National Board

PLA is governed by a national board with a representative from each of our five regions and five skill based appointments.

Les Munn (NSW/ACT) - President

Les Munn is a long time member and has been previously employed in local government for 41 years with 34 years experience in parks management ( including maintenance and design/construction). Les is a strong supporter of commercial use of public open space as a means of providing the necessary funding assistance for ongoing maintenance and improvement works as well as improving the recreational experience for visitors. Les holds a Graduate Diploma in Local Govt. Management and an Associate Diploma of Horticulture.

Kevin Lowe (SA/NT)

Kevin has 45 plus years’ experience in local government in New South Wales and South Australia and recently retired as General Manager. Over this time he has been an active member of Parks and Leisure Australia serving on boards and committees, is still an active member of Surf Life Saving Australia as a patrolling member for over 30 years and was the recipient of the Australian Sports Medal in 2000.

His career has seen him managing iconic parklands systems, major events and developing major leisure infrastructure along with managing the portfolios of: Planning & Regulation, Cemeteries, Libraries, Economic Development, Tourism, Engineering and Environment and Sustainability. Kevin holds various qualifications including an Advanced Diploma in Horticulture, a Graduate Certificate in Management and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course.

Heather Nesbitt (NSW/ACT) 

With over 40 years experience nationally working with government, private sector, non-profits and local communities, Heather is a highly experienced and recognised urban and regional planner. She is a Fellow Planning Institute of Australia, Graduate Australian Institute of Company Directors and Non-Executive Director Wentworth HealthCare. She is also an Emergency Services Volunteer with Australia Red Cross.

Her areas of expertise are social infrastructure; public open space/recreation; stakeholder engagement; arts/creative industries; smart city strategies; healthy and active living; social impact assessment; skills/education; social housing and community resilience.  

Rachel Thorpe (VIC/TAS)

Rachel is employed at the City of Hume, Victoria and has worked in the parks, sports, recreation and leisure Industry for the last 20 years . She has served as a regional councilor at PLA WA for six years and is currently the VIC/TAS representative on the national board. She holds a tertiary qualification in Community Services - Youth Work and Project Management. She also a Certified Parks and Leisure Professional.

Margaret Barrett (QLD)

Margaret has been part of the sport, recreation leisure industry for over 30 years. She is currently a Senior Consultant with Otium Planning Group, with previous professional experience in state and local government working in Queensland metropolitan and regional communities.

Margaret's professional experience is in open space planning, sport and recreation planning and development, policy and strategy research and formulation, community facility planning, community development and organisational development and asset management.

Margaret has a Bachelor Arts (Geography, Community Studies and Leisure Behaviour) and a Graduate Diploma in Recreation Planning.

Kristin Davies - Generate Network Chair & Deputy President

Kristin has over 10 years' industry experience with a diverse background in sports, recreation, leisure, hospitality, events and gaming sectors, including involvement in a number of start-up and member-based organisations. In addition to studying a Bachelor of Sports Administration and Bachelor of Exercise Science and Human Movement (current) at Victoria University and a Certificate IV in Business Administration, she successfully completed the Parks and Leisure Australia Leadership Program in 2016. Kristin's recent work history includes management and senior strategy positions with the City of Greater Geelong, Baseball Victoria, insideEDGE Sport and Leisure Planning and Fernwood Women's Health Clubs.

Tim Sargent - National Finance Director

Tim has over 20 years experience as a director of firms. Prior to Moore Stephens / Hayes Knight he worked for a variety of accountancy practices, before joining Alan Green & Co in Tim consults to a large variety of business sectors and structures, from legal partnerships to food manufacturers and retail chains, all with excellent results. With formal qualifications in accounting, marketing and human resources. Combined with these qualifications, Tim has had over 25 years experience in consulting to small and medium size with Strategic and Business Planning, Business Mentoring, Implementation and Monitoring of Key Performance, Product Costing, Human Resources and Finance Management Reviews. Tim's qualifications include CA, Bachelor of Arts (Accounting), Graduate Diploma (Human Resources), Bachelor of Business. (Marketing) and is a Registered Tax Agent.

Tara Looby - National Marketing and Communications Director

Tara Looby is Group Manager - Client Relations and Marketing for IVM Group. She has a long running understanding of open space management and the important role it plays in encouraging a healthy and active community. With a significant depth of marketing experience Tara has a wide-ranging set of operational and strategic skills. Along with general business, management and marketing skills, she is also proficient in research and analysis of consumer demand and market trends, analysis gaps in the market, product lifecycle analysis, and target market identification.

Barbra Gaiotto - National Conference Director

Barbra has worked in the sport and recreation industry for the last 20 years in programming, planning and contract management. Barbra spent 19 years in the sports development and planning area with the Manningham City Council, where she was the Coordinator of the Sports & Recreation team responsible for sports development and liaison for major capital and strategic projects implementation and delivery. In more recent times, Barbra joined Waypoint, a leading stadia and sports facility advisory firm as a Senior Consultant.

Barbra has also been a sessional lecturer for Swinburne University - Certificate II Community Recreation and Fitness, where she delivered a series of lecturers and practical workshops covering a number of competencies. Barbra holds a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation and a Masters in Sport Business.

Vanessa Morschel - National Governance Director

Vanessa holds various board appointments with not for profit community focused organizations including a community housing provider, community transport charity and food pantry.Her areas of expertise and relevant academic qualifications are corporate governance, management, social sciences, environmental planning and human geography. 

Over the last 15 years, she has volunteered as a panel member, advisory council member, industry association committee member and given speeches. In addition to her volunteering responsibilities, Vanessa has worked for local councils, property developers, property consultancies and not for profit organizations. 

Jarrod Hill - National Business (Commercial)  Director

Jarrod has over 17 years’ experience planning, designing and overseeing construction of Fields of Play across Australia. These facilities include athletics running tracks, hockey pitches, football grounds (all codes), tennis/netball courts, general purpose facilities, etc.

As a chartered Civil Engineer Jarrod approaches the Parks and Leisure industry from a slightly different angle with a key eye on design, longevity and sustainability.

After almost 10 years with global engineering firm Arup, Jarrod started his company SPORTENG which specialises in the planning, design and construction phase support for all Fields of Play

Paul Jane (VIC/TAS) - Immediate Past President

Paul has extensive experience in the sport, recreation and parks industry with over 25 years of experience in a diverse range of roles and organisations. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Biology) and a Masters of Business Administration underpinning his experience in the industry. He most recently was responsible for the create of the Great Ocean Road Coast and Parks Authority where he led the organisational design process, established the board and acted as a director in the organisation for the inaugural 12 months as it established.  Paul has held previous roles within Local and State Government and State Sporting Associations that has seen him responsible for a diversity of areas including the operation of major sports venues, planning for and management of public reserves and open space, assets management and sports development. He has a passion for creating high functioning teams and developing a strong sport and recreation sector.

Former Presidents

Name State Year
Phil Gale WA 1998-1999
Martin Doulton VIC 1999-2002
Steven Few WA 2002-2003
Steven Bourke NSW 2003-2006
Steve Mason WA 2006-2009
Bruce Fordham VIC 2009-2012
Kevin Lowe SA 2012-2015
Mark Casserley WA 2014 (Resigned)
Kristen Jackson VIC 2015- 2016
Martin Lambert QLD 2016 - 2018
Paul Jane VIC 2018 - 2022
Les Munn NSW 2022 - Current
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