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Peter Cullen Trust announces new chair

Karlene Maywald will takeover as chairperson of the Peter Cullen Trust (PCT) following the resignation of John Thwaites.

The PCT is a not-for-profit organisation that works to bridge the gap between science and policy in the water sector by delivering leadership programs. 

Thwaites, who led the PCT Board for the past 10 years, stepped down as chairperson at the conclusion of the organisation’s annual general meeting on 21 November. 

He said it was the right time to hand over the reins after leading PCT through its formative years to a position as a highly respected, impactful and sustainable organisation.

“Since the Trust was established, almost 200 ‘rising stars’ in the water industry – academics, water authority staff, farmers and policy makers – have completed our leadership development programs,” Thwaites said. 

“There have been a number of outstanding Indigenous participants and in 2016 we initiated a Women in Water leadership program that has grown to be an enormous success.”

Incoming Peter Cullen Trust Chair Karlene Maywald Karlene Maywald

Maywald has extensive experience in water policy development and reform, including serving as chair of the National Water Commission from 2012 to 2015. She is chair of the International Centre of Excellence for Water Resource Management and was a board member with SA Water from 2014 to 2018.

Thwaites said her experience, including serving in the South Australian Parliament from 1997 to 2010, would stand her in good stead.

“Karlene is an outstanding figure in the water sector in Australia and her appointment, as part of our long-term Board succession plan, is further evidence of the Trust’s commitment and capability to bridging science, people and the environment,” he said.

“Not only does Karlene understand the challenges facing the sector in Australia, she has a deep understanding of community interests and government processes; and she personally knew Peter Cullen.”

Maywald said it was an honour to be nominated chair and follow in Thwaites’ footsteps.

“Professor Thwaites brought to the role a vast knowledge and experience in the water sector, together with a passionate commitment to developing leadership. His own leadership has contributed to a lasting legacy in the memory of Peter Cullen,” she said.

“I am very much looking forward to continue working with the Board and team at the Trust to grow the impact and improve water management in Australia by developing the potential of emerging leaders.”

Maywald is the chair of the Australian Water Association’s Ozwater’20 organising committee. For more information about Ozwater’20, click here.