Career pathways into community development

One of the things we attribute to our success as a consultancy is the diversity of the people we employ. There’s a reason we connect so well with communities – it’s the depth and breadth of our experience.

Career pathways into community development

One of the things we attribute to our success as a consultancy is the diversity of the people we employ. There’s a reason we connect so well with communities – it’s the depth and breadth of our experience.

Our staff come from all sorts of backgrounds, we have filmmakers, former school principals, people who have worked in agriculture, and others who threw themselves into aid organisations. We have project managers, designers, anthropologists, strategists, urban planners, journalists and doctors with PhDs.

To guide those who wish to work in this space, our staff reflect on their own journeys to community development.

Lynden Prince, Social Innovation Lead

Lynden is our Social Innovation lead who brightens our days with her colourful wardrobe. When she’s not working with community groups, she is busy being a grandmother.

My community development career began with being a primary school teacher, then a teacher of life skills to young adults at TAFE. I then had a long career in International Development here and overseas. I then completed a Master’s in Development Studies, all of which provided theory to all my experience on the ground. During which I commenced work here at Creating Communities.

Throughout my life I have had a long engagement in my own local communities, particularly when I was a stay at home mum and heavily involved in running a lot of community groups and activities – I’ve drawn on these experiences throughout my time with CCA.

Andrew Watt, Director – Engagement, Planning, Education and Ageing

Andrew Watt is a former school principal, who is now a director at CCA. A self-confessed sport addict, Andrew hosts the podcast Sandgroper Sports and enjoys spending his time with his dog, Flynn.

My background is in education. Schools are very much hubs of a community – so the transition to Creating Communities was not too much of a shift for me in 2006.

I had various roles in the education sector including as a teacher; state-wide curriculum project leader in school and community links; managed the development of new schools and closure of schools; managed a district education office; was Deputy Principal and Principal.

My knowledge and skills in community engagement were forged through my work in the education sector – where you are constantly liaising and building relationships with a variety of stakeholders, staff, students, parents and families, seeking to understand and address their needs and aspirations.

Donna Shepherd, Managing Director

Donna Shepherd is the Managing Director of Creating Communities, she’s passionate about people and has spent the past six years as the chair of World Vision International.

My career started cleaning bottles for 5 cents apiece at my Dad’s pharmacy, child labour in retrospect, but I discovered an entrepreneurial drive as I started coming up with things to sell front of shop. After studying film and being a Filmmaker for a decade, I made the big decision to be more directly involved in social justice. This led to a Master’s in international development, working in Tunisia with NGO leaders, lecturing in Ecuador, USA and here in Australia. Then the transition to consulting. I then became the Chair of World Vision globally. I think having a broad experience, systems view and a team with diverse experience is needed in consulting. It’s what has led to Creating Communities being what we are today, able to address the, often wicked, problems our clients present with solutions that address social justice.

Kylie Elsegood-Smith, Community Development Lead

Kylie is our resident ‘Doer’ who can often be found at community events or singing in an indie-music choir.

I spent much of my adult life in a corporate role in the building industry and a few years ago I decided it was time for a change. Having spent many years doing community building in my local area as a volunteer, I decided to find a job that gave me a sense of purpose. My first job in community development saw me land a role at Town Team Movement, where I built the capacity of community volunteers and delivered events and conferences to share the placemaking approach. After a couple of years in that role, it was time to take on my next challenge. I had long admired the work of Creating Communities and when a role came up to work in Community Development and Engagement, I jumped on it. It has truly been the most rewarding work I have ever done.

Jessica Barker, Collective Impact Lead

When she’s not in Newman, you can find Jessica at Bike Bar working up a sweat to some great tunes.

I always thought I was meant to work in foreign affairs. I studied a double degree in politics, international relations, anthropology and sociology.

When I finished, I ended up working for a small Perth based fashion label in marketing, sales and manufacturing. I had a big love for ensuring the supply chain was responsible and ethical. From there I moved in to media relations within the arts, where I saw a unique way to tell stories about political and social issues. I went on to work in philanthropy and fundraising trying to work out how I could bring the interest of donors together with service providers to respond to social concerns and then found my way to CCA, after hearing Allan provide a lecture when studying my post grad in Social Impact. Now I get to spend everyday working to identify opportunities for social change in communities.

Erin Clise, Consultant

Erin is a consultant at Creating Communities who is conversational in both French and Spanish and enjoys spending her weekends learning how to cook Indian cuisine.

My pathway to this role was a bit different, I studied languages but then realised I didn’t want to be an interpreter, so I after I finished my degree I started working in hotels and climbing the corporate ladder. The pandemic made me think really deeply about success and how to make the world a better place, so I pivoted and went to work in Grants and Community Development, before working in Health Promotion. All of my experiences in developing strategy, community engagement and problem solving led me to this new role as a consultant at Creating Communities, where I really feel that sense of purpose I was looking for in my career.

Ross Robins, Senior Consultant Community Development

Ross is a senior consultant in the Community Development team. In his spare time he enjoys gigs, playing the guitar and hopes to one day write a book, he’s just not sure what about.

I started out on a 6 month volunteering project in Kenya and stayed on as an intern for another 3 months. The main focus was working with rural communities who were trying to get out of poaching and giving them an alternative income. Then I went to India coordinating a volunteer project mostly focused around education, sports, sanitation and disability. After that I spent about 7 years in the disability sector in London and Perth working with children through to adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, and in mental health – everything from directly working with people to doing project design and service development

Lia Ursich, Engagement Consultant

Lia Ursich is an engagement consultant at Creating Communities who has travelled all around the state in her role here. She’s even been chased by a lizard on a job, but that’s for another story.

My journey to community engagement started when I met a lady by the name of Elizabeth Shaw through ReachOut, formerly known as the Inspire Foundation. She got me involved in the Perth Youth Advisory Council, first helping with events and then as chair for five years. My role there got me more involved in Local Government and youth and community projects. I was working in admin while doing this and the HR company I was working for was looking after Creating Communities at the time, it was through this I got an interview with CCA and this set me on a pathway of working community engagement.

As our reflection of thirty years of our clients, people and history draw to a close, we found time to chat with Managing Director, Donna Shepherd, to hear her thoughts on the road ahead for Creating Communities....
As our reflection of thirty years of our clients, people and history draws to a close, we caught up with Founding Director, Allan Tranter, for his take on the next logical step on the road ahead for Creating Communities....
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Check out a few pictures we dug up from throughout the years....
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