Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) has announced the appointment of Linda Cooper to the role
of chair. Ms Cooper takes over from interim chair Mavis Mullins, who remains as patron of AWDT.
Ms Cooper brings more than 20 years of national and international executive leadership experience to
Governance roles have included trustee for Fonterra’s and Fisher & Paykel Appliance’s
superannuation schemes, director of several Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) subsidiaries in
New Zealand and offshore, and board member of the National Science Challenge: Science for
“AWDT is delighted to have a leader with Linda’s background and experience to take up the role of
chair,” Mrs Mullins said. “She brings a wealth of commercial knowledge and expertise to the organisation
along with a passion for supporting women to reach their full potential.”
Ms Cooper is familiar with AWDT, having graduated from its flagship Escalator programme in 2013 and
been involved as a programme facilitator. Ms Cooper also held the role of acting chief executive for three
months last year.
“Linda is another example of our Escalator Alumni giving back to the sector by taking up roles with AWDT
to share their expertise and what they have gained from our programmes for the benefit of other
women,” Mrs Mullins said.
Ms Cooper said she was looking forward to building on the achievements of AWDT to date and seeing
how the organisation can escalate its impact in the primary sector.
“There’s opportunity to extend our work to equip and support women in all primary industries so they
can more fully play their part as vital partners in influencing progress and change.
“I’m also keen to grow our connection with industry so they can be part of the economic, social and
environmental impact these women are having on farms, in families, in the community and in
Mrs Mullins said the appointment of the new chair was part of the trust’s planned leadership succession
over the past 18 months, which included the appointment of a new general manager in November last
year after AWDT founder Lindy Nelson stepped aside from her role as executive director. Mrs Nelson
remains involved in the organisation as a trustee and programme director.
“AWDT is well-placed to continue to grow our role in providing development and leadership
opportunities and support to women in the primary sector,” Mrs Mullins said. “This year we will work
with 1000 women and some of their farming partners through our personal development, farm business
skills and leadership and governance programmes throughout New Zealand.”