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Our People

Eli Court

Chief Executive Officer

Eli is a skilled communicator, a builder of bridges and a person who loves to bring people together to work towards a common cause. He understands the reality and challenges of farming, and is deeply committed to soil and landscape restoration, and to seeing regional communities benefit from the opportunities that regenerative approaches to agriculture offer. Formerly the Engagement and Communications Manager at Soils for Life, Eli has over a decade of experience in the non-profit sector working on climate and sustainability research, policy and engagement. His former roles include Engagement Director at Farmers for Climate Action and System Lead (Food, Land and Oceans) at ClimateWorks Centre, as well as a range of roles in energy systems, community building, government policy development, advocacy and law.

Dr Katie Ross

General Manager

Katie is inspired by the diverse communities regenerating our landscapes and their transformative impacts on the wellbeing of our societies and nature. For the last 20 years, she has worked in community-led non-profits and applied research institutes, with diverse initiatives in rural development, community engagement, collective learning, and action-based, transdisciplinary research for change. She brings this unique perspective to Soils for Life to help find the trends, bring these innovators together in meaningful ways, create the conditions for them to nourish each other, and then illuminate their stories with those who need to hear. She has a BA in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (Columbia University) and a PhD in Learning for Sustainable Futures (UTS).

James Diack

Programs Manager

James spent a decade as a community organiser before completing a degree in agriculture. His thesis investigated how Research and Development Corporations address the adoption of regenerative agriculture. Now living in Braidwood, NSW, James has a particular interest in the repair of degraded landscapes. He loves working with people, composting and soil science.

Di Walker

OPERATIONS MANAGER

Di has extensive Australian and international experience as a business manager as well as being passionate about farming and soil health. She has spent a number of years work at the Department of Health managing the business engagement and IT systems for the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Di is also a wool grower in the Yass district.

Helen King

AGROECOLOGIST

Helen is an agroecologist who has studied, taught and researched ecological process and regenerative agriculture at the Australian National University for more than a decade. Helen previously worked in the research, development and extension sector including as the Deputy CEO of the CRC for Greenhouse Accounting and Business Development Manager with the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. At Soils for Life, Helen’s combined ecological, business and strategic perspective helps bring the research community, industry groups and regenerative landscape managers together to support continuing innovation in regenerative agriculture.

Chris Wieffering

Communications Manager

Chris is passionate about nature based, localised food systems. He has grown food for communities from the Mid North Coast to the Far South Coast and the Mornington Peninsula. During this time, he nurtured a strong connection to resilient, small-scale food systems and connected communities. He advocates for the importance of soil health as a key element to environmental and social wellbeing. Chris applies his creative and visual skillsets to tell the stories of farmers who are on their journey of restoring the health of soil and land. He holds a three year Diploma in Graphic Design, over a decade's worth of experience in visual content creation, and an enthusiasm for advocating for healthier ecosystems.

Dr Kate Johnston

Case Study Manager

Kate is inspired by those who produce our food and loves sitting down with them for a chat. She believes that meaningful change in our food systems and the regeneration of our landscapes can come through working collaboratively with diverse communities of food producers, innovators and researchers. She is a social scientist who works in an integrative way to bring together different forms of expertise and knowledge to tackle complex ecological and social challenges. She completed her PhD at the University of Sydney and prior to joining Soils for Life worked at the Sydney Environment Institute (USYD) where she is now an honorary fellow.

Kate Taylor

ECOLOGIST

Kate is an Environmental Scientist and has been working in the conservation industry for the past 10 years focused on ecology, natural resource management and threatened species recovery. She has worked within not-for-profit organisations and aboriginal corporations in the South Australian rangelands, and in agriculture as a jillaroo on cattle stations in central Queensland. Kate has a passion for closing the gap between agriculture and conservation and exploring how regenerative (biological) agriculture can achieve positive outcomes for our environment, society and economy.

Kirsty Yates

AGROECOLOGIST

Kirsty is an agroecologist inspired by the deep commitment that the regenerative community has towards enhancing the landscape, building strong, vibrant communities and producing healthy, nutritious food. At Soils For Life, she helps to share the innovations, experience and insights of land managers using regenerative approaches to support wider adoption. She brings the research community and other industry groups together with regenerative landscape managers to improve understanding of regenerative approaches and support continuing innovation in regenerative agriculture.

Dr Katharine Brown CPSS

Soil Scientist

Katharine is an accredited soil scientist specialising in soil and land assessment, management, and rehabilitation. She believes that understanding soils is fundamental to creating healthy, functioning landscapes. Katharine has a natural desire to build and share soil knowledge and is currently exploring the role of soil science in regenerative agriculture. She is confident that soil health and condition, and profitable food and fibre production, are not mutually exclusive. Katharine has a broad range of experience, having worked in government, industry, consultancy, and education. She is a proficient communicator and considers a well-hosted conversation on soil to be the next best thing to getting her hands dirty. Katharine holds an MSc in Soil Science (Aberdeen University), a PhD in Land Rehabilitation (UWA), and a Graduate Certificate in Regenerative Agriculture (SCU). She is the current President of the NSW Branch of Soil Science Australia (a volunteer role), and is a recent graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Drought Resilience Leaders Mentoring Program.

Dr Tania Leimbach

Integrative Research Officer

Tania is a social researcher with a passion for ecology and the living systems that support life. She completed her doctoral studies through the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Her thesis and subsequent research and teaching have all drawn on ecological principles and practices. Since graduating, Tania has worked as a research consultant, applying and strengthening her skills in mixed-method qualitative research, and developing her understanding of social impact monitoring and evaluation (M&E). She has designed and delivered a range of higher education programs and is passionate about quality education that meets the needs of the 21st Century.

Sarah Fea

Agroecologist

Sarah believes that agriculture is a noble practise and forms the health of a civilisation. Her passion is building the capacity of our agricultural communities from the ground up, by reconnecting us to our roles as food and fibre producers. No matter the enterprise, location, or choice of management practice, Sarah thinks the one conversation that unites us is “achieving restoration of soil functionality”.

As an agroecologist with over 30 years of experience in nearly every agricultural practice, Sarah supports individual farmers and small groups to transition their management mindsets and practises towards improved soil and landscape health, supported with in-field observations and fit-for-purpose lab tests. Her purpose, her “WHY”, is to help farmers gain better understanding as to how to appreciate and manage freely available resources - soil, water, sunshine, air, soil micro-workforce, human community - to enable their most effective functionality.

Our Board

Alasdair Macleod

Chair

Alasdair is Executive Chairman of the Macdoch Group, a private investment office with presence in Sydney and London. In Australia, the Group’s interests comprise Macdoch Ventures, an early stage venture capital investor, Macdoch Agricultural Group, with interests in farming, Agricultural technology and Agricultural advisory businesses and The Macdoch Foundation, a charitable corporation which supports environmental and mental health initiatives.

Charlie Maslin

Charlie is a farmer from the southern Monaro, where he has been involved in running a grazing property, ‘Gunningrah’, for the past 35 years. After school, and before returning to his family property, Charlie graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics. He then worked for a futures broker at the Sydney Futures Exchange and as an advisor and trader in the wool and cattle futures markets. Since returning to Gunningrah, the scale, enterprise and management philosophy of the property has undergone a lot of change. The main driving force behind these changes is to sustainably manage part of our precious Australian landscape while coping with the vagaries of the farming environment.

Eve Crestani

Eve is an experienced Chairman, Non-Executive Director and business consultant. She qualified in law, and has 30 years’ experience in board and committee governance. She has deep experience in board strategy development, risk management, change management and human resources. Her breadth of industry experience includes financial services, professional services, education, health and retirement living development and operations. A key feature of her board career is governance of complex businesses. Eve is currently a director of the Zurich Australia Group, Australian Unity Office Property Fund, Seres Asset Management Limited (HK) and booking.com.

Justin Borevitz

Justin grew up on an experimental vegetable farm, pursuing his interest in plant science at University of California, the Salk Institute and University of Chicago before moving to the world-leading Plant Science Division at Australian National University. With a focus on the genetic basis of adaptation in plant populations, including wheat and the iconic Eucalyptus, he contributes to agricultural productivity and landscape conservation. His work has developed next generation genetic analysis and plant growth facilities extending to landscape-scale field research with high-resolution monitoring and environmental sensing infrastructure. The work enables precision studies of (agro)ecosystem responses to changing management and climate. The ultimate goal is to work with farmers to ensure food security, safeguard biodiversity and ecosystems, and to draw down 1 Gigaton of Carbon Dioxide per year with regenerative farming systems across 100 million hectares.

Garry Browne AM

Garry has extensive CEO and Chair experience across business, not-for-profit, and education sectors including the Centre for Social Impact, Legacy, Rotary Foundation, UTS and UNSW. Garry is a highly regarded industry leader, known for his expertise in consumer branding, leadership, cultural change and business innovation. He was CEO and Managing Director at Stuart Alexander & Co. for over 20 years and was appointed Chair in January 2018. Garry is a highly regarded industry leader, and currently divides his time between roles in the Corporate, Government and Not-for-Profit space, along with various mentoring and philanthropic projects. Garry is passionate about building community and charitable organisations through working with young CEO's and up and coming leaders.

Want to join the Soils For Life team? Visit our careers pages to find out how.

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