Agri-Women's Development Trust (AWDT) has announced the appointment of Linda Cooper as chair.

She takes over from interim chair Mavis Mullins, who remains patron of AWDT.
Linda brings more than 20 years of national and international executive leadership experience to the position.

Governance roles have included trustee for Fonterra's and Fisher & Paykel Appliance's superannuation schemes, director of several Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) subsidiaries in New Zealand and offshore, and board member of the National Science Challenge: Science for Technological Innovation.

"AWDT is delighted to have a leader with Linda's background and experience to take up the role of chair," says Mavis.

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"She brings a wealth of commercial knowledge and expertise to the organisation along with a passion for supporting women to reach their full potential."

Linda is familiar with AWDT, having graduated from its flagship Escalator programme in 2013 and she has been involved as a programme facilitator.

She also held the role of acting chief executive for three months last year.

"Linda is another example of our Escalator Alumni giving back to the sector by taking up roles with AWDT to share their expertise and what they have gained from our programmes for the benefit of other women," says Mavis.

Linda says she was looking forward to building on the achievements of AWDT to date and seeing how the organisation can escalate its impact in the primary sector.

"There's opportunity to extend our work to equip and support women in all primary industries so they can more fully play their part as vital partners in influencing progress and change.

"I'm also keen to grow our connections with industry so they can be part of the economic, social and environmental impact these women are having on farms, in families, in the community and in companies," she said.

Mavis says the appointment of the new chair was part of the trust's planned leadership succession over the past 18 months, which included the appointment of a new general manager in November last year after AWDT founder Lindy Nelson stepped aside from her role as executive director.

Lindy remains involved in the organisation as a trustee and programme director.

"AWDT is well-placed to continue to grow our role in providing development and leadership opportunities and support to women in the primary sector," says Mavis.

"This year we will work with 1000 women and some of their farming partners through our personal development, farm business skills and leadership and governance programmes throughout New Zealand," she said.