Our People

Meet our incredible facilitators.
These guys are on the frontline delivering programs with hundreds of boys each week.

The Team

Hunter Johnson

“Hunter would you just stop talking in class?!” These were familiar words for a cheeky teenage Hunter, who once received twenty-seven detentions in Year 9. Despite his non-conformist nature, Hunter grew up in a family that always encouraged him to be useful and get up to something that matters. It took Hunter a little time to work out what was important to him but in 2014, alongside his best mate, he co-founded The Man Cave and has since channelled his passion and energy into the organisations success.

With a background in emotional intelligence, facilitation, and social entrepreneurship, Hunter has worked with tens of thousands of young people across Australia and is constantly inspired by their audacity and brilliance. Hunter’s work has led him to speak around the world including presenting at the United Nations, Government House, the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Town Hall, Graduation Ceremonies and various Universities.  Hunter has been recognised as a Finalist for the 2020 Young Australian of the Year Awards (VIC), listed as one of Harper’s Bazaar’s “Visionary Men of 2019”, named a 2018 Queen’s Young Leader by Her Majesty The Queen, and 2018 Winner of the EY Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Southern Region).

Claudia Fatone
Head of Operations

Combining a passion for sport, social justice and gender equality, Claudia joins The Man Cave following eight years as CEO of the Fitzroy Legal Service. During this time she led the successful merger of Darebin Community Legal Centre and the Fitzroy Legal Service, one of the oldest community legal centres in Australia.

A thoughtful and empathetic leader, Claudia’s commitment to a more inclusive, fairer and safer community has influenced her work and volunteer roles. For 10 years Claudia participated as a volunteer mentor with the YWCA’s Asista mentoring program and recently finished her maximum term as a Director of Cricket Victoria (the first female to be elected to the Board in the organisation’s history). The importance of positive, visible and consistent role models was only reinforced through these experiences and Claudia truly believes that you can’t be what you can’t see, equally true for boys as for girls.

Outside of work Claudia enjoys supporting the Carlton Football Club and Melbourne Stars Cricket Club in their respective men’s and women’s competitions, re-discovering knitting and catching up with nieces and nephews interstate and overseas.

Matt Defina
Head of Programs

Growing up between adventures in the beaches, bush and suburbs of Victoria, Matt has been driven to seek out wholesome and challenging experiences from a young age. Inspired by endless trips skiing, scuba diving, hiking and traveling, Matt has always been driven to find the potential in himself and others and to create environments where people can flourish. Through The Man Cave, Matt now wants to give young men experiences that will expand their view of what is possible in life, for themselves and in their relationships with others.

While Matt initially worked in corporate consulting, his desire to contribute directly to social change and lead a values-aligned life led Matt to throw in a promising business career and take up a full-time role at The Man Cave. Now a registered Psychologist (Organisation), Matt used his studies to gain knowledge and skills in ethical psychology practice, gender stereotypes, leadership, and how to create organisations and communities that bring out the best in people. 

Always up early and drinking a good cup of coffee, Matt has continued to seek out new challenges and has trekked to Mount Everest Base Camp, completed a 10 Day Vipassana silent meditation retreat and recently completed his first Ironman Triathlon in just over 10 hours.

Al Green
Head of Community

Coming from a strong background in drama, Al values and focuses heavily on creative, experiential training to explore and understand the human condition. He honed his skills through 7 years at The Reach Foundation as a Facilitator, Trainer and Culture Leader, working with over 40,000 young people across Australia and creating and delivering hundreds of workshops. His experience also spans keynote presentations, MC’ing and facilitating workshops from graduate programs to CEOs in the corporate space exploring authentic leadership and positive organisational culture.

In his spare time, Al hosts a creative performance space in a blanket fort, is the 2012 Australasian champion of Wall Ball and has an ongoing interactive sound project focussed on lucid dreaming.

Katie McLeod
Relationships Manager

Katie has an extensive background in retail and the realities of delivering outcomes that genuinely meet customer needs.

More recently Katie has applied those skills to the not-for-profit sector through her stakeholder engagement role at ShareGift Australia where she built strategic relationships with top ASX-listed companies and a number of major charities.

Katie is a mother of two teenage boys. Originating from a family of all girls, Katie experiences every day of motherhood as a revelation. As a parent, Katie has direct experience helping her boys navigate the complexities of high school and adolescence.

Katie is a curious seeker of new information, with a personal interest in global politics and global equity. She reads broadly and enjoys indulging in a good crime novel.

Angelica Avila-Lemos
VIC Programs Manager

Angelica is passionate about effective communication, operations and customer care. She has come into The Man Cave after running her own Zumba Fitness business for 9 years in school and community settings. She studied health promotion at university and strongly believes in prevention over cure – one of the many reasons she is passionate about the work The Man Cave does. Angelica enjoys being creative about how to ensure program coordination is effective and rewarding for the boys, teachers, parents and the team at The Man Cave. Angelica can speak Spanish, loves salsa dancing, dogs and personal development courses.

Daniel Datnow-Jamieson
Operations Manager

Daniel is an energetic creative who loves to solve a good problem with a smile. He has a background directing brands in the music industry, covering communications, creative direction, design, operations and event management. When he’s not in the office, you can find him at home in the studio recharging his batteries and working on his next gig.

Daniel feels a strong calling to the work of The Man Cave, openly acknowledging the positive impact such a program would have had on his own time at school. When The Man Cave put out the call for a Communications Manager in May 2019, Daniel saw the perfect opportunity to give back to others by combining his interests and experience for this value-driven cause.

During his tenure as Communications Manager, Daniel discovered a passion for designing and creating data-driven systems that enhance the everyday functioning of our organization. As of January 2020, Daniel shifted his focus to Operations, where he is responsible for developing the backend systems that facilitate our growth as we expand our work and impact more young men in Australia.

Joel Hines
Head of Academy

Joel is a passionate and dynamic facilitator, educator and coach, motivated by wanting to assist people to be the best possible versions of themselves.

Joel’s professional background spans over 2 decades and a number of industries including mental health, technology, primary, secondary and adult education. His knowledge and range of life and work experience inform his strong desire to empower others and seek out collaborative solutions to complex problems.

A keen storyteller, Joel integrates his patience, compassion and diligence into all that he does. His aim is to motivate, inspire and genuinely assist humans to be their absolute best, and achieve their dreams, goals and aspirations. He believes we all have innate gifts that when allowed to shine through and offer the world something remarkable and special.

Sam McCully
Chief Assistant to the CEO

PhD from the Academy of Life

Sam has only a vague recollection of going to school but does recall she was keen to wrap up high school and get on with life. Jump forward 30 (and some) years and aside from her significant background & experience as a personal/executive assistant, Sam spent much of her early career in the not-for-profit sector working in services for children/young people, people with a disability and for women.

Known for her high attention to detail, Sam is highly organised – a scheduling & logistics guru – and not only works to ensure our CEO is where he needs to be, when he needs to be there, she also supports the TMC team when extra help is needed.

In her spare time, Sam LOVES to travel – with a long bucket list of countries yet to be visited, Sam will stop at nothing to tick off the list whenever she can take the time to get away.

Daniel Paproth
Communications Coordinator

Daniel, or Pappy or Papi as he is also known, joined The Man Cave way back in 2018, when the organisation was growing rapidly and in need of new facilitators. He has been a facilitator ever since, continuing that role today.

In early 2020 he took on the role of Comms Coordinator, following a series of persistent emails to The Man Cave’s brains trust. Pappy has a background in writing, journalism and PR, having worked across these industries since 2009. Feeling a growing sense of disconnect to those worlds amidst a burning passion for The Man Cave’s work, he left the professional world and now contributes these skills to The Man Cave, helping to build out the organisation’s communications strategy.

Pappy is driven by a desire to create a generation of more empowered, empathetic men, and now devotes most of his week to that cause, whether coordinating comms or facilitating workshops.

Outside of the Cave, Pappy loves his partner Emily, his cat Teresa, his Nintendo Switch, red wine, his extremely unsafe 1985 Honda City, and his favourite band U2 (you may have seen him win Hard Quiz…)

Tess Alston
Financial Analyst

When Tess was a child, her parents moved around a lot and this gave her a chance to experience what it was like in various communities around the world. It also opened her eyes about the social inequality that existed, and how some people, through no fault of their own, found it impossible to become the best person they could be and contribute positively to their community.

It became Tess’s passion to work with others to allow both boys and girls, men and women, to become empowered.

After studying finance and economics, and working in the tax/accounting industry for a decade, Tess started working at the Man Cave where she could combine her passion and her finance knowledge. Yay!

“We are capable of incredible feats, but they won’t come without focused effort, living our values, consistent feedback, and expert guidance.”


The Board

Michaela Healey

Michaela is a founder of the International Women’s Forum Australia, a member of Chief Executive Women and Vice President of Berry Street, Victoria’s leading provider of care and support for children who have experienced trauma or family difficulties. She was previously Group Executive, People Communications & Governance at the National Australia Bank Group, responsible for people, leadership, culture, corporate responsibility, government affairs, communications, legal and governance.

Michaela was also a founding director of ShareGift Australia, a not-for-profit that enables shareholders to convert their shares into cash for tax deductible donations to a charity of their choice, and an advocate in the establishment of the Big Issue Homes for Homes initiative. As a mother of a teenage son and a director of Berry Street, Michaela is aware of the pressures and challenges young men face and the importance of the development of skills to navigate life. After many years in board rooms Michaela now seeks to spend more time out in nature on her stand up paddle board or in her vegetable garden. Michaela is also an aspiring apiarist and yogi.

Ian Ward-Ambler

Ian contributes widely to the community, and carefully considers each role before accepting. Mission alignment for him is imperative but it’s also about ensuring he can make a contribution (and learn much in the process!) In addition to Chair and Board Director at The Man Cave, Ian is Deputy Chair, Voyages Indigenous Tourism (Ayers Rock Resort) and Chair, Mutitjulu Foundation; Trustee Director and Investment Committee member, CBA Group Superannuation Fund; Board member and Chair, Finance and Audit Committee at Trinity College; Council Member and Chair, Investment Management Committee at Melbourne Grammar School; Advisory Board Member, Indigenous Leadership, Excellence and Achievement Program (I-LEAP) at Melbourne University; and Director, Foundation Five Nine.

Ian is also an executive coach.

Ian spent much of his career in Finance, retiring in 2012 from Goldman Sachs, as Head of the Asset Management Division. He is the former Chair of Hands on Learning and former Vice Chair of ANROWS. Ian is a family man, married with four children. His passions include travel, golf and enjoying life to the fullest.

Jono Nicholas

Jono Nicholas is one of Australia’s most prominent advocates for better mental health and has an Honours degree in psychology and a Masters Degree in Public Health.

He was a founding staff member of  ReachOut, Australia’s leading digital mental health service for young people and their parents. During his twenty year tenure with ReachOut he helped establish the service in the US, was Founding CEO of ReachOut Ireland and CEO of ReachOut Australia from 2010-18.

In 2018, he stepped down as CEO to establish the Wellbeing Outfit, a consultancy firm dedicated to helping organisations improve their performance by improving the wellbeing of their people. Through the Wellbeing Outfit he is an Executive Consultant specialising in mental health at EY and advised a range of large organisations on strategies to improve the mental health and wellbeing of their staff and customers.

In addition to being a board member of ManCave, he sits on the Board of the ASX listed investment company, Future Generation Global and is Deputy Chair of the Foundation for Alcohol, Research and Education.

Jono has a lifelong love of football and continues to play with a level of enthusiasm that far outstrips his talent. His support of Crystal Palace FC, reminds him each year that winning is not the most important thing in life. Most importantly, Jono is a father to three awesome boys and is dedicated to ensuring that they grow up in a world that enables them to be awesome young men. His support of ManCave is small  part of making this happen.

Carolyn Bendall

Carolyn is currently Chief Marketing Officer at Swinburne University of Technology, and before that was GM Marketing for ANZ and leader of its Marketing Centre of Expertise.

Carolyn’s 25+ years’ experience spans corporate, commercial and retail market segments in diverse disciplines as brand strategy, advertising, media, sponsorship and integrated campaign delivery, internal communications and culture development through to distribution channel and product management.

She was a founding member of the ANZ Disability Action Plan Steering Committee, is passionate about developing financial confidence and empowerment in women, and has been recognised with 16 Cannes Lions for ANZ’s sponsorship leverage of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Carolyn led Mumbrella’s 2016 Marketing Team of the Year and was listed #8 and #14 in CMO Australia’s CMO50 2016 & 2017 listings. She also has professional qualifications in marketing, psychology and a diploma from the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

She is committed to a more inclusive world where diversity is valued, opportunities are equal, and people are simply kinder to one another. Carolyn is a devoted mother to two young-adult daughters and a teenage son, loves spending time with family and friends, and is passionate about animal conservation, staying healthy, walking, travel, books, cosy fires, food, wine and laughter.