Board, Patron & Founder
- Linda Cooper - Chair
- Fi Dalgety
- Murray Donald
- Dr Scott Champion
- Jenni Vernon MNZM
- Mavis Mullins MNZM - Patron
- Lindy Nelson MNZM - Founder
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.
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.
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).
Lindy Nelson MNZM - Founder
AWDT Founder Lindy Nelson is a visionary leader, unafraid to tackle challenges, and driven to make a difference in the New Zealand primary industry. She believes women hold the key to support and lead much of the change that needs to happen globally. Her personal philosophy around diversity and inclusion is “leave no one behind”.
Lindy’s work in the New Zealand agriculture sector started in 1992 when she moved to a rural area to manage a hill country sheep and beef operation along with her husband. The lack of women's voice in the agriculture world made She believed it was time for action, to support women and feminine leadership. After three years of research, Lindy saw her work coming into the form with "Unlocking Potential", a research paper that meant the beginning of new projects.
Lindy founded AWDT in 2009 that has led to a transformation in NZ’s food and agricultural sector through unleashing the talent of women. She also led the design and implementation of leading-edge leadership and governance programmes.
She was the 2013 NEXT Business Woman of the Year and was nominated as one of the Top Ten Women in Agriculture by Primary Magazine.
With a few friends in 2017, Lindy supported Theresa Gutting to bring to life WorldWomen17, a three-day event that brought renowned international speakers to a 480-strong urban and rural audience.
In 2018, she travelled to Papua New Guinea to address Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation on empowering women in agriculture as well as offered advice to the Scottish Government to develop a strategy for agri-women.
Lindy is a member of the 2020 Global Advisory board for Women in Food and Agriculture.