• 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 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 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

    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 through enhanced use of technology and cross sector partnerships.



    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. See less

    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  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 site which is actively supported.


    General Manager

    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)

    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 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.

    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

    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 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

    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

    Enabling and facilitating partnerships between

    • 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

    • 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 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)


    Sustainability Program Delivery

    • Education Director, Green Building Council, development of  Education Strategy
    • Exec  Manager, Water Campaign, ICLEI
    • 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

    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
    • Advisor, community education and grants, 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

    • R&D The Creative Catalyst
    • 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 (Board)
    • ACT Branch of Australian Association for Environmental Education Board
    • Victorian Association for Environmental Education  Board
    • Reported to various not for profit boards

    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)
    • Created workshops for mature art students on website design
    • Facilitation to build community post Marysville bushfire
    • Media assistance to the World Solar Challenge
    • Donation of my art pieces for  fundraisers (ongoing)
    • Conference organiser AAEE
    • 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 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
  • examples of writing

    ....from a range of writing and research. Copies available upon request.

  • 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

    • The Creative Thinkers Toolkit, International Centre for Studies in Creativity, Buffalo State Uni NY, 2019
    • Governex, Global Governance Initiative, Director Training  Course, 2019
    • Applied Neuroscience and Brain Health, The Neuroscience Academy, 2019;
    • 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!

    Contact me at: