Our Ambassadors

Flic Manning - VIC

Flic Manning has lived with Crohn's disease for over two decades. She is the founder of Corethentic, a wellness system created on the back of her experience living with inflammatory bowel disease. 

Flic is a certified wellness coach, personal and group fitness instructor, dance teacher and meditation coach. She also has a Diploma of Neuroplasticity. 

Flic shares her passion for wellness as a keynote speaker and is currently writing a book about her experiences. She believes it is her purpose to inspire others to embrace wellness and step into the light, so that they can not just simply live, but thrive.

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Melissa Lord - QLD

Melissa Lord has Crohn’s disease, officially diagnosed at 18. For her, the diagnosis was scary, but at the same time, it was a relief because it meant she had a course of action. 

At the time, Melissa was young and had never heard of Crohn’s before. She was the first person in her family to be diagnosed with any form of IBD. Naturally, she learnt a lot about herself and IBD in a very short time. She felt alone, like she couldn’t talk to anyone, even though she had so much support around her. 

Now, Melissa is a completely different person. Almost 37, she’s coming up to her tenth ‘stoma-versary’ in November. These days Melissa is so much more driven because she can be. Her stoma has given her the freedom to do things that will make her boys - her motivation - proud. She wants to do her part to help raise awareness and change the stigma of IBD. 

As Melissa says, “I share my experiences in the hope that it will help others who are in the same position I was, all those years ago. We’re in this together. The IBD community is full of strong, resilient people and I’m grateful to be a part of it”.

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Levon Bakalian - NSW

Levon Bakalian started his journey as a jewellery and accessory designer and diamond setter by trade. He has spent over a decade as a marketing, communications and brand manager working with global brands, and taking on many categories in the luxury world, in addition to diamonds, jewellery and accessories (including fragrance, cosmetics and fashion). 

Levon lives his daily life through the philanthropic mindset of doing good and helping others in any way that he can. His approach to life is to harness his experiences from living with Crohn's disease, and use them in a way that inspires others to push themselves to be their very best. 

Throughout his career, Levon has dedicated himself to mentoring, coaching, and providing brand and marketing services to individuals and businesses to help shape their brands and ventures in a way that helps their business thrive.

Levon can best be described as a go-getter and true positive-thinker. He is happiest when he can see that his services and guidance have helped others succeed and exceed their own expectations. Levon is a proud Ambassador for CCA, a true foodie at heart, and a wine connoisseur on the weekends (but not on methotrexate days!).

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Gemma White - QLD

Gemma White is a 28-year-old real estate professional, beauty queen and philanthropist.

Gemma has found the real estate and property industry to be extremely rewarding. She has always been hard-working and ambitious in both her professional and personal endeavours.

Gemma won her title of Miss Australia Continents 2018 and had an incredible opportunity to represent Australia in an international pageant where she placed 1st runner up last year. Pageantry has led her to become more actively involved with many charities over the years too.

Gemma loves being outdoors, exploring, adventuring and staying active, but has had some setbacks whilst battling Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune diseases, Crohn’s being the underlying cause. She tries to embrace a positive outlook on life and remains grateful for each and every day. Reflecting on this mentality, she says, ‘I believe it's important that we don’t compare ourselves with anyone else for we are all on our own journey; we are all unique and we all have a story”.

Gemma is grateful for the opportunity to be a Live Fearless Challenge Ambassador and aims to help shed some light and raise awareness around autoimmune disease. Gemma hopes to inspire others going through their own battles to never give up and to keep pursuing their goals and dreams.

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Dr. Jim Kantidakis - VIC

Jim Kantidakis is a clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist with over 10 years of experience. He is one of the first in Australia to specialise in this psychological and hypnotherapy treatment of people diagnosed with gastrointestinal problems. He and his psychologists are also the only known psychologists to provide such treatment to children in paediatric gastroenterology in Australia. 

Jim was also the first Australian to travel and undergo training from leading Gastroenterologist Professor Whorwell and the founding gut-directed hypnotherapy team in Manchester, UK. 

He has since been invited to present at several gastrointestinal conferences and events, including Australian Gastro-week conferences, the Australian Neuro-Gastrointestinal and Motility conference, continence symposiums, and a seminar for nurses on the role of psychological therapies for IBD management. 

Jim’s passion and keen interest in the area of gastroenterology have inspired him to develop and train his own team of expert psychologists/hypnotherapists in his own practice, The Gut Centre. He also opened Australia’s first private IBD counselling clinic in 2010 at The Gut Centre.

Jim is also currently involved in St. Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne) Functional Gut Clinic as the clinical psychologist and hypnotherapist on staff. 

Jim says he is “truly proud” to be an Ambassador in this year’s Live Fearless Challenge. He says, “as a clinical psychologist, I am constantly inspired by the resilience and strength I see in the individuals diagnosed with chronic disease. I consider myself very privileged to be part of my patients’ journeys and proud of my role in helping them work through their emotional and physical challenges and assisting them in improving their quality of life”.

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Dylan Swan - ACT

Dylan Swan was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease seven years ago after months of crippling stomach pains and multiple visits to the Emergency Department. That’s when he found Crohn’s & Colitis Australia online.

Since diagnosis, Dylan’s had surgery to remove 80cm of bowel and, in the last year, has been on Infliximab infusions, eradicating a need for daily and weekly medications, increasing his tolerance for certain foods, and boosting his energy.

Living with Crohn’s disease has inspired Dylan to further research how certain food types and diets impact the gut. Not only is this knowledge essential for his own health, but it also helps him in his role as a personal trainer. He was even invited to a CCA breakfast at Parliament House in Canberra to receive insight into current research.

Dylan’s efforts in last year’s Live Fearless Challenge saw him run 5km every single day, achieving a personal best four times. Eleven of those days, he ran with his daughter in her pram.

Dylan’s advice for people newly diagnosed with Crohn’s or colitis is this: “It is manageable. You need to listen to your body and understand what foods and environments react to your body, in both positive and negative ways.”

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Dani Ross - NSW

Dani was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2009. Her sister, Ashleigh Ross, also lives with IBD and they are both proud Ambassadors for CCA. Living with IBD has had its ups and downs for Dani, and she has learned to manage the physical effects as well as the anxiety. But through her experiences, Dani has met a lot of people facing the same challenges, and it’s a comfort to know that she is not alone. Dani says to anyone newly diagnosed with IBD, “get into contact with others like myself, and ask as many questions as you need in order to get through the first few stages of living with the disease.”

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Brittani Nicholl - NSW

Brittani is a well-accomplished surfer from the Far North Coast of NSW, whom was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the age of seven. She has had Crohn’s for 22 years and now requires an ileostomy bag, for the third time. As a result of complications, Brittani has been out of action for the past 12months.

A brief snippet of her surfing career includes various Pro Junior results, 3 consecutive NSW State Titles, an Australian Title, WSL WQS world ranking of 24, Australian representation in the 2016 and 2017 ISA World Surfing Games and Australian Team Captain.

Brittani’s health obstacles forced her to take a step back from competitive surfing, however, she is still involved and is now working full-time in the industry while also studying a uni degree.

Brittani has a contagious smile, a positive attitude, and loves to help others; she aims to create awareness of IBD and inspire other people who may be going through difficult times.

Brittani has been an Ambassador for Crohn’s and Colitis Australia since 2011, and she was the team leader of the highest fundraising team for the 2018 Live Fearless Challenge - Team 'Let’s Do This’.

Last year Brittani attempted the challenge not long after major surgery. The past 12 months have certainly been a challenge for Brittani, and although she is still managing surgical complications and disease complications, Brittani is determined to complete this year’s Live Fearless Challenge - and she encourages you to join in.

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Bruce Rosengarten - VIC

Bruce has had an extensive senior executive career including roles that took him across our region and on a global basis. Despite being a Colitis sufferer for over 40 years, he still built a highly successful career, it just took him 39 years to admit publicly he has Colitis.

Until mid-2017, Bruce was Executive General Manager, Commercial at Caltex responsible for all sales, marketing, innovation and convenience stores. Bruce has held senior roles at Weight Watchers (President Asia Pacific and Emerging markets) at Shell (Global Vice President Retail, Marketing) where he led Fuels, Convenience stores, Loyalty, Cards, Marketing and the Shell brand globally. Prior, he was Executive Director at Crown launching Crown locally and internationally and running Tables Games. He spent over 12 years at Coles Myer running regions of Department stores and as Managing Director of World 4 Kids. He has often taken up roles in Not for Profit organisations as a passionate believer in supporting community.

Bruce is the author of Passionate Leadership, runs his own consultancy and is a member of several advisory Boards as well as being Chairman, Crohn’s and Colitis Australia. In 2018, he was the second highest fundraiser in Living Fearlessly, he aims to go one higher in 2019 and sets the challenge for all the beat him.

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Ray Boyapati - VIC

Ray Boyapati is a gastroenterologist practicing at Monash Health with a focus on IBD. He is also a senior lecturer at Monash University and the co-founder and Director of Education at MedEntry, an organisation committed to helping students enter medicine as a career.

Ray was drawn to specialise in IBD after observing the dramatic impact the disease can have on quality of life. He undertook further training in IBD in Edinburgh, and completed his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh investigating immune system deregulation in IBD. Ray is actively involved the Gastroenterology Society of Australia (GESA) sitting on the Finance, Audit and Risk committee and is the founding co-chair of Young GESA.

Ray’s main passion is making a positive difference in people’s lives, whether it be through consulting in clinic, teaching at Monash Uni and MedEntry, or advocating for better gut health through GESA. He enjoys spending time with his young family, watching his beloved Liverpool Football Club, and enjoying the occasional scotch.

Ray says that he’s “thrilled and honoured” to be a CCA Ambassador. “As a doctor, it’s an extraordinary privilege to contribute to the wellbeing of another person. I know the CCA helps improve the lives of tens of thousands of people with IBD.”

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Jamie Hubbard - VIC

Jamie Hubbard is 25 and has been living with Crohn’s disease since the age of 17.

He tries to keep active as much as he can. He loves his sports and music is also very close to his heart, and has played drums for over 10 years.

He has been living with Crohn’s disease for nearly 8 years now, after being diagnosed mid way through Year 11.

Jamie is a qualified Personal trainer, although he doesn’t currently work as one, it’s still a passion to help people with fitness goals. He has been lifting weights since the age of 16, and anything that’s challenging and physically demanding gets him going. Jamie says there’s nothing more satisfying than helping others who need it, whether it be small or large, and loves seeing someone’s face after they achieve a goal that they’ve been stuck with for such a long time.

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Amy Benn - VIC

Amy Benn was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at 14 which proved an additional challenge to her adolescent and early adulthood years. Now, she enjoys great health and a thriving quality of life! After dedicating herself to the Nursing profession and personal wellness journey she now works in the Intensive Care Unit, and as a wellbeing consultant having qualifications in Personal Training, Nutrition and Meditation.

When she is not working on her passions, you will find her in the yoga studio, exploring and travelling with her husband and enjoying a chai with girlfriends and healthy feasts with her family.

In 2019, Amy became a Crohn's & Colitis Australia Ambassador as the face of the organisation's 2019 Awareness Month Campaign #flushthestigma.

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Alexandra Sechi - NSW

Alexandra started her nursing career at Liverpool Hospital in 2008. In 2011 Alexandra was employed as the first IBD Nurse at Liverpool Hospital, establishing the IBD Service along with A/Prof Susan Connor and Dr Watson Ng.

In her role as IBD Clinical Nurse Consultant (CNC), Alexandra is responsible for the coordination and oversight of the IBD Nursing and Allied Health services, education, service development and planning, and research.

Alexandra is a current member of the IBD Nurses Australia (IBDNA) National Committee, the CCA Medical, Scientific and Quality of Care Committee, and is the past-Chair of the NSW & ACT IBD Nurses Group. Alex is an active attendee at IBD-related meetings and symposia and has been an invited speaker at meetings nationally and internationally.

Alexandra has led nurse-initiated research and has co-authored a number of publications. She is also involved in various senior nursing initiatives and committees at Liverpool Hospital and within South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD).

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Liz Purcell - QLD

Liz Purcell is an Advanced Accredited Practicing Dietitian, with more than 20 years’ experience. Throughout her career, Liz has developed extensive clinical expertise in a range of practice domains and across the continuum of care, but harbors a particular interest and has advanced clinical knowledge in Gastroenterology - specifically Inflammatory Bowel Disease - and Intensive Care nutrition.

Through various roles, including Director of Dietetics in Bundaberg Hospital for 3 years and now her role as Advanced Gastro Team Leader at Logan Hospital, she endeavors to make her mark as a renowned Australian health professional. Liz is currently undertaking research in the area of Exclusive Enteral nutrition in the management of adults with Crohn’s Disease.

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