Operations team

Dr Amanda Cahill

Amanda CahillAmanda is the CEO of The Next Economy. She has spent over two decades working with inspiring people across Australia, Asia and the Pacific to create positive change on issues as diverse as economic development; public health, gender equality; and climate adaptation. The focus of her work at The Next Economy is to support communities, government, industry and others to develop a more resilient, just and regenerative economy. Most of this work involves supporting regional communities in Australia to strengthen their economies by embracing the transition to zero emissions. She is also widely sought after as a presenter and media commentator and has appeared in a number of books and films including the film 2040.

Amanda completed her PhD at the Australian National University on participatory action research approaches to economic development in the Philippines. She is an Adjunct Lecturer at The University of Queensland, an Industry Fellow at the Sydney Policy Lab at the University of Sydney, and a 2020 Churchill Fellow.

Emma-Kate Rose

Emma-Kate is a Program Director at The Next Economy, drawing on over 30 years’ experience working in business, social enterprise development, environmental sustainability, food justice and bottom-up economic development. In addition to her role at The Next Economy, she also leads Food Connect, a social enterprise which has led the way in transforming the local food system, using principles of ecological agriculture to engage ethically with family farms and local communities for over 16 years.

Emma-Kate is one of four Fellows of the Yunus Centre for Social Business at Griffith University. She is a Special Advisor to the Board of the Queensland Social Enterprise Council, where she previously helped secure philanthropic and government funding to coordinate a sector-wide strategy to scale impact across Queensland.

Dr Emma Whittlesea

Emma is the Community Transitions Manager at TNE. Her professional focus has been around sustainability, community development and stakeholder dialogue, supporting community and economic transition. She has over 20 years’ experience, working with communities and public, private and not-for-profit sectors within the UK, Europe and Australia.

Emma worked as a Principal Policy Officer for the Queensland Government for over 4 years in the Department of Environment and Science, where she managed a variety of projects including a program to help Great Barrier Reef island communities transition towards a low carbon economy and increase their resilience. She is also an adjunct Senior Research Fellow with the Griffith Institute for Tourism.

Debbie Gibson

Debbie GibsonDebbie is a solution focussed, proactive & results driven Office Manager and Executive Assistant with experience in public, private & not for profit sectors in Australia, the United Kingdom & South Africa. In addition to over 30 years’ experience in business support, she has also gained an Advanced Diploma of Management (HR), Diplomas of both Business and Management, a Certificate IV in Front Line Management and is a Rehabilitation & Return to Work Co-ordinator.

Debbie’s expertise lies in her ability to streamline and manage business processes. She is passionate about HR and business innovation.

The Transitioning Australia Group

The TAG teamTransitioning Australia Group supports the operations team in their work with regional communities.

The TAG team provides a range of expertise that is not just technical, but also grounded in the lived experience of managing economic change.


Wendy Farmer

Wendy is the President of Voices of the Valley, a community advocacy group that formed during the catastrophic 2014 Hazelwood brown coal mine fire in Victoria. Voices of the Valley’s advocacy work has led to, notably, the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiries, as well as a number of awards for Environmental Justice and for Health Equity. Over time, Wendy’s focus has shifted to supporting her community to explore how the Valley can transition to a cleaner energy economy. She is a dedicated campaigner, media spokesperson, community advocate and public speaker, and is passionate about social justice, health and just transitions for communities all around Australia.

Dan Musil

Dan Musil is the Secretary of the Earthworker Cooperative and manages the Earthworker Energy Manufacturing Cooperative in the Latrobe Valley. Dan completed honours studies in Economics and Geography at the University of Melbourne, and is now undertaking PhD research into low-carbon transition and worker-ownership, focussed on the energy transition in the Latrobe Valley. 

Julie Lyford

As a former mayor, local councillor and registered nurse in the Upper Hunter Valley, Julie is committed to the core values that build progressive and resilient societies. Her priorities are sustainable, liveable communities with fair, transparent and trustworthy political processes. These values and her concerns about climate change led to her co-founding the Gloucester Environment Group in 1989. Since then, Julie has had board and decision-making experience with Hunter Councils, Regional Development Australia (Hunter), Mid Coast Water, Upper Hunter Arts, tourism, youth and economic development committees. Transitioning communities towards inclusive educational, economic and renewable energy opportunities remains her long-term goal. In 2015, Julie was awarded an OAM for services to the environment, community and local government.

Ron Ipsen

Having been born in the open cut (formerly the Yallourn township), Ron Ipsen is a retired third generation power station worker who has strong attachments with the Yallourn Power Station. Ron is an inventor, adventurer and passionate motorcycle enthusiast, despite losing a leg in a road accident. ‘Sparked’ into action since the Hazelwood Mine Fire, Ron has been a strong advocate for the Latrobe Valley community and is Vice-President of the Voices of the Valley. In the last three years, Ron has looked extensively into viable ways forward for the community in the Valley including ideas such as co-operatively owned industries, community owned battery banks (virtual power stations) and resilient refuge centres.

Dr Jarra Hicks

Jarra is a Founding Director of the Community Power Agency, a leading organisation supporting communities to establish renewable energy projects. With 10 years’ experience in the community energy sector in both Australia and overseas, Jarra’s knowledge spans business models, community engagement, facilitation, policy development and partnership building. Jarra has a unique blend of practitioner and researcher experience and throughout her career and has led projects on the ground as well as working at sector and policy levels. Jarra completed a PhD in Law/ Built Environment at the University of New South Wales on the outcomes and impacts from community-owned wind energy projects in small regional communities. From 2014 to 2016 Jarra was an advisor to the ACT government in the design and delivery of the Community Engagement and Benefit Sharing component of their Renewable Energy Auctions. In 2017 Jarra co-authored the Victorian Government’s Community Engagement and Benefit Sharing in Renewable Energy Development A Guide for Applicants to the Victorian Renewable Energy Target Auction and worked with the Clean Energy Council to produce a comprehensive national review of current and best-practice community engagement and benefit sharing in the wind industry, titled Enhancing Positive Social Outcomes from Wind Development. Jarra was a key participant in the ARENA-funded Social Access Solar Gardens project.


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