Linda Cooper

Supporting talented women to find the confidence and connections to step up and lead is one of the most rewarding parts of AWDT facilitator Linda
Cooper’s role.
Linda co-facilitates Next Level, our six-month leadership and governance development programme, and the 10-month Escalator programme, our impact leadership accelerator course.
Her involvement with the Trust goes right back to 2013 when she was a participant in Escalator and met AWDT Founder Lindy Nelson.

“I’d done many leadership courses but found Escalator outstanding. It was more personal, more relevant, more passionate and more challenging.”

Linda stayed in contact with Lindy, and in 2018 filled in as General Manager at AWDT for a few months. In 2019, when the Next Level programme started, Linda was asked to facilitate and she’s been hooked on our organisation ever since, even becoming the Board Chair and serving on the Board from 2019 to 2022.

“I’m now proud to work for AWDT and I’m proud of every single woman who finds the courage to come on an AWDT
course, then go out and follow their dreams, making the world a better place.”

Next Level, Linda says, is designed to give women the skills, confidence and connections they need to be a leader in
whatever area they are passionate about, whether that is on a farm, in business, or in community, locally or globally.
The next courses kick off in Hamilton and Dunedin in September – find out more.

“The course is focused on the food and fibre sector, so no matter where you are in the value chain, the examples and real-life discussions are relevant to participants’ day-to-day life.”

The facilitators have both farm and industry experience and the mix of in-person learning, online learning and connection and individual coaching offered means completing the course is achievable even for those with busy lives, Linda says.

“The groups form a strong bond that lasts well beyond the programme, participants make connections to others in the industry and everyone at AWDT is passionate about helping women so you are always connected to a wider group of women who can support you.

“I would say to anyone looking to sign up, be brave! You will fit in, you will feel comfortable, you will find a group of like-minded women, and you will learn and grow so much in only six months. This could change your life!”

Away from her work at AWDT, Linda has several governance and leadership roles, including co-chairing the Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge. Her previous corporate career provided more than 25 years’ experience in executive leadership roles, including Chief Financial Officer for Fisher & Paykel Appliances in the USA and eight years as Chief Financial Officer for Livestock Improvement Corp (LIC), a New Zealand dairy farmer-owned co-op. Linda also served as a director on several Livestock Improvement Corp subsidiaries including joint ventures in Brazil and Australia.

“I’m proud of LIC and my team there for the work they do for NZ farmers.”

Linda lives in the Waikato and when she’s not busy with AWDT work or board roles, she is caring for her three-year-old great niece one day a week and raising potential guide dog puppies for Blind Low Vision.
“I’m now training my second pup, Jess. I started this after my own dog Shiraz, who I bought back from the USA, died at 14.”
She has two cats, Bear and Tigger, and loves spending time with family and friends or at the beach.

You can be part of the Next Level programmes starting in Hamilton and Dunedin in September. Find out more or register here.

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