Our Board

CRDC has an eight-member Board, consisting of a Chair (appointed by the Minister for Agriculture), the Executive Director (selected by the Board) and six non-executive Directors nominated by an independent Selection Committee.

Appointment of non-executive Directors is subject to Ministerial approval and directors (other than the Executive Director) are appointed for three-year terms.

The CRDC Board is governed by a Charter of Corporate Governance. This document consolidates the policies and procedures for the Board and all Board Committees: Audit, Intellectual Property and Commercialisation, and Remuneration.

Mr Richard Haire - Chair. BEc, FAICD, FAIM.

Richard HaireMr Haire has held many leadership positions within the cotton industry, most recently as Managing Director and regional head of Olam International, a global leader in the supply chain management of agricultural products and food ingredients. He was formerly the Chief Executive of Queensland Cotton Corporation Pty Ltd and a member of the Rabo Australia Food and Agribusiness Advisory Board. Mr Haire is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Management. He formerly served as a Director on the CRDC board from 2011 to 2014. 

Appointed: 29/08/2016 until 29/08/2019.
Reappointed: 29/08/2019 until 29/08/2022.


Ms Rosemary Richards - Deputy Chair. BAgEc, MBA.

Rosemary RichardsMs Richards is an agribusiness consultant with extensive experience in broadacre cropping, in particular oilseeds and downstream processing sectors. Ms Richards is principal of Bowman Richards & Associates which undertakes strategic planning, supply chain management and trade and market access services for private companies and industry and Government organisations to support market and business growth.  

She also has extensive experience in the biotechnology sector and was actively involved in the introduction of GM canola to Australia as CEO of the Australian Oilseeds Federation. Ms Richards continues to be involved in biotechnology policy and advocacy through work with Australian and international representative organisations. Ms Richards currently consults on trade and market access, commercialisation of biotech crops and business strategy. She is a passionate advocate for the agricultural sector and maintains close linkages with a range of agribusiness industry organisations.

Appointed: 01/10/2017 until 30/09/2020.
Reappointed: 01/10/2020 until 30/09/2023.
Chair: IP & Commercialisation Committee


Dr Ian Taylor - Executive Director. BAppSc, PhD.

Dr. Ian TaylorDr Taylor has extensive experience across the cotton RD&E pipeline, having worked as a researcher specialising in integrated weed management before progressing to management positions within the cotton industry’s extension program, CottonInfo and CRDC. Prior to being appointed Executive Director, Dr Taylor performed the role of CRDC’s General Manager of R&D Investments for five years, overseeing CRDC’s investment in cotton RD&E to deliver impact, and leading the development of the CRDC Strategic RD&E Plan 2018–23.

Dr Taylor holds BAppSc and PhD degrees from The University of Queensland, is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, and is Deputy Chair of the Summit Community Services board. He has extensive stakeholder management, strategy development, leadership and governance experience, combined with national and international networks, in part from his time as the Technology Development Lead and Asia-Pacific Technical and Stewardship Lead with Monsanto. In his former career, Dr Taylor was an avionics technician in the Australian Defence Force, where he developed a sound understanding of digital and advanced complex systems.

Appointed: 7 March 2019 by virtue of his appointment as Executive Director of CRDC. Dr Taylor was acting Executive Director from January to March 2019. He attends the Audit, Intellectual Property and Remuneration Committees as an observer.


Emeritus Professor Les Copeland AM - Non-Executive Director. BSc, PhD, GradDipAICD.

Professor Les CopelandProfessor Copeland has been conducting research and teaching in agricultural and food science in the University of Sydney for over forty years. His research on plant, grain and food chemistry, and the origins of the human diet, has resulted in over 150 publications and 34 PhD completions. He is a member of the Research Advisory Committee of the Australian Farm Institute, and Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journals Cereal Chemistry and Agriculture. Professor Copeland was Chair of the Cotton Catchment Communities Participants’ Forum and a Director of the Australian Cotton and Value Added Wheat CRCs. He is a former Dean of Agriculture, and he was the Foundation President of the Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture. He is the immediate past President of the University of Sydney Association of Professors.

Professor Copeland holds BSc and PhD degrees from the University of Sydney and a Graduate Diploma from the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He has held research positions at Yale University, the University of Buffalo, the University of California in Davis, and the Australian National University. He is a Fulbright Alumnus, the recipient of an Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Association of Cereal Chemists-International, and has had international experience in capacity building. Emeritus Professor Copeland was awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours, recognising his significant service to agricultural science as an academic and researcher.

Appointed: 01/10/2017 until 30/09/2020.
Reappointed: 01/10/2020 until 30/09/2023.
Chair: Audit Committee


Mr Ross Burnett - Non-Executive Director. BAgSc, GAICD.

Ross BurnettMr Burnett has considerable experience in crop production, having successfully operated and grown his cropping business in Emerald QLD for over 16 years. Mr Burnett primarily farms cotton on his myBMP certified property and has developed extensive hands on knowledge of cotton production over the years by being heavily involved in all areas of the process. Beyond the farm gate, he has been an active advocate for the cotton industry, representing the industry at local, state and national levels. He has a passion for sustainability and research implementing both in his farming business and being a grower representative for the industry in these areas.

His understanding of corporate governance, business management and stakeholder engagement has been developed through operating his own business and past/current board and executive roles, including as the Vice President of the Queensland Farmers’ Federation; the former President of the Central Highlands Cotton Growers and Irrigators Association; a grower representative for Cotton Australia; Director of the Local Management Arrangements Board for Emerald; and Chair of the CRDC Industry Research Advisory Panel. Mr Burnett holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Appointed: 01/10/2020 until 30/09/2023.


Dr Gary Fitt - Non-Executive Director. ​BSc Hons, PhD, ATSE, AICD.

Dr. Gary FittDr Fitt has extensive research experience in agricultural sustainability, particularly focussed on pest management and biotechnology. His in-depth research on the ecology of Helicoverpa species greatly assisted in the development of resistance management strategies, which provided a foundation for the successful introduction and management of transgenic cotton varieties in Australia.

Dr Fitt started his career as an Experimental Scientist with CSIRO, and went on to hold leadership positions within the organisation, including Program Leader for Cotton, Deputy Chief CSIRO Entomology, Director of the CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship, and Science Director and Deputy Director for CSIRO Health and Biosecurity. He is now a CSIRO Honorary Fellow.

Dr Fitt has also held leadership positions within the wider research community, including as the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Cotton Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), a Board Director of the Cotton Catchment Communities CRC and Chair of the Science Advisory Body of the OECD Cooperative Research Program. Dr Fitt holds a Bachelor of Science and PhD from the University of Sydney, and has served as an Adjunct Professor at both his alma mater and the University of New England.

Appointed: 01/10/2020 until 30/09/2023.


Dr Danielle Kennedy - Non-Executive Director. ​BSc Hons Chem, PhD, MAICD.

Dr. Danielle KennedyDr Kennedy is a scientist and entrepreneur with extensive experience in the R&D sector specialising in data analysis, advanced materials, chemistry and robotics.

Dr Kennedy holds BSc Hons and PhD degrees from the University of New South Wales and spent 12 years in R&D at CSIRO working across chemical, health, energy and agricultural applications including in cotton processing. Dr Kennedy also has qualifications in portfolio management and change management which she applies in her role as managing partner for Digital Agency DDSN Interactive where she works with companies large and small, not for profits and government agencies to craft and implement digital transformation with web facing systems at the heart.  

Dr Kennedy was previously the director of the CSIRO AIM future science platform which sought transformational research advances by bringing scientists together in the fields of materials, processing, robotics & data to address some of the nation's largest challenges. In 2017 for this work Dr Kennedy was awarded the WALA Emerging Leader in the Public Sector and was finalist WALA Influencer of the Year. She has previously held positions as a member of the CSIRO Manufacturing Business Unit leadership team, chair of the IOT Alliance Australia Manufacturing workgroup, Vice-President of the Catalysis Society of Australia & a member of the working group for the Decadal plan for Women in STEM delivered in 2019.

Appointed: 01/10/2020 until 30/09/2023.

Ms Peta Slack-Smith - Non-Executive Director. ​BAppSc, GAICD.

Peta Slack-SmithMs Slack-Smith has operated at the executive level of global businesses for over a decade. She has worked in numerous agricultural industries – cotton, grains, dairy, wool and livestock - and has extensive experience working with government and the rural research and development corporation (RDC) model.

Ms Slack-Smith has advised CEOs, boards, ministers, companies and industries through threats to reputation, new operating environments, and changes to consumer and stakeholder expectations. She has managed sensitive issues including the environment, pesticide use, GMOs, food safety, Wheat for Weapons Royal Commission, and PeTA’s animal welfare campaign. For over a decade, she worked closely with textile manufacturers, international fashion and apparel businesses, providing guidance on traceability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) issues.

Ms Slack-Smith has worked in not for profits, ASX listed corporates, industry associations, state and federal government departments, and as chief of staff to a federal minister. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Wool & Pastoral Science), a Post Grad Cert in Rural Science (Cotton Production) and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Mt Eliza Business School, and Harvard Business School. She is the recipient of two prestigious awards including a Churchill Fellowship and the Fairfax Fellowship in Ethical Leadership.

Appointed: 01/10/2020 until 30/09/2023.