John Turner


John Turner was born and raised in the Hunter Valley.

He established a number of small businesses in Cessnock and a law firm, practising in East Maitland, Cessnock, Medowie and, for a time, in Singleton. He is presently involved with a law firm in Newcastle.

He was elected to the Greater Cessnock City Council in 1980 and served two terms and a period as deputy mayor.

In 1988, John was elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly as the Member for Myall Lakes. During the time in this position, he was Deputy Speaker of the NSW Parliament, chair and member of many parliamentary committees and was a shadow minister in twelve portfolio areas, including Hunter Development, Mineral Resources and Roads.

Following his retirement from the NSW Parliament in 2011, John was appointed as Chairman of the NSW Local Government Acts Taskforce, assigned to rewrite the Local Government Act. He is also the independent chair of six coal consultative committees and the Namoi Region Minerals and Energy Working Group.

John was appointed Chair of Regional Development Australia Hunter in April 2018. He was previously Deputy Chair of the organisation.

John has a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Literature and a Diploma of Law.

Susan Ivens

Deputy Chair

Susan Ivens has a strong background in the health industry and in education. Her background includes being the Managing Director of Toronto Private and Maitland Private Hospitals.

She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and Diploma in Teaching from the University of Newcastle. She completed a Master of Business Degree at the University of Newcastle in 1999 while continuing to run the business. In 2005 she graduated from Macquarie University having undertaken a Bachelor of Law degree via distance learning. Susan was awarded the Louis and Marjorie Karpin Memorial Prize for best performance in Business Policy in 2000.

In 2006 Susan received the prestigious Hunter Business Person of the Year award. This award is conferred by the Hunter Business Chamber and recognises achievements in business.

Paul Hughes

Paul Hughes has been a member of the Regional Development Australia Hunter committee since 2009 and is a member of the Finance and Risk Committee.

Paul was Chief Executive Officer of Newcastle Airport Limited from 2005 – 2015. Previously he worked for 20 years at Port Stephens Council, including 15 years in the senior executive management team. Prior to this Paul spent seven years in chartered accountancy having attained a Commerce Degree at the University of Newcastle.

Currently he provides consultancy services and is also a Board member of Petersons House Limited in the Hunter Valley. Paul is a Fellow of Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD). He grew up in Raymond Terrace, where he still lives, and attended high school in Maitland.

Geoff Lilliss

Geoff has had an extensive career in Energy Utilities, Manufacturing, Engineering Management and Higher Education. His career spans National and International business at the most senior levels of the Electrical Power Industry and Manufacturing while being regarded highly as a Senior Member of Governance Boards in the Higher Education Sector.

Geoff has significant experience as a non executive director and Chair in a variety of organisations in both the private and public sectors. Geoff was Managing Director and CEO of one of a large multinational technology manufacturer, supplying highly sophisticated equipment to the Utility and Mining industries. He was appointed to the State Executive and then National Council of the Australian Industry Group and was a member of the Advanced Manufacturing Group of CEO’s.

Previously Geoff was Executive General Manager of Energy Australia responsible for the largest Electricity Supply Network in Australia. Concurrently he was Chief Engineer of that organisation. Prior to that he directed the Customer service business supplying energy to 1.5 million customers.

Geoff holds an MBA (Merit), Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) and Conjoint Professorship in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Newcastle, and is a member of the University Council, Chairs the Strategic Development Committee of the Board.

He is the recipient of a number of awards including being recognised as one of Australia’s top 100 most influential Engineers in 2013 and 2014 and receipt of the Professional Engineer of the year award in 2012.

Darren Bayley

Darren is a senior executive with the NSW Department of Primary Industries and leads their education program and Registered Training Organisation, Tocal College.

As Principal of Tocal College, Darren oversees a state-wide program in agriculture and conservation and land management for rural industries. He also provides policy advice in education, agriculture and workforce development. Darren is the Director of the Tocal Agricultural Centre and is responsible for the 2,200 hectare property, its numerous commercial farming enterprises, and heritage precinct. He is also Chair of the Tocal Field Days Association.

Darren is passionate about the future of agriculture, education and training, and land use planning. He has qualifications in agriculture, public sector management, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Dr Kirsten Molloy

Dr Kirsten Molloy is Chief Executive Officer of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC). HVCCC leads collaboration and innovates across organisations participating in the world renowned Hunter Valley Coal Chain.

HVCCC coordinates all coal movements from mine to ship through a complex and extensive network of mines, track, rail, terminals and port.

Prior to her role at HVCCC, Dr Molloy was a Business Manager for Orica Mining Services in South-East Australia following a range of other senior commercial and technical roles over 16 years at Orica.

Dr Molloy has a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Newcastle in 1997, and completed an MBA from Deakin University in 2006.

Kirsten grew up in the Hunter Valley in NSW, Australia. She pursues multiple community interests, including the Equal Futures project, founding Verity to create demand for Diversity in leadership and participating as a Scout Commissioner.

She is an Executive Producer of the documentary Iceberg, tackling the issue of domestic violence.

Kirsten was first appointed to the Board of RDA Hunter on 1 July 2015.

Ian Pedersen

Ian Pedersen after graduating from UNSW in civil engineering, has worked as a structural engineer, project and business management.

Ian is a Past National President (1999–2000) of Engineers Australia (EA). In 1990 he was awarded the National Professional Engineer of the Year Award for the role he played in the aftermath of the devastating 1989 Newcastle Earthquake. He is a past Chair of EA’s National Honours and Awards committee and past Chief of Judges for the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards, having served in both roles for over 15 years.

Ian is currently a Director & Chair of the Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF). ACIF is a national body focused on creating a competitive construction and property industry that is a leader in building Australia’s prosperity.

In 1996-98 Ian was President of the Newcastle Regional Chamber of Commerce and until the end of 2008 a Director of the Hunter Business Chamber (HBC). He was appointed a Life Member of HBC in 2011.

Ian is currently a Councillor on the NSW Business Chamber Council, the peak business representative organisation in NSW. Because of his expertise and knowledge in the fields of engineering and economic infrastructure, he Chairs the NSWBC’s Infrastructure Committee.

In 1999 the Prime Minister appointed Ian onto his Hunter Region Taskforce to advise him of the affects and issues arising from the closure of the BHP Newcastle Steelworks, and as part of this role he was appointed Chairman of the BHP funded Welfare Trust.

Jennifer Hayes

Jennifer has over 20 years’ experience in Executive and Non-executive positions in a diverse range of sectors including fast moving consumer goods, water utilities, primary health and tertiary education, and brings extensive skills and experience in financial leadership, corporate governance, audit and risk management.

Jennifer is Chief Financial Officer of Hunter Water Corporation, which provides drinking water, wastewater, recycled water and some stormwater services to a population approaching 600,000 people in homes and businesses across the Hunter region.

Prior to her role at Hunter Water, Jennifer held corporate leadership positions with Mars Incorporated as Finance Director Central Europe, Group Financial Controller, Australia / New Zealand and CFO New Zealand.

Jennifer currently serves as a member of University Council, Charles Sturt University; Non-executive Director of Hunter Primary Care; and Chair of Cessnock City Council Audit Committee.

On a personal front, Jennifer is co-founder of the not-for-profit organisation ‘City2City’ which, in just four-years, has raised over $425,000 to fund life-saving equipment for the local hospital in her previous home town, Albury Wodonga. City2City was recognised as Community Group of the Year in the Albury City 2018 Australia Day Awards and a finalist in the 2017 NSW Business Chamber Awards.

Jennifer is a Certified Practicing Accountant; a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a Bachelor of Business in Accountancy and Master of Business from Charles Sturt University.

Kelsey Barrett

A director at Kumalie Group Pty Ltd, Kelsey and is passionate about sharing her 20-plus years of experience in corporate sustainability. She helps her clients implement and improve their sustainable management practices, advising on strategy, policy, reporting and communications.

Kelsey brings a unique international perspective to the Hunter business landscape, with clients based in Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, the UK and Switzerland.

Kelsey graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Newcastle in 1994, and has studied Environmental and Social Risk Analysis with the United Nation’s Environmental Programme, and Sustainability Leadership at Harvard University.

Over the years she has been a guest speaker at universities in Australia, the Netherlands and at various industry forums.

An advocate for education, Kelsey is also mentor with the University of Newcastle’s iLEAD Plus Program, and a member of Atwea College’s Board of Directors, Executive Committee and Risk & Governance Subcommittee.

She was appointed to the RDA Hunter Board in July 2018.