NEDC Speakers

NEDC will feature a compelling program of highly regarded speakers whose knowledge and expertise will challenge delegates, and encourage robust dialogue around the conference’s central theme of Breaking New Ground: Building a Resilient Future.

Elizabeth Dibbs

Western City District Commissioner, Greater Sydney Commission


Liz Dibbs is a non-executive director in the government and for-purpose sectors. She is Deputy Chancellor of Western Sydney University and Chair of its Audit & Risk Committee, Chairman of United Way Australia and a Governor of the Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology. She was the President of YWCA NSW from 2007-2011 and a director of YWCA Australia from 2009 to 2013. Liz has also previously served as a Council Member of Chief Executive Women and Chair of its Scholarship Committee.

Liz was a partner and General Counsel of PwC until 2005 and also previously worked with major law firms Mallesons Stephen Jaques (Sydney) and Linklaters & Paines (London).

Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts and Law (University Medal) from Sydney University and a Master of Laws (Hons1) from Cambridge University.


Nicki Hutley

Partner, Deloitte Access Economics


Nicki Hutley is a senior partner at Deloitte Access Economics. She is a highly experienced economist, with broad-based expertise in macro- and micro-economic modelling and analysis, gained over nearly three decades of practice in financial and investment markets and consulting.

Her clients include all levels of government and the private sector and she is passionate about using economics to improve the quality of lives through well-reasoned policy.

Nicki is a regular commentator on economic and financial issues in the media, a frequent panellist on ABC’s The Drum, and a sought-after keynote speaker.

Rod Miller

CEO, Invest Puerto Rico


Rod is a global leader in economic recovery.

As President and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Rod led the economic revitalization of the city of Detroit. Miller also served as the founding president and CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), the official economic development organization for the City of New Orleans. As the leader on economic recovery, Miller focused the organization’s efforts on lowering barriers to entry in the marketplace, increasing transparency, and developing approaches to drive inclusive economic growth.

Prior to joining Invest Puerto Rico, Rod was with Ascendant Global, an economic development firm providing bold growth solutions to help economies sustain themselves and gain jobs and private investment.


Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons

Resilience NSW


Shane Fitzsimmons was appointed as the inaugural Commissioner for Resilience NSW and Deputy Secretary, Emergency Management with the Department of Premier and Cabinet from 1 May 2020. This appointment followed a distinguished career with the NSW Rural Fire Service of over 35 years. In 1998 he was appointed an Assistant Commissioner with the RFS and has held portfolio responsibilities for Operations, Strategic Development and Regional Management. In 2004, he was appointed the inaugural Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC) Visiting Fellow to the Australian Institute of Police Management (AIPM) for a period of 12 months. September 2007 – April 2020 he was Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service and was also the Chair of the NSW RFS Bushfire Coordinating Committee and the Rural Fire Service Advisory Council. He was also a member of the NSW State Emergency Management Committee and the NSW State Rescue Board (SRB) and was Chair of SRB from 2008 to November 2015. In July 2012, he was appointed a Board Member of the NSW Government Telecommunications Authority. He was appointed a Director of the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) in March 2008 and was the Chair of the NAFC Board from 2009 to 2013. He was a Director on the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre from 2009 to 2014. He was a member of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council from 2007 and was a member of its Board from November 2016 to November 2019 and held the position of Deputy President upon retirement from the Board. In January 2016 he was appointed as a Councillor of the Royal Humane Society of NSW Inc. Commissioner Fitzsimmons was awarded the National Medal in 1999 and the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in 2001.

Dr Tim Williams

Australasia Cities Leader, ARUP


Dr Tim Williams is a Principal at the global advisory firm Arup and is head of cities for its Australasian region. Before joining Arup in 2018 Tim was the CEO of the Committee for Sydney from 2011 when it became an influential policy forum and think tank. Tim’s work helped shape public policy and infrastructure planning both in NSW and across Australia as he became a trusted advisor to governments at all levels. He played a formative role in the emergence of the Greater Sydney Commission and has had an impact on the shift we have seen of governments seeking to maximise land use and transport integration to support sustainable urban growth. Before coming to Australia in 2010 Tim had been a special advisor on urban planning to 5 consecutive UK ministers and from 1997-2003 he was the CEO of the Thames Gateway London Partnership which played a key role in developing the East Side of London, in attracting major transport projects such as Crossrail and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link through Stratford and in making the case for the Olympics to come to the East side of the capital. Tim is an adjunct professor at Western Sydney University. He attended Cambridge and Oxford Universities, has a doctorate in history and is a qualified teacher and barrister . He lives in Manly with his family.

Professor Paul Wellings CBE

Vice-Chancellor, University of Wollongong


Professor Paul Wellings CBE joined the University of Wollongong as Vice-Chancellor in January 2012. Prior to his current role, Professor Wellings held the position of Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University from 2002-2011. Educated in the UK, Professor Wellings’ career experience includes a NERC research fellowship and senior positions at the CSIRO and Department of Industry, Science and Resources. He has extensive board experience, including with the Australian Research Council (ARC) Advisory Committee, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), and some of the UK’s peak education and research bodies. He is currently a board member of the University of Wollongong in Dubai. Professor Wellings also serves on the Advisory Committee for New Colombo Plan, NSW Innovation and Productivity Council, the Global Foundation Advisory Council and the Bundanon Trust Board. Professor Wellings was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to higher education. He received an Honorary DSc from Lancaster University in 2014 and an Honorary DUniv from University of Surrey in 2019.

David Eyre

Chief Executive Officer, Future Food Systems


David Eyre is CEO of the Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre, a Commonwealth-funded national research group. His career has spanned the energy, water and agrifood sectors with a focus on developing STEM-based solutions to complex industry development challenges. From innovation in high-tech, sustainable indoor cropping and precision food manufacturing technology, to data analytics to support development of specialised food industry clusters, CRC research aims to help transform the way the agrifood sector produces, adds value to and delivers healthy goods to domestic and export markets. In addition to his role leading the group, David is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering at UNSW.

Patrick Fensham

National Lead Urban Policy & Governance, SGS Economics and Planning


Patrick Fensham is a Principal and Partner at SGS and has 30 years experience in consulting including in economic development and strategic planning. He has worked internationally and in all states of Australia, for private sector clients as well as for all levels of government. Pat has undertaken numerous economic and employment related studies in his time with SGS. This includes in recent years: • the Greater Western Sydney Economic Development Strategy for the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet • a Job Creation Strategy for UrbanGrowth NSW as part of the Newcastle Urban Transformation and Transport Program • the City of Sydney Employment Lands Study • the Warnervale Economic Land Use Study for Central Coast Council. Pat was project director for the City of Sydney’s Sustainable Sydney 2030 project with responsibility for coordinating inputs across disciplines and ultimate quality control. Sustainable development was the fundamental focus of the plan. Sustainable Sydney 2030 won the 2008 Planning Institute of Australia Urban Planning Achievement Award. Pat completed a three week learning exchange focussing on Community Wealth Building with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies in the UK during October 2019. See

Bob Hawes

CEO, Hunter Business Chamber


Bob Hawes commenced with the Hunter Business Chamber (HBC) as CEO in January 2017. As CEO, Bob is responsible for driving the HBC strategy and program of thought leadership, policy development, advocacy and executing delivery of events and member development programs. Prior to joining the HBC, Bob lead the Hunter Development Corporation (HDC) for over five years. This coincided with a period of significant change and a refocusing of priorities of the State government particularly onto the renewal and revitalisation of Newcastle. During this time, Bob was tasked to not only drive the activity of the HDC, but also establish and administer both the $790 million Hunter Infrastructure and Investment Fund and the $17 million Newcastle Mines Grout Fund. Bob was also appointed acting General Manager for the Central Coast Regional Development Corporation from early 2012 to mid-2013. Bob has extensive experience and knowledge in the realm of regional development with expertise in infrastructure planning, location analysis, economic and social impact assessment, project feasibility, property and land use strategy. For 15 years Bob was chair of the Hunter Chapter of the Property Council of Australia. He is now a life member of the NSW Division of the organisation. Bob has an Economics degree and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has extensive experience reporting to boards and frequently performed in and ex-offico and executive director capacities. Bob is currently the chair of the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal for the Hunter region and an active rugby union referee and current president of the Newcastle Rugby Union Referee Association. He is also a life member of the Merewether Carlton Rugby Club.

Andrew Jackson

Director, Western Sydney Planning Partnership


Andrew Jackson has almost 25 years of experience working for the NSW and local government in land use and infrastructure planning and delivery. He has held executive roles in the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Department of Planning. Andrew was appointed as the inaugural head of local government led Western Sydney Planning Partnership in 2018. Amongst other things, this role involves land use planning for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.

Professor Barney Glover

Vice-Chancellor, Western Sydney University


Professor Barney Glover AO assumed his position at Western Sydney University in January 2014. Professor Glover is currently the President of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Trust and the Australian Government representative on the University of the South Pacific Grants Committee. He is also a Board Member of the Australian American Fulbright Commission, the Committee for Sydney, and Westpac Scholars Trust, and, Member of the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council, the NSW Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, and the NSW Accelerating R&D Advisory Council. Professor Glover is an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW (FRSN), and a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD). Professor Glover’s esteemed career includes significant expertise and experience at the most senior levels of university management and substantial business leadership credentials. He has also served on the boards of a range of corporate organisations and several state and national centres covering areas such as health and medical research, energy, mineral exploration, and telecommunications.

Narelle Kennedy

Managing Director, The Kennedy Company


Narelle Kennedy is a pioneer of research into the realities of business innovation. Her work has provided the evidence to allow all organisations to innovate, not just high tech elites. She is the owner and Managing Director of The Kennedy Company Pty Ltd, specializing in business innovation, manufacturing, economic and social development, place-based policies and business regulation and fair trading. Narelle is the former CEO of the Australian Business Foundation, Australia’s largest private sector funder of and partner in policy research into industry and innovation. Narelle serves as a Committee Member of RDA Sydney and is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Business at the University of Technology Sydney. Narelle has a first class Honours Degree in Social Studies from the University of Sydney and has represented Australia on the Business Advisory Committee to the OECD. Narelle Kennedy was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) Honour for significant service to business in Australia through a range of policy development and advisory roles.

Melinda Hatton

Assistant Secretary, NSW/ACT State Office, Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment


Melinda Hatton is the Assistant Secretary, NSWACT State Office, in the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment. The Department has Commonwealth portfolio responsibilities in Early Childhood, Schools, Skills and Vocational Education, Higher Education and Employment. As the Senior Departmental officer in the NSWACT State Office, Melinda represents the Department in multiple forums and engagements as well as oversights the implementation and frontline delivery of the department’s employment, skills and training initiatives. Melinda has significant experience in place based regional engagement and practise and is an active participant in many regional skills and workforce initiatives across NSW. Melinda has held senior roles in the various iterations of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, with extensive knowledge in policy, operational policy and program management in employment services and industrial relations. She has also worked across a broad range of public policy and program areas, including regional employment and skills policy, implementation of the now Federal Entitlements Guarantee Scheme, the implementation of the National Economic Stimulus Primary Schools for the 21st Century program, and the implementation of the National Quality Framework for early childhood education. Melinda has formal qualifications in Applied Science (Health Education) and Industrial Relations Law.

Amanda Larkin

Chief Executive, South Western Sydney Local Health District


Amanda Larkin leads more than 12,000 staff at the South Western Sydney Local Health District as the Chief Executive. As part of her role, Amanda provides strategic leadership and sound governance to achieve safe, equitable and quality healthcare for the booming and diverse population of south western Sydney. Amanda is responsible for all south western Sydney public health services, across an area stretching from Bankstown to Bowral, including small community health centres, five district hospitals and a major referral hospital. She was appointed as Chief Executive in 2011 after working as the General Manager of Camden and Campbelltown Hospitals and the Queen Victoria Memorial Home. Holding a Bachelor of Social Work, Associate Diploma in Environmental Service, Amanda has over 25 years of experience in health service management. She has extensive experience in the areas of community health, corporate services and acute service management in small and large health services. Her specific areas of focus are leadership, governance, patient quality and safety and health service planning and development. Amanda has served on management committees and boards of non-government organisations including neighbourhood centres, day care centres and short term accommodation facilities for men and women, throughout her career. Additionally, Amanda currently serves as a Board member of the Ingham Institute of Applied Medical Research, South Western Sydney Primary Health Network and Health Infrastructure. She is devoted to further developing south western Sydney as a hub for health, research and education excellence, identified as a key priority in the South Western Sydney Local Health District’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021.

David Borger

Executive Director, Western Sydney Business Chamber


David is the Executive Director and founding executive of the Western Sydney Business Chamber. Since its foundation in 2012, the Western Sydney Business Chamber has grown to be the region’s peak business advocacy organisation representing over 110 global businesses, major Australian corporations and the government agencies. As Executive Director, David coordinates members and stakeholders to create communities of shared interest, to explore opportunities for innovation and investment, to champion the future vision for Western Sydney’s public & private infrastructure, to bring jobs to region and, most importantly, to advocate for economic, social and cultural investment that will improve the quality of life for the citizens of Western Sydney. Under David’s leadership, the Western Sydney Business Chamber was instrumental in the successful campaign for Western Sydney Airport. Since the announcement, Western Sydney Business Chamber remain deeply involved with the project including successful advocacy for the formation of Western City and Aerotropolis Authority and Western Sydney Airport Co., continued advocacy for precinct design and working with key stakeholders to help deliver the best outcomes for Western Sydney. David also regularly collaborates with government and industry in support of other transformational projects, including: Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, the Westmead and Liverpool Innovation Districts, Sydney Olympic Park, Parramatta Light Rail, West Metro and North-South Metro. Prior to this, David served as the Minister for Western Sydney, Minister for Housing, Minister for Roads, and Minister assisting the Minister for Transport and Roads in the NSW Labor Government. As Housing Minister, David oversaw the construction of approximately 9,000 new social housing dwellings – including 6,300 through the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan. David has also worked as an Urban Planner and adviser to the Minister for Planning. At 30 years of age, he is also the youngest person to have held the office of Lord Mayor of Parramatta where he served for three terms. David is currently a Director of Think Planners; and serves as a non-executive director on the boards of the NRMA and Evolve Housing, a trustee of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences and a member of the Placemaking NSW Advisory Committee. In the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours, David was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to local and state government

Dr Nicola Watts

Cluster & Innovation Ecosystem Specialist, Strengthening Business Facilitator


Nicola has worked across more than 20 countries in a range of sectors including – Agrifood, Education, ICT, and Natural Resource Management. She is highly skilled in Clustering and Smart Specialisation, Place-based Development, Collective Impact, Systems Thinking, Governance, Capacity Building, Strategy and Collective Leadership. Nicola is currently providing Strengthening Business Services to fire-impacted businesses in East Gippsland – her home region, which was significantly impacted by the recent Black Summer fires, which followed many years of drought and now faces the challenges of COVID-19. The Strengthening Business service is provided with support from the Australian Government in partnership with the AiGroup. Her focus is on supporting businesses through three phases of disruption SHOCK-SURVIVE-TRANSFORM – with a strong focus on collaborative effort. Nicola is also an Adjunct Professor with Federation University’s Business School and a co-chair of TCI Network – Oceania Chapter (TCI is the leading global network of people and organizations working in clusters and innovation ecosystems around the world).

Neil McInroy

Chief Executive, CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies)


Neil is CEO of CLES – the UK national organisation for local economies. CLES is a ‘think do’ organisation and is at the UK forefront of amplifying workable progressive policy and practice at scale and pace, to meet growing climate, economic and social crisis. Neil is a leading economic development thinker and doer and has recently take up a part time seconded position as Community Wealth Building Adviser to Scottish Government. This sits alongside his past and ongoing commissions, collaborations and advice to a broad range of local, regional and national governments, politicians and agencies across UK and in Europe, Asia, US and Australasia.

Ashleigh Morris

CEO, Coreo


As CEO of Coreo, Ashleigh is bold in her pursuit of systemic change. Acknowledged as a future leader, Ashleigh is a Prime Ministers Scholar, an Australian ASEAN Emerging Leader, an invitee to the 73rd United Nations General Assembly and an Ellen MacArthur Foundation Circular Economy Champion, a title granted to only a handful of people worldwide. With recognition of her strategic foresight and experience in the private and public sectors, Ashleigh has met with two Australian Prime Ministers, travelled with the Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment to Japan on a Future Leaders, Future Cities Business Mission and represented Australia as a panellist and speaker at the World Circular Economy Forum alongside the former European Commissioner for the Environment. Ashleigh holds a Bachelor of Environmental Health Science with Faculty Commendation for academic excellence, 1stClass Honours in Environmental Management, and the highest honour a university can bestow,The University Medal.

Associate Professor Martin Bliemel

Associate Dean – Research, Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS)


Martin Bliemel is the Associate Dean Research at UTS’ Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation, soon to be relaunched as TD School as a more centrally connected part of UTS. He is also the Course Director for the Diploma in Innovation, a short premium degree that adds value to any undergraduate degree by emphasising entrepreneurial, innovative, creative and collaborative capability development towards solving complex, networked or wicked problems. His research has been published in various top tier journals and encompasses networks, education, research commercialization, entrepreneurial ecosystems and accelerators, where accelerators are effectively miniature ecosystems. Martin’s work on accelerators played a key role in the design of the $23m Incubator Support Programme by the Department of Industry. These days, his main focus is on regional ecosystems and working with councils to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in their area.

Dr Sarah Hill

CEO, Western Parkland City Authority


Sarah Hill has a well-earned reputation for getting things done. As the inaugural CEO of the Greater Sydney Commission Sarah led the organisation in developing the vision for ‘a metropolis of three cities’. The vision has fundamentally changed the way we think and plan for Greater Sydney. In her new role as the Western Parkland City Authority CEO and as a Deputy Secretary in NSW Treasury, Sarah will continue to build on the strong culture of collaboration she fostered at the Commission partnering with local councils, NSW Government agencies, the community and industry to deliver a thriving Western Parkland City.

Julie Wagner

President, Global Institute on Innovation Districts


Julie Wagner is president of the newly established The Global Institute on Innovation Districts, a global-reaching not for profit organization. Julie is an expert on urban innovation geographies, described as innovation districts, which sit at the intersection of economy- shaping, place-making, and network-building. At The Global Institute, she recently co- authored “The Evolution of Innovation Districts: The New Geography of Global Innovation,” expanding on the findings of the original paper on innovation districts published with The Brookings Institution. She is also president of Urban Insight, a boutique consulting practice that each year works with only select projects determined to be of particular promise in shaping cities. Julie is a nonresident senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, Metropolitan Policy Program. She is also strategic advisor to Israel’s National Economic Council. Julie has written articles on the new geography of innovation for the Harvard Business Review, Fortune Magazine, Quartz, and The Guardian. Julie earned a master’s degree in city planning from MIT and holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from Northeastern University.

Joley Vidau

Waste Strategy Coordinator, Bega Valley Shire Council


Joley Vidau speaks from the heart and an issue close to her heart is changing the way we think about waste. As Waste Strategy Coordinator for Bega Valley Shire Council on the NSW Far South Coast, over the past six years Joley has demonstrated strong leadership in major projects such as introducing the Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) bin collection service to over 13,000 households and creating a grass-roots fire-damaged waste disposal system to help guide her region through two significant fire events in two years. A combination of practical, innovative, creative and strategic thinking and a dedication to working closely with her community to change behaviour, has resulted in national recognition of Bega Council’s waste team as leading the way in shifting from waste disposal to resource recovery. Joley is enthusiastic about collaborating with others, sharing resources and working towards a solutions-driven future where people reuse, repurpose and recycle.

Nicholas MacDonald

Manufacturing Manager, Daikin Australia Pty Ltd


Nick is the Manufacturing Manager for Daikin Australia Pty Ltd. With a background in manufacturing engineering, Nick has a special interest in lean manufacturing and Six Sigma business improvement techniques. Nick’s experience includes automotive manufacturing in Australia and China, as well as consulting and management engagements across a range of industries. As Manufacturing Manager for Daikin, Nick has been involved in an overall doubling of manufacturing capacity in the Australian operation. Investing heavily in both manufacturing and product development infrastructure, Daikin has increased the Australian content of its local range from 35% to over 60%. In 2019, Daikin received the “Australian Made” certification on its products produced at the facility.

Michael Campbell

Director, Lucid Economics


Michael is a founding director of Lucid Economics and has over 20 years of experience in economic development, tourism, property and industry/economic research that spans three continents. Michael works with both public and private sector clients using economic and financial analysis to inform strategy development, investment decisions and government policy.

As an economic developer, Michael secured 54 corporate projects, representing $425 million in capital investment and 4,000 jobs. He has taken part in the development and execution of numerous economic development strategies, investment attraction programs, and other initiatives, as well as engaged with hundreds of businesses about their future growth plans.

He is a regular presenter on economic development matters and was one of the first to receive the ACEcD accreditation from EDA.

Chelsea Irvine

Community Resource Manager, 3CORE


Chelsea spent five years working in disaster recovery for the US Small Business Administration Office of Disaster Assistance, most recently as Public Information Officer. Prior to that, Chelsea worked for nearly a decade as a Legislative Analyst at a political advocacy and marketing firm. As 3CORE’s Community Resource Manager, Chelsea serves as the connector, convener and liaison between outside groups, program participants and financial partners. The CRM is also responsible for updating the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and coordinating planning activities for the District.

Janet Ady

President and Chief Executive Officer, Ady Advantage


Janet Ady is an experienced economic development and site selection consultant, author, and speaker who focuses on helping both communities and companies meet their growth and diversification goals. As president of Ady Advantage, Janet has worked with over 500 economic development organizations throughout North America. She brings an evidence-based approach to business strategy, marketing and research to help communities and regions grow and diversify their economies. Services range from economic development strategic plans and target industry analyses to talent retention strategies and industrial site development programs. In 2012, she wrote The Rural Economic Development Toolbox as a valueadd for members of the National Rural Economic DevelopmentAssociation (NREDA). She continues to provide thought leadership to rural economic developers, regularly speaking and consulting with this audience. She will be the keynote at the 2020 NREDA Annual Conference. Janet conducts a great deal of field work each year for both her economic development and corporate clients. Over her career, she has interviewed more than 3,000 business and technical decision-makers at a wide range of companies. Her knowledge of multiple industries allows her to provide value to individual businesses as well as communities and regions targeting specific sectors. On the corporate side, Janet consults with companies looking to grow, diversify, expand, and relocate. Services range from site selection to growth planning and business development strategy.

Kenny McDonald

President and Chief Economic Officer, One Columbus (current Chairman, IEDC)


Kenny McDonald, CEcD, joined the One Columbus (formerly Columbus 2020) team in July 2010. As president and chief economic officer, Kenny serves as the primary leader of all economic development and business attraction efforts for the 11-county Columbus Region. Kenny has an extensive background in site selection, regional economic development, community marketing, business recruitment and international business development. Most recently, he served as executive vice president at the Charlotte Regional Partnership. He has also held positions at the Albuquerque Economic Development Corporation, Fluor Daniels Global Locations Strategies and Savannah Economic Development Authority. Kenny graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Dickinson State University and a Master of Public Administration from Georgia Southern University. In October 2019, Kenny was elected to serve as chair of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). He also serves on the boards of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Collaboratory, Columbus Regional Airport Authority, Experience Columbus, SciTech and Transportation Research Center.

Lisa McLean

CEO, NSW Circular Economy Innovation Network


Lisa is a circular economy and zero-carbon business transformation leader. She has been successfully advising industry and governments in developing new policy frameworks and regulations that bring about market change to enable the circular zero-carbon economy over the past 14 years.
This work has covered the energy, water, waste and mobility sectors in the UK and Australia.
Lisa established and led the Open Cities Alliance, a peak industry association with unique membership from government to private sector and research organisations. Open Cities advocates for the circular economy, prosumer rights and new local utility and mobility precinct approaches.
In Australia, Lisa initiated and established the Australian Solar Thermal Association (AUSTELA), advised electric mobility providers, and worked with Flow Systems from a start-up sustainable water utility to its major role in shaping a new sustainable water and now multi-utility market.
Starting her career as a political journalist working in the national press gallery, Lisa moved to advising ministers and premiers on education and climate policy, before heading to the UK to help establish the Clinton Climate Initiative.

Scott MacKillop

Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Western Sydney Airport


Scott MacKillop is responsible for stakeholder and government relations, community engagement and communication for Sydney’s new airport, Western Sydney International. 


Before joining the airport project, Scott was a marketing and public relations consultant at a leading agency, providing advice to some of Australia’s biggest brands and events. He has also held public affairs roles for Transport for NSW and Sydney Trains, Including periods as media and comms advisor for senior NSW Government ministers.


Scott started his career in broadcasting, including as a producer at leading news/talk station 2GB and writing for News Australia digital channels.

Nicola Pero

Chief Executive Officer, Food & Fibre Gippsland


CEO of leading cluster Food & Fibre Gippsland, and part of the Food Innovation Australia network, Nicola’s experience has been built globally over many years across multiple sectors (food and fibre, education, technology, visitor economy and venue development), delivering economic and regional development at both local and country levels.  Quadruple helix collaborative engagement to drive sustainable growth outcomes, and using innovative ways of working such as clusters and Smart Specialisation are at the forefront of what Food & Fibre Gippsland does as a peak advocacy and industry representative body.  Gippsland has an annual GDP from the food and fibre sector of $7B annually.

Eamon Waterford

Deputy CEO & Director of Policy, Committee for Sydney


Eamon Waterford is the Deputy CEO and Director of Policy at the Committee for Sydney, an influential urban policy think tank who are advocates for the whole of Sydney, developing pragmatic and innovative solutions to the most important problems the city faces. He has lead research across affordable housing, the innovation economy, density done well and high-speed rail.

Eamon is passionate about supporting young people. He sits on the board of the Monkey Baa Theatre for Children and Young people, and previously sat on the board of the NSW Council of Social Services.

Sami Kara

Director of Vertically Integrated Projects – UNSW Faculty of Engineering


Sami Kara is a professor in sustainable manufacturing and life cycle engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney Australia. He has a professional background of more than 30 years in industry, research, and tertiary education, including several engineering and management positions in manufacturing companies in Australia and around the world. In 2000, he has joined the University of New South Wales with research interests in sustainability and advance manufacturing, energy and resource efficiency in manufacturing, Life Cycle Engineering, Circular Economy, and Industrial Symbiosis. He is the founder and in-charge of Sustainability in Manufacturing and Life Cycle Engineering Research Group ( He is also the co-director of joint German-Australian Research Group on Sustainable Manufacturing ( He has authored more than 250 peer reviewed scientific publications.


Professor Kara is an elected fellow of the International Academy of Production Engineering (CIRP), a fellow of the Royal society of New South Wales and a fellow of the UNSW Scientia Education Academy.

Sally Macdonald

Smack Creative


Sally Macdonald is a communications and government relations professional with a passion for small business resilience. Her extensive work supporting economic recovery following the 2009 Victorian bushfires led to her co-authoring several resources to guide small businesses and regional business communities through the crisis planning, response and rebuilding journey. Her personable and engaging manner and depth of experience make her a popular Business Victoria workshop leader.

Michael Cullen

Regional General Manager, Western Sydney


Michael joined TAFE NSW in October 2016. Michael believes that the right training and the transfer of skills are fundamental to Western Sydney harnessing its potential. He has a strong background in economic and regional development and a passion for delivering programs that provide communities and businesses with the tools they need to grow and prosper. Prior to commencing at TAFE NSW, Michael held roles including Acting Chief Executive Officer and Director, Economy & Engagement with Liverpool Council and Executive Director, Enterprise, Regional Development and Small Business with the NSW Department of State and Regional Development. As part of these roles Michael led or supported NSW Government Trade Missions to Malaysia, Singapore, the UAE, India and China, as well as implementation of a range of small business programs and initiatives.

Amelia Loye

Managing Director, Engage2 and The Centre for Civic Innovation


Amelia is a social scientist specialising in community and stakeholder engagement. She is passionate about representative open government, sustainable development and civic innovation and does all she can to enable it.

Amelia has spent her career helping governments to consult community, work with stakeholders and consider social issues and impacts in the design and delivery of policy, programs and services. She has worked with governments across Australia and New Zealand, and British Columbia in Canada.

She now runs two organisations, a consultancy called engage2 and The Centre for Civic Innovation.