"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 catalyst… as 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 was 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 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.
The Creative Advantage: How the intersection of science and creativity is revealing life’s ultimate advantage
Coming Soon - due for release 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, 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
The Creative Catalyst
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.
Telco Together Foundation (2015-2019)
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 that result in positive social change. I also undertook research to establish the Industry Incubation Hub, (now the Industry Impact Hub) a collaborative telecommunications industry initiative to action industrywide approaches to issues confronting our community. The first two initiatives undertaken focused on working with members on Domestic and Family Violence and Modern Slavery.
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.
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. Pieces are sold and 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.
Digital Change Maker
Digital Change Maker 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.
This enables 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 assist the creative community and arts practitioners to use social media in a positive way to manage their profile.
Creator, Author & Facilitator
Sweet Spot Careers
July 2013 - December 2017
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.
Resources currently available include both the online program: " Find Your Career Sweet Spot & Redesign Your Career", the book "Sweet Spot Careers-A Practical and Creative Guide to a Successful Midlife or Mid Career Transition" and the Facebook Community support site. www.careerredesign.com.au
Climate Positive Foundation Nov 2011 - Dec 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. (Mat leave role)
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 and the management of the Education Unit.
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 to explore relationship management and create synergies with the community, within a public-private partnership focused on urban development and infrastructure delivery.
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 others on this amazing initiative.
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
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”.
United Nations Environment Programme 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.
Federal Government Environment Department 1991 - 1998
Program Management, Policy Development and Training Co-coordinator for the Federal Government
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
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.
Enabling and facilitating partnerships between
Author & Researcher
Sustainability Program Delivery
Climate Mitigation Program Delivery
Communications & Facilitation
Securing Stable Funding
Entrepreneurial & Creative Start Ups
Board & Committee Experience
Community & Voluntary Experience
Cross Sector Experience
Cross Sector Experience
Non Profit Sector
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 formative role in my mid 20's set the scene for my ongoing passion for environmental education and creating collaborative approaches with shared outcomes.
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) as well as universities from around the globe. A time of adventure, energy and spirit that I have carried with me since.
Swinburne Science Shop
In 1993, I was lucky enough to work with the Science Shop, an early leader in STEM education. By selling science to the public, this was ahead of its time working with media, schools and consumers to create an understanding in science in everyday life. I'm particularly proud of working on The Women In Science project as it 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
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
Victoria College, Deakin
Bachelor in Environmental Science (and Diploma in Education)