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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, Independent Chair

Managing Director of SMS Marketing Solutions, James has strong marketing and sales experience across businesses of all sizes. He’s 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 focusing on digital and mobile marketing.

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

Skills Based Appointments

Leigh Harry, Director of Leigh Harry Advisory PTY LTD.

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 is the Chair of the Marketing Sub Committee and a member of the Tourism Crisis Response and Recovery Sub Committee.

Kristina Burke, Skills Based Director

Kristina has over a decade of experience in public affairs, policy development and stakeholder engagement specialising in the visitor economy, working with the Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) for nine years as Policy Manager. She joined CPR Communications & Public Relations as a Senior Adviser, working with clients in the local government and tourism sectors.

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

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.


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, 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.


Sam Maddock, Warburton Valley CEDA Inc.

As an experienced small business owner within the region and involvement in the local business community, Sam’s experience also includes over 20 years in the IT sector working in private industry and government.

Chanmali Tregambe, Industry Representative Director Nillumbik Tourism Association

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.

She’s worked with the likes of Australia Post as well Sigma Pharmaceuticals and has a significant background in politics with roles as Ministerial Advisor and Chief-Of-Staff in two Victorian Governments. She’s 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.



President of Dandenong Ranges Tourism and owner of Tall Trees Studios in Olinda. Helene holds an Advanced Certificate in Business Administration & Marketing and an Advanced Diploma in Jewellery & Object Design.

Prior to retraining and becoming a business owner in the Dandenong Ranges, Helene was primarily working in the private sector for companies. Since becoming a Gold & Silversmith and opening Tall Trees Studio in Olinda in 2018, she has become her own marketing team reaching out to other local businesses, professional groups, as is required as a small business.


Bio coming soon


Bio coming soon