to Take-up Environmental Initiatives (paper)
    • The Performance of Progressive Organisations in Sustainable Development; Churchill Fellowship (paper)


    Sustainability Program Delivery

    • Education Director, Green Building Council, developed the Education Strategy
    • Advisor, United Nations Environment Program, advised on voluntary vs mandatory policy delivery
    • 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

    Communications & Facilitation

    • Digital Change Maker & Facilitator
    • Facilitation, GBCA Education Strategy redesign
    • Facilitation, Program design and development for 10 years, ICLEI Oceania
    • Trainer/Facilitator of Sweet Spot Careers
    • Community Engagement Advisor, Thiess/SouthEast Water
    • Exec Manager, Relationships & Partnerships, ICLEI Oceania
    • ICLEI Conference Convenor, 400+ participants
    • Advisor, VicHealth Planning and Health Board
    • Advisor, Sustainable Communities Initiatives
    • Providing  advice on community education and grants advice, Victorian Govt

    Program Development

    • Developed the campaign methodology for the three Australian 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

    Securing Stable Funding

    • Generated $13 million from grants, tenders and project submissions over 10 years at ICLEI
    • Strategic Guidelines for Corporate Cause Partnerships
    • Grants - adhoc fund raising for community and environmental groups
    • Ongoing income from offset sales at Climate Positive

    Entrepreneurial & Creative Start Ups

    • Established the Career Redesign Program, delivering training, online resources and 1:1 services
    • Established Project Reclaim, art  practice
    • Published author of Sweet Spot Careers
    • Sculptor exhibiting regularly

    Board & Committee Experience

    • Live Community Power, City of Port Phillip Community Group
    • Sustainable Environment Advisory Committee, City of Port Philip
    • Community Grants Assessment Panel, City of Port Phillip
    • Gould League
    • ACT Branch of Australian Association for Environmental Education
    • Victorian Association for Environmental Education

    Community & Voluntary Experience

    • Created workshops for mature art students on website design (Current)
    • Advice to budding Churchill Fellows (Current)
    • Mentor '30 something' women (Current)
    • Facilitation to support post Marysville bushfire and build community
    • Media assistance to the World Solar Challenge
    • Donate my art pieces to fundraisers (ongoing)
    • Conference organiser AAEE
    • Facilitator, Women in Science
  • My early formative years

    Energy Education Centre

    Under the auspice of the Energy Information Centre that later went on to become part of Sustainability Victoria's education and information services, the Energy Education Centre was created. Located on land donated by Burnley Horticultural College near Richmond, this Centre in the mid 1980's was one of the first to provide educational tours to a range of audiences with student centered activities and householders interested in designing , building and living a more energy efficient lifestyle. As Education Manager I was responsible for Centre's design, launch and management. This was a formative role while I was in my 20's and set the scene for my ongoing passion for environmental education.


    World Solar Car Challenge

    In 1987 the first WSCC was held where solar powered vehicles drove from Darwin to Adelaide. By the early 1990's I was hooked and volunteered to assist on the next 2 events. What a sheer joy it was to find people like me, passionate about renewable energy and finding ways to get the public excited and engaged in making the future happen now. The original concept was the brain child of a Danish-born adventurer Hans Tholstrup, and attracted car manufacturers like GM and Honda (the winners of the early races) to universities from around the globe. A time of adventure, energy and spirit that I have carried with me.


    Swinburne Science Shop

    In 1993, I was lucky enough to work with Kerri Mullins Gunst, an early leader in STEM education. Working on the concept of selling science to the public, the Science Shop was ahead of its time working with media, schools and consumers to create understanding in science. The Women In Science project I worked on was one of the early endeavors to engage girls at secondary school, in the multi-facted opportunities a career in science provides.



    Accredited Study and Professional Development

    • Leading For Creativity, IDEO- License 2541-1391791, 2017;
    • From Ideas To Action, IDEO- License 2540-1391791, 2017;
    • Key Person of Influence, program to create thought leaders, 2013-14;
    • Life Change Studio, US based program to unlock creativity, 2013;
    • Co Create Change Maker Program, Social and Digital Media, 2013;
    • Practitioner Certificate in Public Participation, International Assoc. Public Participation, 2010;
    • Corporate Cause Partnering, Masterclass Practitioner, Cavill and Co, 2009;
    • Starting Out in Small Business, CAE Business Connect, Cert IV, 2005;
    • Neuro Linguistic Programming, Practitioner Certificate, Coaching Institute, 2005;
    • Technology of Participation, Facilitation Program Practitioner, 2000-2009.


  • Tertiary Education

    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 (and Diploma in Education)


  • Let's Chat!



    Melbourne Area, Australia

  • Contact me!