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 Chief Executive Officers (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.
Business and community members
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. She has a Bachelor of Business in Accountancy and Systems Design.
Bessis 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 from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and is passionate about driving meaningful outcomes that positively support the visitor economy and the region.
Felicity Williams has held senior management positions in marketing, public relations and communications in industries including tertiary education, secondary education, and not-for-profit organisations.
She founded and ran a highly successful business and marketing consultancy during which she provided practical assistance and support to small and medium sized businesses in a wide range of industries throughout North East Victoria.
She was Marketing Manager for Wodonga TAFE, and then took up an Executive Director position at Bendigo TAFE. She then returned to the North East to manage a secondary school. However, in September 2014 Felicity took up the role of CEO of The Centre for Continuing Education, fulfilling her desire to return to the tertiary sector. Felicity is passionate about the vocational education and training sector because it links people to community and industry, and because education has the power to change lives.
Felicity has now taken on the role of CEO of Upper Murray Family Care, which supports holistic programs supporting families and communities in north east Victoria.
Regional Development Australia representative
TBC – Regional Development Australia – Hume
Victorian Government representative
Greg Stenton – Deputy Secretary, Corporate Services in the Department of Health
Greg has more than 30 years’ experience in public sector administration, including senior roles in finance and human resources, strategic planning and business improvement. He holds a Bachelor of Business and is a Fellow of Certified Practising Accountants (FCPA) Australia. In his current role of Deputy Secretary Corporate Services with the Department of Health, Greg is responsible for providing strategic, specialist advice and delivery of corporate services to support the work of the department and the government in maintaining and improving the health and wellbeing of the Victorian community.
Local government CEOs
William Jeremy – CEO, Alpine Shire Council
Will commenced in the role of Chief Executive Officer in July 2022 having joined Alpine Shire Council in early 2016 as Manager Asset Development, before stepping into the role of Director Assets in 2017. Prior to commencing in Local Government, Will’s career spanned more than 16 years in the private sector as a project manager in the oil and gas industry, initially for Shell and more recently for Woodside Energy. Will has a Masters Degree in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford in the UK, and is a Chartered Professional Engineer and member of Engineers Australia. Will is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Will is passionate about the future sustainability of our Shire and enjoys making a difference for the community in which he lives.
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.
Kirsten Alexander – CEO, Mansfield Shire Council
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 McGrath has over 25 years’ Victorian local government and private sector management experience.
With post graduate Business Management qualifications and in CEO roles since 2008, initially with Indigo Shire and now with Rural City of Wangaratta, Brendan’s strengths lie in human and financial resources management and policy, strategy, and business development.
His Bachelor of Applied Science degree and early local government and private sector management experience in community and recreation areas gives him a strong understanding of the importance of working with people in the communities they live in.
Brendan is a current board member for North East Victoria Regional Tourism Board and GOTafe Wangaratta. He is also the former President and Board Member of Local Government Professionals, the peak body for Local Government professionals in Victoria and former Board Member of Procurement Australia, a National Procurement aggregation company.
Mr Matthew Hyde – CEO, Wodonga City Council
Matt was newly appointed as the CEO of Wodonga Council as of 11 July 2022.
He comes to Wodonga from Snowy Valleys Council, has more than 25 years in local government in Queensland and NSW, holds a Masters in Business Administration, is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a director on the board of Local Government Professionals NSW.