Get to know our board: The Hon. Niall Blair

We are delighted to welcome The Hon. Niall Blair to the Australia Rural Leadership Foundation Board.

Niall as more than 25 years of expertise in ESG, risk management, and sustainability. Serving on several boards, Niall’s background in government and sustainability will be a tremendous asset to the ARLF and our mission to support thriving rural, regional, and remote communities across Australia.

As part of welcoming Niall to the ARLF, we sat down for a Q&A about his time in politics and the importance of community-led leadership in rural, regional and remote Australia.

Can you share a bit about your professional background and how it aligns with the ARLF’s mission?

I grew up in Goulburn New South Wales and like many in regional communities, moved to Sydney to study Horticultural Science at Hawkesbury Agricultural College. From there I moved back into regional New South Wales where I worked, started a business, started a family and contributed to my community.

In 2011 I had the privilege of being elected to the New South Wales Parliament where I served 9 years and was able to represent regional communities and industries in a variety of ways.  

Since 2019, I have worked with the agricultural sector to enable and commercialise research to assist with a more sustainable food and fibre production future. I serve on a number of boards and continue with my own business interest.

My career and lifestyle have been dedicated to serving and leading regional communities and the industries that underpin them. I believe this makes me a good fit for the ARLF board.

What inspired you to join our board?

I have had the pleasure or working throughout my career with ARLF alumni and have seen how they approach issues and demonstrate leadership. I realised early on that the impact they were making was because of their experience with the ARLP. I want to make sure the ARLF is strong and can continue to offer opportunities for many more participants in all the programs.

What are your key goals as a board member?

Raise awareness and funding opportunities for the ARLF, realise opportunities and manage risks.

Can you discuss a past experience where you helped drive positive change in an organisation or community?

I genuinely believe that my nine years in the New South Wales Parliament led to many social and economic changes that improved our regional communities. There are too many to list. Hopefully I can share some of my experience personally with ARLF alumni and stakeholders as we meet.

What do you see as the greatest opportunity for the ARLF and/ or leadership in rural, regional and remote Australia in the coming years?

Rural, regional and remote Australia is constantly changing and no two communities are the same. The need and demand for leadership in every community will always be there and in my mind will rise in importance.

In what ways do you hope to engage with ARLF stakeholders?

I travel a lot and attend many events throughout Australia. I would love to meet and engage with ARLF alumni and stakeholders at every opportunity. I believe their journey and experience can inspire others to put up their hand to participate or partners to put their hands into their pocket to contribute to the ARLF. As a conduit that will be aiming to raise awareness and funds, meeting alumni and stakeholders through my travels will arm me with more evidence to spread the word about the ARLF.

What message would you like to share with our alumni and partners?

Reach out and help me do what I can to contribute to the ARLF. Full and frank feedback and advice is welcome. I am on a journey myself to better understand the organisation and where I can make the most impact. I’m not a ARLP graduate and bring a different lens to the organisation. I’m keen to make contact.

What leadership qualities do you think are most important for driving positive change in rural, regional, and remote communities?

Being present, listening, empathy and turning up to make an impact.

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