The top public servants named 2020 IPAA national fellows

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday October 21, 2020

Gordon de Brouwer PSM announces 2020 national fellows.

Victorian Public Sector Commissioner Adam Fennessy and Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources deputy secretary Elizabeth Kelly are among the nine new Institute of Public Administration Australia national fellows.

IPAA national president Dr Gordon de Brouwer announced the awards at an event held at Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday, and thanked the recipients for their contribution and service.

The award ceremony was part of the Garran Oration, which was delivered virtually for the first time by health minister Greg Hunt.

See the full list of 2020 national fellows below.

Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson, commissioner of the Western Australia Police Force.

Dawson has provided “long standing, distinguished service” to the state public sector, IPAA said. Aside from improving the capabilities of the WA Police Force, he has coordinated WA’s response to COVID-19 as the state emergency coordinator. Dawson has also worked as CEO of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and as director of the Australian Institute of Criminology.

Mark Evans

Professor Mark Evans, director of Democracy 2025 — a joint initiative of the Museum of Australian Democracy and the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra.

In his current role, Evans has “driven a process of national reflection and renewal on how trust can be built and democratic practice strengthened in Australia”, IPAA said. He has also worked with state, territory and federal government departments on change governance issues. At an international level, Evans has earned a “reputation in supporting change governance practices” as a senior policy adviser and lead investigator on research and evaluation projects for 26 countries, the European Union, the United Nations, and the World Bank.

Christine Feldmanis

Christine Feldmanis, FAICD non-executive director and chair.

Feldmanis has more than 30 years’ experience in financial management in the government and private sectors. She has helped develop better governance processes for public sector bodies, and has been the independent chair or member of the Audit and Risk Committees for a number of NSW’s public sector bodies, including the Departments of Justice and Communities, Premiers and Cabinet, Finance Services and Innovation, Education, Transport, and the Treasury. Feldmanis has “generously supported” IPAA NSW as a member of the Audit and Risk Committee for more than five years, IPAA said.

Adam Fennessy

Adam Fennessy, commissioner of the Victorian Public Sector Commission.

Fennessy has an “abiding commitment to transformative public sector leadership and fostering cultures of collaboration and innovation”, IPAA said. Under his leadership, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning attained gender parity across its executive management team and all of Victoria’s water boards. He has been a Male Champion of Change since 2015, was made an IPAA Victoria fellow in 2013, and served as deputy president on the IPAA Victoria board from 2015 to 2017.

Jenny Gray

Dr Jenny Gray, CEO of Zoos Victoria.

Under her leadership, Gray has placed Zoos Victoria “at the forefront of Victorian threatened species conservation, with an unwavering commitment to its continued evolution”, IPAA said. Her achievements include publishing ‘Zoo Ethics’, in 2017, serving on the IPAA Victoria board from 2015 to 2019, and being named an IPAA Victoria fellow in 2017. She is also a 2017 alumnus of IPAA Victoria’s Top 50 Public Sector Women.

Elizabeth Kelly

Elizabeth Kelly, deputy secretary of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Kelly has been an “extraordinarily effective” APS senior leader and a “strong advocate for public service innovation”, IPAA said, highlighting her work across programs with responsibility for innovation, digital strategy and industry support; service-wide responsibility for machinery of government, Cabinet, legal policy and governance issues; coordination of support to the prime minister; civil justice and legal services; strategic policy and coordination and ministerial support. She also recently led four federal government task forces supporting the Department of Health by securing supplies of personal protective equipment and medical devices for the National Medical Stockpile as part of the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rick Persse, chief executive of the South Australian Department for Education.

Rick Persse

Persse has influenced a number of new initiatives across several government portfolios in SA, including the creation of Shared Services SA. In his current role, Persse has led two machinery of government reforms delivering on the recommendations of the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission, and has presided over the first major reform of SA’s education legislation since 1972, establishing a contemporary framework for delivering high-quality children’s services and compulsory education in the state.

Robert Setter, chief executive of the Queensland Public Service Commission.

Robert Setter

Setter has worked in senior roles across the Queensland government in the policy portfolios of education, agriculture and primary industry, and public sector employment. He has an “outstanding leadership record” in corporate governance, organisational reform, and leadership development, IPAA said.

“There is no stronger nor more visible champion of IPAA Queensland than Robert, guiding its strategy for building an impactful and financially stable organisation. IPAA Queensland’s successful re-establishment, over a nearly 5-year period, is testament to his commitment, persistence, and careful stewardship,” the organisation said.

Mark Webb, chief executive of the Department of Parliamentary Services, NSW Parliament.

Mark Webb

As vice-president of IPAA NSW and chair of its Audit and Risk Management Committee, Webb recently led a major restructure of the organisation in response to long-term changes in the state public sector and the immediate impact of COVID-19. In his role at the Department of Parliamentary Services, Webb has led major initiatives such as the development of NSW Parliament’s first 10-year Strategic Investment Plan, the implementation and launch of its first E-petition platform, and a significant organisational reform program that attracted the single biggest government investment in the NSW Parliament’s history. Webb has also served as executive director for innovation and services at the NSW Public Service Commission.

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