Board & Patron
- Linda Cooper - Chair
- Lindy Nelson MNZM
- Fi Dalgety
- Murray Donald
- Dr Scott Champion
- Damian Buckley
- Jessica Smith
- Jenni Vernon MNZM
- Mavis Mullins MNZM - Patron
Linda Cooper - Chair
Linda is passionate about empowering women to reach their full potential and influence positive change and sustainable progress in New Zealand’s primary sector.
Linda has extensive national and international commercial leadership experience including leading the start-up of Fisher & Paykel Appliances in the USA and as chief financial officer for dairy farmer-owned co-operative, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC).
Governance roles have included trustee for Fonterra and Fisher & Paykel Appliances superannuation schemes, director of several LIC subsidiaries in New Zealand and offshore, chair of Waikato SPCA, and board member of the National Science Challenge: Science for Technological Innovation.
Linda grew up on a dairy farm and has had an ongoing interest in the agri-sector. She is an active AWDT Escalator Alumni member after completing the programme in 2013 and was AWDT’s acting chief executive during part of 2018.
Linda has a Bachelor of Management Studies with Honours from Waikato University and is a chartered accountant.
Lindy Nelson MNZM – Founder & Trustee
Lindy believes in the ability and skills of women and has a passion to grow their potential. An involved and active member of her wider community, she has followed a pathway that spans farm ownership, community leadership, director of a crown entity, founding AWDT in 2010 then leading its operations.
Lindy is a partner, with her husband David, in an intensive Alfredton hill country sheep and beef farm. She was the 2013 NEXT Magazine Business Woman of the Year and in 2012 was named by Primary Magazine as one of the top 10 women in agriculture.
Lindy has completed national and international research on development of women, best practice and what it takes to create positive change. Creating linkages between organisations and utilising resources, contacts and networks for sector and individual benefit is paramount to everything Lindy does.
Fi Dalgety - Trustee
Fi and her husband Alex own a sheep and beef farm in Rangitikei, where they live with their three daughters.
With a firm belief that a vibrant community is key to a thriving agricultural sector, Fi has promoted, advocated for and supported rural communities through numerous leadership and governance roles.
Having completed three of AWDT’s cornerstone programmes - First Steps, Escalator and Understanding Your Farming Business – Fi has first-hand knowledge of the power of the programmes to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with likeminded women New Zealand-wide.
Fi holds a Bachelor in Business Studies from Massey University. She has worked for Valuation NZ and has practised as a Registered Valuer.
Murray Donald - Trustee
Murray is passionate about productive enterprises that play a major role in the New Zealand economy. He enjoys working with people who have a shared sense of direction towards a common goal for business growth.
Over the past 25 years Murray and his wife Carolynn have developed and expanded an intensive lamb and beef farming operation in the Waianiwa District of Southland.
Murray has held numerous professional governance roles including Director of FMG (2000-2014) and Director of Alliance Group Ltd (1992-current). He chairs the Alliance Group Trustee Ltd (staff superannuation scheme) and is a Director of the Southern Institute of Technology.
Murray is a Chartered Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Directors and a 1992 Kellogg Scholar.
Dr Scott Champion - Trustee
An experienced leader, strategist and executive manager, Scott has worked across tertiary education, innovative organisations in the private sector and industry service delivery and advocacy for over 20 years, most recently as former CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.
Scott has significant strategy development, facilitation, the securing of investment, and governance experience across diverse areas, often within complex, multi-party projects.
An effective change leader, Scott has effectively led structural and cultural change within organisations, and has adapted commercial approaches to strategy implementation and performance measurement, within not-for-profit, community-based organisations.
Scott is passionate about identifying, creating and connecting strongly with communities of interest and customers/clients to build effective products and services that make a difference.
Damian Buckley - Trustee
Damian has been involved in the UK and New Zealand primary sectors his whole life.
As an experienced business development manager working in food production, media and software, he understands sales and marketing management, business planning, stakeholder management and product innovation.
Damian is passionate about developing the people around him, provides abundant energy and dynamism, and is a natural story teller. With a Bachelor’s degree focused on business enterprise, he has strong interpersonal, relationship and networking skills.
In 2017 he completed a Voluntary Service Abroad assignment in Samoa, where he successfully developed the leadership team within a coconut growers association.
Jessica Smith - Trustee
Te Ātihaunui a Pāpārangi, Ngāti Tamakopiri, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu
Jessica grew up in Taihape on a family sheep and beef farm. She has a diverse background in business development in a variety of sectors including agriculture, horticulture, tourism and fisheries. Jessica is passionate about Māori development and brings a wealth of experience and understanding of Māori land management and utilisation.
Her academic achievements include a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration with a focus on International and Māori business, and MBA from Victoria University. Jessica was the 2017 Zespri scholarship recipient for the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme.
Jessica participated in one of AWDT’s first Wāhine Māia, Wāhine Whenua (UYFB) programmes.
Jenni Vernon MNZM - Trustee
Jenni has a diverse background in public sector leadership at national, regional and local levels. This has underpinned her strong belief in rural women being involved in the wider community, even if this means moving outside of their comfort zones by taking on new challenges.
In partnership with her husband, Gordon, Jenni farms a dry stock property in the Western Hills of Waikato. Previously, they owned a small dairy farm and a forestry unit.
Jenni is a board member of the NZ Geographic Board and the NZ National Fieldays Society. Her previous governance roles include board member of the Waikato River Authority, Trustee of the NZ Nuffield Farming Trust, Chair of Waikato Regional Council and Deputy Chair of the Open Polytechnic.
In 1994, Jenni was the first woman selected as a Nuffield Farming Scholar and she completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme in 1985. Other awards for service to the farming and wider community include a MNZM (2008); Justice of the Peace (2008); the Women's Suffrage Medal (1993) and the NZ Commemorative Medal (1990).
Mavis relishes the opportunity to support women engaged in self-development and share her skills and experiences. Other primary sector directorships include Chair of Atihau Whanganui Incorporation and Aohanga Incorporation.
In 2017 Mavis was inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame and won The Outstanding Māori Business award at University of Auckland Aotearoa Māori Business Leaders Awards.
Past directorships include Landcorp Farming Ltd and Massey University. As former Chair of Te Huarahi Tika Trust (Māori Spectrum) and former Chair of Hautaki Ltd, the NZ shareholder in 2degrees Mobile, Mavis has been involved in the development and commercial use of spectrum for mobile technologies.
Her own company, Paewai Mullins Shearing Ltd, was the first globally in the sector to achieve ISO 9002 certification. Other acknowledgments include Golden Shears Awards, Māori Businesswoman of the Year (1998), Māori Sports Administrator of the Year for Shearing & Woolhandling (2005, 2012), and the Safeguard NZ Health & Safety in the Workplace Award (2008).