Leadership Team


Clare Desira (co-director)

Clare grew up in Colac and attended RYLA in 2004 while she was studying Business at the University of Ballarat (now Federation Uni). Clare joined the RYLA team in 2004 and has been co-directing the program since 2007. Clare works in corporate responsibility connecting skills and resources to several social issues and opportunities – environment, Indigenous, health, education, volunteering, homelessness and women’s empowerment. Clare has her own business as a life and confidence coach, speaker, facilitator, product developer and founded the Top Five Movement (www.topfivemovement.com). Clare’s approach to living a practical, positive life has been described as inspiring, engaging, uplifting and thought provoking. Her ideas have been shared with thousands through a TEDx talk, at global conferences, corporate workshops, leadership programs, in education curriculum, at universities and in health programs. With a passion for positive behavioural change, Clare looks forward to spending a week with a new bunch of young people at RYLA each year.





Johanna Parker (co-director)image002

Jo attended RYLA in 2005 whilst studying Rural Social Welfare/Psychology at the University of Ballarat (now Federation University). She joined the RYLA Leadership Team in 2007 and has been Co-Directing the program since 2011. Jo is an international speaker, Life and Confidence Coach, kindness and authenticity advocate and the founder of her greatest passion and life work, her business Heart Sparks ( www.heartsparks.com.au ), where she passionately supports and empowers young adults and women to understand more about who they are than they ever have before, to feel confident and proud in their own skin, to uncover their greatest passions and to step outside of their comfort zones and create purposeful and exciting direction in their life. Originally from Warracknabeal, Jo now calls Melbourne home and in her free time you will likely find her cafe-hopping with her friends and hubby, seeing live music or planning her next travel adventure.






image003Brooke Wilson

Brooke was a RYLA participant in 2007 and joined the leadership team in 2008. Brooke went to Uni in Adelaide after finishing Year 12 and studied Behavioural Science. After completing her degree Brooke returned to her hometown of Mount Gambier and has been working for a local non-government organisation ever since. Brooke is currently in a management role supporting staff who work with families and children in need. Brooke loves spending time with friends and family, getting involved in community events, listening to music or attending concerts and watching or going to the footy – GO PIES!







Tristan Knoop

Tristan works in the disability employment sector for the past 8 years, he attended RYLA in 2005 and joined the RYLA leadership team in 2010. Tristan enjoys having a hit of Hockey, reading a great book, or visiting family. He was originally from Warracknabeal and now calls the big smoke (Melbourne) home.










Jess CassJess Cass

Jess attended RYLA in 2009 and joined the 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 Crowe Horwath. She now holds the position of manager and is a qualified Chartered Accountant. She is heavily involved in her local community through various volunteer board and committee positions. During her spare time you will find her playing lawn bowls, hiking in the beautiful Grampians, baking delicious treats for family and friends, or reading a good book.








Daniel McDonaldDaniel McDonald

Daniel attended RYLA in 2014 and joined the leadership team in 2016. Growing up in Ballarat, Daniel completed his education locally and went on to attend Federation University completing a Bachelor of Education (Physical Education/ English) in 2015. Now full-time teaching in Ballarat, Daniel also fills his weeks with personal training clients and coaching cricket. He also enjoys playing his own cricket and any sport for that matter.








Patrick Janes – Pat attended RYLA in 2012 and joined the 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 also bought his former employer’s business in December 2013 and now runs his own metal fabrication and engineering business. He looks forward to training and developing his own apprentices, not only as skilled tradespeople but also young leaders,
in the future. Aside from work Pat enjoys the outdoors and can be found riding enduro dirt bikes, snowboarding, fishing, four wheel driving, playing with his dog or playing guitar.