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Our Board

Our Directors are appointed in accordance with our Constitution. Annually our Industry Based representative members have the opportunity to nominate for re-appointment which gives them the opportunity to take a position as a Director. The current representative associations have been selected based upon the tourism operator networks they work with in the region. Relevant Associations within the region where their geographic Councils are financial partners are afforded this privilege in recognition of their support in growing tourism in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges.

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James Robinson


James is the Managing Director of SMS Marketing Solutions. He has strong marketing and sales experience across businesses of all sizes. James has held CEO roles for consumer products businesses in Australia, Europe and Asia, and was a member of the New Zealand Food and Grocery Council. On returning to Melbourne eight years ago he started his own marketing business in Melbourne focussed on digital and mobile marketing.

James is the Chair of the Tourism Crisis Response and Recovery Sub Committee.


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Leigh Harry


Leigh has a long history in the tourism industry and many of our Partners will recognise him from his previous roles as CEO of Tourism Victoria and the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. During his career he has 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 is the Chair of the Marketing Sub Committee and a member of the Tourism Crisis Response and Recovery Sub Committee.

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Kristina Burke


Kristina has over a decade of experience in public affairs, policy development and stakeholder engagement specialising in the visitor economy.

Kristina worked with the Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) for nine years as Policy Manager, where she led policy development and issues management, as well as managing the secretariat for the VTIC Board and policy committees. She was responsible for preparing submissions to major state and federal government budgets and reviews, and parliamentary inquiries.

Kristina joined CPR Communications & Public Relations in November 2017 as a Senior Adviser, working with clients in the local government and tourism sectors.

Kristina has worked with a wide range of stakeholders across Victoria covering important policy issues such as the dredging of Port Phillip Bay, the regulation of short-stay accommodation, licensed tour operator reforms, local government reforms, infrastructure funding, online ticketing fraud and skilled migration.

She holds a Masters of Tourism from Monash University and a Diploma of Management from Swinburne University.

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Michael Hands


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

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Peter Abbott


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.


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Kathleen McClusky


Kathleen McClusky joined Yarra Ranges Council as Director of Planning, Design and Development in late 2019.

Kath has more than 21 years’ experience in Local Government, coming to Yarra Ranges from Hobsons Bay City Council where she worked as Manager of Strategy and Advocacy and interim Director of Strategic Development and Planning.

A qualified Planner who has specialised in strategic and land use planning, Kathleen is a passionate leader of people, a strong advocate for evidence-based, integrated strategic planning, and is committed to improving outcomes for the community through planning and creating sustainable economic development opportunities.

The Planning, Design and Development Directorate includes Statutory Planning and Building, Strategic Planning, Place Planning and Urban Design, Strategic Projects and Economic Development and Investment, among other teams.

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Carl Cobie


A native of Scotland, with qualifications in economics, finance and an MBA, supplemented with studies at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Carl Cowie became CEO of Nillumbik Shire Council in October 2018. Carl joins Nillumbik Shire from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council where he was CEO from December 2014.

With a hands on approach to building high performance teams and executing clear business strategies, coupled with strong personal management, Carl quickly transformed the day to day, strategic business operations and capabilities of the Mornington Peninsula Shire and is currently achieving very positive results whilst working with Council and Senior Executives at Nillumbik 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.


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Cleo Silva


The Warburton Valley CEDA Inc. Industry Partner representative, experienced small business owner within the region and involvement in the local business community. Her experience also includes over 20 years in the IT sector working in private industry and government.

Cleo has qualifications in ITIL V3 Foundation (IT Service Management), ISO/IEC 20000 Certification and Cert 3 Information Technology

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Sam Maddock


Sam Maddock is the Co-Founder and Director of Warburton Adventure Company. He is a passionate advocate of adventure tourism and is an industry leader who has held executive level positions in schools, for-purpose businesses and on NGO boards. He is widely recognised for his risk management expertise and environmentally sustainable practices in outdoor and international expeditions.

He is a seasoned adventurer with 22 years of experience safely guiding group adventure expeditions in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland states in Australia, and internationally to Japan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Timor-Leste. He is a trained Teacher with extensive experience in experiential education, curriculum and program development.

Sam holds a Bachelor of Commerce, Graduate Diploma of Education, and Certificate IV of Outdoor Recreation. He is the Warburton Valley CEDA Inc. Industry Partner representative.

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Chanmali Tregambe


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 has also developed a popular boutique winery, cellar door and café in the Yarra Valley. She is also the current Vice-President and Secretary of Nillumbik Tourism & Business.

As an in-house practitioner Chanmali managed communications for Australia Post in Victoria and Tasmania and was its spokesperson on key national issues. She also established and managed the corporate communications function at Sigma Pharmaceuticals, including stakeholder engagement, government advocacy and investor relations.

Chanmali has a significant background in politics with roles as Ministerial Advisor and Chief-Of-Staff in two Victorian Governments.

As a consultant, she has provided strategic advice on issues, media and crisis management in local government, tourism, energy, transport and environment and managed the secretariat for Regional Cities Victoria, comprising the Mayors and CEO’s of the ten largest rural councils in Victoria.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and Post-graduate Diplomas in Criminology and Industrial Relations and Human Resources Management.