Our Team


yellow diamond


yellow diamond




Kate Auty










Deputy Chair 

Sawsan Howard holds the position of Group General Manager, Corporate Strategy in one of Australia’s largest engineering and construction companies. By training, Sawsan holds a Bachelor of Science, Master of Environmental Studies (Hons), MBA (Dist) and a Juris Doctor (Dist). Sawsan has held senior management positions with Sustainability Victoria and Dairy Australia. Prior to that, Sawsan was a member of the Beyond Tomorrow Team – an innovation and sustainability think tank at Origin Energy. Sawsan has most recently undertaken further studies in sustainability at Harvard Business School, Boston. Sawsan’s leadership skills and career achievements have been recognised in the publication “Unexpected Women: Women who have found their wings. Success Stories of Modern Female Leaders” by Diana Ryall AM (2015).

Simon is the Group Sustainability Manager at Epworth Healthcare, Victoria’s largest not for profit private health care group, renowned for excellence in diagnosis, treatment, care and rehabilitation. With more than 20 years environmental management experience in social, civic, government and now healthcare sectors, Simon is highly skilled in public policy development, corporate sustainability, future motoring, integrated sustainable transport, and environmental education and awareness campaigns. He is a strong operations professional with Post Graduate Scientific and Environmental Management qualifications. 

A keen sports fan, Simon invests time being involved with the Sports Environment Alliance and has served as an adjudicator on the internationally renowned Bridgestone World Solar Challenge.

Andrew Petersen is the Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Business Australia (SBA), Australia's leading business think-tank and advocacy group that promotes commercial solutions to the sustainability agenda. Andrew has established an enviable reputation as a legal advisor on matters relating to environmental risk, law and policy, and as a leading thought leader and advisor on the business of sustainability.

He is well-known to Australian business for his commentary through print and broadcast media on the business implications of climate change. Being published in The Australian Financial Review, Keeping Good Companies, Environmental Finance, Carbon Finance and the EU publication, Environmental Risk.

Andrew is a qualified and practising lawyer in Australia, he was the Partner of the Environmental and Development Group of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Legal from 1999 to 2006, and then the Legal and Advisory Lead of PwC Australia's Sustainability and Climate Change team from 2007 to 2010.

His carbon credentials were developed as an accredited auditor under the NSW Government's Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme (2003 – 2005), a verifier under the Federal Government's Greenhouse Friendly Scheme (2003 – 2006), a representative on the Business Council of Australia's Greenhouse Gas Committee (2002,2003) and in 2005 as an industry delegate to the Australian Government's representation at the United Nations Framework Conference of Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Rick has been involved with the Banksia Foundation since its very inception as part of the original 44. He has been a board member of the foundation at various times during the past seventeen years and until 2014 held the position of Treasurer with the Board of Banksia.

Rick has been involved in other 'Not for Profit' organisations, including sitting as a board member with 'Skill Share' for 6 years and held different positions in the executive of Alfred Toast Masters club over the last 9 years. His professional career has consisted of 22 years in the IT industry, with a wide range of occupations most focusing on business development and customer support.

Professor Kate Auty was appointed the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment in 2016.Professor Auty has also recently been appointed a Professorial Fellow with the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Melbourne, after concluding a term as a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, also at the University of Melbourne. Kate was previously the Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability (2009-2014), the Chair of the Ministerial Reference Council on Climate Change Adaptation (Victoria 2008-2010), and a member of the Victorian Premier’s Climate Change Advisory Council (2009-2010). Professor Auty has previously held positions as a City of Melbourne Ambassador in the development of the Future Melbourne Plan 2026 with a portfolio responsibility in climate change (2016), and as a magistrate in Victoria and magistrate and mining warden in Western Australia. She was instrumental in the establishment of Victorian Koori Courts (2000-2004). Current boards and advisory roles include - director on the board of the ReScope Project, the McPherson Smith Rural Foundation and Australian Women in Agriculture; member of the Advisory Board to AURIN; and member with the MDBA Advisory Committee on Social Economic and Environmental Sciences. When Professor Auty accepted the role of Commissioner in the ACT she relinquished advisory roles with La Trobe University in Research Focus Areas involving sustainability, transformation of cities and in respect of water and agriculture. She also relinquished the role as chair of the advisory board to NeCTAR, and more recently she stepped down as chair of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute (University of Melbourne). Kate is an active member of a number of community groups which concern themselves with environmental sustainability including the Euroa Environment Group, the Strathbogie and Seymour Community Energy Alliance (Pumped Hydro Energy Storage), Gooram Landcare (Victoria) and the Strathbogie Ranges Conservation Management Network.

Richard is the Managing Director of Talent Nation, a specialist search and recruitment firm with a core focus on Environment, Sustainability, Energy and Natural Resources.

Richard commenced his career in forestry, before moving to the UK and developing the Civil Engineering & Water division within the Central London office of one of the UK's leading recruitment companies. Since moving to Melbourne he worked for several years in finance and human capital management before specialising in recruitment for the Environment and Sustainability industry having built a successful Environmental recruitment business previously.

Richard is an active supporter of a number of sustainability initiatives, including 1millionwomen and LandCare Australia, and jointly established a sustainability forum where many of the country's leading sustainability thinkers still meet. He is a contributor to carbon and environment course curricula and is a Fellow of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership in 2012.

Richard holds an MBA from Melbourne Business School, a Master of Engineering in Management, and a Bachelor of Forestry Science from the University of Canterbury.

Graz van Egmond commenced as CEO of the Banksia Foundation in 1998. Originally starting her career in the Biochemistry Laboratories of St Vincent’s Hospital, Graz soon transitioned to the tourism industry where she spent eights years within Public Relations at Tourism Australia, before moving across to the Melbourne Tourism Authority and creating the Asia Pacific Incentives Meeting Expo (AIME). Graz also spent time at Telstra where she managed a number of programs including the Telstra Small Business Awards before inaugurating the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

Susie Bayes

Following a psychology degree with a decade in marketing and strategy, Susie joined Guardian Australia's content partnership team Guardian Labs in 2014 to help brands create partnerships which authentically connect with the Guardian's audience.   As an alumni of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership's Future Makers'  Fellowship & now Banksia Board Member, she is passionate about helping brands achieve success demonstrating that they share readers' core values and by communicating their commitment to better business.As the Guardian's Brand Partnerships Director, Susie creates content & event partnerships, with global brands like Philips, local giants like Optus and purpose driven brands such as Powershop.  She has seen the success of brands in the UK & US who have evolved their brand messaging to show their positive impact and is keen to help Australian brands benefit from bringing this thinking into their businesses.