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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 Kate Johnston

Farm Stories 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.

James Diack

Farmer Engagement 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.

Dr Esty Yanco

Operations Manager

Esty has a transdisciplinary education and research background in conservation on production landscapes with a focus on the One Health benefits of regenerative land management. Her research in One Health has focused on realizing opportunities for improving landscape resilience by strengthening positive health relationships between humans, animals, and the environment. Esty has a dual BA in Biology and Geography (Dartmouth College), an MS in Conservation Medicine (Tufts University), and a PhD in Socio-Ecology (UTS), and has extensive experience in research project development, implementation, and administration.

Chris Wieffering

Communications Manager

Chris is passionate about localised food systems that are based on ecological principles. He has grown food for communities from the Mid North Coast to the Far South Coast and the Mornington Peninsula. During this time he developed a passion for resilient food systems and connected communities. He advocates for the importance of soil health as a critical element to environmental and social wellbeing. Chris applies his creative and visual skillsets to tell the stories of regeneration and ecological thinking. He holds a three year Diploma in Graphic Design, over a decade's worth of experience in visual content creation.

Jaime Hogan


Jaime is inspired by action-takers and holistic, place-based approaches to change. She has a diverse spatial, policy and research skill set, and over a decade of private and local government experience in community and design-led responses to strategic planning, sustainability, and climate challenges. Jaime has previously been involved in the Planning Institute of Australia, supporting the institute in preparing policies and campaigns for climate change, building sustainability and social policy issues. Jaime is also passionate about community and environmental wellbeing and is excited about the role that farming plays in systemic change. She has a BA and MA in Architecture (USYD), an MA in Urban Planning (USYD), and is currently completing her PhD in how regenerative agriculture is changing social and rural geographies.

Courtney Young

Senior Project Manager

Courtney is a community builder, farmer and passionate advocate for agroecology and regenerative grain growing. She co-founded Woodstock Flour with her husband Ian where they grow and mill organic grain for their community and bakeries across Victoria and NSW. Courtney is a committee member of GrAiNZ and she’s previously worked for local Landcare and the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance. She is a creative and holistic thinker with a Bachelor of Environments from the University of Melbourne. Courtney is driven to empower farmers and rural communities, and she sees food and farming as powerful levers for environmental and social change.

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.

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.

Sarah Fea


Sarah believes that agriculture is a noble practice 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 practices 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


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

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.

Carmel Onions

Carmel is passionate about the opportunities and practices that simultaneously regenerate landscapes, reduce net emissions and improve the profitability and resilience of farming enterprises. Carmel works in the banking sector and has almost 30 years of career experience spanning disciplines across finance, strategy, investment analysis, and business transformation in both Australia and London, and she works directly with farming families and corporate agribusinesses. Her achievements include writing the first sustainability linked loan in Australian agriculture. Carmel graduated from the University of Sydney with a First Class Honours degree in Agricultural Economics, and has completed a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance & Investment Analysis

Olivia Lawson

A strong advocate for a sustainable future in agriculture. For the past two decades Olivia has been a partner in a seed stock business based in central Victoria with a focus on holistic grazing systems, best practice animal welfare and sustainable land management, producing efficient, fertile, highly productive beef genetics. In recent years Olivia has served as a non-executive Director on various national and global Boards, advisory Policy Council (in Environment, Sustainability, Animal Welfare), Chaired Board committee in Governance, Finance, Audit, Risk. Olivia has participated in various carbon and climate in agriculture programs and contributed advice on policy development in beef sustainability. Olivia grew up in South Gippsland Victoria and completed a degree in Agricultural Science before working in the wool export sector. Olivia holds a lifelong passion for sustainable agriculture practices and was awarded ‘Landcare Sustainable Farmer of the Year’ in 2013 and the ‘Coles Weekly Times Beef Farmer of the Year’ in 2020.

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

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