Board Members

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Mary Hoodless


Mary is an organisational development consultant and founder of Karoo Consultancy and Governance Assist. After almost 20 years in health and community services as an executive manager with active research and education portfolios, Mary established her own business working with not-for-profit, private and public sector organisations focusing on aligning organizations’ performance in their rapidly changing and complex environments through good governance and strategy, to facilitate positive change and increased capability within the organisation. Her qualifications include a Master of Applied Science (Research), Bachelor of Nursing and Diplomas of Management, Project Management and Population Health and a Graduate Certificate in Education (Tertiary).  Mary has a number of publications in national and international journals and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Albury Business Connect.

She and her husband Peter run a progressive commercial Angus beef enterprise in the beautiful Upper Murray and are both active community members, volunteering and participating in local community activities.

Mary is committed to working with the changing rural socio-demographics and economic landscape to build capacity and resilience, seek social and economic opportunities, and most importantly, sustain a sense of community.

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Geoff Lowe

Deputy Chair

Geoff has extensive experience in the automotive industry, compliance, finance and accounting, marketing and business management. Geoff is a Board Member of the Motor Traders Association of NSW and has held the positions of President and Treasurer and is currently a Vice President.  Geoff’s previous roles included Member of Minister of Fair Trading’s Motor Vehicle Advisory Council.  Geoff is the owner and CEO of Proven Products Pty Ltd.  Proven Products supports a number of local charitable initiatives.

  • MBA
  • Graduate Diploma of Management, AIB
  • Finance and Governance Training, AICD and Western Woodley Robertson
  • Equivalent of a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Management – certified by the Trustforte Corporation, New York
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Alexandra Anthony

Alex is an experienced leader with a long history of working in the rural sector, including farming with her family in the western Murray valley of NSW. In other roles, Alex led the Engagement program at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, was a director of an irrigation company, and held various leadership roles with both state and Commonwealth governments providing support services to landholders and communities on water management, natural resources, and farming services.

These interests and experiences position her well to participate in, foster and guide Regional Development Australia-Murray activities, to support business growth, new jobs, innovation, and regional investment.

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Ben Foley

Ben grew up in Albury-Wodonga and completed a Bachelor of Business (Enterprise Development) at Latrobe University. He has worked in both the USA and the United Kingdom.

During his working career, Ben has held senior roles with organisations such as Lloyds, Sonoco, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, NSW Business Chamber (now Business Australia) and Hume Bank. He returned to the border in 2005 and his current role is that of Executive Officer with Regional Disability Advocacy Service (RDAS). Ben has built extensive networks with both public and private organisations/ representatives and developed an in-depth familiarity of the opportunities and challenges confronting individuals, communities and businesses throughout North-East Victoria and Southern NSW.

He maintains extensive governance, stakeholder management, sales, marketing, financial management and strategic planning experience and has held numerous board and advisory council appointments with the likes of TAFE NSW, Riverina Regional Tourism and COMPACT Inc. He remains actively involved in several local community organisations.

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Brian Millar

Brian brings significant educational leadership experience in both the Vocational Education and Training and the Higher Education Sectors to our business line. He has held positions as Head of Department in the Victorian TAFE network, Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Hotel Management, Deputy Head of the School of Tourism and Hospitality and as the Director of the Beechworth Campus with La Trobe University.

As the Director of the TAFE NSW Riverina Institute Business, Arts, and Service Industry Brian has a track record in the development and delivery of quality educational programs both within Riverina Institute and in his previous positions. 

Brian is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors course and holds a Masters of Hospitality Management from Griffith University, Bachelor of Education (Technical and Further Education), Diploma of Teaching from the University of Melbourne, Diploma of Business and Certificate programs from the Victorian TAFE network and a Certificate of Commercial Cookery from TAFE NSW. With 16 years background in the education sector this enables him to lead his team in a position of strength and growth for the future.

He is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of the Tourism Hospitality and Catering Institute of Australia, a Regional Councillor for the Murray Riverina New South Wales Business Chamber and a member of the Indigo Economic Development and Tourism Advisory Committee

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Deanne Armstrong

As the CEO for Committee for Echuca Moama, Deanne brings a depth of skills and knowledge across a range of industry sectors. Deanne grew up on a dairy, cropping and beef farms. Through some amazing career opportunities, she now has a breadth of backgrounds in Hospitality, Education & Training, Victoria Police, Goulburn Murray Water and Committee for Greater Shepparton. She has developed her networks and relationships with Government, Businesses, Industries and Community stakeholders to understand the needs and importance of our regional communities. 

She completed the Fairley Leadership Program, AICD course, which has helped lead her into a range of board and committee positions with Kyabram District Health Service, Echuca Moama & District Tourism Development Association Inc, Bridge Arts Project, Echuca Moama Manufacturing Group, Shepparton Careers Day Out and Shepparton Youth Foyer (Advisory Committee).

Deanne has a passion for regional communities and wants to see them thrive by advocating and supporting businesses to develop a sustainable future workforce, provide opportunities to incorporate innovation and technology into businesses, providing opportunities for economic development and business attraction and drive the future of our region through mentoring and supporting our future leaders.  

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Gerard Van Emmerik

Gerard is the Business Development Manager for Regional NSW Riverina Murray. His immediate past role was Manager of Community and Economic Development with Federation Council based in Corowa. He has a long history working in the public sector across local and state government in both NSW and Victoria. He currently has a strong workplace focus on economic development, tourism and organisational grant management.

Prior to his current role, Gerard spent nine years working as an Economic Development Coordinator with Regional Development Victoria (RDV) based in Wodonga, working across the twelve local council’s that make up the Hume Region. His key focus areas whilst working at RDV included the development of regional cities and support for the manufacturing and transport industry sectors across the region.

Gerard’s qualifications include a Masters in Public Sector Management, a Graduate Diploma in Education (VET), Graduate Certificate in Management and a Bachelor of Social Science. He has also completed studies in welfare and adolescent psychiatry.

Gerard is a Murray region local having spent the majority of his life living in the Albury area. He is keen to promote the benefits of living, working and investing in the region.

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Lynnette O'Reilly

Lynnette has a passion for the regions and has extensive experience in working collaboratively across communities, government and business. After many years in WA has returned to the region in which she grew up and is passionate about making a difference to the Murray region.

She brings significant experience in regional development, local government and vocational education and training. She has held positions of General Manager, CEO and Director roles in local and state government and vocational education and training across both regional and remote mining areas in WA.

Commitment to the regions included membership to the CY O’Connor College of TAFE Governing Council, appointed as Board Member to the Local Government Managers WA and appointment to the WA Regional Council Committee as a Local Government representative providing strategic input and oversight of the WA Royalties for Regions program.

Qualifications include Master of Business Leadership, Graduate Diploma Education – Sports Science, Bachelor of Education and Certificate IV Training and Assessment.

Currently working in a community service role, she is keen to strengthen local community connectedness and access to needed services and local opportunities that will help build capacity across the Murray region.

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Murray Scholz

Murray Scholz is the owner and manager of a progressive and innovative agriculture business producing grain, oilseeds, beef, and lamb in the eastern Riverina.

Murray is an experienced Board Director with over 10 years of commercial and not for profit experience in strategic direction, financial management, corporate governance and communication strategy in commercial agricultural business, capacity building, and research. He has served as a director of Nuffield Australia, and Holbrook Landcare. He is currently a director of Queensland Crop Research and Riverine Plains farming systems group. He also sits on the Industry Advisory Panel of the Graham Centre (Charles Sturt University & NSW DPI) and GRDC southern NSW grower network.

Murray is a nationally recognised innovator, and his experience in agriculture has led him to present at conferences in Canada, India, and Japan. In Australia he has presented at government, industry and university conferences including ABARES National Outlook Conference, Australian Farm Institute conferences, and GRDC updates. Topics have included weed management, technology in agriculture, adapting farming systems in a changing environment, and strategic decision making. His business has been featured on ABC’s Landline and Bush Telegraph.

Murray is a Nuffield Scholar, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and completed The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers (TEPAP Texas A&M).

Rachael Williams

Rachael Williams lives and works from her property north of Balranald. Alongside her husband she runs a mixed farming enterprise bordered by the Ivanhoe road to the west and the Murrumbidgee River to the east, producing prime lambs and dryland and irrigated cereal and legume crops and pastures.

From her home office Rachael runs a social research business – Local Logic Place – which she co-founded in 2006. Local Logic Place, with offices in Benalla, Swan Hill and Balranald, offers the surrounding communities locally cognisant research, development, evaluation and programming, with complimentary skills in community engagement, community profiling and demographic data analysis, strategic planning, governance, collective impact, growth from conflict and partnership broking.

Rachael holds an honours degree (first class) in Rural Sociology. Rachael’s academic education has been kept practical with a range of short-term master classes in areas such as Business Design Strategy (Swinburne University), Community Engagement and Conflict Resolution (The Centre for People Development), Partnership Brokers Training (Partnership Brokers Association), Community and Deliberative Engagement (IAP2), Coaching and Mentoring (The Coaching Clinic) and Bridges Out of Poverty (Social Solutions).

Rachael brings to her work empathy for the reality of living in rural and remote Australia, a commitment to community well-being and the practical and theoretical skills required to assist communities in answering their big questions.

In her local community Rachael chairs the Country Education Foundation of Balranald and the Balranald Shire Council’s Strengthening Community Access, Inclusion and Wellbeing Advisory Committee