Future Directions Committee Members

 
Caitlin McConnel
 
 

Caitlin McConnel

Chairperson

Caitlin is a lawyer, working at Australian law firm, Clayton Utz. She is also a sixth-generation grazier, and an historical spokesperson for her family property, Cressbrook Station near Toogoolawah. Caitlin maintains a strong passion for the preservation of agricultural history and the advocacy of issues pertaining to Queensland's agricultural future. Caitlin's family has a strong historical connection with the Royal Exhibition, dating back to its inception in 1876 and spanning six generations. It is this historical connection, as well as the RNA's position as an educator and promoter of agriculture, industry and culture, which has fuelled her desire to commence her own involvement in the RNA. Caitlin is also currently a Director of the RNA Foundation and a Non-Executive Director of the Future Farmers Network.

 
Carla Roberts
 
 

Carla Roberts

Co-Deputy Chairperson

Carla grew up in western Queensland on her family's property 'Victoria Downs', a merino stud which has been in her family since 1906. She attended her first State Sheep Show when she was six weeks old and was involved with showing her family's stud sheep from a young age. She has assisted the Queensland Merino Stud Sheepbreeders Association with the delivery of a number of State Sheep Shows and was the Queensland representative at the inaugural Australian Stud Sheep Breeders Association leadership course. Carla has extensive experience in event and project management and currently works as a Protocol Officer at The University of Queensland. While she no longer lives out west, Carla maintains a passion for the bush and views the Ekka as an event that brings a taste of her upbringing to the city for the people of Queensland to enjoy. Given her family's involvement, Carla recognises the importance of the agricultural industry and the role the Ekka plays in educating the wider community about this valuable industry and hopes her position on the FDC Committee will allow her to contribute in a greater way to the ongoing success of Queensland's largest event. Carla has been a life member of the RNA for nearly 20 years, a steward at the Ekka for over 10 years and her family continues to compete at the Ekka in the wool section and provides rams for display purposes in the Animal Nursery and Stock Pavilion.

 
Shaun Sandilands
 
 

Shaun Sandilands

Co-Deputy Chairperson

Shaun is a Media, Marketing, Promotions and Events professional currently working as a Breakfast Radio Producer with the Australian Radio Network. Major events are like second nature to Shaun as he has been involved in some of Queensland's largest events including Paniyiri Greek Festival, Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers and of course Ekka. Shaun has been involved with the RNA for many years specialising in the Youth in Agriculture section located within the Agricultural Hall. A move into the Future Directions Committee was inevitable for Shaun, as he's a bit of an Ekka junkie and has only missed one Ekka in recent years due to an overseas wedding. Shaun has been involved with the Ekka as an exhibitor, performer, volunteer, competitor, steward, judge and now as an Honorary Council Steward. When not working on RNA projects, Shaun can be found working with Scout Movement as Branch Advisor for Rover Scouts and also works on many of Scouting's major events. Shaun joined the Future Directions Committee in 2016 and is very excited to be working on so many great projects with the RNA.

 
Elizabeth Thompson
 
 

Elizabeth Thompson

Libbi grew up in Bonshaw in Northern New South Wales. To this day she is still involved in her family's farming business. She was educated locally and then attended the University of Queensland, graduating in 2006 with a B.App Sci (Animal Production) and a B.App Agribusiness.  She moved to Dubbo in 2007 and worked for Fletcher International Exports for five years.  A move to Brisbane in 2012 followed, where she took on her current role as Northern Operations Manager at Australian Rural Exports (AUSTREX).  She is also Secretary of the Queensland Live Exporters Association. Ms Thompson's family has been heavily involved in the Ashford Show and Texas Show Societies for many generations. They still assist with the running of the annual Ashford Show, along with events the Show Society and Grounds Trust run throughout the year. Ms Thompson joined the Future Directions Committee in 2015 with the desire to be involved with the much loved Ekka. She also has a keen interest in building awareness of the local show movement in Queensland and the importance they hold in rural communities.

 
Jessica Morel
 
 

Jessica Morel

Jessica started her life on a Dairy Farm at Bunya. Still living in Bunya Jess is a Classroom Music Teacher and Choral Director at an inner city state primary school. Born at Ekka time Jess has not missed one, all the time attending with her family. Her family's involvement in the RNA and the Ekka is what led her to the Future Directions Committee. Jess believes strongly in the roll the RNA plays in educating people about Agriculture and Farming. Jessica likes to think that her involvement in the committee will help ensure the Royal Queensland Show transitions into the future while maintaining all the agricultural and historical elements that make it the Ekka Brisbane knows and loves.

 
Tess Camm
 
 

Tess Camm

Tess is a fifth generation beef producer, who has always had a passion for rural Australia. With grassroots in Central Queensland, she is currently based in Brisbane as the General Manager for vertically integrated beef export company, Signature Beef.  With a family tradition of attending the Ekka since her childhood, Tess joined the Future Directions Committee in 2015.  After competing in local shows in Stock Horse and Show Cattle events, as well as the Regional Miss Showgirl competition, Tess is eager to show the next generation of rural Australians what opportunities are available from the land. She sees involvement with the RNA as the perfect juxtaposition to do so. Tess also holds an industry appointment position on the Cattle Council of Australia.

 
Jordan McDowall
 
 

Jordan McDowall

Jordan joined the Future Directions Committee in 2016, as a result of her involvement as a competitor, exhibiting horses at the Ekka. From Mackay in Central Queensland, she has a degree in Sports Management and is completing a double degree in Law and Accounting while also working in a local accounting practice. Jordan has travelled extensively and worked for a London based organisation, that runs large events, in Europe in 2015. Jordan is a committee member of Mackay Show Association, Vice President of Mackay Regional Equestrian Group and a delegate for the Show Horse Council of Australasia. Jordan is particularly interested in the future sustainability of the RNA and its facilities, through focusing on the financial viability and development of the grounds into a multi-purpose and highly useable venue for the benefit of the RNA and wider community. While long-term viability is important, it is equally important to Jordan that the Ekka retains its traditions and history for future generations.

 
Stefani Russo
 
 

Stefani Russo

Stef grew up in Brisbane and is currently based in Sydney working as Legal Counsel at a global Financial Technology company, IRESS Limited. Stef has a strong affiliation with the south-east Queensland Polo Association through her family and her involvement in organising several charity polo events supporting Aussie Kidz Charity and Tie Up the Black Dog Committee.  Stef was also a past committee member of the Cause for Cocktails Committee and Secretary of the NSW Young Lawyers Committee. Stef has grown up attending the Ekka with family and friends and is enthusiastic about becoming more involved in the vision of the RNA, through engaging the younger generations about the importance of agriculture and its sustainability in Queensland, for many generations to come.

 
Alex Cottrell
 
 

Alex Cottrell

Alex has been attending the Ekka since his family showed Murray Grey cattle in the 80's. After being involved as a Steward within the Beef Cattle and Young Judges sections since 2003, Alex joined the Future Directions Committee in 2019. Alex has spent more than 12 years in the finance industry with a focus on providing funding for SME businesses. In recent years, this has involved working with Regional Queensland supporting businesses to run and grow. Given his involvement with the Young Judges sections with the RNA, Alex has a strong commitment in ensuring the Ekka remains an opportunity for young Queenslanders to increase their involvement in Agriculture, while providing real education opportunities.

 
 Lauren Roellgen
 
 

Lauren Roellgen

Lauren grew up on the Darling Downs, on her family's cotton and grain farm, "Tyunga". She is part of the first generation in her family to have been raised in Australia; her parents having immigrated from Germany in the early 1990s to build their farming enterprise. She competed in local shows in dressage, show horse and showjumping events throughout her school years and grew an appreciation for the role local shows played in bringing rural communities together.

In 2013 she moved to Brisbane to complete her tertiary studies at the University of Queensland. She is now based in Brisbane, working in the PwC Deals practice, focusing on work for clients in the agricultural sector. She is President of the Young Agricultural Rural Network ("YARN"), a group founded to connect people in the industry through quarterly events. Lauren is keen to showcase the contribution and possibilities presented by agriculture, both in town and on the land, through the Ekka. She hopes her work as part of the FDC will see the Ekka bring a taste of the country to the city each year for many generations to come.

 
Betsy Rutledge
 
 

Betsy Rutledge

Betsy is a lawyer in Clayton Utz's Graduate Law program, currently rotating through Major Projects and Construction. Her passion for all things agribusiness stems from being the fourth generation of her family's sheep and cattle company "Moble" in South West Queensland. Born in Quilpie, Betsy had the fortune to grow up on and partake in the family property, which undoubtedly shaped her perspective of primary production industries and their importance in Australia.

While she is interested in all aspects of agriculture, Betsy is particularly passionate about wool and its proud history in Australia. She looks forward to helping educate Ekka attendees on the significant role wool played and continues to play throughout Australia, as well as the ongoing innovation in the area.

Having not missed an Ekka for as long as she can remember, Betsy is excited to be an active participant in the RNA Future Directions Committee throughout 2020 and to spread her passion for the Ekka with old friends and new ones.

Betsy is lawyer in Clayton Utz's Graduate Law program, currently rotating through Major Projects and Construction. Her passion for all things agribusiness stems from being the fourth generation of her family's sheep and cattle company "Moble" in South West Queensland. Born in Quilpie, Betsy had the fortune to grow up on and partake in the family property, which undoubtedly shaped her perspective of primary production industries and their importance in Australia.

While she is interested in all aspects of agriculture, Betsy is particularly passionate about wool and its proud history in Australia. She looks forward to helping educate Ekka attendees of the significant role wool played and continues to play throughout Australia, as well as the ongoing innovation in the area.

Having not missed an Ekka for as long as she can remember, Betsy is excited to be an active participant in the RNA Future Directions Committee throughout 2020 and to spread her passion for the Ekka with old friends and new ones.