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The Team

David Falconer 

 William Ryan

Fiona McDonald

Holly Phillips

Marnie Fels 

 

Ashleigh Thurn

 Chair: Andrew Fowler 

 Greg Curnow 

 Ben Curtis 

 Chris Henderson 

 Luke Marquis 

Ashley Reichstein

Executive Support

Sarah Brown

 Chair: Megan McDowall

 Peter Bednall

Shaun Meares

Rebecca Seinor

Anna Bonney

Katie White

Lois Saunders

Executive Support

Ashleigh Thurn

 Chair: Erin Gorter 

 Julianne Hill 

 Peter Roberts 

Hon. Terry Redman

Rob Cossart

Executive Support

Ashleigh Thurn

Mt Burdett Foundation is predominantly driven by volunteers, with a little help from an Executive Officer. Huge thanks goes to all those involved for their time and commitment to seeing the Foundation succeed and for giving back to our community. Find out more about the team below.

Founder

Chris Reichstein in a canola crop at Mount Burdett farm

CHRIS REICHSTEIN

Founder

Chris Reichstein is the Founder of the Mt Burdett Foundation. After a battle with cancer, he passed away on the 16th of July 2021 at Mount Burdett Farm.

 

Chris was passionate about agriculture from an early age, with a long history of agricultural industry involvement. This passion for ag extended well beyond his farm boundaries, with Chris having held positions on various industry bodies at a local, state and national level.

 

Chris was inspired by possibilities and seeing people’s success.  He was passionate about rural communities and the future of agriculture, influenced by his gratitude to the Esperance community for all that it contributed to his life. His vision was to be able to return some of his good fortune to empower people and rural communities to a better future.

He is greatly missed, but has left a team of ready hands to carry on his work.

Board

Board of Directors

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DAVID FALCONER

Board of Directors

David provides business consulting services to a range of family farms and corporate clients involved in both the wheatbelt and feedlot sector of Western Australia through BusinessAg. He also provides public accounting services as principal CPA of AccountAg with a emphasis on strategic tax planning. Helping clients achieve their objectives in a holistic framework is the major focus of his work making sure people and dollars are balanced.

David has enjoyed the success of the Eagles and fits in some fishing and crabbing for relaxation.

William Ryan Board of Directors Mt Burdett Foundation

BILL RYAN

Board of Directors

Bill provides independent consulting services in agriculture and agribusiness.  He is an experienced director having been the Chairman of the Agricultural Produce Commission of Western Australia, a board member of the AgriFutures Australia and a director of Mt Burdett Foundation Pty Ltd. He has extensive management experience having been the CEO of the Kondinin Group (2003 -2008) and a senior executive with the Heytesbury Group (1994 – 2002). In 2005 – 2006 Dr Ryan was a member of the Federal Government’s Agriculture and Food Policy Reference Group.

 

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (UWA) and PhD (UWA).  He has a strong association with Esperance through his involvement in agriculture and his son Matthew who lives in Esperance with his wife Fiona and their four sons.

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FIONA MCDONALD

Board of Directors

Fiona moved to Esperance with her husband and young daughter in early 1999, wanting a beach lifestyle well away from the red dirt.  Fiona’s background is in management and human resources and has been a director of their family company McD Contracting for over 20 years. Fiona has long been a passionate volunteer, contributing to a variety of volunteer positions and has been a regular participant on Committees and Boards. In 2020 she was awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award by Netball Western Australia for her contribution to the sport

 

Fiona has a strong belief in taking some time to do something that you value for yourself outside of everyday life, this belief grew into a love for supporting women in sport and recreation.  She gets great satisfaction in empowering both individuals and the community to thrive and grow, while encouraging and inspiring others to also get involved.

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HOLLY PHILLIPS

Board of Directors

Holly Phillips has lived and worked across the Goldfields-Esperance region for more than 20 years. She currently owns and operates a bespoke firm providing strategic, professional and consulting services to diverse industries including government, mining, energy, tourism, transport, commercial and the not-for-profit sectors. Holly has extensive public and private sector experience includes senior roles with the Shire of Esperance, City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Regional Development Australia Goldfields-Esperance and the Chamber of Minerals & Energy of Western Australia.

 

She is a passionate advocate for community and economic development in remote and regional Western Australia and has held previous Ministerial board appointments in the areas of education and regional development.  Holly, her husband Luke, and daughter Zoe, operate a small Murray Grey farming venture just out of Esperance.

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MARNIE FELS

Board of Directors

Marnie and her husband Mick farm 6000Ha to wheat, barley, canola and lupins with their three teenage children in the Whittenoom Hills area. Marnie plays a central role in their farm business, including managing the responsibilities of finance, administration, and grain marketing. Marnie previously worked for 9 years with the Shire of Esperance in the finance department, with roles including IT support officer, Project Accountant, culminating in her role as Manager of Accounting Services. She has also provided contracted accounting services to Shire of Dundas, Shire of Yilgarn, RSM Bird Cameron, SEPWA, Esperance Wool Exporters and the Esperance Rural Leadership Group.

 

Marnie has a passion for her community and has served on a number of community groups over the years, with seven years on the Castletown Primary School Board, three of which were as Chair of the Board.

Farm Advisory Committee

Farm Advisory Committee
Andrew Fowler Mt Burdett Foundation

ANDREW FOWLER

FARM ADVISORY COMMITTEE: CHAIR

Andrew was elected to the Nuffield Australia Board in 2011 and was appointed Chair  from September 2016 - 2019. In March 2020 Andrew will become the chair of Nuffield International.

Andrew and his wife Marie farm with his family outside Esperance on the south-east coast of Western Australia. The business produces canola, barley, wheat, lamb, wool and beef. Andrew is currently focusing on the synergies between the livestock and the crops, grazing all the crops and ensuring good sub-clover pasture regeneration.

Andrew was awarded life membership of the South East Premium Wheat Growers Association (SEPWA) and is also a member of the GRDC's local Regional Cropping Solutions Network. He travelled on his Nuffield Scholarship in 2000.

Ben Curtis Farm Advisory Committee

BEN CURTIS

FARM ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Farm Management Consultant and Agronomist, started with Farmanco in 2015 and has extensive industry experience. He has lived in Esperance since 1992 and considers himself a local despite what the “locals” think.  He consults to clients in the Esperance region.

Ben has a strong knowledge of the WA farming system. He was state manager for a range of agronomy, research and extension projects designed to assist growers manage risks, reduce costs and improve their profitability with DPIRD for a number of years.  Ben was a long term member of the GRDC Western panel and is a life member of SEPWA.

Greg Curnow Farm Advisory Committee

GREG CURNOW

FARM ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Greg Farms at Cascade and was elected to the SEPWA Executive in 2008, becoming president in 2015 Greg farms at Cascade and Grass Patch with his wife, Donna in partnership with his parents. He has been on various committees within SEPWA over the years.

 

Chris Henderson Farm Advisory Committee Mt Burdett Foundation

CHRIS HENDERSON

FARM ADVISORY COMMITTEE

I am 62 years old and married to Evelyn. We have 3 daughters and 2 grandchildren. I have farmed for 45 years with the last 20 more in the strategic planning and management roles and only limited involvement in the day to day operations.

We do not own any farmland but prefer to lease the land we farm. This was a deliberate decision taken in 2008 when we sold or property at Varley. We decided that we wanted to separate ownership from the operation which has allowed us to concentrate on running a profitable farming business while investing in other non-farm assets. We have managed to run a profitable operation under this model even with the challenges of dry seasons and fairly regular frost events. Our farm manager has been with us for 20 years and his management is the key to the success of this business.

Luke Marquis Farm Advisory Committee Mt Burdett Foundation

LUKE MARQUIS

FARM ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Luke moved to Esperance from Katanning in 2000 to pursue a career in Agronomy, where he recognised the large area, various soil types and rainfall zones, as well as a diverse range of crops, would provide some exciting challenges and learning opportunities.

Now Luke runs a private agronomy business servicing 28 farming businesses, as well as a trials business with 2 full time staff and managing 25 – 30 research trials annually. Luke has a passion for agriculture and learning and hence the combination of Agronomy and Trials to continue to provide his client base with the most up to date and leading edge agronomic information available.

Luke is married to Lisa and has 2 wonderful kids – Kate, 16 and Lawson, 11.

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ASH REICHSTEIN

FARM ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Ash is Chris’s brother, he and his family farm adjacent to Mt Burdett part of which is the original family farm where it all started. 


They are grow wheat, barley, canola, various legumes and still have a small amount of pasture in the system that they run merino ewes on.


Ash has been involved in local community groups, Past President of the Neridup Soil Conservation Group and Captain of the Neridup BushFire Brigade.

Esperance Community Advisory Committee

ECAC
Megan McDowall Esperance Community Advisory Committee Mt Burdett Foundation

MEGAN McDOWALL

ESPERANCE COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE - CHAIR

I arrived in Esperance in 1993 as a graduate Agricultural Scientist on a short-term contract with the WA Department of Agriculture, which evolved into a longer-term career as a Beef Industry Development Officer and a much longer term contract with Esperance. 

My husband, Ash Reichstein and I have lived and farmed together at Wittenoom Hills, NE of Esperance since 2000, near neighbours to Ash’s brother Chris.   In this time, we have been lucky enough to have four very lovely (and lively!) children now aged from 13 through to 22.  

In 2012, we took our young family to Morocco for 10 months for a DAFWA Trade and Development Project working with Amazigh sheep famers in the Atlas Mountains.  This was a wonderful experience but also made me realise how little I really knew about useful or effective Community Development.

On our return, after a few years focused on the ever-increasing family and farm business management responsibilities, I commenced a Masters in Community Development at Murdoch University; which has been incredibly rewarding. These studies are ongoing. 

I also serve on the Ag Advisory  and Combined Ag Advisory for the Esperance High School Farm, and all WACOA (WA College of Agriculture) schools respectively, and the WA Rabobank Client Council.

I very much believe that communities really come into their own when they take charge of creating their own future.  The Esperance community, which our family is fortunate to call home, already has a strong thread of this DIY approach in it’s DNA.  I really hope Mt Burdett Foundation can play a useful supporting role in converting the energy and good ideas out there, into community ‘game changers’.

Peter Bednall Esperance Community Advisory Committee Mt Burdett Foundation

PETER BEDNALL

ESPERANCE COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Peter is a practising lawyer and has worked for a variety of private commercial clients for over 14 years, including as principal of his own legal firm. He extensive international experience working with governments and local communities in the Asia-Pacific region. In his most recent past role, Peter was deployed by the Australian Government as a senior adviser in Papua New Guinea as part of a law and justice aid program. Peter is currently CEO of Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, which manages the native title rights of the Esperance Nyungars.

Shaun Meares Esperance Community Advisory Committee Mt Burdett Foundation

SHAUN MEARES

ESPERANCE COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

I'm Shaun. Let me preface this biography by acquainting you with my biggest achievement to date; first place at the Esperance Poultry Show in the Silkie Rooster category (field of 1). Obviously this prestigious and hotly contested award qualifies me to contribute to the Mt B Foundation.

I trained as a mechanical engineer and completed a PhD in Applied Thermodynamics. I now run a small engineering consultancy here in Esperance called Bluemar. I employ 5 people delivering all types of engineering work in the greater Esperance region. I really enjoy analytical problem solving and creative thinking. I am involved in the boards of the Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Regional Development Australia Goldfields Esperance. My experience as a board member with these organizations is relatively recent but will likely hold me in good stead to contribute productively to this group.

I grew up in Sydney and have spent time studying and working in the USA. I enjoy jogging, surfing, and spending time with my young family.

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Rebecca Seinor

ESPERANCE COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Rebecca grew up on her family farm in the small south-coast locality of Manypeaks and credits this for her fondness of living in small communities, later spending several enjoyable years in Jerramungup and also the Cocos Keeling Islands.  

 

Curious about a broad range of social sciences, at university Rebecca studied History, Asian Studies, Business Economics and Marketing. More recently she completed further learning in Library & Information Studies. 

 

Following her early career as a business banker, Rebecca decided to switch to more community-focused roles and hasn’t looked back. Currently a Community Development Officer with the Shire of Esperance, she is a witness to the amazing contributions of community members and is inspired by the can-do attitude of Esperance locals. 

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Anna Bonney

ESPERANCE COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

My name is Anouska Bonney otherwise known as Anna Bonney. I’m currently employed at the Stars Foundation at Esperance Senior High School. 

I am local girl and have been living in Esperance for most of my life. I attended Nulsen Primary School and Esperance Senior High School. I don’t have a huge connection to farming locally but have very fond memories of spending time with my Dad in the shearing shed as a young girl and playing tag in the sheep pens on top of all the sheep.  

 I continue to raise my four beautiful children in Esperance while and learning to love and have similar interests as them such as local sports. My personal goal is to make our local community a safe supportive and inclusive place as best as possible for my children to love and be proud of where they come from. I am an advocate that believes sporting communities can and continues to impact on young people’s lives in many positive ways.  This is a space that I can have some influence on, and I enjoy the challenges that come with that.  

 

In all employment that I have been in, I have been privileged enough to be able to work with young people and others to be a link for services and building connection within our community. I am passionate about my Culture and love sharing what I know and what I continue to learn on my journey.   

 A few accomplishments that I am extremely proud of in my life would be becoming a Youth Worker. Receiving the AFL Diversity Ambassador of the Year Award for WA in 2021. Receiving the Community Person of the Year award in 2019 at the local NAIDOC Ball. I have sat on many local advisory groups or boards to provide a holistic view. The most important accomplishment is and will always be raising my children to have kindness in their hearts.  

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Katie White

ESPERANCE COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

I arrived in Esperance in 2018, where I quickly realised this beautiful little town is truly one of the most extraordinary places to call home, lifestyle, community, beaches and of course, the wildflowers. Working as an Environmental Scientist and Botanist in the centre of a globally recognised biodiversity hotspot still seems too good to be true! I’ve previously worked in research organisations, local government and private consultancy firms, predominately in impact assessment and development. I currently work for consultants Bio Diverse Solutions. I also work for myself through my business Caladenia Co, both as a botanist and a botanical artist. I’m passionate about how the art and science disciplines interact in education and awareness. I’ve always been a rural girl, growing up firstly in Kununurra and then Albany on small hobby farms. The Mt Burdett Foundation is unique in so many ways, and I’m delighted to be a part of its journey, witnessing the impact and value it can offer to the Esperance community.  

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Lois Saunders

ESPERANCE COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

My four children have grown up in Esperance. Easy access to beaches and outdoors; opportunities in academic, sporting and artistic fields; and supportive friends encouraged them to thrive. Our son has settled here and drives tugboats and our daughters have careers in Perth and Melbourne.

Many local young residents have been my students during my 12 years teaching secondary school English. Outside of the classroom my roles included Head of Department, Literacy Coordinator, Year Coordinator, Tournament of Minds facilitator and CountryWeek coach.

Twice I left teaching to resume my former occupation as newspaper editor and reporter: most recently at the ‘Esperance Weekender’ and formerly at the ‘Esperance Express’. I’ve self-published three biographies about local identities and I produced a lifestyle magazine called ‘Espire’ after I relocated here 20 years ago with my husband Ian.

My other Esperance ventures include owner-operating a guesthouse and coordinating two arts festivals. Along the way I’ve served on committees for Playgroup, Esperance Senior High School Board, netball, football, surf lifesaving, golf, Cannery Arts and volunteered for Restore Hope. I am honoured to join Mt Burdett Foundation to support the vibrancy of our local community.

Rural & Regional Advancement Committee

RRAF
Erin Gorter Rural and Regional Advancement Foundation Committee Mt Burdett Foundation

ERIN GORTER

RURAL & REGIONAL ADVANCEMENT COMMITTEE: CHAIR

Erin Gorter is a rural industry consultant specialising in rural and regional sectors and communities.  She has worn many hats over her career, spanning local, regional, state and national bodies.  These roles have been driven by her background growing up on a farm in southern WA, then being an active part the family farming business for over 25 years, growing sheep and grains.

Erin has been responsible for the formation of groups and businesses, as well as the managing of existing ones.  Her more recent work has been at a strategic level through Non-Executive Board roles in WA and nationally. One of her particular skills is also identifying gaps in industries or communities and developing ideas to address these gaps.

She gets incredibly excited about bringing people together for a common purpose and working as a team to help create change and make a difference to people’s lives in small or big ways.  Not a fan of sitting behind a desk, Erin prefers pulling on her work boots and can often be found out and about learning from others and interacting with people from all walks of life.

Julianne Hill Rural and Regional Advancement Foundation Committee Mt Burdett Foundation

JULIANNE HILL

RURAL & REGIONAL ADVANCEMENT COMMITTEE

Julianne Hill is a partner in and manages a rural consultancy business and has many years of experience in WA farming systems, including owning and managing with her husband a farm on WA’s south coast at West River. Added to this hands-on experience is her background with addressing growers agronomy needs in her farming systems role with DPIRD from 1993-2011 based mainly at Ravensthorpe, and her experience managing broadacre properties in the eastern wheatbelt after graduating from Muresk.

 

Julianne has been instrumental in the establishment of GRDCs current Grower Network reference groups (growers and industry) to define the key issues that are impacting on the profitability of growers in the western region. She has honed her group facilitation skills during this time and is experienced in gaining meaningful information from group discussions and prioritising issues that warrant further investigation and possible further investment.

 

Julianne is passionate about family, farming and community. She loves being outside – mucking around with cows, playing tennis, volunteering in her local community, coaching junior sport, sitting on the header, and loves the red dirt of up north.

 

Formal qualifications: MBA; BMan (Farm Business); Assoc Dip (Agriculture); Graduate Certificate (Regional Agricultural Planning); Cert 3 in Business (Frontline Management).

Peter Roberts Rural and Regional Advancement Foundation Committee Mt Burdett Foundation

PETER ROBERTS

RURAL & REGIONAL ADVANCEMENT COMMITTEE

Began a new land farming block in 1982 at Dunn Rock after share farming for 5 years around the Lakes area. I am married to Julie and have two children and two grandchildren.

 

I am a past Chairman of South East Premium Wheat Growers Association and was fortunate to have Chris as my deputy at that time and to fill the chair vacancy after my tenure as chair finished. During my time at SEPWA I represented barley growers on the Western Malting Barley Council and Grains industry of WA (GIWA) barley and standards committee.

 

Joined the Western panel of Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and spent nine years as Chairman.  During that time I was Chair of a number of internal GRDC committees including Chair of the Varieties line of Business, Chair of the National Frost Initiative and a independent Director of Barley Australia.

 

As well as completing the Rabobank Executive Directors program for Primary Producers, I successfully completed an agribusiness seminar at Harvard Business School at Boston in 2015 and am a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

 

Currently I am Chair of Grower Group Alliance Pty Ltd, Past member and Chair of the GGA audit and risk committee, Director of Ellarwie Pty Ltd ( agricultural consultancy), have a private pilots licence, (an intact aeroplane) and a short stay accommodation business in Broome.

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HON.  TERRY REDMAN

RURAL & REGIONAL ADVANCEMENT COMMITTEE

Born in WA and having been schooled in regional WA from the Kimberley's to Esperance, Terry went on to complete a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at UWA. He completed 18 years in Agricultural Education, finishing as the Principal of Denmark Ag College, before jumping into Small Business.

Terry later entered a 16 year career in State politics as the member for Stirling in 2005, which included over 8 years as a State Government Minister in 7 different portfolios. In 2013 he became leader of the National Party and Ministerial carriage of the billion dollar 'Royalties for Regions' program. This helped fulfil Terry's goal of making a positive difference for those that lived and worked in Regional WA. Having lost his seat in 2021 Terry now enjoys semi retirement in Denmark with his wife, Marie, on their small farming property.

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ROBERT COSSART

RURAL & REGIONAL ADVANCEMENT COMMITTEE

Rob is the CEO of the Wheatbelt Development Commission, a statutory Government authority responsible for facilitating economic development opportunities across the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.  Rob has a background in water resource management, agricultural and regional development, and has a passion for strengthening opportunities for regional and rural Western Australians.

 

Rob is experienced in working through the opportunities and challenges of regional and remote communities and their economies.  Prior to moving to Toodyay in 2020, Rob worked in the Kimberley region of Western Australia for 12 years living in both Kununurra and Broome and was Director of Northern Agricultural Development at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.  He possesses Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Applied Science from the University of Canberra and is a graduate of the Australia Institute of Company Directors.

Staff

Staff
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ASHLEIGH THURN

EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Ashleigh Thurn delivers Executive Officer support to the Mt Burdett Foundation and is available to assist with any queries regarding funding or the grant application process.

If you would like any further information on the Foundation or to get in touch with one of the Committee members, contact Ashleigh here.

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SARAH BROWN

FARM ADVISORY EXECUTIVE SUPPORT

Sarah provides Executive Support to the Farm Advisory Committee.

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