About the Hive

Our Team

Meet The Hive Team

The Hive’s work is led by a small team of people committed to creating lasting change in 2770 through collaboration and innovation with community voice at the centre.

Rubie Ireson
Jean Villacorta
Early Years Strategy Lead
Laura Faraj
Partnerships and Policy Lead
Andrea Reyes
Early Learning Linker
Marika Kahle
Community Mobilisation Manager
Lacey Kelly
Child Health Project Officer
Sala Walter
Communications and Project Officer
Brigid Burke
Community Capacity and Engagement Officer
Andrew Fernando
First Nations Lead
Emma Offereins
Child & Family Engagement Officer
Renee Stevens
Community Capacity and Engagement Officer
Rubie Ireson, Director

Rubie joined the Hive as Director in 2020 and provides strategy and direction to all of The Hive’s work in Mt Druitt. Rubie has experience in Collective Impact work, and has held various leadership roles. Rubie works alongside The Hive’s key partners to build relationships, advocate for system-level change and identify new opportunities to respond to community aspirations and priorities.

Rubie has a great love for Mt Druitt, she completed her high schooling locally in Bidwill and continued to work in Bidwill, and in the Western Sydney area for many years. Rubie is a mother to a toddler, has two large German Shepherds, and two of her own podcasts.

Jean Villacorta, Early Years Strategy Lead

Jean joined the Hive team in 2020. With her Master of Education in Early Childhood Leadership, she is responsible for advising and guiding The Hive’s Early Years Strategy across the 2770 postcode. This includes advising on the Hive’s early years activities such as Linker and CUBS, as well as coordinating the Early Childhood Educators Network. Jean has worked locally as the Educational Leader at a local Preschool for many years ensuring high quality education and care.

With her own child having some challenges in speech, she is incredibly passionate about early intervention and support for children with additional needs.

Laura Faraj, Partnerships and Policy Lead

Laura joined The Hive team in 2017 and is the Partnerships & Policy Lead. This includes designing and implementing The Hive’s advocacy strategy, providing guidance to the 2770 Collective regarding advocacy activities, participating in relevant government inquiries, and building relationships with key policy makers and stakeholders to result in equitable policy and system-change for Mt Druitt.

Laura has held multiple roles in her time at The Hive as the work has grown, including Community Development Officer, Child Health Linker & Child Health & Development Project Lead and has assisted in embedding place-based child health projects for Mt Druitt including the CUBS Program & Willmot Paediatrician Clinic. Laura enjoys reading and keeping active through running and short distance triathlons.

Andrea Reyes, Early Learning Linker

Andrea joined the Hive in 2021 as one of our Early Learning Linkers. Her role involves providing families with 1:1 support to enrol and sustain enrolment in childcare and preschool. As a Blacktown resident, Andrea is particularly passionate about advocating for a community that is inclusive of people with all kinds of abilities, backgrounds and cultures.

Andrea has experience as a local disability support worker, youth leader, and is currently a social work student at The University of New South Wales.

She enjoys listening to music and spending time in nature in the Blue Mountains.

Marika Kahle, Community Mobilisation Manager

Marika is a community development specialist who joined our team in September 2021 in the newly created role of Community Mobilisation Manager. Marika leads our community engagement team, including leading the design and delivery of community engagement strategies and initiatives across all 4 of the suburbs the Hive is engaged in.

Marika supports the broader collective team to prioritize the capacity building of community leaders and mobilising community members to partner in and lead the community development work of Together in 2770. Marika has travelled the world and has a passion for working with CALD communities.

Lacey Kelly, Child Health Project Officer

Lacey joined The Hive as Child Health Linker in 2023 and brings with her years of experience in Early Childhood Education and Early Intervention. With a Diploma of Children’s Services and experience with the NDIA, Lacey is passionate about providing equal opportunity to all children in the early years, by supporting and advocating in the allied health space, including accessing NDIS funding and navigating supports to assist with building children’s health and development.

Lacey is a mother of two who can be found watching her boys play sport and being creative in her spare time.

Sala Walter, Communications and Project Officer

Sala joined The Hive in April 2023 as the Communications and Project Officer. Sala manages our communications and oversees the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (DPIL) with the goal of supporting Mt Druitt families build their children’s literacy and developmental skills that are needed to start school well.

As a 2770 local, Sala is committed to amplifying the stories of her community to achieve system change through meaningful engagement and collaboration across our suburbs.

Sala enjoys bushwalking, live music, and spending time with her cats.

Brigid Burke, Community Capacity and Engagement Officer

Brigid joined The Hive in April 2023 as a Community Capacity Engagement Officer, bringing a passion to drive meaningful engagement and empowerment initiatives.

With a deep commitment to community development and collective impact, Brigid works to bridge gaps and cultivate connections that uplift the voices and aspirations of those we serve.

Brigid moved to Australia from the United States in August of 2018. She likes to spend her free time on the couch with a book, or spending time with friends.


Andrew Fernando, First Nations Lead

Born on Gomeroi land in a small NSW country called Collarenebri, Andrew worked in a variety of jobs including a shearer, bull-catcher, NSW Police officer, and a nurse before joining The Hive as the team’s First Nations Lead. Andrew’s role seeks to support the collective’s work engaging with Aboriginal residents and organisations, and build our capacity for cultural understanding and inclusion. 

Andrew is passionate about helping the most vulnerable in our community. He has 3 teen children, loves all sports, and enjoys fishing, camping and cooking.


Emma Offereins, Child & Family Engagement Officer

Emma joined the Hive team in 2023 with a decade of early education experience including management, Educational Leadership, behaviour therapy and working with children with additional / sensory needs. She runs and attends playgroups and other children’s events across the four core suburbs of the Hive’s work and passionately seeks to capture children’s voices.

She is passionate about making sure every child is heard and respected, and that their carers are also receiving the support they need. In her spare time, Emma enjoys a good cup of tea, going to the beach, and taking her mini dachshund out paddle boarding.

Renee Stevens, Community Capacity and Engagement Officer

Renee is a proud Gamilaraay woman with connection to Gunnedah, Moree and Tamworth in the North West of the state; Renee was born and grew up in Western Sydney.

She brings a deep passion for community, education, and empowering Indigenous people.

With over 10 years of experience in family services, youth justice, and education, she is committed to leveraging her skills and lived experience to make meaningful contributions within the community.


Our Vision & Mission

Enabling an environment where every child starts well, thrives and enjoys diverse life opportunities.

Our Partners

The Hive works collaboratively with our Partners to achieve lasting change in 2770.