Our small geographically distributed team work in close partnerships with organisations around the world.
John is the founder and Co-Executive Director of The Sunrise Project. Prior to founding The Sunrise Project in 2012, John spent ten years working in senior positions with Greenpeace Australia Pacific, where he performed a wide variety of roles, including managing the climate and energy campaign, the genetic engineering campaign, and the outreach and mobilisation department. Prior to working for Greenpeace, John co-founded several non-profit recycling businesses and worked on a wide variety of environmental campaigns at a grassroots level. John holds degrees in Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Business Management from the Queensland University of Technology and before becoming an activist worked for several years as an engineer making components for the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries.
Sam La Rocca
Sam La Rocca
Sam leads the Sunrise Project’s Australian Program. He brings over twenty-five years experience building people powered movements for a socially just and ecologically sane world. Sam holds a multidisciplinary degree in environmental science, and while completing his first class honours thesis on grassroots mobilisation, he co-founded activist education outfit The Change Agency to deliver social movement education, campaign strategy and organising training programs to community groups around Australia and internationally. He’s worked as a senior political advisor in federal parliament and led highly successful electoral campaigns. He has facilitated movement-wide processes for the Climate Action Network Australia and Friends of the Earth International’s Asia Pacific Region; and he has a strong interest in building powerful networks to catalyse system change.
Aviva joined the Board in mid- 2015. She is the Deputy Director of the International Energy Programme at the European Climate Foundation (ECF), which she joined after two years with The Sunrise Project as Pacific Coal Network Coordinator for the international coal network. In this role she supported the activities of a diverse set of groups in the Pacific coal region, working to develop the support structures and infrastructure for the international coal network. Prior to joining The Sunrise Project, Aviva worked with International Rivers first as Southeast Asia Program Director and then as Campaigns Director, managing the organisation’s Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa and re-granting programs. Aviva has extensive experience in campaigning, fundraising, grants management, and financial and organisational management.
Claire joined the Board in December 2019, she is passionate about the Sunrise Project’s mission and purpose and brings strategic expertise, business acumen and leadership experience. Claire has a deep understanding of campaigning and the power of activism across international boundaries with over 30 years of senior leadership experience with environmental, human rights, disability and cancer research INGOs/NGO’s in Australia and around the world.
Claire was the National Director (CEO) of Amnesty International Australia (AIA) for twelve years and part of Amnesty International’s Global Leadership Team for a decade. Whilst National Director of AIA Claire oversaw the growth of AIA’s supporters by 400% and the delivery of significant human rights wins in Australia, Asia Pacific and globally. She built, led and developed key partnerships including business leaders, major funders, Indigenous communities and elders and civil society leaders and activist groups and was part of the Board team that developed and implemented major governance reform. Claire is an advisor, coach and mentor to CEO’s, senior executives and Boards and is a Member of AICD, Chief Executive Women, and Women on Boards.
Miranda is Principal in Class Actions at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. Her legal practice in the field of class actions is centred on corporate governance, market integrity and consumer protection. She has a long standing interest in environmental protection and has advised and conducted litigation on behalf of environmental organisations on many occasions.
Erna de Vries
Erna de Vries
Erna is a retired petroleum geologist and financial analyst with a keen interest in sustainability and corporate ethics. She studied Earth Sciences and worked as a geologist with international oil and gas companies including Shell, BHP and Ampolex. After working in the Netherlands, UK and Brunei, her career brought her to Australia. Erna obtained her MBA in Sydney and went on to work as a senior executive in corporate and institutional banking with Bankers Trust and then Westpac as Head of Resources Research and Commonwealth Bank as a senior risk manager. She has been involved in the financing decisions of many major mining and energy projects. For the last 15 years Erna has been an active volunteer in various local community campaigns.
Julie Lyford OAM
Julie Lyford OAM
Julie Lyford OAM is a strong, dedicated and experienced advocate for rural and regional communities. As a former registered nurse, local councillor and mayor, Julie is committed to the core values that build progressive and resilient societies. Her priorities are sustainable, liveable communities with fair, transparent and trustworthy political processes. Julie has extensive board and decision-making experience with Hunter Councils, Regional Development Australia (Hunter), Midcoast Water, Upper Hunter Arts, tourism and economic development committees. As a young mother concerned about climate change, Julie co-founded the Gloucester Environment Group in 1990 and went on to chair Groundswell Gloucester; a volunteer team protecting the Gloucester and Manning Valley from coal and coal seam gas extraction.
Catherine has been an activist for a number of decades, working primarily in Australia, the Pacific, Canada, China and Southeast Asia. Catherine first got involved in activism during the Franklin campaign in the 1980s, working for the Wilderness Society for almost 8 years.
Since 1996, Catherine has campaigned full-time on climate and energy issues and was a climate specialist at the David Suzuki Foundation in Canada from 1996 until 2002, leading their successful air pollution and climate campaign. Catherine then returned to Australia to work for Greenpeace Australia Pacific where she was a renewable energy campaigner before leading their climate and energy team. After that, Catherine worked in the Greenpeace China/East Asia office for 4 years as an energy adviser and finally as Deputy Communications Director.
Since 2013, Catherine has worked for Greenpeace International on international teams focusing on Audience Engagement and Campaign Strategy, primarily in Southeast Asia and Japan.
Catherine joined the Sunrise Project board in July 2019.
EMPLOYEES - AUSTRALIAN TEAM
Adam has four years’ experience on the climate team at GetUp, working to stop Adani, keep coal seam gas in the ground, save Australia’s Renewable Energy Agency and generally make federal climate policy less woeful. He has a journalism degree from the University of Technology, Sydney.
With 20 years experience as a communications professional, Alison worked for eight years as a senior media and policy advisor in state and federal parliament. With an Arts/Law degree from Sydney University, Alison began her career in law reform, working for NSW and Federal government agencies where she held senior positions at the Australian Law Reform Commission, Federal Health Department and NSW Anti-Discrimination Board. She has been an advisor with the NSW Cabinet Office and head of Media and Public Relations for the NSW Department of Community Services. Alison has managed media for federal, state and local government election campaigns. During university she worked as a journalist and editor in the print, radio and desktop publishing fields.
Brooke has extensive experience in advocacy driven philanthropy. In 2015 Brooke co- founded the Equality Campaign, the lead organisation for ‘Yes’ in the 2017 Marriage Equality Postal Survey. The Equality Campaign was Australia’s first professional LGBTI campaign organisation which, during the height of the postal survey, employed over 80 staff and managed 15,000 volunteers. Brooke also worked as the Equality Campaign’s Director of Philanthropy and developed and implemented a fundraising strategy that raised $20,000,000 in cash and in-kind donations. Under Brooke’s leadership The Equality Campaign led one of the most successful LGBTI fundraising campaigns in the world. Appearing regularly as a presenter, keynote speaker and panellist, Brooke is a skilled communicator and storyteller. In 2018 he was awarded the Prize for Best large Grant by Philanthropy Australia. Brooke currently serves as the Strategic Partnerships Director at The Sunrise Project, is a Director of the National Arts School and an Advisory Member of Atelier at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Law from the Australian National University.
Claire has 20 years’ experience in journalism, communications and campaigning in Australia and around the world. Claire has held a number of leadership positions, including most recently at Amnesty International Australia and as National Director of community-led renewable energy advocacy organisation Solar Citizens.
Claire has a broad history of organising and campaigning in the labour movement and for organisations of social impact, including overseeing communications for Australia’s successful Every Australian Counts campaign for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Deepa has worked and volunteered for a number of environmental Not-for-Profits mostly in New Zealand. From workshop facilitation on urban agricultural projects, to community organising, engagement and operations management, she is committed to climate, wildlife and social justice in everything she does.
She moved to Sydney in 2019 to be in a warmer clime, and closer to family and started at The Sunrise Project in June 2020.
When not at work Deepa is out exploring Sydney and National Parks by foot, cooking army-portion meals with her family, doing weekend quizzes and watching films with her partner, and reading wonderful books!
Ed has over ten years experience working on environment campaigns with grassroots community groups. Ed led successful campaigns to protect native forests in Tasmania and Victoria. He helped to scale the impact of forest campaigns through digital storytelling, media and citizen science.
Ed studied Natural Environment and Wilderness studies and the University of Tasmania. He volunteered in remote Vanuatu for two years, working with grassroots community organisations to establish small scale locally owned eco-tourism and marine conservation projects. Ed is passionate about applying his skills and experience to tackle the climate crisis, keep coal in the ground and protect the natural world.
Elly is a communications and media professional with more than fifteen years of experience in media relations, communications and public relations, in the arts, not for profit and government sectors. Before joining Sunrise, Elly founded and directed her own consultancy, which provided communications advice and support to some of Australia’s leading arts and culture organisations. She started her career as an Electorate Officer in the QLD state electorate of Clayfield, then the state’s most marginal electorate.
At Sunrise Elly coordinates media and communications work on our energy transition projects, including Australia Beyond Coal. She collaborates with other organisations and individuals in the sector to plan, identify and capitalise on opportunities to build a strong public discussion about the need to immediately transition away from coal power to reduce the impact of climate change in Australia and around the world.
Georgia has 20 years experience as an environment and social justice campaigner and a passion for bringing together analysis and activism. Georgia spent seven years coordinating Friends of the Earth Australia’s nanotechnology project, has worked as a political advisor and election campaign manager, as liaison officer to parliament for NSW’s environment groups, and as a research assistant investigating health and medical research policy.
Georgia has a PhD in Science and Technology Studies and an honours degree in Environmental Science.
Gemma has over 10 years’ experience working on climate justice campaigns, including as the National Director at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition working alongside the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network to build a generation-wide movement for climate justice. Gemma is passionate about building the power, skills and networks of everyday people to tackle the climate crisis. In her spare time, Gemma enjoys making amazing pasta.
Helie supports the office operations and the team at Sunrise Project. Most of Helie’s career has been spent as an Executive Assistant and office support for a range of not for profit organisations.
Holly has over 10 years’ experience working on mining, energy and climate justice campaigns at the grassroots level, in non-profit organisations, and for national labour unions. Recently she directed the NSW state political and community organising campaign Land Water Future, that saw fossil fuel mining licenses drop from covering 80% of the state to just 8%. She has a journalism and law degree – majoring in corporate and environmental law – from the University of Technology, Sydney. Previously, Holly worked with the labour union United Voice as national campaign director on climate justice and fair economy.
Jess’ foray into coal and gas issues was at NSW Farmers Association where she delivered over 35 training sessions to farmers on their legal rights when approached by coal or coal seam gas companies for exploration or extraction on their land. Having trained as a lawyer and studied International studies, Jess has also worked at NSW Parliament, EDO NSW writing legal materials for Local Land Services staff, and on shark conservation at Humane Society International (HSI) where she represented HSI Australia at the Convention on Migratory Species shark conference in Costa Rica. Jess also runs a small illustration business providing illustrations for environmental campaigns and small businesses in her own time.
Kelsey has eight years experience at GetUp, specialising in elections, project management and member engagement. She has also worked with organisations from the Online Progressive Engagement Network (OPEN). She has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney. In her spare time she is a keen potter and painter.
Lyn manages The Sunrise Project’s office operations. She has many years of experience in both non-profit and commercial environments, having worked as a Program Director in the Finance sector for over 20 years and as Operations Manager for small not-for-profit organisations. Lyn joined The Sunrise Project in July 2018.
Miriam Lyons leads the Sunrise Project’s work on renewable energy. Miriam has over 20 years of experience as a campaigner, policy analyst, writer and commentator. She has held a variety of leadership roles – most recently as Organising Director and Climate Justice Campaigns Director at GetUp, where she led a number of highly successful campaigns. She is a Fellow and former CEO of the Centre for Policy Development, which she co-founded in 2007. She is the co-author of Governomics (MUP 2015), has contributed to several publications and co-edited the books Pushing Our Luck and More Than Luck. She has been a frequent guest on various TV and radio programs, including Q&A and The Drum. Earlier roles include Policy Editor for NewMatilda.com, researching freedom of speech in East Timor, and organising ideas festivals.
Nicole is accomplished and passionate campaigner and strategist, and a strong believer in the importance and power of the Australian not-for-profit and social change sector. Nicole has over a decade of experience building, growing and managing campaigns, on issues including social and economic justice, international development, health and the environment. Most recently she worked with Essential, Australia’s leading social change communications and marketing agency, on digital, strategy and production for powerful campaigns like Rosie’s Batty’s Never Alone campaign to end family violence, Fight for The Reef, Save Our Marine Life, Put Education 1st, Protect Penalty Rates and Every Australian Counts. Strategic, inquisitive and driven, Nicole brings a wealth of knowledge on campaigning, digital strategy, communications and messaging to Sunrise’s Energy Transition Team. Nicole has a Bachelor of Applied Communications from RMIT University, where she graduated with distinction.
Reece has over a decade of environmental advocacy experience across a broad range of policy areas and organisations.
He has spearheaded campaigns for groups such as The Wilderness Society, Greenpeace and Solar Citizens on issues including over-fishing, land clearing, palm oil plastic pollution and renewable energy.
He has a passion for protecting nature which has seen him on the frontline defending Australia’s forests as well as spending many years investigating and exposing deforestation in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.
Reece has a practical understanding of the solar PV industry having spent three years assisting large energy users and households adopt solar and efficiency measures.
Reece holds law and politics degrees from the University of New South Wales.
EMPLOYEES OF OUR AFFILIATE ORGANISATION SUNRISE USA
Casey has two decades of experience directing successful international climate and corporate accountability campaigns for groups ranging from Greenpeace International to ForestEthics. He helped start the anti-sweatshop movement in the U.S. in the late 1990s, conducted the largest test for mercury exposure in U.S. history, and led campaigns that engaged the tech sector to eliminate toxic chemicals from its supply chains and move industry leaders (Facebook, Google, Apple) to invest in and lobby for 100% renewable energy. He is a graduate of Duke University and lives with his family in Oakland, California.
Cayla supports the Global Finance Team and started with The Sunrise Project in March of 2020. Aligned with her dual passions for productivity and creating a better world, Cayla’s role is ensuring each member of the team can focus on effecting change in the outside world while she handles everything from H.R. to program management.
Cayla currently lives in Colorado, USA. She holds a B.A. in Communications and has experience working in retail management, higher-education, and banking.
When Cayla is not working, she is enjoying the beauty and rigor that Colorado outdoors has to offer, learning the banjolele, and working with her Women’s Circle.
Diana has over a decade of organising and campaigning experience. Before joining the Sunrise Project team, Diana worked with Greenpeace USA to reform federal fossil fuel leasing policies, stop critical new fossil fuel infrastructure projects like export terminals and pipelines, and engage global financial institutions to restrict lending to new oil projects.
Diana works with a coalition of institutions and partner organizations to move Blackrock’s more than $6 trillion business away from climate and forest destroying investments.
She is a graduate of Vassar College and lives in Denver, Colorado.
Justin Guay is the Director for Global Climate Strategy. He has a decade of experience in nonprofit advocacy and foundation strategy development.
Prior to joining Sunrise he managed grant-making and strategy development for global coal campaigns at the ClimateWorks Foundation and Packard Foundation. At the Packard foundation he oversaw a $40 million grant making portfolio across all climate and energy priorities in India, China, the US, the EU and South East Asia. He also assisted in leading the Foundation’s Innovation in Climate Solutions strategy and energy focused Program Related Investments (PRIs).
He has also run the Sierra Club’s International Coal Campaign as the Associate Director for the International Climate Program. The program focused on global efforts to transition energy systems beyond coal to clean energy with a special focus on international finance. He worked for the Sierra Club since 2009, in roles involving lobbying, media relations, policy research and advocacy.
He has lived and worked in Mumbai, India where he supported local community groups advocating for clean energy solutions and partnered closely with distributed solar companies serving poor communities. Justin received a Master’s Degree in International Development from the University of Denver and received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah.
Mary brings over 13 years of organizing, activist training, and campaigning experience to her work at the Sunrise Project. She was most recently at Greenpeace US, where she managed a team of field organizers working to shore up support for climate action in key Congressional districts, became the Grassroots Training Director for a few years, and then worked as a campaigner on iconic oil fights including Arctic drilling and pressuring banks to stop lending money to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
As Outreach Manager, Mary works with cities, businesses, and other actors to pressure their insurance companies to divest from fossil fuels and stop insuring coal and tar sands projects.
Myriam has a decade of experience in environmental campaigning and communications. She started at Greenpeace US where she worked as a Grassroots Organizer, a Program Coordinator and Trainer, a Media Officer, and Global Communications and Mobilization Coordinator. She also spent time campaigning at sea aboard Greenpeace’s ships. Myriam is based in Chicago, IL and has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, and Photography. In her spare time she likes to take long bike rides around her home city, rock climb, travel, and play music.
Peter has worked at the intersection of environmental justice and finance for over twenty years, including in senior leadership roles with International Rivers and the Berne Declaration. Starting in 2006, he pioneered engagement of western NGOs with Chinese state-owned financiers of major projects, helping to prevent Chinese investment in destructive dam projects. He has strong international network experience and helped initiate the World Commission on Dams, the Public Eye on Davos, and several NGO networks including ECA-Watch and Banktrack. Peter is a Swiss national and lives with his family in Berkeley, California.
Ross has extensive experience working on critical policy issues like opening up the UN & World Bank to civil society, promoting strict regulation of the tobacco industry, and challenging the political power of the fossil fuel industry.
At the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids & the Framework Convention Alliance he helped usher in the world’s first public health treaty, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. He then created & program to fund & support citizen groups as part of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.
At Friends of the Earth, he used FOIA to publicly expose conflicts of interest in the environmental review of the
Keystone XL pipeline leading to an official State Department Inspector General inquiry.
Most recently, he served as US Campaigns Director at Stand.earth where they successfully defeated multiple West Coast oil train terminal proposals and pressured Starbucks to recommit to making a recyclable cup. A native of Buffalo, he holds a BA in African Studies from UC Berkeley & an MA in Applied Economics from American University.
Roberta, born and raised in Rome, has over seven years of project management, development, and campaigning experience. While in college at the University of California, Berkeley, Roberta worked to pressure the UC to move its money out of fossil fuels investments, and once graduated, Roberta continued to work with coalitions in California to help cities and counties cut their ties with Wall Street Banks.
Prior to joining the Sunrise Project, Roberta worked with Amazon Watch where she helped launch a campaign to expose BlackRock’s investments in oil and gas companies operating in the Amazon basin and directly threatening indigenous communities and territories.
Roberta currently lives in El Cerrito, CA. During her free time, she loves to spend time in the outdoor rock climbing and backpacking. She also volunteers with Sunrise Movement, a youth led organisation working on implementing a Green New Deal in the US.
Vanessa Pierce has over a decade of experience building and leading teams, starting and scaling winning campaigns, management coaching, organisational development, and strategy development. She has a track record of bringing greater operational excellence to the groups she works with, listening and leading with empathy, and has a canny ability to connect with stakeholders from a diverse array of backgrounds. Most recently, Vanessa was a consultant and advisor to the Climate Breakthrough Project where she supported visionary climate leaders in developing and launching high-risk, high-impact climate mitigation strategies. As a consultant, Vanessa has worked with a variety of clients as a facilitator, coach, and strategic advisor. Prior to her consulting work, Vanessa was the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Citizen Engagement Lab, she served as the Sierra Club’s Eastern Region Director for the Beyond Coal Campaign, and was the Executive Director of HEAL Utah, an NGO working on nuclear waste and energy policy issues. Vanessa is an alumna of Green Corps, the field school for environmental advocacy, and has a B.A. from Grinnell College.
Yiting Wang is a senior strategist at the Sunrise Project, where she develops efforts to align China’s Belt and Road Initiative with the Paris Agreement goals. Previously, she worked with the World Wildlife Fund to promote multi-stakeholder policy, financial and market initiatives to green China’s overseas investment and trade in energy, extractives, fisheries and agricultural production. She has published on the role of carbon finance in bringing clean energy access to India and East Africa, and has worked with a wide range of leading and grassroots environmental organisations around the world to campaign for greater ambitions for climate and sustainable development at international negotiations. Yiting has an MSc in environmental science from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.She is an enthusiastic cook that knows no boundaries and has a cat named Sweet Potato Noodle.
EMPLOYEES OF OUR AFFILIATE ORGANISATIONS IN EUROPE
Hilal has extensive experience in movement building, energy sector, finance and story-telling. Before joining Sunrise Project, she has been Greenpeace International’s global campaign strategist for finance work for 3 years and helped build various projects around the world .
Before she started working for Greenpeace Mediterranean in 2005 as a Climate & Energy campaigner, Hilal had studied Political Science in Istanbul and conducted research on social movements at EHESS-Paris. She led the GP Med campaign team in Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt between 2010-2014 and helped build strategies in coal, nuclear, oceans, GM and toxics and addressed issues around peace, having been part of significant moments like the Gezi protests in Istanbul. Between 2015-2017 she has been leading the Climate and Energy campaign in Nordic where she focused on finance work in particular, enabled the campaign for Norwegian Oil Fund’s coal divestment and helped build European energy strategies.
Lindsay has campaigned on environment and community issues for a number of decades. Prior to joining the Sunrise Project he worked on sustainable fisheries policy in the EU and Baltic. Before leaving Scotland to live in Sweden he was development director of the Kinning Park Complex, a vibrant cultural and community centre in Glasgow.
In the previous decade he was a senior campaigner with Greenpeace International leading global corporate work on the genetic engineering campaign and with Greenpeace Nordic where he variously led the oceans campaign, volunteer department and Arctic project development. Prior to that, working with GreenCity Wholefoods he coordinated the UK Wholefood trade genetic food alert food campaign in which he represented a large number of small and medium sized retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, importers and exporters.
In his youth Lindsay opened a wholefood shop and catering business, set-up Greenpeace volunteer groups, participated in local community campaigns against toxic waste dumping and in UK and EU campaigns about climate change and the dangers of nuclear weapons.