Our Committee

John O’Neill

John O’Neill is the Chair of RDA Mid North Coast.

John is a macadamia grower with a farm in the Nambucca Valley.  He has been involved with macadamia growing for the past seven years, having retired after thirty years in law enforcement at a very senior level and reinventing himself in rural life.

John is currently and has been for the past 6 years a Director and Company Secretary of a private macadamia processing company owned by shareholders and operating a processing and distribution enterprise in the macadamia industry.

John also has experience as a Director of a number of private companies and since moving to the Nambucca Valley has become a Director of an Aged Care Facility, which is located over a number of sites and is one of the largest employers in the Valley.  He is also a Director, current Vice President of the Island Golf Club, Nambucca Heads.

John is a university graduate with a BA (Psych) degree and a GrdCrt (HRM).  He is a Justice of the Peace, an Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

Rod Barnaby

Graduate of the Royal Military College Duntroon and Australian Defence Force Academy, Honours Degree in Civil Engineering and Masters of Business Administration (Technology Management).

Rod is a highly regarded senior executive with extensive corporate experience and a proven track record complimenting a background in leadership, strategic planning and decision-making gained through a highly successful military career.

With 18 years experience in private industry, Rod is skilled in building and managing high volume customer focussed business operations. Having held Chair and Board positions in a corporate environment he is well versed in corporate governance and the conduct of board activities.

Rod’s extensive military and corporate background has resulted in strong leadership qualities, and he enjoys training others in leadership, communications and team building. He is skilled in strategic thinking and planning and capable of complex problem solving in a range of environments.

Rod returned to the Mid North Coast in 2007 while maintaining a sound network of business and government contacts throughout NSW and Australia.

Dr Christene Capel

Chris has just completed her PhD from Monash University on how people in remote communities influence government policy titled: “Policy, power and remote community activism: a case study of the Great Artesian Basin Wild Rivers policy”. After working for state government in policy advice and project management, her final role was as Manager of Communication and Information for the Department of Primary Industries in Western Queensland.

She has a consultancy business, Chris Capel Consulting, in: community engagement, regional development, research, group facilitation process design and communications. She also currently is marking undergrad and Masters students papers for Monash University and the University of Queensland.

She lives in South West Rocks but spent 30 years in Central Western Queensland where her family still has a sheep and cattle grazing enterprise. She has extensive experience in voluntary not for profit work including with national rural women’s organisations, rural telework Boards and chaired the $3.1million internet training project BridgIT for Queensland Rural Women’s Network. She is currently Secretary of the Rotary Club of South West Rocks. She is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program.

Stewart Dowrick

For more than 20 years Stewart Dowrick has advocated and worked towards greater access to quality health care for communities. Appointed the Chief Executive of the Mid North Coast Local Health District in January 2011, Stewart works with the region’s clinicians and the community to provide optimum health care through strategic and quality management.

Stewart Dowrick begin his career in health care administration at the then Children’s Hospital at Camperdown in 1989, he moved to the Central Coast Area Health Service in 1993 and the Mid North Coast Area Health Service in 1999.

Since 2000 he has held Area Health Service executive positions on Mid North Coast and North Coast Area Health Services, overseeing health projects from Taree to Tweed Heads. He was also involved in the return of Port Macquarie Base Hospital to public ownership and presently overseeing the $110M redevelopment at Port Macquarie Base Hospital.

Stewart holds Post and Undergraduate degrees from the University of NSW and University of Newcastle and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Since his time on the Mid North Coast, Stewart has and continues to be actively involved with a range of community activities.

Wayne Lowe

I have worked in regional economic development for 16 years as a facilitator of business and industry development. Prior to this I owed and operated my own business which employed 16 staff.

My role with council has involved investment attraction, successfully attracting 18 new company establishments in the Nambucca Shire and working on approximately 40 local business expansion projects, assisting local companies to prepare to deal with council planning department and regulations.

I have applied for funding and developed local infrastructure to secure the major precast yard in Macksville creating over 150 full time positions and $200 million in ongoing turnover.

Over the past 10 years I have managed economic development, tourism, major events and all councils businesses including property development. I have repaired and maintained the business sustainability of the cattle sale yards, local aquatic centre and camping grounds, turning profit or reducing the financial burden to council’s overall budget.

I project managed the development of Nambucca Heads industrial estate from green field site development through to sales and establishment of new business over the past 12 months.

I formed and have facilitated the growth of manufacturing within the Shire of the vehicle industry cluster, manufacture Nambucca network, recently securing $3m in government funding for the expansion of Express coach builders. I am about to embark of a 13 lot residential subdivision for council and the acquisition of a new 50 hectare development.

I’m honoured to have been a Regional Achievement Awards Finalist in 2005 – 2006 and a NSW Business Chamber Leadership Award Finalist in 2014.

Richard O‘Leary

Richard O‘Leary is a director of O‘Leary Partners Pty Ltd a Mid North Coast Public Accountancy firm that has been operating in Kempsey since 1984.

Richard is the Chief Executive Officer Macleay Regional Co-operative Ltd, the Co-operative started in 1905.

Richard has been involved in business & the community all of his working life. His passions have been Early Education, Youth at Risk Education, Aged Care, Rotary & Co-operatives domestically & internationally. Richard‘s spare time is spent on the family beef cattle & timber growing farm at Kundabung.

Tony Rothacker

Tony Rothacker is an innovation advocate whose specialty is to deliver complex technology in a simple way. Although Tony initially trained as an Engineer, he feels his greatest strengths are in the arena of social interaction. Networking, developing new business partners, sales and closing deals give him extreme job satisfaction. Working in areas where his Engineering and IT background is also applicable enables Tony to operate on both a social and technical level.

Running his own local ISP business as well as being a Business Development Manager in the ICT industry, Tony developed extensive business relationships with local business communities and the Education, Health, Government, and Corporate sectors.

Selected as one of the Broadband Champions by the Coffs Harbour City Council and the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Tony enjoys promoting Broadband and IT solutions to the business and wider community.

Effectively delivering NBN-type-connectivity to T.H.E Exchange (an RDA Mid North Coast initiative), prior the NBN roll out in Coffs Harbour, has been a boon for the Coffs Coast: held in June 2011, 2012 and 2013.

In December 2011, Tony was appointed as a committee member of Regional Development Australia (RDA) Mid North Coast, with particular emphasis on his advisory capacity in the Telecommunications Sector. Tony is delighted that his professional network connections and ICT expertise can be utilised to develop regional Australia.

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