About us

Board and Staff


James Sexton


James Sexton is a prominent businessman and business leader from Mount Barker. He is also leading the campaign to establish The Cedars as the premier gallery and studio showcasing the work of Hans Heysen. James is active in ensuring that the rapid development of the region meets the needs of the community. 

Victoria MacKirdy

Deputy Chair

Victoria MacKirdy is the chief executive of the City of Victor Harbor. Victoria has worked at senior levels with local government as well as a board member of Arts SA.

Glenn Rappensberg


Glenn Rappensberg is the chief executive of Alexandrina Council and a former senior executive with a number of community organisations.

Lorraine Rosenberg


Lorraine Rosenberg is the former Mayor of Onkaparinga Council, former President of the South Australian Local Government Association and a former member of the South Australian Parliament.

James Walters

Board Member

James Walters manages a number of horticultural enterprises in the Adelaide Hills. 

Nigel Morris

Board Member

Nigel Morris is the chief executive of Yankalilla Council, Nigel has been an executive at a number of councils in SA.

Peter Wadewitz

Board Member

Peter Wadewitz runs a green recycling business and is an industry leader in environmental management. 

Susie Green

Board Member

Susie Green is a prominent horticulture industry leader in the Adelaide Hills.

John Ashcroft

Board Member

John Ashcroft is a leading Adelaide Hills businessman, having been involved with the design and construction of many significant Adelaide Hills and city projects.

He is also past chairperson of the Hahndorf Business and Tourism Association.

Luke Gray

Board Member

Luke Gray is Manager Strategic Projects and Planning Policy at Mount Barker District Council and brings broad and active Local Government experience.


Damien Cooke

Chief Executive Officer and Director of Regional Development 

Damien brings a wealth of knowledge having twenty plus years’ experience working in the field of business development, sales management and marketing in many industry sectors and a variety of overseas markets. Damien is a professional and conscientious person in all aspects of his work, staff find him to be clear, concise leader and enjoy working with him.

He is well organised, systematic and structured in his approach to tasks and problem solving. Damien has been a long term resident of the region and as a local business operator and primary producer he has a genuine understanding for the region and the potential of what the region has to offer. 

Stephen Shotton

Regional Development Manager

Steve is experienced in creation, growth and management of businesses across several industries including agriculture, aquaculture, technology, professional and environmental services. He is skilled in Board Directorship, Entrepreneurship, Raising Capital, Strategic Planning, Business Operations, Business Development and Sales, Project Management, Culture Building, Systems and Procedures, LEAN and Relationship Building at all levels. 

He brings to RDA a wealth of knowledge across many industries, experience in rural and remote regions, an ability to network, think outside the box and look for win-win outcomes.

Sara Cross

Executive Assistant to the CEO and Project Officer

Having lived her whole life in the region, Sara has a real passion for the Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island area. She is enthusiastic about providing Executive Support to our CEO and Board, and loves being part of the team. Sara is highly reliable, efficient and dedicated multitasker with a high level of experience in administrative roles. Sara brings a unique skill set, combining her dynamic organisational and administrative background with ongoing creativity. 

Sara has a bright, bubbly personality and very approachable, she is always willing to lend a helping hand. 

Dilrini Pathirana

Admin Support Officer and Project Officer

Dilrini joined RDA in 2009 as the Project Co-ordinator for Employment & Training Project. Later taking over Major Projects and working with the Director for Strategy and Major Projects. 

Currently she is working as a Project Officer, sub co-ordinating Major Projects and working with Regional Development Manager. Also looking after all Commonwealth and State reporting within the RDA. 

Dilrini has a Degree of Master of Business Administration associate in Human Resources and has more than 10-15 years’ experience working in a senior level of Administration and Project Management. Dilrini is an excellent team player with a very outgoing personality.

Nicki Taylor

Office Administration Assistant

Nicki undertook a traineeship with the RDA in April 2017 which saw her complete her Certificate III in Business Administration. Since completing this certificate, Nicki continues to work with the RDA, supporting all team members and manages all reception duties.

Nicki specialises in the social media content and creation and distribution of the weekly newsletter to RDA’s databases. Nicki is a key member of the RDA staff and enjoys working in a team environment.

Leanne Li

Finance Officer 

Leanne joined RDA in 2013 in the role of Finance Officer, reporting to CEO and the finance committee. In addition to holding a master’s degree in accounting and finance, she is a CPA qualified accountant.

She works with external auditors to set up and improve our accounting procedures, keeps financial records for both office operation and various projects, prepares regular financial reports for both internal and external use. Her most outstanding job qualities are her reliable on-time reporting, problem-solving, well planned scheduling, and trustworthiness.