BOARD 2017 – 2018
Ramzi ElSayed – President
Ramzi has been active in the Muslim community for more than 30 years.
He has held a variety of honorarium positions including president, vice president and treasurer on the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) for nearly 10 years. The ICV is the peak representative body for the nearly 200,000 Victorian Muslim Community with 63 member organisations
He has extensive experience working with young people having been a member of Young Muslims of Australia for more than 15 years.
He is an accredited Muslim hospital and prison chaplain.
Ramzi is a certified practising accountant (CPA) and a self-employed businessman. He has been married for 29 years and has 3 children and 3 grandchildren.
Dr Helen Light - Vice-President
Dr Helen Light’s portfolio is dedicated and extensive, having worked as the inaugural Director of the Jewish Museum of Australia from 1983 – 2010, she now works as a consultant in museums, exhibitions and with collections, specifically with multicultural heritage and interfaith issues. She also curates several exhibitions and inventories of public and private collections of Judaica. In addition, she has also worked with the Australian Multicultural Foundation to help ethnic community groups preserve their material history of migration and settlement.Throughout her work, Helen has been the President of Museums Australia (Victoria), an Executive Member of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV); and on the Boards of the Jewish Christian Muslim Association, the Faith Communities Council of Victoria and on the Advisory Boards for the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University. She is currently a Board Member of the Ethnic Community Council of Victoria and is on the Advisory Board for the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Art Gallery. She is an honorary associate of Museums Victoria.
Ian Hamilton – Secretary
Ian Hamilton has a BSc in Mathematics from Rhodes University South Africa and a Dip Ed from Liverpool University in the UK. He worked as a Secondary School teacher in Liverpool UK, Melbourne Australia and Johannesburg South Africa and on retirement helps to run, as a volunteer, a retreat centre in Wantirna.
Ian has been involved in many different roles within the Focolare Movement for many years and through them also became involved in inter faith networks both here and abroad.
John Flint – Treasurer
John Flint has over the years worked as a researcher, analyst, teacher, photographer, accountant and auditor. John’s roles have been as diverse as economic research and planning for the development of Canberra, to operations planning for Unilever; and operating photography and tax/accounting/auditing businesses for the last 40 years. The family has spread from Europe to Victoria, so when possible John enjoys traveling to new places, tasting new foods and learning new ideas.
These experiences have led John to build a “portable” accounting business model that can operate from anywhere, with the help of cloud computing technologies. In his spare time, John is a keen genealogist, active parishioner at South Yarra Catholic Parish, and loves the tranquillity of the grassy fairways, coaxing a tiny golf ball to fly straight & avoiding trees! Overall John believes in people – all people – of every race, gender, colour and creed.
Ayesha Bux – ICV Liaison Officer
Ayesha Bux is a fifth generation Australian of Pakistani heritage. She gained a valuable insight into the traditions and practices of the Abrahamic faiths during her Catholic schooling. This inspired ongoing support of interfaith initiatives. She has a Masters in Computer Science from RMIT University and has taught at various universities. Ayesha was on the board of SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council and is currently the Honorary Investment Consul for Pakistan in Melbourne. She has presented globally at various conferences and events including CHOGM Perth, WexNet and Education without Borders. She is an avid supporter and volunteer for various causes including women empowerment, inter-faith harmony and linkages, empowerment of the high needs or marginalised groups of the community.
Frances Prince, JCCV Liaison Officer
Frances Prince was born in Melbourne. She has been an educator at Mt Scopus College for over 25 years. In her current role she is Coordinator of Teacher Development, responsible for creating a culture of continuous reflection and improvement in teaching practice throughout the Secondary School. For twelve years Frances was Coordinator of the Outreach (Interfaith) program at Mt Scopus. Together with Rabbi Ralph Genende, she organised the first encounter in Melbourne between Jewish and Moslem secondary school students. She also initiated the school’s involvement in the Building Bridges Interfaith Dialogue program. Frances is Educational Facilitator at B’nai Brith Anti-Defamation Commission’s annual Multi Faith Future Leaders Program (for people aged in their 20’s). She writes and leads the National Council of Jewish Women’s annual interfaith Model Passover Seder for women and girls. She was a writer and educational consultant for Garratt Publishing’s “The Third Space” project, a series of interfaith novellas and educational guides for Australian Middle School students. She was also founding Board Member and Education Officer for March of the Living, Australia- an educational journey to Poland and Israel for Australian Jewish Year 11 students. She is married to Steven Kolt, and they have two adult sons.
Ashok Jacob, VCC Liaison Officer
Ashok Jacob grew up in India and is of the ancient Malankara (South India) Syrian Christian heritage. After working in India, United States of America and The Netherlands, he migrated to Australia in 1991. Currently he works in the Victorian Public Service. He was involved in the formation of the faith community of his tradition in Victoria and has held its different leadership positions, as well as actively involved in the faith formation of young adults of the community. He has served in the Executive Committee of the Victorian Council of Churches for more than 10 years and as its Deputy President in 2014 and then as President from 2015 to 2017.
Ashok holds post graduate degrees in Industrial Engineering (Indian Institute of Technology), Information Systems (Monash), Business Administration (Deakin) and Theology (Melbourne).
Ashok is married to Shyla and has 2 adult children.
Rev Ian Smith
Rev Ian Smith is an ordained Churches of Christ minister, is married to Karen and has 3 adult children. He has spent the last 30 years working in multicultural and interfaith settings throughout the northern suburbs of Melbourne as a local Christian minister.
Ian is the inaugural chair of the Northern Intercultural and Interfaith Network that is working across 5 municipalities in the Northern Region of Melbourne. Currently Ian is then Executive Officer of the Victorian Council of Churches.
Sithy Marikar arrived with her late husband and two daughters to Australia in August 1988, from Sri Lanka. To help members of the Sri Lankan community integrate and also understand Australian politics and the Australian way of life, Sithy together with a few others formed an association, Sri Lankan in Australian Affairs for which she was the inaugural Vice President. She later became an inaugural committee member of USMAA, United Sri Lankan Muslim Association of Australia.
Employed by Australia Post in 1989 as a Postal Services Officer Sithy, became an active union member and in July 2003 was elected as a union organiser for the Communication Workers Union – Victorian branch. Sithy was the first Muslim female to be elected as a union organiser in July 2007 I was elected as Vice President (Affirmative Action) of the Communications Workers Union of Australia.
Currently Sithy works as an Electoral Office (p/t) for Federal Member for Bruce and as a volunteer for the South East Community Links and is serving in a number of executive positions; Committee member of the Monash Council Interfaith Gathering & Monash Multicultural Advisory Committee, Committee member of the ICV Interfaith Group, Trustee – United Sri Lankan Association of Australia (USMAA), Vice President – Australian Advocacy for Good Governance in Sri Lanka (AAGSL).
Jim Cyngler OAM
Jim Cyngler has been a practicing mediator since 1992. He is a senior trainer for the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia and is a Principal Instructor under the Australian National Mediator Standards. Jim has been a practicing lawyer since 1976 and a member of the Victorian Bar since 1979. He is a builder and property developer and has a familiarity and background in business. He was as President for 11 years instrumental in developing one of Australia’s fastest growing Independent Schools. He serves on a number of not for profit boards. Specialties: Conflict Management Consultant and Skills Trainer, Commercial Negotiator, Facilitator, Mediator and Arbitrator, Barrister specialising in dispute resolution and conflict management, Commercial dispute resolution, Commercial property and construction law, Small business, Registered builder. In 2009 Jim was awarded an OAM for services to the community.
Ron Berenholtz has spent over thirty-five years leading the Organisation and People activities of some of the country’s largest organisations. These organisations have been in the public, private and government sectors and include Telstra, Pasminco, Smorgon Consolidated Group and Elders IXL. He has experienced a diverse range of businesses including telecommunications, information technology, financial services, transport and logistics, resources, steel manufacture and distribution, agricultural processing and brewing.
Ron’s interest has always been people and the organisations in which we work. More specifically, his focus has been working with both individuals and groups to help them deliver their performance objectives and to ensure that they work effectively and collegiately. He has worked both as an Executive Director within several senior leadership teams and more recently as an advisor to individuals and teams.
He has a broad range of community interests and serves on several boards of community organisations. His pro bono work is in organisations that focus on community services, education, and health. Ron is married with two adult sons who constantly challenge and amaze.