2018 Featured Speakers

Adjunct Professor Tony Sorensen

University of New England

Tony Sorensen is a futurist who foresees massive economic and social disruption over the next two decades driven by a tsunami of new technologies. The 4th Industrial Revolution will dramatically challenge the management capacities of governments, businesses and communities alike.

A Fellow of the Regional Australia Institute, he has researched the diverse processes shaping Australia’s regional economies, the capacity of regional business and community leadership to create agile economies, and the limited capacity of superior tiers of government to influence events. He is also currently on an expert panel advising the House of Representatives Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation.

A global traveller, he has recently debated such themes in Oxford, Bucharest, Tel Aviv, Saigon and Vladivostok, and is a frequent visitor to such high-tech hotspots as Silicon Valley and Seattle.

Dr Sandra Phillips

Associate Professor and Coordinator, Indigenous Higher Degree by Research in the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research (JIIER), University of Technology Sydney

Associate Professor Sandra Phillips is an engaged academic with research interests in Indigenous story and voice in a range of creative and media forms. Descended from the First Nations of Wakka Wakka and Gooreng Gooreng (QLD), Sandra co-ordinates university-wide Indigenous higher degree by research at UTS through the Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research. Before a full-time career in the academy Sandra worked in publishing and freelanced across consultancies in writing, editing, research, evaluation, speaking and facilitation. Sandra has three adult sons and one granddaughter.

The Hon Ben Franklin MLC

The Hon Ben Franklin MLC was elected to the Legislative Council for the NSW Nationals in 2015. He is currently the Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy and Northern NSW.

Based on the North Coast, Ben is a passionate advocate for regional communities. He is particularly focuses on greater employment outcomes, energy sustainability and education equality for our regional towns.

Before being elected to NSW Parliament, Ben served as the State Director of the NSW Nationals from 2008 to 2015. Prior to this role, he was the Communications Director for UNICEF Australia.

Kim Houghton

General Manager of Policy and Research, Regional Australia Institute

Kim Houghton is General Manager Policy and Research with the Regional Australia Institute (RAI).  Kim manages the RAI’s policy and research portfolio, ensuring that the Institute’s work has practical application and supports a better policy environment and more vibrant regional economies.  Kim plays a leading role in the RAI’s work on innovation and entrepreneurship, and on regional and local economic development strategies.  Kim has 20 years’ experience working on business and economic development in towns, cities and regions across Australia and overseas.

Ms Fiona Nash

Strategic Advisor, Regional Development, Charles Sturt University

Having grown up in Sydney, Fiona has spent the last couple of decades living and working in regional Australia. For many years she was involved in a farming enterprise in the central west, which her sons Will and Henry are now running. She spent twelve years in the federal parliament as a Senator for NSW and also held ministerial positions including rural health, and in Cabinet the positions of regional development, regional communications and local government and territories. She also held the position of deputy leader of the Nationals.

Fiona is now Strategic Adviser – Regional Development for Charles Sturt University.

Ms Jillian Kilby

CEO & Founder, The Infrastructure Collaborative

Jillian is a Civil Engineer who specialises in shifting infrastructure projects from planning shelves to be shovel ready. Her company has served Local Governments across NSW since 2009.

Jillian is the 2018 NSW/ACT AgriFutures:tm: Rural Woman of the Year, an Industry Advisor for the Engineering Degree at CSU Bathurst, and a John Monash Scholar holding an MBA and Master of Public Policy from Stanford University. Jillian is unique for having her boots-on-the-ground in regional Australia and the USA. She is able to cross-pollinate learnings from her diverse international work assignments.

Other Confirmed Featured Speakers 2018

  • Mr Nick Cleary, Chairman & CEO, Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA)
  •  Mr Chris Adams, CEO, City of Karratha
  • Cr Katie Milne, Mayor, Tweed Shire Council
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