Celebrating our people

Every year we recognise the outstanding contributions of exceptional individuals to the work of Greening Australia, awarding them for advancing our mission and vision. Our awards acknowledge our dedicated staff, landholders and volunteers. Here are the winners and finalists for 2019.


The Chris Jones Environmental Stewardship Award: Lenny Parisi, Queensland

CEO Brendan Foran and Reef Aid program director Dr Lynise Wearne with award-winners Lenny and Grace Parisi

The Parisi family has farmed sugarcane on their property in the wet tropics of northern Queensland for three generations. Much of their farmland adjoins areas of significant environmental value. The creeks running through the Parisi’s farm flow to the Mulgrave River, and then to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. These creeks are home to the endangered Cassowary, the unique Cairns Rainbowfish and Smooth Crayfish, as well as plants otherwise found only in the Daintree Rainforest. Landholder Lenny Parisi embraces being a good custodian of the land. A respected community member, he is active in Mulgrave Landcare and has been involved with Sugar Research Australia’s Cane to Creek project from inception. The Parisi’s farm also has Smartcane Best Management Practice accreditation.

Lenny has worked with Greening Australia on the Figtree Lagoon Wetland Project since 2017, in a partnership essential to our Reef Aid program. Through Greening Australia’s partnerships with Mulgrave Landscare, AccorHotels and Sukin, 14,000 trees have been planted along 6 km of waterways on his land. He has also provided over 7 ha of marginal land for a constructed wetland — a first for Greening Australia in the region — complemented by 7,000 trees planted by Mulgrave Landcare volunteers. The riparian plantings and constructed wetland filter water running into the important fish habitat of the Figtree Lagoon of Mulgrave River.

The work on Lenny’s property is already a catalyst for new environmental projects planned for the lower Mulgrave catchment, and is attracting interest from neighbouring farmers, NRM groups, government and the media. Lenny welcomes visitors onto his farm to showcase the wetland project with a big heart and open arms. A gifted public speaker, he takes every opportunity to promote landscape restoration through better farming practices. He is a true ambassador for Reef Aid and for Greening Australia’s vision of healthy and productive landscapes where people and nature thrive.

Lenny Parisi also recently received the major Reef Champion Award, the prestigious Prince of Wales Environmental Leadership Reef Sustainability Award.

Congratulations to the other finalists: Bill Nosworthy, SA; Rae & Lindsay Young, TAS; and Darren West, WA.

Cumberland-Dodds Medal: James McGregor, South Australia

James has made an outstanding contribution over more than 15 years at Greening Australia. From writing successful multi-million-dollar funding applications to testing drones, from creating a national impact reporting dashboard and field-based apps to making beautiful plant and fauna guides, nothing is too much trouble. James applies his diverse and substantial skills to almost any area, and his thirst for innovation sees him taking projects further than imagined, producing great results.

Congratulations to the other finalists: Blair Parsons, WA; Lieu Pham, QLD; and Nel Smit, TAS.

Volunteer of the Year Award: Chris Pedersen, South Australia

Chris has volunteered at Greening Australia’s nursery in Adelaide for seven years. A happy, respectful and kind individual, he immerses himself in any group and willingly shares his considerable knowledge on a range of topics with great passion. Chris is always enthusiastic to start the day and takes on any task allocated. He takes an outstandingly proactive approach to maintaining the nursery and grounds, going the extra mile to improve their appearance, functionality and safety.

Congratulations to the other finalists: Men of the Trees, WA and John Fitzgerald, ACT.
Our heartfelt thanks to all 7,202 volunteers who contributed to our work this year.

People and Culture Award: Chris Macris, New South Wales

Regularly providing leadership to his peers outside of his expected role, Chris gravitates naturally toward accountability, decision making and managing risk. He is a genuine all-rounder — technically competent with a strong business acumen, able to manage dynamic situations, others and himself. Chris balances competing priorities while remaining competent, approachable and accountable. He truly embodies Greening Australia’s values and behaviours.

Congratulations to the other finalists: Tracy Achemedei, WA and Paden Wilson, NSW.

New Leader Award: Ioana Radu, Queensland

Ioana joined Greening Australia in 2018 and became a key driver in organisation-wide implementation of Dynamics NAV and Power BI. Her focus on improvements has set the foundation for tools that allow staff to collect and analyse information for in-depth data visualisation and improved decision making. Always ready to listen, Ioana builds trust and respect by providing overwhelming assistance. She is an unremitting leader, who stands up for what she believes is right.

Congratulations to the other finalists: Evan Freame, NSW; Joseph Meadham, WA; and Jimmy Collinson, TAS.

Work Health and Safety Award: Dr Blair Parsons, Western Australia

Blair leads by example. He brings significant work health and safety experience from previous positions with remote area commercial consultancies and mining projects, and displays passion and enthusiasm for staff safety. Most importantly, Blair doesn’t rely on compliance but goes above and beyond to keep staff safe. Blair’s approach exemplifies the importance Greening Australia places on putting people first and how we strive to embody safety as the number one priority in all we do.

Congratulations to the other finalists: Maryanne Smith, QLD; Drew Liepa, VIC; Paden Wilson, NSW; Mel McRoberts, NSW; and Chris Macris, NSW.

More about our people