Strategic Advisory Panel

The Centre's Strategic Advisory Panel comprises of local representatives who, individually and as a group, bring a depth of expertise and knowledge to their role, in setting the direction of research and development projects for the Centre that address the challenges and priorities of the region.

Leonie Burrows OAM

Chair of the Strategic Advisory Panel

Leonie Burrows
Leonie Burrows OAM

Leonie Burrows is the inaugural Chair of the Strategic Advisory Panel. Leonie is a Mildura based professional manager and consultant. She is currently Chair of Murray Primary Health Network, Chair of the Loddon Mallee Regional Development Australia Board and Chair of the One Basin CRC Regional Advisory Committee (Mildura) and a member of the Mallee Regional Partnership.

Leonie has 25 years’ experience in Local Government, including time as CEO at Mildura Rural City Council. She has also held CEO positions at:

  • Australian Tablegrape Growers Association
  • Australian Citrus Industry
  • Buloke Shire
  • SuniTAFE

Previous roles include Chair of Sunraysia Community Health, Chair of SuniTAFE, Chair of the Victorian TAFE Association, Chair of Lower Murray Water Corporation, Chair of the Mildura Transport and Logistics Cluster and involvement in numerous other community organisations. For four (4) years she was also the Executive Officer of the Alliance of Councils for Rail Freight Development.

Anne Mansell

Chair – Northern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network

Anne Mansell
Anne Mansell

Chair of Northern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network (NMLLEN) Anne is passionate about education and encouraging pathways for young people into employment. Anne is the former Chief Executive Officer of Dried Fruits Australia which oversaw research & development, marketing and promotion for dried grapes.

Anne served as inaugural Chief Executive Officer of Mildura Development Corporation from February 2009 to November 2013, overseeing a number of exciting projects including Olam’s $50million investment into an almond processing plant and facilitating the business case for the $120 million Sunraysia Modernisation Project.

Anne has over 35 years experience in the horticulture sector as a partner in a family owned citrus property, and served as a Board Director and President of Sunraysia Citrus Growers.

Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts, Graduate Certificate of Business Management, a Diploma in Corporate Governance, and a Graduate Diploma in Planning.

Anne continues to stay involved in a number of local organisations including Sunraysia Community Health; La Trobe University Mildura Regional Advisory Board; Murray Valley Winegrowers Industry Development Committee and has been appointed to the Regional Development Australia Loddon Mallee Committee.

Jenny Collins

Jenny Collins
Jenny Collins

Committed to both her community and the environment, Jenny has a deep understanding of issues facing the Mallee. Jenny was born and raised in the local region and holds qualifications in geology, environmental education and governance.

Jenny has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Mallee CMA since 2006 and is actively involved in a number of committees and boards at regional and state levels, spanning the water, environment and industry sectors. Jenny is passionate about the Victorian Mallee and attracting strong investment in the region from Commonwealth and state programs. Jenny is Chair of the Victorian Catchment Management Authorities CEOs’ Forum and was named in the 2018 Top 50 Public Sector Women in Victoria.

Ross Lake OAM
LLB, BEco, Dip Ed

Ross Lake
Ross Lake

Based in Mildura, Ross is a business operator, wine grower, community activist with a long-standing interest in Murray River water management and water politics. Ross trained as a lawyer, an economist and a teacher, and is now the Managing Director of Tasco Inland Australia P/L, a large fuel distribution and retail company.

Ross has held many roles in the local community, including chairperson, board member and supporter of Arts Mildura, SunRISE21, the Sunraysia Initiative for a Sustainable Economy, and is currently president of Mallee Family Care. He is also the Independent Chair for the Northern Mallee Integrated Water Management, a collaboration of peak bodies involved in the water cycle in the local region. Ross has been a driver in developing ambitious and far-reaching cultural programs in his region, many of which connect directly to underlying economic and environmental agendas.

Peter O’Donnell

Peter O'Donnell
Peter O’Donnell

Peter has been a CPA for 25 years. He was the founder of Southern Cross Business Advisers in 2001 growing the company to a four partner, 30 staff organisation.

Upon selling in 2014 Peter took ownership of an associated business, Southern Cross Farms. Peter has been a Director of Southern Cross Farms for over 10 years and Managing Director since 2014.

Peter is the Chair of Mildura Airport Pty Ltd which he has held for the last eight years, while being a Director for 12 years. Peter was also a board member of MASP (10 years), a member of the NMLLEN board, President of Imperial FNC (4 years) a member the Sacred Heart Parish Council, a life member of the Mildura Settlers Cricket Club and the Workers Basketball Club, and spent over 20 years on the finance committee of the Mildura Special School. He is also Co-Founder of Kokoda Youth Mentoring Programme which is in its 12th year.

Peter has expertise in accounting and finance with particular skill sets around strategic planning, continuous improvement, business building and team development.

Richard Byllaardt

Richard Byllardt
Richard Byllaardt

Richard Byllaardt is the former Managing Director of Seven Fields, and is based in Mildura, Victoria. He grew the company to become one of the largest and most successful citrus growers in Australia. As head of growing and marketing, Richard travelled regularly to South Africa, Italy, Spain, USA, China, Japan, United Kingdom, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong, establishing an excellent network of people around the world in the citrus industry. In 2016, Seven Fields was sold to The Nutrano Group.

Richard currently consults to a number of horticultural enterprises and believes it is essential for all industries to have strong organisations like the Mallee regional innovation centre as key drivers in the future direction of our region.

Tim Jackson

Tim Jackson
Tim Jackson

Tim Jackson is the CEO of the Almond Board of Australia. Part of the ABA strategic plan is promoting regional development and opportunity across the Sunraysia where more than 60% of the nation’s almonds are grown.

Part of Tim’s role is dedicated to helping address the challenges faced within the region including a shortage of skilled and unskilled labour, promoting careers in horticulture, improved connectivity and embracing innovation that recognises the need to achieve positive outcomes for local people, the planet and profitability.

Paul Northey

Paul Northey
Paul Northey

Paul Northey joined the Mallee Regional Innovation Centre’s Strategic Advisory Panel in 2023, shortly after he was appointed as the Managing Director of Lower Murray Water.

Paul has lived and worked in regional Victoria for his entire career with experience in both the urban and rural water sectors. Before his role with Lower Murray Water, Paul was with the Victorian Department of Transport and Planning (DTP) and has held senior management roles in the Victorian water industry, predominantly in the areas of project and service delivery, strategic planning and corporate strategy.

Paul’s academic qualifications are a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil), a Master of Engineering (Environmental) and a Master of Business Administration. He is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of the Institute of Engineers Australia and is a member of the Deakin University Engineering Advisory Board.