Staff profiles

Claire Cooper
Executive Assistant

I am an Executive Assistant, primarily working to the Agency’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Nico Padovan.

I previously worked at the Department of Agriculture and am one of the Agency’s longest serving members, having joined the Agency upon its commencement on 1 March 2019.

Being part of a new Agency brings unique challenges and has given me a chance to provide key input into the setting up of new processes and daily running of the organisation. 

Working in a tight-knit Agency I feel that I make a strong contribution to the organisation every day and that my skills and experience are valued. 

I get satisfaction knowing the Executive rely on my judgement to support them and the Agency more broadly.

The best thing about working with the Agency is the opportunity to travel through rural and regional parts of Australia, and seeing first-hand the challenges faced by farmers and other people living in country communities.  

Being part of an Agency that has such a meaningful impact on the lives of everyday Australians is a privilege that continues to be a driving factor in my work.


Lauren Power
Data Analyst

I am a Senior Data Analyst specialising in cartography and data analytics and previously worked at Geoscience Australia.

Having grown up on a wheat and sheep farm in North Western Victoria I have a personal interest in the work of the Agency and the difference I can make improving the lives of people living on the land.

One of the best things about working for the Agency is the interesting and diverse work environment. On one week my job might be to speak at a workshop in regional Queensland, and on another week I will be working in a fast-paced city office mapping drought-affected communities.

My work involves bringing together pieces of information and data into a more comprehensive and clear picture. This work is often used to provide supporting evidence to the policy and strategy team, and also to illustrate our progress and achievements in milestone reporting.

I like the challenges that come with working with unusual datasets and thinking up creative solutions, plus the camaraderie of working in a small and passionate team.  But nothing beats getting into the field and talking to the communities to find out how we can best help them.


Simon Potter
Financial Manager

I am an experienced financial manager, having worked in a variety of roles across the Commonwealth, including in leadership positions. 

I grew up in the town of Broken Hill in Western NSW, so have a good understanding of the challenges faced by regional communities, especially those whose economy is dependent on farming and natural resources.

When asked to join the team at the National Drought and Flood Agency, I was excited by the opportunity to visit rural and regional communities and work on projects that deliver positive outcomes to Australians in country areas undergoing hardship.

I recognise that a strong rural sector is crucial to the nation’s economy and appreciate that the work we do has wider implications that affect all of us.

In my day-to-day work I am responsible for developing a finance function from the ground up.  Working in a small and agile organisation means I have a good level of autonomy and my knowledge and experience is valued by my colleagues. 

I like that the Agency had a strong sense of purpose and a common bond - working through issues together - and that we can communicate freely across the organisation and other stakeholder groups in order to achieve objectives.

I also like that our senior executive is approachable and easily accessible, regardless of who you are or where you sit in the Agency.

I have found this work rewarding, and that the Agency both challenges me and supports me in my role. 


Rachell Li
Communications Advisor

With a background in digital media and government communications, I joined the Drought and Flood Agency as a communication and media officer to broaden my stakeholder engagement experience.

My role involves organising and planning community engagements, providing communication support to travelling staff, and liaising with journalists and media outlets.

One of the highlights of the job has been my trip through the Northern Territory and North Queensland, meeting with local councils, primary producers, small business owners and other community stakeholders.

Being able to speak directly with the people affected has given me a better understanding of the issues faced by people living in rural and regional Australia.  It has also given me a chance to see parts of Australia I never would have seen had I not been part of the Agency.

Back in the office, my work is diverse and the environment fast-paced.  I manage the Agency social media presence, draft media releases, news stories, web content, as well as get involved in media monitoring and corporate branding. 

It is great to work in a small agency where my work is valued and has a meaningful impact on people’s lives and the direction and reputation of the organisation.  


Monica Finlayson
Strategic Policy

I grew up in South West Queensland so have a strong connection to the drought and flood work being performed by the Agency.  Having lived in rural communities I also have a good understanding of the issues faced by people living in the bush, and ways in which government can help communities build resilience and adapt to tough times.

My entire career I have been focused on finding the best way to support agricultural industries and rural communities when they are faced with a challenge, including drought and pest and disease incursions.

Working at the Agency has allowed me to continue this. At the Agency, I am responsible for developing a strategy to support the long-term recovery and resilience of the regions affected by the 2019 North Queensland floods. To do this I have spent a lot of time in these regions talking to primary producers, community leaders and small business owners.

The opportunity to get into the rural and remote communities has been a challenging and rewarding experience and critical to getting my job in the Agency done.

Each day at the Agency is different and involves working with a diverse range of stakeholders and developing innovative solutions to find the best way to solve problems.


Chris Pollard
Policy Officer

I have been with the Agency since March 2019 and have had the opportunity work on a wide range of policy and strategy issues as part of the Strategy and Engagement team.

The central and most enjoyable part of my job is working with the knowledgeable, collaborative and generous people who have been involved in the areas of drought and flood recovery.

This includes, livestock producers, business owners, natural resource management groups and other community members.

I spent my childhood growing up on a beef cattle farm in Northern NSW and before joining the Agency worked with the Federal Department of Agriculture for over eight years. 

I maintain a strong connection to the bush and regularly return to the family farm, including a time where the property was threatened by bushfires. The Agency was very supportive of my need to get home urgently to help protect the farm from fires and be there for my family during a difficult period.

While I have a background in beef cattle production, being able to work directly with people in the bush in a professional sense has been a career highlight.

The job has also given me the opportunity to visit some remote parts of Australia.  These trips have been essential to informing my work, as well as given me a greater understanding and appreciation of the issues impacting rural and regional Australia.