Our Trainers
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Our Trainers

We work closely with our team of experienced internal trainers and external consultants to design and create workshops in response to the needs of service providers and communities. All of our trainers and consultants possess extensive experience.

Meet some of our wonderful trainers and facilitators:

Dr Criss Jones Diaz

Criss Jones DiazDr Criss Jones Díaz has been a teacher educator for over twenty years. Prior to her commencement as a lecturer at the University of Western Sydney, she taught English as a second language in Central America and the Caribbean where she learnt Spanish as a second language. Her professional background is grounded in education and community contexts where she has actively promoted equity and social justice for children and families from diverse sociocultural backgrounds.

In recent years, she has collaborated with practitioners from various children’s services to establish home language and bilingual support programs. This involves intensive professional development on language learning and retention issues, observation and assessment procedures and pedagogical practice. She has also worked closely with the NSW Department of Education and Training providing professional development to Community Language and ESL teachers. In her capacity as a volunteer she is the Principal and Treasurer of a not-for-profit Community Language Spanish School, affiliated with DET (NSW) which offers Latin American Spanish to primary aged children in the Inner West of Sydney.

She has recently completed her PhD investigating the complex articulation between languages, identity, power and education in bilingual children and families from Latin American-Australian backgrounds. In 2009, she was awarded the Beth Southwell Research Award for outstanding thesis by the NSW Institute for Educational Research. Her research and publication interests are primarily in critical and cultural studies with an emphasis on languages, literacies and identity negotiation in contexts of diversity and difference.

She has been involved in a number of collaborative research projects: ‘Mapping Early Literacy Practices in Early Childhood Services’, ‘Literacies, Communities and Under 5s’ and ‘Diversity and Difference in Early Childhood’. She has published numerous journal articles and is the co-author of One Childhood Many Languages: Guidelines for Early Childhood Education in Australia, co-editor of Literacies in Early Childhood: Changing Views, Challenging Practice, co-author of Diversity and Difference in Early Childhood Education. Issues for Theory and Practice and co-editor of Literacies in Education: Changing Views, Challenging Practice (2nd edition). Currently, she is a Chief Investigator in the UTS / DOCs ARC study in collaboration with UW and Notre Dame University investigating early literacy in informal settings in Pacific, Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Nisirne El-Chouefieti

Nisrine has worked as a speech pathologist with children, families, communities and in transdisciplinary teams for 12 years.

She has been dedicated to achieving outcomes for communication, language, literacy, social skills and learning by empowering the child’s family and creating meaningful and culturally relates to experiences to feel included and participate.

Nisrine is committed to working with early childhood educators and completed a masters research project, with The University of Sydney that supported the development of educator skills and partnerships with families. She loves to work in teams and enjoys coaching and facilitating change and critical reflection to develop cultural competency.

Nisrine works closely with ethnic community services to be an advocate for positive bilingualism and cultural inclusion. She delivers training and offers parent and child groups .

Grace Leotta

Grace LeottaGrace Leotta is an organisational, community development and training consultant for human services. She develops and facilitates training programs, facilitates service development/change management, planning and community engagement processes, and conducts reviews, evaluations and research.

Grace has a background in family work, community development and service management primarily with people with disability, their families and carers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

She also has experience in teaching at a tertiary level in community consultation, community management and social science.

Grace is an accredited social worker, a nationally accredited trainer and assessor, an internationally certified facilitator and public participation practitioner, and a Harvard University trained adaptive leadership (leading change) consultant.

Margaret Piper

Margaret Piper is a consultant with over 28 years experience in the refugee sector. Her work has primarily focused on research, training, capacity building and policy and program planning. After 6 years with Austcare, Margaret was appointed Executive Director of the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) in 1991, a position that she held util 2005. During her time at RCOA Margaret participated in both national and international fora and spent time visit research fellow with the Refugee Studies Centre at oxford University. She also conducted field research fellow with the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University. She also conducted field research in many parts of the world including SE Asia, the Balkans, Africa, the Middle East and Papua New Guinea and is the author of numerous reports and studies.

Since leaving RCOA Margaret has continued to work closely with the refugee sector, conducting research for and providing advice to a wide range of government and non-government agencies. Between 2011 and 2013 she also held a part-time research fellow position at the University of Sydney focusing on refugee children and youth.

Margaret is also a member of the board of the Australian Red Cross and in January 2011 Margaret was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her work with refugees.

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What participants say about our training

“Great workshop. We can’t wait to go away and implement what we learnt about inclusive practice."
“It’s inspired me to learn more about the diversity in my service and the local community.”
“It really boosted my confidence for working with CALD and refugee families.”
“Thanks for a great workshop. It gave us some excellent ideas about how we can celebrate diversity in our service without being tokenistic.”
“It helped me understand the importance of exploring the cultures and languages relevant to the children in my service.”
“I’m going to start making more of an effort to incorporate cultural competence into my staff meetings.”
“I really enjoyed deconstructing the concepts of culture and identity.”