The Board

Our Board is made up of economic development industry practitioners from around Australia who volunteer their time and expertise to oversee our strategic direction.

The Board Directors


Mark Holdsworth ACEcD (WA)

A results orientated professional with a passion for working with organisations that value their community and customers. Extensive experience in implementing city strategy, economic development & relationship management services within public and private sector organisations throughout Asia Pacific and Europe to improve service delivery and partnerships.

Mark has worked for two really great local government organisations, one in Victoria and another in Western Australia, and believes that Local Government has never had such a significant role to play in nurturing the economic, social, environmental and local conditions necessary for communities to thrive.  To do this it must keep a steady eye on the key factors which make local places prosper and flourish and in doing so has the privileged opportunity to imagine the role that it can play in achieving this.

Mark’s involvement with Economic Development Australia (EDA) began with the Victorian SPN and, seeing the potential for EDA to become a peak body to represent the sector, he joined the National Board in 2013. He has been National Chair for five years and during that time worked to grow the financial, governance, advocacy and brand of the organisation. He believes that Economic Development Australia is increasingly seen as the organisation that can transcend both the private and public sectors and represent professionals working to improve the prosperity and richness of Australia’s cities and regions.


Paula Brennan ACEcD (VIC)

23 years Local Government experience including roles in Risk and Facility management before a move to Economic Development in 2002.
With prior experience in corporate policy developmnt, project and event management, Paula developed the most recent Local Economic & Employment Development Strategy for the City of Greater Dandenong. This was closely aligned with her previous project, “Economic Resilience for Greater Dandenong”, undertaken in collaboration with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies in Manchester.

Paula has previously been a representative on the Victorian State Practitioner Network of EDA, and looks forward to further representing the sector through her position on the National Board.

With previous roles as an estimator in a small engineering business, risk manager and facility manager with Local Government prior to the move to Economic Development, her range of skills and expertise have allowed her to connect effectively with both Government and business people alike.

Susie Bower (Tas)

Formerly at Dorset Council as Manager Community and Economic Development Susie’s role involves a wide range of areas including: youth, aged care, community development, tourism, emergency management and economic development. Previously Susie worked with the University of Tasmania as a Business Manager. Results driven senior manager with broad management experience gained over twenty years in Local Government and the Higher Education sector, with demonstrated expertise in Operations and Project Management, Strategy Development, Planning and Networking.

Virginia Miller ACEcD (SA) Business Development Partner – City of Holdfast Bay

Prior to her role at Holdfast Bay, Virginia had taken a leading role in the review of the Local Government Victoria Performance Reporting for economic development, resulting in an extensive survey of ED Practitioners across Victoria informing a revised reporting model. Virginia previously held the role of Manager, Business Advisory Services at the Northern Adelaide Business Enterprise Centre and maintains an international Business Counsellor accreditation through the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. As a current business owner she values the importance of key agencies and organisations that foster business development and resources that enhance the capacity of business and economic growth. Virginia is taking a leading role in developing and implementing a range of economic development related projects that focus on industry investment, business engagement and enhancing core industry sectors in the City of Port Phillip. Building on a recent study into the Creative Industries sector, the findings have paved an appetite to undertake a study in Urban Manufacturers within the five Inner Melbourne Councils (IMAP) and surrounds. The project will inform decisions about rezoning of urban commercial and industrial zoned land and aims to examine the competing needs for industrial and commercial land in central cities.

Paul Martins (QLD) Manager of Economic Development – Sunshine Coast Council

Charged with the implementation of the Regional Economic Development Strategy, the Major and Regional Events Strategy and Investment Attraction for the Sunshine Coast.

Paul was previously Australia’s Senior Trade Commissioner to Malaysia and Brunei and the Head of the South East Asian Infrastructure, Mining and Oil and Gas Units, managing some 30 plus staff spread across seven countries. Paul also held posts as Trade Commissioner for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean as well as Trade Commissioner for Indonesia. Paul has also enjoyed a number of roles in the private sector including as CEO of a large manufacturing business with offices across five locations in Australia and as Director of Sales and Marketing for an international manufacturing business.Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Asia Studies and an MBA in Entrepreneurship.

David Power (VIC) Coordinator Economic Development – City of Port Phillip

David is an experienced government professional with a strong background in communications, economic development, business, advocacy, marketing, tourism, events and corporate planning.  In his previous roles, he has been responsible for leading sustainable business growth, promoting the economic liveability of Ireland on a global scale and various Local Government Areas in Australia. This was achieved by building a powerful and successful image of these areas through marketing and public relations activities.

He is politically astute with a capacity to develop and maintain excellent working relationships with Councillors, government and external stakeholders with a capacity to interpret Federal and State Government Policy and program directions. In addition he has an ability to ensure a balance between operational efficiency and longer term strategic planning using strong conceptual skills with a focus on external opportunities through economic development.

Jason McFarlane (WA) Founder & Managing Director – FAR Lane

Jason McFarlane has spent over a decade working with entrepreneurs, communities, government agencies, and investors to deliver transformative economic development projects and initiatives for local benefit. His work focuses on delivering evidence-based analytics and strategy that realises real-world outcomes.

Jason has a Masters of Business Administration (California State University East Bay) and a Bachelor of Science (UWA), a Certificate in Strategic Foresight (University of Houston) and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jason is founder and Managing Director of FAR Lane and serves as a Director with Pollinators and Economic Development Australia.

Anne Banks-McAllister (WA) (FLGP FAICD AM) WALGA

Having worked in State Government and managed her own consulting business, Anne has worked in Local Government for nearly 30 years holding Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer positions.  She currently works for the WA Local Government Association where she has a focus on regional capacity building and economic development.

Anne has a Bachelor of Applied Science, a Master of Business Leadership and a Graduate Certificate in Organisational Coaching.  She is also graduate and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Her contribution to Local Government has been recognised by LG Professionals (WA) having received a Meritorious Award and being conferred a Fellow.

An experienced non-executive director, Anne has sat on the Board of the National Committee for UN Women and was the inaugural Convenor of the WA Women’s Hall of Fame.  She currently chairs Women’s Health & Family Services Inc. and sits on the Library Board of WA.

Anne is a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to gender equality, particularly in Local Government.

Holly Walton (QLD) Logan City Council

Holly is an experienced and enthusiastic marketing and economic & business development professional with extensive management and Board experience. She is currently the Senior Business Development Executive  – Local Connections for Logan City Council.

Previously, Holly ran her own marketing and business advisory consultancy, MarketingWest, and assisted businesses through the Australian Government’s Australian Small Business Advisory Services (ASBAS) and the WA State Government’s Business Local Programmes.

Holly has held an Associate membership with the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) since July 2008 and was awarded their Certified Practising Marketer (CPM) qualification in 2016.

Holly has sat on the Boards of the West Australian Music Association (WAM), the Shire of Mundaring’s Economic Development Business Advisory Committee, and was Vice President of the Central Eastern Business Association (CEBA).

Holly i the past State Marketing & Business Development Manager for AusIndustry, the Australian Government’s business agency, and have held positions with some of Australia’s biggest brands, including Australia Post and HBF, over my 15-year career. My particular areas of interest are developing businesses at a regional level and developing business development strategies for businesses.

Holly is very well connected within the WA and Queensland government and business communities and her networks include some of WA and Qld’s most influential business people and government representatives.