Meet our Association Influencers for 2023

We are excited to announce the selected AuSAE Association Influencers of 2023!

AuSAE's Association Influencers program highlights and recognises the outstanding contributions of individuals in the association community across Australia and New Zealand.

We thank our association community for their contributions for their continued support and commitment to the community over the last 12 months.

It has been our privilege to recognise each of these individuals for their tireless efforts to make a significant and lasting impact within our tribe and set the benchmark for association professionals into the future.

Meet the AuSAE Association Influencers for 2023

The independent judging panel of experienced and passionate association leaders has selected seven (7) Association Influencers for 2023.

We formally acknowledge their achievements and celebrate them within the tribe as influencers, setting the benchmark within the association's community and our sector.

Recognising outstanding contributors to the sector in Australia and New Zealand

"It is our privilege to recognise outstanding individuals making a significant and lasting impact within our tribe and setting the benchmark for association professionals into the future".

Toni Brearley

Chief Executive Officer

Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE)

  Association Influencers 2023... The below details are extracted from the nomination submissions.

Anne Cornish
CEO, Records & Information Management Practitioners Alliance - Global

Anne Cornish is the Chief Executive Officer of the Records and Information Management Practitioners Alliance (RIMPA Global), a leading organisation that represents Records and Information Management Practitioners worldwide.

In 2022, Anne led an iconic change for Records and Information Management Professionals Australasia by transitioning the organisation to a corporate model and changing its name to the Records and Information Management Practitioners Alliance – Global (RIMPA Global). This move was aimed at enhancing opportunities for members, volunteers, partners, and sponsors and providing consistency with an overarching structure. Anne's vision for RIMPA Global was to diversify the membership to include persons new, not so new, and long-termers from information management genres across the world.

Since the change, Anne has been establishing and advocating for a global consortium for the industry to have ONE voice, further solidifying her influence in the association. Anne's experience and expertise provide attendees with an opportunity to listen to many stories on the evolution of information throughout many decades, making her a sought-after speaker in the records and information management industry. Her slogan, "let's make records sexy," showcases her passion for the industry.

Anne has revitalised RIMPA, doubled membership numbers, and strengthened stakeholder engagement at all levels of government and the private sector. She has also built strong relationships with other professional bodies and expanded RIMPA's influence internationally through cooperative agreements with information management professional bodies in the USA and New Zealand.

Anne has also created new income streams for RIMPA through education and training products, raising awareness of the profession and effective information management in organisations. Her innovative approach to engaging industry partners has resulted in a 25% increase in sponsorship, which will be used to deliver additional member services.

Her energetic input and passion for the profession have made an unprecedented impact on RIMPA's strategic direction and international advocacy in the information management industry.

Brett O'Riley
Chief Executive, Employers and Manufacturers Association

Brett O'Riley is the Executive Director at Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA), New Zealand's largest business association, and has made significant contributions to the sector and provided practical support to its 7,100 member businesses in the upper North Island of NZ through an unprecedented time.

Over the past year, Brett has also worked to influence the government in creating a better business environment and social outcomes that benefit New Zealand's economy and communities. Brett's inclusive approach to addressing common business issues has galvanized disparate communities, associations, and groups to work together for the benefit of all. The skills shortage has been key, and the EMA has successfully worked with the Government to ease immigration and employment settings, enabling businesses to get more and better-skilled people. Brett has also been Co-Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Industry Transformation Plan, designed to stimulate growth and productivity in one of New Zealand’s largest sectors and most diverse employers, and the EMA’s largest member segment.

Furthermore, Brett has introduced the "Harakeke" program, which allows non-members to access the benefits of the EMA, building on their traditional one-to-one member model to one-to-many. This has enabled various organisation's to access legal, human resources, employee relations, business support and training services.

Brett has made significant contributions to the association sector by strengthening the EMA's relationship with the government and supporting its efforts to help businesses. Despite the EMA's strong advocacy against legislation such as Fair Pay Agreements, Brett's pragmatic approach has helped the association to maintain its relationships and influence. Additionally, the EMA has introduced new services such as the People Experience Service, to help businesses with people attraction, on-boarding, development, and retention.

Brett is known for his exceptional networking abilities, which have helped connect the EMA with a variety of associations, including the Whariki Maori Business Network, Chinese Business Centre, Venus Women’s Business Network, and Pacific Business Trust. He also serves as a business sounding board for politicians at all levels, is a regular media commentator, and chairs several business forums.

Brett’s efforts have resulted in greater collaboration and improved outcomes for members of the EMA and other organisation's, bringing people together for long-term sustainability and the greater good for all in the association sector.

Greg Wallace
Chief Executive, Master Plumbers New Zealand

Greg Wallace is the CEO of Master Plumbers, a membership-based organisation that represents the plumbing, gasfitting, and drainlaying industry in New Zealand.

Over the last twelve months, Greg's significant role in ministerial meetings and lobbying activities has raised the profile of Master Plumbers in New Zealand, resulting in major growth in membership and business partnerships, with a current total of over 50 sponsors. Under Greg's leadership, Master Plumbers has also experienced significant growth in internal team numbers. He has worked to create a positive, caring staff culture with his growing team which has in turn improved services to members.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he sprang into action by providing information and resources to support their members with constantly changing health and safety requirements. Greg also worked with CHASNZ to develop Covid-19 health and safety protocols for the construction industry and secured sufficient PPE supplies for member businesses.

Mental health and well-being is another area where Greg has shown true leadership. The construction industry loses nearly one person every week to suicide—98% of them men. To help address the concerning statistic of suicide in the construction industry, Master Plumbers launched the Wellbeing on Tap programme, which includes a free 0800 number and wellbeing toolbox talks for members and their teams.

Greg Wallace has supported innovation outcomes in two significant ways. Firstly, he advocated for the removal of lead from tapware and other drinking-water plumbing products on sale in New Zealand, leading to a government decision to revise the NZ Building Code to reduce the allowable level of lead in relevant products. Products of this kind will effectively be 'lead-free' by 2025.

Secondly, he has supported improvements to apprenticeships, lobbying for government support for employers who train apprentice plumbers, drainlayers, and gasfitters. This was addressed by the launch of the government's Apprenticeship Boost Scheme, providing financial assistance to employers who train, which has been extended to December 2023.

Greg's advocacy work and leadership have earned him massive respect among the Master Plumbers' membership and the wider plumbing, gasfitting, and drainlaying industry.

Hannah Raisin
Manager, Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association

Hannah Raisin is the Manager at the Jilamara Arts and Crafts Association, an Aboriginal-owned and governed not-for-profit charity on Melville Island in the Northern Territory.

Hannah's impact on the sector is far-reaching, and she has been instrumental in bringing Jilamara's voice to the outside world through various mediums, including exhibitions, film, and artist talks.

Hannah identifies Jilamara Arts' three key purposes: to keep culture strong, develop sustainable careers for artists, and bring commerce directly into the community. She helps facilitate these ends with exceptional clarity while working in a physically isolated community challenged by chronic Indigenous ill health and endemic poverty.

Supporting innovation by creating bridges between remote Indigenous and mainstream contexts, Hannah promotes sustainable career pathways for emerging artists and facilitates the realisation of visions by her board. She also supports inclusivity and special needs artists through the Ngawa Mantawi Program.

Hannah has made significant contributions to the Indigenous arts and culture sector, facilitating the promotion of First Nations stories and traditional knowledge. She has empowered elders to pass on their knowledge and use public platforms for cultural leaders to ensure their Indigenous voices are heard and celebrated. Her knowledge of the mainstream high art world and creative problem-solving skills have helped bridge the gap between remote Indigenous and mainstream contexts.

Her management work at Jilamara Arts has resulted in innovative projects like the Yo-Yi dance, have been exhibited in prominent venues worldwide. Hannah's impact and contribution to the sector are immense and have helped revive and celebrate the crucial place of First Nations stories in Australia's arts and culture.

Lindsay McGrath CAE
CEO, Swimming Pool & Spa Association (SPASA)

Lindsay McGrath has successfully nationalised a trade association, the Swimming Pool & Spa Association (SPASA), growing its team and membership. He championed the creation of career paths in the industry and a sustainable Registered Training Organisation (RTO) and expanded SPASA into New Zealand. 

He stepped up to the challenge of leading the charge and building a strong, stable team with a clear vision to deliver on the mission of SPASA. His approach and openness to adopting ambitious projects has enabled a new generation of team members, directors, and industry professionals to strive to be more professional, skilled, and successful.

Lindsay's efforts to build and grow a training organisation and foster an environment of leadership through the implementation of leadership conventions and event has had a significant impact on the industry. His vision for One SPASA will ripple through generations, inspiring others to take on ambitious goals and strive for success. Lindsay's selfless sacrifice and tireless action has motivated and inspired many to lead whole industries or organisations, and his strong vision has created a culture of professionalism and skill development in the industry.

Lindsay is an innovator for grasping early the concept of sustainable organisations and executing a strong strategy to improve all facets of the Swimming Pool & Spa Association (SPASA) and the industry. He supported the charge for digital transformation and invested ahead of the curve, creating pathways to accelerate growth and build efficiencies in a small and agile team. Lindsay's innovation has enabled the SPASA team to operate nationally while being remote, supporting members with leadership available in each region.

Lindsay's contribution and impact in the association sector has been significant. He has executed a modern approach to creating long-term, sustainable associations, inspiring other association leaders to strategise and execute alternative growth plans.

His approachable and relatable delivery style at keynote speeches and facilitated workshops has built networks that deliver cross-pollinated benefits beyond the boundaries of industries and boards. Lindsay's generosity and willingness to contribute and engage with the association communities has grown unity and positive outcomes through pioneering association innovations for the benefit of all. Without ambitious and visionary NFP leaders like Lindsay, the association industry may miss opportunities for longevity and growth.

Noel Dos Santos
General Manager - Growth, Engineers Australia

Noel Dos Santos has made a significant impact in the past 12 months as the General Manager, Growth at Engineers Australia (EA), promoting the growth of EA membership and credentials, and helping build an engineering professional culture centred around capability, competency, and excellence.

During this period, Noel's overseen a business unit tasked with engaging industry leaders, via a business-to-business engagement (B2B) model, to understand needs and connect these needs to solutions delivered by EA. A major outcome of this work has included the development and delivery of the Engineering Workforce Credential program, a B2B pathway that embraces a contemporary approach to assessing and recognising engineering competency to EA’s globally recognised membership and Chartered Engineer standards, at scale.

He also spearheaded EA's alliance with the Australian Contractors Association, which has increased membership representation in the construction sector and delivered various initiatives such as the Construction Engineering Learning & Development Guide, the formation of a Construction Community of Practice, the introduction of a Construction Area of Practice, as other initiatives, such as sector specific CPD, including micro-credentialing.

Through his advocacy for the Chartered credential and the development of the Engineering Workforce Credentialing program, Noel has helped to increase membership and Chartered engineers, which will ultimately improves professional standards and encourage ongoing CPD. This lift in standards has helped EA to raise awareness and change perceptions on the importance of engineering, benefitting the association community and the wider engineering profession.

Noel’s contributions have helped shape a stronger engineering profession and provide greater defensibility and risk mitigation for organisations that work within high-risk environments.

Sandra Kirby
Chief Executive at Physiotherapy New Zealand

Sandra has made a significant impact on the association sector through her roles as Chief Executive of Physiotherapy New Zealand (PNZ) and Chair of Allied Health Aotearoa New Zealand (AHANZ). Her influence extends beyond the field of physiotherapy and into other allied health associations, where she has driven the development and delivery of PNZ's strategic purpose of supporting physiotherapists to lead improved health outcomes for Aotearoa, as well as collaboration with other allied health professions.

Instrumental in driving positive change, Sandra has united the profession, inspired teamwork, and created a positive organisational culture. She has also positioned physiotherapy as critical to patient health and advocated for funding, motivating the profession to be a leading voice in healthcare.

Throughout 2020-2022, Sandra successfully led PNZ and AHANZ in advocating for physiotherapists to treat patients during COVID-19 restrictions by pushing for sustainable telehealth funding and providing accurate information. This ensured patients received continual treatment and physiotherapy practices had ongoing income.

Sandra drives innovation in PNZ by improving operations, committing to innovative programs, and enhancing governance. During COVID-19, she led the transition to remote work, prioritised equitable access to physiotherapy, and improved diversity in governance.

More recently, Sandra has commissioned the NZIER report Hidden in Plain Sight, which provided noteworthy evidence and has been used extensively to lobby Government and Ministry of Health leaders to fund allied health services in primary care. Sandra also has strong relationships with colleagues at the Australian Physiotherapy Association and World Physiotherapy, allowing the sharing of best practices and approaches to advocacy on behalf of the profession.

Sandra's leadership and influence have helped shape the direction of the association sector in New Zealand.

Nominees for 2023...

  • Andrea Cornish, Manager, Policy and Communications - Australian Medical Association

  • Anja Nikolic, Chief Executive Officer - Australian Physiotherapy Association

  • Aziz Reynold Khan, President - Perth City Musallah

  • Brian Smedley, Chief Executive - South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA)

  • Carolyn Grantskalns, Interim Chief Executive - Association of Independent Schools South Australia (AISSA) &, Former Chief Executive & Independent Schools Australia 

  • David Solomon, Executive Officer Safety, Housing and Risk - Master Builders Association of NSW

  • Don Perlgut, CEO - Community Colleges Australia

  • Dr Zena Burgess, CEO - Australian Psychological Society

  • Emma Molen, Events Coordinator - Skin Cancer College Australasia

  • Gavin Carnegie, Executive Manager - Local Government Professionals Australia, NSW

  • Gerry Yuwono, IT and Innovation Manager - Australasian Society for Ultrasound in Medicine,

  • Helen Jentz, CEO - Wounds Australia

  • Jill Brown, CEO, LGPro Victoria

  • John Bruning, Chief Executive Officer - Australasian College of Paramedicine

  • Kathy WolfeChief Executive - Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood Education

  • Kym De Britt, CEO - Australian Dental Industry Association

  • Luke Arundel, Chief Clinical Office - Optometry Australia

  • Margaret Eagers, Executive Officer - Australasian Society for the Study of Brain Impairment (ASSBI)

  • Megan Spielvogel, General Manager - Australian Information Security Association (AISA)

  • Natascha Matthes, Learning Designer - Skin Cancer College Australasia (SCCA) 

  • Paul Mracek, State President - Royal Victorian Association of Honorary Justices

  • Paul Skelton, Regional Development Independent, Consultant - CEDIA

  • Paul Zahra, CEO - Australian Retailers Association 

  • Rosemarie Dawson, General Manager - BPSL 

  • Roz Henry, CEO - Co-operative Business New Zealand

  • Sharon McClelland, General Manager Membership - Master Electricians Australia

  • Simon Wallace, Chief Executive - New Zealand Aged Care Association (NZACA)

  • Tracey Rudd, General Manager - Australian Rheumatology Association

  • Vase JovanoskaChief Executive Officer - RANZCOG

Well done to all of this year's nominees!

For further information about Association Influencers Awards program or to make an enquiry, contact: 

The Australasian Society of Association Executives (AuSAE)

Australian Office:
Address: Unit 6, 26 Navigator Place, Hendra QLD 4011 Australia
Free Call: +61 1300 764 576
Phone: +61 7 3268 7955

New Zealand Office:
Address: 159 Otonga Rd, Rotorua 3015 New Zealand
Phone: +64 27 249 8677


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