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National Farmers' Federation

Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program

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

Applications for the 2021 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program open on 14 March 2021 and close on 14 April 2021.

The Program matches successful applicants with a mentor and the mentorship runs from May 2021 to October 2021. 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.

2021 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. View the 2020 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program pledges from our partners

2020

Alex Thomas

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.

Alex was awarded the 2018 SA AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award for her work in farm safety.

Alex Thomas – Mount Osmond, SA

Alysia Kepert

Alysia’s passion is agricultural education. Having worked for the Department of Education for 19 years, Alysia has led agricultural education initiatives and has championed the need for industry to work cohesively to promote themselves and their activities in a way that resonates with young people.

She is currently working on a State-wide primary industries education project that aims to provide professional learning so that teachers can be confident to deliver curriculum using a primary industries lens.

Alysia Kepert – Perth, WA

Fiona Marshall

Fiona and her husband farm in Mulwala in the Southern Riverina of NSW. The couple are dryland grain producers with a small prime lamb enterprise, an is the principal administrator for the business.

Fiona is also currently serving on the GRDC (Grains Research and Development Corporation) Southern panel and is on the Riverine Plains Farming Systems Group Committee.

Fiona Marshall – Mulwala NSW

Jessica Fealy

Jessica and her family (husband and four kids) operate Blue Sky Producea family owned avocado, mango and lime farm in Mareeba, Far North Queensland (about 1.5hrs northwest of Cairns).

Jessica grew up on a dairy farm about an hour from Paddys Green and completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at UNE in Armidale, NSW followed by a 15 year stint of corporate life in Brisbane before returning to agriculture.

Jessica Fealy – Paddys Green, QLD

Niki Ford

Niki grew up in Toowoomba on the Darling Downs and now lives in Brisbane with her family. Niki is the current CEO of Australian Organic Ltd, the leading peak body for the organic industry where she works alongside producers and processors across all agriculture sectors.

Niki Ford – Brisbane, QLD

Sarah Parker

Sarah grew up in inner city Brisbane where she lived before moving to the Goulbourn Valley in Victoria to start a career in dairy farming.

Sarah has worked in a variety of corporate roles and has held a number of important board positions in the industry, including her current role as President of Australian Women in Agriculture and Director of the National Rural Women’s Coalition. Last year she helped establish the Australian Dairy Collective which is a collective bargaining group for dairy farmers and am still involved as company secretary.

Sarah Parker - Undera, VIC

Alison Hamilton

Alison resides in Wagga Wagga in the NSW Riverina with her husband and two children where the family runs a small beef cattle trading business. She also runs a consulting and project business, AJM Livestock Solutions, that aims to simplify on farm operations.

Alison is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership program (ARLP) and was the 2010 NSW RIRDC Rural Women’s Award Runner Up.

Alison Hamilton – Wagga Wagga, NSW

Kelly Pearce

Diana Fear resides on a mixed farm (cattle and cropping) near Condobolin, NSW. She is the CEO of Central West Farming Systems (CWFS) which is a not-for-profit farming systems organisation set up by local growers in 1998 to undertake RD&E in the low rainfall zone of Central West NSW.

Originally from Goulburn, NSW Diana lived in Sydney for 20 years where she worked in politics before moving back to the country with her husband and two children.

Diana Fear – Condobolin, NSW

Jaelle Bajada

Jaelle lives in Sydney with her husband and 11-month-old daughter where she holds a position oHead of Corporate Affairs for Syngenta ANZ, a leading science-based agtech company that helps Australian and New Zealand farmers sustainably grow safe and nutritious food.

Jaelle was introduced to agriculture during her childhood where she spent a lot of time at her family horse farm.

Jaelle Bajada – Sydney, NSW

Margaret Jewell

Margaret has been working as an agricultural consultant, mainly in the livestock industry, since graduating with a PhD in plant genetics in 2012. Since November last year Margaret has been working for MLA as their CN30 (Carbon Neutral 2030) Manager.

With 10+ years’ experience in intensive and extensive agriculture, Margaret is committed to ensuring that Australian agriculture can prosper while remaining sustainable and contributing to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

Margaret Jewell – Brisbane, QLD

Rebecca Staines

Rebecca Staines lives in Albury, NSW where she works as the National Seed Manager for Nutrien Ag Solutions, the largest rural retail organisation in Australia. Rebecca has diverse experience in the agricultural sector which includes work in intensive cropping systems, livestock enterprises and plant biotechnology.

Rebecca Staines – Albury, NSW

Robbie Davis

Susie is based in Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills where she works as the CEO for the Apple & Pear Growers Association of South Australia and EO for the Cherry Growers Association of South Australia.

Passionate about the agriculture industry, Susie is also actively involved with various industry and community board and committee positions.

Susie Green - Lenswood, SA

2019

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

2018

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