National Farmers' Federation

Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program

The 2020 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program cohort has been announced. 

Twelve outstanding women with skills and a vision for agriculture have been selected for the National Farmers’ Federation’s 2020 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program. Find out more here.

The Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program (DiALP) mentoring opportunity is designed for aspiring female leaders, 25 years and over, with a passion for agriculture.

The Program matches successful applicants with a mentor and the mentorship runs from May 2020 to October 2020. With their mentor, each mentee establishes leadership goals, outlines steps to achieving these goals and puts, in place steps to measure progress towards these goals.

The Program is supported by leading agriculture-focussed organisations who have joined with the NFF, in committing to make meaningful change towards gender diversity within the leadership ranks of their industry.

For more information contact Program Coordinator Laureta Wallace: (e) lwallace@nff.org.au  (p) 0408 448 250 

2020 Partners

The Alumni

The NFF’s Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program is building an alumni of skilled female leaders from across the country. The alumni consists of individuals with diverse backgrounds and skills sets, all with one thing in common – a vision for agriculture and a commitment to being a part of the sector’s growth. Graduates of the program have called the experience ‘life changing’.

“Taking part in the program was the professional highlight of my 2019, it was a unique and special opportunity to meet such an inspiring group of women, both the mentees and mentors.”
Western Australian winemaker Cath Oates and 2019 DiALP graduate.

“Through the program I had the opportunity to listen to and work with experienced, likeminded, passionate women from different sectors and from all over the country. The relationships developed during the program continue today. “I now have a heightened understanding of my strengths and have a clear plan forward –professionally and personally.”
Broadacre farmer and agribusiness professional Leonie O’Driscoll, NSW and 2019 DiALP graduate.

Learn more about the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program Alumni below.


Cath Oates

Cath studied business/viticulture at Curtin University followed by oenology at University of Adelaide. In 2015 she began her company Oates Ends, her single vineyard wines from the intergenerational farming property in Margaret River. Cath also runs her own consulting business.

Cath is the Vice President of Wines of Western Australia and has previously served as the President of Great Southern Wine Producers Association and Margaret River Wine Association. She is currently studying the Master of Wine qualification.

Cath Oates - Wilyabrup, WA​

Jacqui Cannon

Jacqui is based in Brisbane and holds a senior position with Consolidated Pastoral Company, one of the largest privately owned beef producers in Australia. She started with CPC in 1992 at Newcastle Waters Station, NT as an accountant and has held various roles in various locations since then. 

Jacqui's current position includes management of human resources, workplace health and safety, risk and legal matters. Jacqui has held a number of board and committee roles and is keen to expand on these. 

Jacqui Cannon - Brisbane, QLD

Rachel Carson

Following 18 years of experience in the agricultural industry, Rachel is currently the National Sales Manager for Agricultural Solutions at BASF. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences and a Masters in Crop Physiology from the University of Arkansas and Cell and Systems Biology from the University of Toronto.

Originally from Ontario Canada, Rachel now lives in Melbourne and is passionate about mentoring the next generation, particularly young women within the agriculture industry.

Rachel Carson - Melbourne, VIC

Natalie Sommerville

Natalie lives near Spalding in South Australia’s Mid North and is a farmer, grazier, business owner and manager, mother and proud Torres Strait Islander.

Driven by her passion of sustainable agriculture and the environment, Natalie’s focus is on influencing positive change in rural Australia and seeing greater innovation, inclusion of gender and age, and respect for diverse backgrounds. She is also an advocate for sustainable agriculture and improved environmental landscape function for long-term production and biodiversity.

Natalie Sommerville - Spalding, SA

Allison Harker

Allison spent 15 years in investment banking based in London and Hong Kong and was a representative on the Operating Committee for Bank of America of America Merrill Lynch.

Allison is now a partner in her family’s mixed farming business based in Yass, NSW. She is also a Local Government Councillor, Chair of the Yass Valley Economic & Development Committee and was appointed to the Acting Chair role for South East Local Land Service in 2018.

Allison Harker - Yass, NSW

Leonie O'Driscoll

Leonie is the Managing Director of Evofarm Pty and the co-founder of StockDirect Pty Ltd.  Leonie grew up on her family's mixed farm in Lameroo, South Australia and is an Agricultural Science and Finance graduate.

Leonie has a genuine love of practical farming and a passion for finance and focuses on efficiently marketing and moving primary products from farm gate to processor, trader and end user. Leonie is a former board member of Southern Ag Venture and led the grain procurement operations for Freedom Foods.

Leonie O'Driscoll - Marra, NSW​

Kelly Pearce

Dr Kelly Pearce is a grain and prime lamb Producer from Yealering in Western Australia. Kelly has had a 16-year career in agricultural research and continues to coordinate a number of regional science and innovation projects through her regionally-based business Wheatbelt Science.

Kelly is a Director of Farmers Mutual Limited, a 2012 Nuffield Scholar, a committee member of the Corrigin Farm Improvement Group and the WA Sheep and Goat Industry Funding Scheme Management Committee.

Kelly Pearce - Yealering, WA​

Linda Lee

Linda Lee is the Director of Agribusiness Development for the Northern Territory (NT) Government’s Department of Primary Industry and Resources.

Linda holds a Bachelor of Science and is a graduate of the Australian School of Applied Management’s Advanced Leadership Program and the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She has more than 20 years of professional experience in natural resource policy development, project management and research delivery within the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

Linda Lee - Berrimah, NT

Alison Southwell

Alison is a sixth generation wool grower. Alison completed a Bachelor of Rural Science at the University of New England before returning to southern NSW to complete her PhD investigating the hydrology beneath native pastures at Charles Sturt University.

Alison has worked as Lecturer in the School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences since 2007 and was appointed Course Director for the undergraduate agriculture courses in 2018.  

Alison Southwell - Mangoplah, NSW

Robbie Davis

Robbie has a strong understanding of whole-of-industry value chain from the paddock to the consumer and has a grazing property in South Australia. She worked for 10 years in Asia and was self-employed as an agribusiness consultant until her appointment as CEO of Potatoes South Australia in 2012.

Robbie is a collaborator in several research consortia led by the University of Adelaide and Primary Industries & Regions SA (PIRSA) and is the AgriFutures 2016 SA Rural Woman of the Year.

Robbie Davis -Narrung, SA


Amy Cosby

Dr. Amy Cosby is a Senior Research Officer - Agri-tech Education and Innovation at CQUniversity Australia. She has a Bachelor of Agriculture/Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a PhD in Precision Agriculture. Amy currently works with educators, researchers and industry professionals to develop innovative programs to increase the skills and knowledge of teachers and students in the latest agri-tech tools and systems.

Amy Cosby - Willow Grove, VIC

Deanna Lush

Deanna Lush co-founded AgCommunicators in 2013 and now manages a team of 19 professionals to coordinate communication, marketing, events and education projects for regional Australia. She is an award-winning journalist, a former editor of South Australia’s rural weekly newspaper the Stock Journal, and a former media adviser in the SA Premier’s Media Unit.

In 2017, she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study methods to build trust in agriculture with city audiences and travelled through the US, UK and Canada.

Deanna Lush - Palmer, SA

Mary Retallack

Mary is an agricultural scientist and third-generation viticulturist. She is a PhD candidate in viticulture and plant protection at the University of Adelaide. Mary is currently Managing Director of Retallack Viticulture which o_ ers a broad range of viticultural consulting services throughout Australia and a Director of Wine Australia.

Her leadership capabilities and contribution to agricultural and natural resource management have been recognised via the RIRDC Rural Woman of the Year (national winner), and as an inductee on Emerald Grain’s list of 100 Women in Australian Agribusiness.

Mary Retallack - Crafers West, SA

Sally Martin

Sally’s consultancy business services commerical breeders, ram breeders and service providers across the sheep industry. Sally is a Director and CEO of MerinoLink Limited. Sally has recently been appointed to the Sheep Genetics Advisory Committee providing strategic direction for the continued development of the key Sheep Genetics programs of LAMBPLAN and MERINOSELECT.

Sally was awarded the inaugural Australian Wool Industry Medal in 2017, recognising exceptional and sustained contribution to the Australian wool industry.

Sally Martin - Young, NSW

Brigid Price

As a city girl turned farmer, Queensland beef producer Brigid Price is proud to call rural Australia home. She passionately embraces its challenges, relishes its opportunities and celebrates its achievements as a committed member of the agricultural community.

Brigid is the creator of Rural Resources Online, a comprehensive website that unites Australian farmers through resources, shared knowledge, expert skills, and the all-important stories of community and spirit encapsulated by life on the land.

Brigid Price - Injune, QLD

Lucinda Hawkins

Lucinda completed a degree in Agricultural Economics (Hons) at the University of Sydney. She has spent the past 13 years involved in a number of industry sub-sectors with her passion being in cotton, beef, sheep and grain. Her current role as Head of Agribusiness at Bank of Queensland sees her responsible for a team of 15 experienced specialist bankers. Lucinda has most recently joined the AgriFutures Ignite Panel, allowing her to provide insight and expertise into the continued growth and sustainability of the agricultural industry.

Lucinda Hawkins - Dubbo, NSW

Penny Schulz

Penny runs a sheep and beef operation with her family. They produce stud bulls and females. They also run a specialist fi rst cross ewe lamb operation. Penny delivers projects to the livestock industry, with her expertise in animal genetics and farm business management.

She is currently studying for a PhD with the Sheep CRC looking at the adoption of apps by sheep producers. Penny is the recipient of two major awards, the SA RIRDC Rural Woman of the Year 2014 and the ABIF ANZ Kellogg Rural Leadership Program scholarship to New Zealand, also in 2014.

Penny Schulz - Field, SA

Skye Douglass

Skye lives on a beef cattle farm with her family and with her husband. Skye also runs a paddock to plate business, which the couple began in 2013. Skye is an active community volunteer having been involved in a range of positions including Secretary of QRRRWN Barambah Branch and various committee roles on Kindy, P&C and other community groups. She is also a Director on the board for the Aussie Farmers Foundation.

Skye Douglas - Neumgna, QLD