Our Partnership comprises business and community members from across Ovens Murray who care passionately about the future of our region.
They are joined on the Partnership by the CEOs of our Local Government Areas, as well as a representative of Regional Development Australia (ensuring Commonwealth involvement with the Partnership) and a representative from the Victorian Government.
Amber Gardner - Chair
Amber has lived and worked in the Ovens Murray region for the past 15 years and is passionate about delivering strong economic, social and environmental outcomes for the region. As current CEO of Mt Hotham Alpine Resort Management Board and previous CEO of Tourism North East, she has a comprehensive understanding of the regional tourism industry, a key economic driver in Ovens Murray. With extensive domestic and international experience encompassing FMCG and telecommunications, Amber also brings her strong strategic thinking and commercial acumen to other key regional focus areas, including improved digital connectivity, investment in transformative infrastructure and support for business reliance and growth. She was appointed to the Regional Partnership Chair role in 2021, having previously held the position of Deputy Chair. Amber is also a Director of Outdoors Victoria, a representative on the Telstra Regional Advisory Committee and holds a Master of Marketing and Bachelor of Media and Communications.
Amanda moved into the region in mid-2019 to take on the role of CEO Women’s Health Goulburn North East. She previously held senior management roles with Girl Guides Victoria and Emerge Australia, a membership based health advocacy and support organisation, as well as having experience in communications, events management and the creative arts sector. Amanda has a strong commitment to human rights and assisting minorities to find their voice and currently also holds a volunteer role as Treasurer of Gender Equity Victoria. She has a Bachelor of Business in Accountancy and Systems Design.
Bess is the CEO of Tourism North East, the regional tourism board for Victoria’s High Country. Bess has a background in marketing, communications and major events and prior to joining Tourism North East, was the Director of Marketing and Communications at DoTerra Australia & New Zealand. Bess holds a Bachelor of Dramatic Art in Technical Production and is passionate about driving meaningful outcomes that positively support the visitor economy and the region.
Felicity has held the position of CEO of The Centre for Continuing Education since 2014. Felicity is a social impact entrepreneur and strategic business leader with extensive experience in developing and implementing business management, market development and product and service approaches that achieve social impact within the education and community development sectors. Felicity is the Chair of Regional Sport Victoria, Deputy Chair of Adult Community Education Victoria (ACEVic) Board and Deputy Chair Gateway Health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration.
Rosie is an experienced small business owner and independent theatre producer, who worked in book and magazine publishing for many years before tree-changing with her family to Glenrowan West to run a sheep farm. She was appointed in 2020 as Executive Officer of the Tomorrow Today Foundation, is a former board director of Tourism North East and Alpine Valleys Community Leadership and a former member of the Wangaratta Council Advisory Committee for Arts, Culture and Heritage. She believes that engaged and empowered communities and stunning pristine environments are the region’s greatest assets and has a strong commitment to education as a foundation for thriving regional communities.
Sally is Chair of the Tomorrow Today Foundation, which leads the Education Benalla Program, and a director of Australian Community Philanthropy. She has a background in health education and extensive community development experience, contributing to the community through active involvement in numerous organisations over the last twenty years while enjoying life on the family’s small farm near Benalla. Sally is passionate about the potential of community philanthropy to create stronger rural communities.
Jon is a long-term resident of Mansfield, with considerable experience in the tourism sector including Mount Hotham and Mount Buller resorts. He has strong business management capabilities with a background in corporate governance and financial management. Jon has held a variety of leadership roles, including Chair of the Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank from 2009-2015 and Director of the Natural Resources Conservation League of Victoria since 2012. Jon is committed to developing the diversity of the Victorian Alpine area and building an amazing alpine experience for guests, providing the regional economy with an economic base and employment opportunities for the future.
Regional Development Australia representatives
Amanda was appointed as Chair of the Regional Development Australia-Hume in early 2020 following a four year term as the Mayor of Strathbogie Shire Council, having been elected to Council in 2016. Prior to this she was the CEO of Goulburn Murray Community Leadership and held roles with both the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and North Central Catchment Management Authority. She is passionate about the continual development of regional Victoria and has a strong reputation for addressing issues affecting rural and regional communities.
Amelia is Deputy Chair of Regional Development Australia-Hume, as well as the Director and Founder of My Round Table, a consulting company developed to help support businesses and organisations with strategy, transformation and growth solutions, both in Australia and abroad. She has also worked for government, KPMG and other consulting firms, contributing her specialist knowledge in research and development, innovation, agriculture and manufacturing industries. Amelia also currently holds membership and advisory roles with North East Support and Action for Youth (NESAY), Ovens Murray AgBiz Alliance (OMABA), StartUp ShakeUp and the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE). She is committed to mentoring and advocacy for regional and rural Australian leaders.
Victorian Government representative
Greg Stenton - Deputy Secretary, Corporate Services in the Department of Health (DH)
Local government CEOs
Charlie Bird – CEO, Alpine Shire Council
Charlie was appointed to the CEO position with Alpine Shire Council in August 2017, after joining Local Government in 2015. Charlie is an environmental engineer with a diverse background. He has been a truck driver, farmer, run his own consulting business, led a car-sharing operation in Melbourne and has nearly 20 years’ experience in the water, natural resource management and local government sectors. Charlie enjoys working with people on complex and challenging problems to deliver outcomes for the community.
Dom Testoni – CEO, Benalla Rural City Council
Dom commenced in the role of CEO Benalla Rural City Council in January 2019. Prior to this, he worked for the seven Councils on the Limestone Coast in South Australia. His experience includes, leading regional lobbying and advocacy, as well as overseeing a range of collaborative projects in tourism, climate adaptation, waste management, economic development, transport and infrastructure planning, road safety, sport and recreation. In addition, Dom has a 20-year history working in agribusiness across New South Wales and Queensland, as well as experience with the not-for-profit and natural resource management sectors.
Trevor Ierino – CEO, Indigo Shire Council
Trevor was appointed to the position of Indigo Shire Council CEO in 2018 after a career spanning more than 30 years in both public and private sector industries. These included banking, motor vehicle manufacturing, food manufacturing, printing services, as well as 10 years as chief financial officer with Goulburn-Murray Water, Australia's largest rural water authority. Trevor’s most recent role was Director of Business Services at Wodonga City Council, a position he held for 10 years.
Kaylene Conrick – CEO, Mansfield Shire Council
Kaylene was appointed CEO of Mansfield Shire Council at the beginning of 2020 following a distinguished and extensive career in local government spanning 27 years. Kaylene returns to Mansfield Shire Council after successfully steering Council through the de-amalgamation process from Delatite Shire Council in 2002. Her career highlights include CEO roles at Queenscliff, Hepburn and at Litchfield in the Northern Territory.
Juliana Phelps – CEO, Towong Shire Council
Juliana has served as Towong Shire Council’s CEO since 2009. Prior to taking on this role, she held the position of Director Community and Corporate Services. Juliana is a Chartered Accountant and has experience with auditing private and public organisations. She also holds a Master of Business Administration from Charles Sturt University as well as a Bachelor of Business (Accounting and Economics). Juliana is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Prior to joining Council, Juliana held a senior management position in the manufacturing sector in Albury Wodonga. Juliana is passionate about the sustainability of rural communities and small rural councils and, for ten years up to late 2020, was the Hume Region representative on the Rural Councils Victoria board.
Brendan McGrath – CEO, Wangaratta Rural City Council
Brendan has been CEO at the Rural City of Wangaratta since 2014. He is also President of LGPro, the peak body for Local Government Professionals in Victoria. He recently joined the Board of Procurement Australia. His previous roles include six years as CEO at Indigo Shire Council, as well as senior roles at Mitchell Shire.
Mark Dixon – CEO, Wodonga City Council
Mark commenced as CEO Wodonga Council in May 2019, having formerly held the position of CEO and Managing Director of Wodonga TAFE and the Driver Education Centre of Australia since 2015. He has over 30 years’ experience as a defence force officer and post graduate qualifications in leadership, science and technology, as well as industry experience in logistics and supply chain management.