Our Team

Ilana Cooper


Ilana is a strategist and community engager, with a background in social enterprise and public health. She is a problem solver, with a business mind and a creative heart, passionate about using her skills in human-centered design and systems thinking to tackle today’s social issues. Her diverse experience is backed up by her credentials, with a master’s degree in Public Health and qualifications in design thinking and adaptive leadership.

Ilana started out her career in insights and strategy in the creative advertising world, working to engage consumers on some of Australia’s biggest brands – Coke, Seek and Museums Victoria. After completing a Master’s in Public Health, Ilana translated her advertising experience into community engagement and communications for NGOs focused on HIV/AIDS. This experience developed her understanding of the profound impact of community building and how to achieve outcomes with little resources.

Her experience within NGOs inspired her to build her own social enterprise – the first and only BCorp certified catering company in Australia focusing on zero waste – Dan the Man Cooking. Ilana recognised that the industry was wasteful and harming the environment, with no one in Australia challenging the status quo. She ultimately built the business from scratch, leading a team of people to transform what was possible in the catering industry, and leaning into her community focus to set up an advisory arm to help other organisations.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Ilana felt a calling back to public health, taking up a position at NSW Health. She is currently still there focused on tackling health challenges, with a heavy emphasis on community engagement and human-centered design.

From a personal perspective, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been a central focus to Ilana’s life. She was born in the 80s at the beginning of the epidemic in Australia, with a father who dedicated his life to tackling HIV/AIDS both from a medical and social perspective – the late Professor David Cooper. Her father always taught her the power of community engagement and putting the people impacted, at the heart of everything.

From a young age, Ilana has felt strongly connected and included as an ally to the queer community. The wonderful queer community she and her family were embraced by, were and are uniquely themselves, celebrating diversity and embracing difference. She has held these values throughout everything she does and wants to truly celebrate these values that have been intrinsic to both her and her late father.

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