Executive Director and Founder
Isabelle is a prominent leader successfully driving system change on the critical issues of our time, helping build a fairer, safer and more inclusive Australia.
In 2017, Isabelle founded Grata Fund, a leading not-profit based at the University of NSW that acts as a campaigner, litigation incubator and funder for people and communities challenging systemic gridlocks across three key areas: human rights, climate injustice and democratic freedoms.
As Executive Director of Grata, she leads the strategy and collaboration with some of the nation’s top legal minds, civil society organisations and community advocates to support and design cases to advance and protect rights and freedoms. Grata has incubated numerous landmark cases that have set significant precedents and shifted the dial on important subjects, from challenging climate change injustice, to exposing abuse in offshore refugee detention centres, and establishing new rights to humane housing in remote First Nations communities. She has helped facilitate almost $2M in philanthropic case funding from passionate supporters. Prior, Isabelle had more than 10 years’ experience as a director and lawyer at organisations including Getup, Immigration Advice and Rights Centre, and as a solicitor at Clayton Utz, where she acted for First Nations clients seeking stolen wages reparations in remote East Kimberley.
As Australian communities evolve, Isabelle helps government, law makers and decision makers understand key societal shifts in values and expectations and speed up change to avoid the civil unrest and inequalities that impact other countries. She is known globally for influencing the way the law, civil society and social movements work together to create a fairer world.
Isabelle was named the 2022 Emerging NFP Leader in Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards, is a Churchill Fellow, and the 2021 Women's Leadership Institute of Australia Fellow, awarded to women "who are leaders in their respective fields, women who have innovative approaches and the courage, conviction and capacity to create real change".
A mum of one, she is also part of the big conversations about providing more support for working mothers and female leaders.
First Nations Rights Advisor
Rodney is a proud Palawa Elder from Tasmania and the Indigenous Rights Advisor for Amnesty International. He is on the Voice Referendum Working Group, Chair of the TAS Heritage Council, Chair Pakana Services, Co-chair of Weetapoona and a former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner (ATSIC) for Tasmania.
He has been a lifelong advocate for Indigenous People’s rights, particularly fishing and hunting rights, repatriation of Indigenous people's remains and the rights of people to live on their traditional homelands. Rodney was Tasmanian nominee for 2011 Australian of the Year, 2006 NAIDOC male Person of the Year and presented the 2013 Human Rights Individual Award at the Tasmanian Human Rights Awards.
Acting General Counsel
Zaki graduated from University of London with LLB. (Hons) in 2000, the following year he was called to the Bar of England and Wales as a barrister of Lincoln's Inn. In 2007, he obtained his LL.M from UNSW. He is a practicing solicitor in NSW and also an advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
For many years, Zaki worked mostly as a corporate and commercial lawyer both in top-tier private practice and as in-house counsel for multinational corporations. Notably, his roles over the years included working as senior lawyer at Deacons in Australia and as general counsel and director of Grameenphone, the largest telecom subsidiary of Telenor Norway by subscription, founded by Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh. Zaki also received various professional trainings over the years, including advanced leadership training in Norway, advanced negotiation skills training in Spain and international arbitration training in Egypt.
In 2018, Zaki had a change of heart and decided to divert his legal career to focus on human rights laws. Prior to joining Grata Fund, Zaki worked with Human Rights for All as a Special Counsel, he was engaged in all aspects of legal services to clients detained in onshore immigration detention in Australia, including representation before courts and tribunals.
Senior Solicitor (Strategic Litigation)
Courtney is a human rights lawyer with experience working alongside communities and civil society partners to tackle issues of systemic injustice through strategic litigation.
Before joining Grata Fund, Courtney worked as a civil lawyer and Human Rights Fellow at Legal Aid NSW. In these roles, she advised and represented clients across New South Wales in housing/tenancy, discrimination, police accountability, social security, consumer, rights in detention and Stolen Generations Reparations Scheme matters. She also managed outreach clinics and community legal education initiatives for clients facing homelessness in the Riverina-Murray region, Aboriginal communities in the Northern Rivers and First Nations women leaving custody across the state.
While completing her studies, Courtney worked at Kingsford Legal Centre, the Refugee Advice & Casework Service and the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, with a focus on client casework, UN advocacy and policy/law reform projects.
Courtney holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of International Studies from the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney). She has also studied politics and international human rights law at Sciences Po, Paris.
Head of Philanthropy
Hannah is a former lawyer with over a decade of experience working in philanthropy. She has experience in leading teams, operations, and securing and stewarding multi-million dollar partnerships for for-purpose organisations in both Australia and the UK. In 2020, Hannah completed McKinsey & Co’s Executive Leadership Program thanks to a scholarship from ACOSS.
Hannah is a member of the Advisory Board of The EastWeb Fund, a grant-making sub-fund of Australian Communities Foundation. Hannah has previously volunteered with Reprieve, supporting indigent defendants on death row in the USA. While working as a solicitor at King & Wood Mallesons, Hannah also volunteered with the National Children's and Youth Law Centre and the Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic (now Justice Connect). Hannah is a passionate writer with her non fiction being published in a range of publications including Delicious, Australian Traveller and Gippsland Country Life magazine and her fiction being longlisted for The Richell Prize in 2020. Hannah lives with her partner and daughter in Melbourne’s inner north.
Acting Head of Strategic Communication
Susie has worked for more than 20 years in the not-for-profit sector as a communications leader specialised in media relations, public affairs, strategic and crisis communications, and multi-channel advocacy and engagement campaigns.
Susie is a people person with great energy and enthusiasm for finding creative ways to advance a fair and just society. Buoyant and optimistic by nature, she leads with her values, always looking to turn problems into opportunities and solutions. She is passionate about storytelling, social change, learning about people and cultures, caring for our natural world and living in harmony with our fellow creatures, the forests, rivers and oceans.
Ruby Mitchell is a filmmaker, graphic designer and communications professional.
Ruby grew up in Moruya, on Brinja-Yuin and Walbunja Country on the far south coast of NSW and first picked up a camera at the age of 8 to secretly film her Mother’s tupperware party. Since then Ruby has always been fascinated by people and helping them tell their stories. She has now grown her services and specialises in documentary filmmaking, digital content creation and communications strategy. After completing a Bachelor of Communications at UTS and Cert IV in Graphic Design, Ruby went onto work as a Journalist at the ABC creating content for radio, television and print.
In 2020, Ruby established a small business dedicated to providing affordable and ethical videography, training and media services to community organisations and NGOs. She has also worked as a Communications Manager for a First Nations non-for-profit and has ample experience working alongside young people and vulnerable communities. Her most recent project include a feature-length documentary following young people in a bushfire recovery program in regional NSW.
Madeleine Burkitt is a campaigner and digital communications specialist with more than six years' experience across economic justice, climate and environmental justice, democracy, and human rights issue areas.
She has worked at GetUp, where she led campaigns to reform Australia’s punitive welfare system, advocating to raise the rate of income support and abolish privatised employment services, and during the 2022 Federal Election. Prior to this, Madeleine worked at Greenpeace, where she worked across climate justice, renewables, and ocean protection campaigns. Madeleine began her career at SCARF Refugee Support as a Communications Officer, a community organisation that still has her heart. She has recently joined Equity Evolution — a collaborative network aimed at reducing systemic inequities within workplaces and in the wider community — as a founding co-creator.
Madeleine lives and works on Gadigal land in Sydney, where she enjoys illustrating and dreaming about one day having a veggie patch.
Elena is a campaigner, gardener and climate activist.
Before joining Grata Fund, Elena worked at Marrickville Legal Centre as a client intake officer at the Community Empowerment Fund where she partnered with communities to reduce the racial wealth gap in North Carolina.
Prior to her work at community legal centres, Elena was an intern to the executive vice president of Duke to design policies to help achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. She also assisted local government and school districts in Florida to reduce municipal carbon footprints and ensure all community groups had a voice in drafting policies.
Elena has recently collaborated with the Humanities Action Lab to create a museum exhibit that explores racial injustice through the lens of African-American gardeners in North Carolina. The exhibit, titled Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice, is currently traveling the globe.
Aakriti is studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and Arts at the University of New South Wales, specialising in politics and international relations. She has also received a Certificate in Transnational Law from the University of Geneva.
Aakriti was Issue Editor of the University of New South Wales Law Journal in 2022, and President of the UNSW United Nations Society in 2021. She has worked as a legal researcher to prominent Senior and Junior Counsel, and clerked at Corrs Chambers Westgarth. Prior to this, she was a client intake officer at Marrickville Legal Centre.
She lives on Dharug Country, and in her spare time she enjoys reading, playing the saxophone or immersing herself in her newest hobby.
General Counsel, Parental leave
Maria Nawaz is a human rights lawyer with expertise in human rights, discrimination law and women’s rights.
Maria is an experienced public interest advocate, having advocated for stronger human rights protections with individual clients and the community at the NSW, Commonwealth and international levels.
Maria was previously a Lecturer at UNSW Law, where she co-taught the UNSW Human Rights Clinic. She was the Law Reform and Policy Solicitor at Kingsford Legal Centre, where she led the centre’s law reform work on human rights, discrimination law, women’s rights, employment rights, as well as UN advocacy. She has also worked at Legal Aid NSW and the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.
Maria was the Deputy Chair of the Law Society of NSW’s Human Rights Committee, an Executive Councillor of NSW Young Lawyers, and Chair of the NSW Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee.
Head of Strategic Communication, Parental leave
Belinda is a human rights specialist with over 10 years experience building and winning human rights campaigns. She has worked across a variety of human rights issues including Indigenous justice, LGBTQI rights, death penalty, people seeking asylum, freedom of association and assembly and workers rights.
Before joining the Grata Fund, Belinda worked at Amnesty International Australia as an Indigenous Rights Campaigner, Media Adviser and activism and mobilisation specialist. During this time she led a campaign to reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in Australian prisons with a particular focus on alternatives to prison, conditions of detention raising the age of criminal responsibility. This work included human rights investigations that exposed abuses against children in the Western Australia Banksia Hill prison which garnered national attention and led to changes in prison and departmental practices.
Belinda has also worked on the campaign to prevent the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in Indonesia, the 2017 marriage equality postal vote and the campaign to prevent the lashing of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.
Belinda initiated Amnesty International Australia’s Human Rights Observer program, built an online rapid response network, led the development of the global nonviolent direct action guide and pioneered direct networking between human rights activists in the Asia Pacific.
Prior to her work at Amnesty, Belinda worked in the union movement for the Community and Public Sector Union and a range of other human rights, environmental and public health campaigns.
Belinda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies. She is currently studying for a Graduate Certificate in Political Economy.