NewCastle Now

Our People

Overseeing the strategic direction of Newcastle Now is the elected committee of management, members of Newcastle's business community who bring a diverse set of skills, experience, perspectives and ideas to steer the organisation. Supporting the committee of management is a staff of skilled professionals who directly support our members and manage the activities of the organisation.

Committee of Management

Edward Duc
Chairperson

Edward’s company, Duc Associates, is an architectural and urban design practice, established for over 30 years, focussing on environmentally sustainable, pragmatic solutions. He has received numerous Awards and is well-published. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, Conjoint Senior Fellow University of Newcastle, and has served on other Boards furthering Newcastle city and architecture. Edward brings his vast experience to Newcastle Now as Chair of the Board.

Debera Mackenzie
Deputy Chairperson

Deb is the General Manager of Quality Hotel NOAH’S On the Beach and the former Deputy Chair of the Newcastle Tourism Industry Group. She has been a part of Newcastle’s travel/tourism industry for many years and has been recognised at state and regional levels for outstanding personal contributions to tourism. She is an inner city resident and proud Novocastrian. Deb joined the Board of Newcastle Now because she believes that businesses and residents working together can achieve much more for the city than if everyone works in isolation.

Chelsea D'Aoust
Board Member

In 2009, Chelsea co-founded Sprocket Roasters in Newcastle East. Sprocket has designed, patented and locally manufactured an award winning fluid bed coffee roaster that runs on biofuels and spent coffee grinds. In addition to artisan coffee roasting, Sprocket runs three affiliate cafés in the Hunter region and a training organisation. Chelsea has a BA Honours Degree (Political Science) from Queen's University (Canada) and a graduate Baccalaureate of Laws degree from the University of Ottawa (Canada). She has obtained her legal equivalencies from the University of Newcastle (Australia) and is passionate about city revitalisation.

Christine Gregson
Board Member

Christine has a background in Design, Hospitality, Retail/Centre Management, and Marketing and Operations. She is a Centre Manager overseeing all areas of operation of a major Newcastle shopping centre. She is a member of the Foundation of Hunter Medical Research Institute. Christine says, “as a representative of a key stakeholder in Newcastle city centre that understands the importance of our city’s future, I am passionate about making a difference”.

Emma Mead
Board Member

Emma is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, appointed through the Law Society of NSW. She is a NSW Motor Accidents Authority 'Preferred Practitioner' to provide legal services to families of brain injured and spinal cord injured children. Her compassionate approach to the practise of law means that she helps her clients during what is a very difficult time for them. By practising law in this way, Emma has gained an excellent reputation and is well respected by her peers, the insurers and the lawyers who advise them.

Kevin Coffey
Board Member

Kevin is the Managing Director of Jean Bas Design and holds a Post Grad Degree in Innovation, Commercialisation and Intellectual Property. With 35 years’ experience in the fashion industry he specialises in commercialising ideas. This skill has seen him collaborate with a vast array of fashion industry professionals from stylists to brand strategists where he helps to bring their ideas to market. As a long standing board member of Newcastle Now Kevin is focused on building corporate self-esteem in Newcastle city centre. When not working in his small business, Kevin lectures at Newcastle University’s International College and at Hunter TAFE film and media school.

Kris Leck
Board Member

Kris is the Owner / Director of Catalyst Project Consulting, providing Project and Development Management services in the commercial, education and industrial sectors. He graduated from the University of Newcastle in 1997 with a Bachelor of Construction Management (honours) and completed an MBA (Merit) in 2013 with a specialisation in Marketing. Kris also owns Jimmy Figg’s Bare-knuckle Barber, is the Chair of Renew Newcastle where he has been a Board member since 2011 and is Sergeant at Arms and Past President of the Newcastle Business Club. 2016 is Kris’ 4th year on the board of Newcastle Now.

Paul Murphy
Board Member

Paul is a local retailer, Chairman of The Alliance and a former President of the Hunter Business Chamber. Throughout his career he has been active in helping advance the interests of small business and manufacturing to generate employment. He was awarded an OAM in 2003. Paul also serves on: Hunter Business Chamber, Regional Infrastructure Committee, and Life Without Barriers. He is Former President of Waratahs Rugby Club and is a passionate advocate for Newcastle, with an extensive knowledge of local needs and strengths.

David Crofts
Board Member

David works as a consultant in specialising in city and town centre revitalisation. He was previously Group Manager City Strategy for the City of Newcastle. During his tenure, Mr Crofts and his team led the reshaping of the city’s economic and tourism strategy. “I believe the City Centre has a great future. I am keen to be a part of the repositioning of the City Centre as a compelling destination with distinctive precincts, lively streets, competitive and unique businesses, and places where people want to be,” Mr Crofts said. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Sarah Parry-Jones
Board Member

Sarah is the Manager of Earp Bros in Newcastle and has a strong background in retail, management and marketing. Her unique approach to the Newcastle Architecture and Design industry has seen a collaborative design festival, Design+ developed by Ms Parry-Jones and a small group of proactive retailers and practitioners. Sarah has a strong connection to the West End precinct, where she works and lives. “I am passionate about supporting businesses to become creative thinkers, to collaborate with others and to develop sustainable and innovative business practices,” she said.

Our Staff

Michael Neilson
Executive Manager

Michael Neilson is the Executive Manager of Newcastle Now. He has over 15 years experience in industrial relations, human resource management, business development, local government, and management. Coupled with his corporate management skills, he has small business expertise as the owner of a number of businesses in the Hunter and Central Coast area. Under his leadership, the dynamic Newcastle Now team has consolidated its role in the revitalisation of the city centre.

Olivia O'Brien
Business Activation Coordinator

Olivia brings to Newcastle Now over 10 years’ experience in Business Development, Recruitment, Human Resources and Management. Olivia holds a Bachelor of Business from The University of Newcastle and although she has lived and worked in the UK and Sydney, has always been lured back to Newcastle by its unspoilt beaches, ease of living and incredible coffee! Her industry experience ranges from a top tier law firm, to small business, finance and heavy industry which has equipped her with the skills to work with members to improve their businesses and in turn, improve Newcastle.

Kristie Ferguson
Marketing & Communications

Kristie Ferguson works as Newcastle Now’s Marketing and Communications coordinator and brings over 15 years’ experience to her role, together with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies. Kristie has worked in marketing roles across a wide variety of local organisations including 1233 ABC Radio, the Civic Theatre, Newcastle L!vesites and Newcastle City Council’s media and communications unit. Kristie has a passion for the arts and believes in taking an integrated approach to marketing communications.

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