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Our Board

Our Directors are appointed in accordance with our Constitution. Annually our Industry representative associations have the opportunity to nominate for appointment to the Board, which gives them the opportunity to take a position as a Director. Associations qualify to nominate depending on the function of their association, their member base, and whether they are located in a local government area that is a financial partner of Yarra Ranges Tourism. Our Directors work together with our Executive team to market and facilitate the development of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges visitor economy, maximising the economic and social benefits that flow to the region.

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Leigh Harry, Independent Chair

With a long history in the tourism industry, many of our partners will recognise Leigh from his previous roles as CEO of Tourism Victoria and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. During his career, he’s held a number of significant board roles in the tourism and business events industry at a state, national and international level.

Leigh’s career experience includes roles in both the private and government sectors, and he holds a Commerce Degree with honours in accounting. Leigh joined the Board as a Skills Director in 2017 and has been Chair of the Marketing Sub Committee, Governance and Finance Sub Committee and a member of the Tourism Crisis Response and Recovery Sub Committee. He was appointed Chair in 2022.

Skills Based Appointments

Michael Hands, Skills Based Director

Michael has many years experience in the events and tourism industry, in both private and public sectors. Currently running an events and marketing business, he’s has previously built and sold a large events business as well as working as the strategic manager of the Victorian Major Company. Michael has held a number of board roles including the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, AFI Awards and others.

Peter Abbott, Skills Based Director

Peter is CEO of the iconic Dandenong’s heritage attraction, the Puffing Billy Railway. Reporting to the Emerald Tourist Railway Board he manages staff and volunteers that operate this much-loved part of the Dandenong’s.

Peter has previously been a member of regional and town based tourism industry bodies, along with working in both larger and smaller businesses.

Now living in Emerald, having always worked in the tourism, heritage and events industry, he is excited to be back in the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges area where he grew up, and is looking forward to being a part of the growth of the local tourism industry.

James Coleman, Skills Based Director

James is the General Manager of Sage Hotel Ringwood and has many years of experience in the accommodation and hospitality industry both in Australia and abroad.

A resident of the Upper Yarra Valley, James is passionate about the area and is looking forward to helping showcase the region which offers so much.

Jenni Rigby, Skills Based Director

Jenni is a senior executive in the Victorian public service, currently working in the emergency management sector, and has several years’ experience in strategic policy, public sector governance and program delivery across all levels of government. Jenni holds a degree in environmental management and public policy, as well as an MBA, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jenni is passionate about forging partnerships between communities, government and businesses as a way of creating a shared vision for the future and building resilience in local communities.


Tammi Rose, Yarra Ranges Council

As CEO of Yarra Ranges Council, Tammi Rose is an accomplished public purpose executive with over 20 years’ experience working in Local Government. With innate energy for driving innovative solutions to complex challenges, Tammi is a strategic, influential and engaging leader who is known for putting the community at the heart of all decision-making to deliver quality services and infrastructure. Tammi holds a degree in Commerce, is a qualified CPA and graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Carl Cowie, Nillumbik Shire Council

A native of Scotland, with qualifications in economics, finance and an MBA, supplemented with studies at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. He is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has completed the Executive Colloquium at Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership.

Carl Cowie became CEO of Nillumbik Shire Council in 2018, following his role as CEO at Mornington Peninsula Shire Council.

Carl is internationally experienced, the result of previous work in healthcare, facilities management, transport, manufacturing and construction project management, and is highly skilled in maximising business performance and increasing customer satisfaction.


Jacqui Harvey, Industry Representative Director - Warburton Valley CEDA Inc.

After 16 years in FMCG in Sales & Marketing and Managing Director roles, Jacqui made the life changing decision to leave the corporate world and run her own boutique food manufacturing business in the Yarra Valley. Nearly 15 years on and the business has grown 15-fold, with her newest challenge developing food tourism experiences.

Jacqui is passionate about her industry and all things Yarra Valley, enjoying being involved in forums where she has the opportunity to express her ideas, stimulate the sharing of information and resources, and generally ensuring the longevity of small to medium manufacturers in the face of this current challenging environment. Current and previous board positions include Warburton Valley CEDA, Yarra Valley Regional Food Group, Yarra Ranges Business and Tourism, Monash Food Innovation Centre, Confectionery Manufacturer’s Association, South East Melbourne Manufacturing Alliance, Mordialloc Sporting Club, Mordialloc Football Club, Southern Football League, and Superules Australia.

Chanmali Tregambe, Industry Representative Director - Nillumbik Tourism & Business Assoc.

Chanmali is a communications and government relations specialist with more than 25 years’ experience working as a consultant and in-house practitioner, as well as running her own consultancy. Over the past 20 years, together with her family, she’s developed a popular boutique winery, cellar door and café in the Yarra Valley and is the current Vice-President and Secretary of Nillumbik Tourism & Business.

Daniel Tokar, Industry Representative Director - Yarra Valley Smaller Wineries Assoc.

Involved with the Hospitality Industry within the Yarra Valley and Melbourne CBD in roles as a chef and a wine rep. Involved in the Yarra Valley wine industry over the 20 years, with direct contact for the last ten years in various leadership roles, including President of the Yarra Valley Smaller Wineries Association for the past five years, which has included event and project management. Currently General Manager of Tokar Estate, a family-owned and run business.

Karen Steele, Industry Representative Director - Villages of Mt Dandenong

Karen loves to travel and had wanted for several years to try running a bed and breakfast after experiencing stays in many different accommodations, both at home and overseas and eventually, her mantra became "Why die wondering?"

After reassessing her life goals, she bought a property in Olinda to convert into some guest accomodation. Several cottages, a bungalow, two apartments and two suites later, she has found that hosting guests and managing holiday properties is her happy place. Karen currently runs Your BnB Angels supporting accommodation operators in Dandenong Ranges.

Karen is dedicated to growing relationships in her community and the local tourism industry, she is passionate about sharing the natural beauty, shopping, and quirky eateries of the Dandenong Ranges with visitors. She has volunteered with the Olinda CFA, held Secretary, Treasurer and Vice-President roles for Dandenong Ranges Tourism Inc., and is currently also the accommodation representative in Villages of Mt Dandenong, and member of the Eastern Dandenong Ranges Association.

Mat Janes, Industry Representative Director - Domaine Chandon

Mat is the Consumer Business Director of Chandon Australia and has over 20 years’ experience in marketing and business management roles across the wine, beer hospitality and tourism sectors.

Having started out as a small business owner in the Margaret River region, Mat relocated to a role in the Yarra Valley 15 years ago. Since then he’s been involved in Wine Yarra Valley as a member of the marketing committee and now holds a position on the Board.