Staff profiles

This page features profiles of Agency staff based in Brisbane and Canberra. Our Regional Recovery Officers are based in regional locations across Australia. Regional Recovery Officer profiles can be found on the Regional Recovery Officers page.

Nico Padovan
Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer

Nico has over 30 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in designing and delivering government programs across a broad range of organisations, both large and small. A number of these programs were delivered in complex, politically sensitive and challenging circumstances such as those associated with ensuring a timely and appropriate response to drought and natural disasters, streamlining access to government programs and services in the health and social services sector, implementing major organisational reforms post Rau and Alvarez in the Department of Immigration and in ensuring timely and orderly closure of the home insulation and green loans programs. Nico has worked in the Departments of Agriculture, Immigration, Climate Change, Human Services and Defence and prior to joining the public service served in a range of Army and Air Force units in the Australian Defence Force as an engineering officer. Nico has a keen interest in contributing to the future success of rural and regional Australia, and in building on the many lessons learned and on the ground experience of those involved, through his extensive ongoing engagement with individuals, businesses and communities across the country. What he most enjoys about the Agency is its focus on a locally led, locally understood and locally implemented approach and its ability to “get stuff done” with minimal bureaucracy and fuss.

Sam Lavery
Assistant Director Corporate Services

I am in the role of Assistant Director, Corporate and am responsible for a range of corporate services including fleet, property management and facilities management.

I was born in Brisbane, and have bounced between Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne a few times since. My mother grew up in and taught throughout regional Queensland, and I still have family in the Far North. I saw the devastation of a flood first hand while moving back to Brisbane during the 2010/11 floods. It has surprised me to realise just how much of Australia I’ve seen over the years, while on various car trips from here to there.

I started in facilities at the Treasury, working on all the different facets of accommodation. Among other jobs, I have worked for the Victorian State Government, and managed a services contract for a dozen sites across Victoria.

So far I’m enjoying the pace of the work, the variety of work I undertake from day to day and the increased input into strategic and operational decision making that comes with a smaller, more nimble Agency. I have found the real world outcomes of the Agency particularly meaningful; that our work has a direct impact on the lives of regular Australians just like my family.

Bruce Scott OAM
Advisor to Coordinator-General Shane Stone

My name is Bruce Scott and I am the Advisor to Coordinator-General Shane Stone on regional matters, including the role of local governments in helping communities recover from and prepare for drought and natural disasters such as flood and bushfires.

I was born and bred here in western Queensland and am now based in the town of Charleville, having spent the past 32 years owning and operating a cattle station, Moothandella, in the Queensland Channel Country, near Windorah.

I have extensive experience living and working in remote communities and have been self-employed and an employer for 38 years, as well as served on numerous boards and local, state, federal government and community committees.

Prior to joining the National Drought and Flood Agency, I spent 26 years as a local government councillor and director of numerous public and private sector organisations.  My time as a councillor includes 16 years as mayor of Barcoo Shire Council. My wife and I recently sold our beef cattle property and I retired from local government at the March 2020 Queensland local government elections.

My representation in local government and Central West Hospital and Health Service has given me extensive experience in community consultation and an understanding of the unique social and economic challenges faced by people living in regional and remote Australia, particularly those families living off the land and in small communities.

As a small businessman I am also aware of the impacts of drought on businesses that rely on healthy rural communities to survive.

In my role as Advisor I will be consulting widely and working hard to strengthen the Agency’s ties with regional councils and the communities they serve.

Lani Reid
Finance Officer

I am a Finance Officer with the Drought and Flood Agency and before that spent 13 years in the Department of Health.

I was born in Malaysia and my family emigrated to Australia when I was nine years old.  We settled in Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays where we owned a Chinese restaurant and then later set up a hydroponic farm while I studied to be an accountant.

I worked in numerous roles at the Department of Health, and was fortunate enough to visit a number of rural and remote communities, witnessing the impact of weather and climate on the physical and mental health of those communities.

Joining the National Drought and Flood Agency was an exciting prospect as it enabled me to utilise my skills on something new while continuing to support rural and remote communities from a different aspect.

I have only recently joined the Agency but am looking forward to working with a skilled and diverse group of people, and visiting and supporting rural communities.

Angela Cameron
Policy and Program Director

I am a Policy and Program Director in the Agency’s Drought team, and have held several other roles previously, including Executive Officer to our CEO and Secretariat to our Advisory Board.

I grew up in the Sunshine State and have family connections to sugarcane farming in the Mackay-Whitsunday region.  My background is in marine science and I have had a diverse career in public policy, including many years advising on policies and programs to conserve, protect and manage the Great Barrier Reef.

Every day in the Agency gives me a new challenge to solve, such as determining if the Agency has the right mix of drought policies and programs, and evaluating their effectiveness. I enjoy building successful teams that work together, with partners both inside and outside of government, to find solutions to environmental, social and economic challenges.

I have had many exciting and rewarding experiences with the Agency. This includes attending an Agency Advisory Board with the Prime Minister, travelling across the Northern Territory and central-western QLD meeting with drought-impacted farmers on historic stations, and being able to turn those experiences into advice for the Government. I am lucky to do the work I do.  It is very satisfying and provides a unique experience within the Public Service.   

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.