Geelong Sustainability Group Incorporated is managed by a Board elected by members at the Annual General Meeting.
Geelong Sustainability 2023 Board
The current committee was elected at our AGM held on 16 November 2022:
DAVID SPEAR - PRESIDENT
David's career goal is to help create an environment, economy, and community fit for the challenges and opportunities we face in the 21st Century. He is the Chairperson of Geelong Sustainability, as well as being a member of the Barwon South West Regional Development Australia Committee, the City of Greater Geelong's Sustainability Advisory Committee, and Regional Innovation for a Circular Economy Committee.
David has established, managed, and led organisations in Victoria, Queensland, and Canberra. He is a progressive, innovative leader with exceptional commercial acumen, analytical and strategic capability; and is also highly experienced leading implementation of projects and programs to create positive change.
MERILYN HARRIS - SECRETARY
Merilyn was first elected as Secretary in 2021 and was subsequently re-elected again in 2022. She envisions Geelong Sustainability playing a significant part in the building of momentum to fight climate change that is now occurring across both state and federal spheres. Merilyn’s background includes a working life in the education sector and quite a long stint in senior policy and management roles, including management of governance frameworks across multiple settings. After her retirement it was Merilyn’s skills in governance that were offered to Geelong Sustainability as a volunteer. Merilyn’s undergraduate qualifications are in economics and politics with a masters in education.
SARA VAN DER MEER - Treasurer
Having managed several small businesses, Sara has an eye for detail and an understanding of what it takes to run a business smoothly and effectively. As Treasurer, Sara works closely with the Board and CEO to ensure that Geelong Sustainability is meeting all our financial requirements as a registered charity and incorporated association. Throughout her professional and volunteer roles, Sara has led significant sustainability initiatives.
VIVIENNE BURKE - GENERAL BOARd MEMBER
Vivienne has been a Geelong Sustainability member since 2010, and represented the group as Secretary of the Committee for eight years and Acting Treasurer for 18 months. Formerly Regional Director of Adult, Community & Further Education and Executive Officer to a board appointed by the Minister for Tertiary Education & Training, Vivienne’s knowledge and experience relate particularly to governance, policy, planning and accountability. Over time she has developed an extensive knowledge of a broad range of not-for-profit community based organisations throughout Victoria and particularly in Barwon and the South West.
NEIL PLUMMER - GENERAL BOARD MEMBER
As a Director with Out of the Box Executive, Neil helps organisations to capture opportunities and mitigate their risks through the energy, climate and circular economy transition. He is currently working with both Deakin Manufutures and DeakinCo in training entrepreneurs and start-up businesses on strategy, leadership, and business planning. As an experienced climatologist and former head of Climate Services in the Bureau of Meteorology, Neil currently provides climate research services to Monash University and the Victorian Government.
Neil is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company of Directors and has Masters degrees in both Business Administration and Science, a Graduate Diploma in Computing and a Diploma in Meteorology.
Emma Connan - GENERAL BOARD MEMBER
Emma is currently the Director of Sustainability, Environments and Logistics at Deakin University. Since 2015 she has led Deakin’s commitment to sustainability and been responsible for the development and implementation of sustainability strategy for all aspects, including energy and emissions, waste, water, built environment and natural environment. During this time Deakin has become a sector leader in sustainability and is contributing to the transition to renewables and demonstrating leadership in climate mitigation, adaptation, integrated water management and biodiversity management. With a Deakin career that spans 21 years, Emma is very passionate about driving positive change at Deakin and within the region.
Fred Ritman - GENERAL BOARD MEMBER
Fred has a professional background in Education and IT over 30 years and is passionate about sustainability and renewable energy. Fred brings broad professional experience in Government, Schools, Universities and TAFE, the non-for-profit sector and private and public companies. He has held Executive positions in the Victorian State Government and private industry and has previously sat on the Geelong Sustainability Committee of Management (2018 to 2021), as well as a range of community and professional association boards. Fred currently holds the position of Director Information Services and Support at Geelong Grammar School. He holds the following qualifications; GAICD, Exec Master of Public Administration, Master of Education, Grad. Dip. Applied Science, Grad Dip Education, and B.A.
Operations and Coordinators
The Geelong Sustainability committee is strategically supported by a number of key volunteers, contractors and staff.
DAN COWDELL - CHEIF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Dan has a background in both commercial and not-for-profit sectors with over 18 years’ experience working as an electrical engineer, project manager and community organiser. He has worked in the fields of industrial automation, renewable energy, energy efficiency, community energy and climate change. Dan joined the GS Committee in 2013 and was elected President in 2014. He led the establishment of our renewable energy subcommittee, which has implemented many successful community energy projects. Currently he co-coordinates the Geelong Renewable Energy Action Taskforce (GREAT) and provides governance oversight to our new Community Power Hub.
EMILIE FLYNN - EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
Emilie is a sustainability enthusiast with a background in education, mathematics and accounts. She spent her first 21 years in WA before jet setting around the world, finally landing in Victoria in 2017. Emilie joined Geelong Sustainability as a staff member in September 2021, predominantly working for the Community Power Hub project. As of July 2022, she is continuing her work with the group as Executive Assistant. In her free time, you will find Emilie enthusiastically telling people about her 10-bin system, cuddling her 45kg lap-dog, or participating in board game nights with friends.
VICKI PERRETT - Climate Advocacy
Born and bred in Geelong, Vicki enjoyed a long career in tertiary education and the textile industry before a seachange retirement to the Bellarine aroused her passion for sustainability and the imperative to protect our natural environment for future generations. Vicki joined the GS committee in 2011 and was Treasurer before becoming President in 2016. She’s developing the organisation’s strategy, reputation, viability and networks. She’s advocating strongly for our region to join the #RaceToNetZero and to work collaboratively to decarbonise, localise and equalise our economy. Her qualifications include a BAppSc, DipEd, MEd and Dip Sustainability.
JAMES ROURKE-DUNKLEY - GREAT CO-COORDINATOR
James brings technical expertise in contemporary and future renewable energy technologies to our Renewable Energy pillar as Co-Coordinator of the GREAT (Geelong Renewable Energy Action Taskforce). James is impassioned by community driven change and the strong belief that groups such as Geelong Sustainability can shape Australia’s future energy landscape by driving lasting incremental changes to our energy systems. Starting small James has employed high energy efficiency principles to his sustainable home as reducing consumption is one of the most effective tools in living sustainably.