Leadership Team

Johanna Parker (Co-Director)

Jo grew up in Warracknabeal and attended RYLA in 2005 whilst at Uni in Ballarat. She joined the RYLA Leadership Team in 2007, has been Co-Directing the program since 2011 and frequently keynotes at other RYLA programs across the globe.

Jo is an award-winning international speaker, confidence and public speaking coach, global coach trainer, personal leadership maven, TEDx Co-Curator and the founder of Heart Sparks (www.heartsparks.com.au) where, through a unique combination of heart, innovative strategy and personal healing, she has supported folks from over 60 countries worldwide to master their mindset, ignite their voice and build purposeful lives with an unwavering sense of self-worth and connection. Her work has seen many thousands of people build unwavering confidence in themselves and their businesses, her school-based curriculum has transformed wellness conversations in the education sector and her work as a Coach Trainer has supported hundreds of heart-centered people across the globe to build successful service-based businesses.

When not at work you’ll find Jo out somewhere listening to live music, drinking coffee and laughing with friends, or sitting beside her favourite fire pit (built by Pat!).

Tristan Knoop (Co-Director)

Tristan grew up in Warracknabeal and attended RYLA in 2005 before becoming a member of the RYLA Leadership Team in 2010. He has been Co-Directing the program with Jo since 2017.

Previously a manager in the retail sector, Tristan has worked in the disability employment sector since 2008, currently holding a position as State Manager where he supports teams of staff, improves organisational processes and empowers hundreds of individuals to source employment opportunities.

Having called Melbourne home from 2007 to 2020 and then recently making a seachange to the scenic location of Warrnambool, when not working Tristan enjoys time with family and friends, basking in the sunshine with a great book or planning social gatherings for family and friends.

Brooke Wilson

Brooke was a RYLA participant in 2007 and joined the RYLA Leadership Team in 2008. Brooke hails from Mt Gambier and is a proud South Australian, despite being a Collingwood supporter.

Brooke is a life coach and accredited counsellor and has her own business Brooke Wilson Counselling and Coaching (www.brookewilson.com.au). Brooke specialises in leadership coaching and works with clients to lead their life, lead their team or lead their future. She has decades of leadership experience as well as extensive experience working with and supporting children and families.

Brooke was born with a rare condition called moebius syndrome, whereby she is missing some facial nerves and muscles. For some people with the condition, it also affects their legs and feet and for Brooke this has meant using a walker to assist with mobility and stability over recent years. However, this hasn’t stopped Brooke from doing what she loves, and you will find her spending time with friends and family, getting involved in community events, relaxing with a good book or podcast and seeking out live music.

Jess Maffescioni

Jess attended RYLA in 2009 and joined the RYLA Leadership Team in 2012. She studied commerce at Deakin Uni in Geelong before moving back to her home town of Stawell in Western Victoria where she commenced work as an accountant at Findex. She now holds the position of senior manager and is a qualified Chartered Accountant.

Jess is heavily involved in her local community through various volunteer board and committee positions, receiving numerous accolades and awards for her community contributions. During her spare time you will find her playing lawn bowls, cross country running, baking delicious treats for family and friends, or reading a good book.

Pat Janes

Pat attended RYLA in 2012 and joined the RYLA Leadership Team in 2014. Originally from Derrinallum he now lives in Ballarat where he completed his Apprenticeship in Heavy Metal Fabrication and won both the Victorian and Australian Apprentice of the Year Awards in 2013. Pat now runs his own metal fabrication and engineering business where he looks forward to training and developing his own apprentices, not only as skilled tradespeople but also young leaders.

After work Pat loves spending time with his wife and two daughters. On weekends he enjoys the outdoors and has a range of hobbies including riding motorbikes, snowboarding, kayak fishing and four wheel driving.

Elise Winfield

El attended RYLA as a participant in 2015 and this is her third year on the RYLA Leadership Team.

El calls Horsham home alongside her partner and two daughters. Passionate about people, El has eight years of Retail Store management and team leadership experience in the Retail sector and graduated as a Life Coach in 2021. In her business, Fleur Elise & Co (www.fleureliseco.com.au) El encourages her clients to lean into joy, purpose, fulfilment and a sense of wonder in their everyday lives.

When she’s not working, El likes to get creative, get out of her comfort zone trying new things, attend markets and spend time with friends and family.

Lottie Lawler

Lottie grew up in far north QLD, but spent her teenage years in the Macedon Ranges (VIC). She now lives near Swan Hill, growing fresh fruit and vegetables with her partner and his family on one of Victoria’s largest Certified Organic family-owned (and run) horticultural farms. She attended RYLA in 2022 and this is her first year on the RYLA Leadership Team.

Lottie has experience in Mental Health work and recently completed her training in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. She primarily manages the direct-to-consumer sales on the farm, while supporting her partner in all things life and farming! She is also in the initial stages of starting up her Equine Assisted Therapy business to support local members of the community with their mental health.

Lottie is passionate about her community and connecting with people. She was a member of her local Rotary club for three years and has held various leadership positions in two local riding clubs. When she’s not working, Lottie enjoys riding her horse, preserving the fruit and veg produced on the farm, spending time with her family and friends and visiting new places.