Our Board

CRDC has an eight-member Board, consisting of a Chair (appointed by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry), 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 and Risk, Investment, and People.

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

Mr 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.
Reappointed: 29/08/2022 until 28/08/2025.


Mr Bernie George - Deputy Chair. ​BAgEc, MBA, DipNatRs, GAICD.

Mr George is currently the Water Services and Compliance Manager at Australian Food & Fibre. He has extensive experience in large scale irrigated agriculture, land and water asset development and natural resource management.

In 2022 Mr George was recognised for delivering excellence in service to the industry through various high-profile roles for over 30 years including Cotton Australia Board Chairman, and as a member of the National Irrigators Council and NSW Irrigators Council.

Mr George holds a Master of Business Administration, Diploma of Natural Resources and a Bachelor of Agricultural Economics. He is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program

Appointed: 01/10/2023 until 30/09/2026.


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

Mr 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.

Mr Burnett's 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.
Reappointed: 01/10/2023 until 30/09/2026.


Ms Julie Bird - Non-Executive Director. ​BTeach, MBA (Exec), GAICD.

Ms Bird is an experienced Non-Executive Director in the agribusiness sector, with a broad background in the Australian horticulture industry. She is the current Chair of Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited and owner of retail floristry business 'Say It With Flowers'.

Ms Bird's prior roles include Non-Executive Director and Deputy Chair of Plant Health Australia, CEO of the Almond Board of Australia, and Non-Executive Director of United Almonds Limited and the Australian Nut Industry Council. She also served as Independent Chair of the Australian Apple and Pear Industry Advisory Committee and the South Australian Apiary Industry Advisory Group. She previously held a management role with Quality Fruit Marketing and provided agribusiness consultance in strategic planning and risk management.

Ms Bird is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a Bachelor of Teaching degree and a Master of Business Administration (Executive).

Appointed: 01/10/2023 until 30/09/2026.


The Hon Niall Blair - Non-Executive Director. ​BAppSc (Hort), MOHS, GAICD.

The Hon. Niall Blair is an ESG specialist with more than twenty-five years’ experience across government and the private sector, specialising in risk management, food and fibre production systems, circular economy solutions and sustainability.  Mr Blair is an accomplished Chairperson and non-executive director with demonstrated financial accountability and corporate governance experience and a strong background in workplace safety, quality and environmental management systems development and auditing.

Mr Blair currently serves on the boards of Elf Farm Supplies, White Prince Mushrooms, NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust, Circular Australia, Marine BioProducts CRC and DairyUp. Prior to this, Mr Blair represented Charles Sturt University as a Professor of Food Sustainability.

Mr Blair has also served as a senior member of the NSW Parliament for nine years. During his tenure he was appointed NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Water, Forestry, Lands, Trade and Industry and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council.

Mr Blair holds a Masters of Occupational Health and Safety and a Bachelor of Horticultural Science, is an Adjunct Professor at Charles Sturt University and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company of Directors.

Appointed: 01/10/2023 until 30/09/2026.


Ms Michelle Tierney - Non-Executive Director. ​BA (JournComm), MBA, PGDBA, GAICD.

Ms Tierney is an experienced board member and senior executive across ASX and NZX 50 organisations respectively. She is currently a non-executive director of Stride Property Group (SPG.NZ), Growthpoint Properties Australia (GOZ.AX) and Peet Limited (Ppc:ASX).

Ms Tierney has over 20 years of executive experience in the property and funds management industry having held executive, senior funds management and property roles with National Australia Bank and The GPT Group, Lend Lease and most recently Chief Operating Officer for Region Group (formerly SCA Property Group). Ms Tierney was formerly an executive Director of SCA Unlisted Retail Fund RE Limited and served as alternate Director of the Shopping Centre Council of Australia.

Ms Tierney holds a Master of Business Administration, a Postgraduate Diploma of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism & Communication) and is also a Graduate and member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Appointed: 01/10/2023 until 30/09/2026.


Ms Sally Ceeney - Non-Executive Director. ​BSysAg.

Ms Ceeney is an owner/manager of a cotton and mixed farming business at Trangie, NSW. Ms Ceeney is a former Research Direction and Stewardship Policy Manager for Cotton Australia, and a former Stewardship Technical Lead for the Australian cotton industry's extension program, CottonInfo. She holds a Bachelor of Systems (Agricultural) from the University of Western Sydney.

Appointed: 01/10/2023 until 30/09/2026.


Mr Allan Williams - Executive Director. BSc, LLB (Hons), FARLF.

Mr Williams has been involved in the cotton industry for most of his life, having grown up on a cotton farm and worked in various industry roles since 1995. 

Two intersecting themes have dominated Mr Williams's work in cotton: research and sustainability. His former roles include Senior Agronomic Advisor for the global Better Cotton Initiative, Executive Officer for the Australian Cotton Growers Research Association (ACGRA), and Executive Officer for the then Cotton Consultants Australia (now Crop Consultants Australia). During his time with ACGRA, Allan developed the BMP Program – the predecessor to myBMP.

Mr Williams joined CRDC in 2012 as an R&D Manager. He became CRDC's General Manager, Innovation in 2019, and Acting Executive Director in 2023, before being appointed as Executive Director in 2024. Mr Williams is also co-Chair of the Sustainability Working Group, which leads the cotton industry’s PLANET. PEOPLE. PADDOCK Sustainability Framework, and since 2006 has also held the position of Chair of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) Expert Panel on the Social, Economic and Environmental Performance of Cotton.

Mr Williams holds Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Law (Hons) degrees from the University of Sydney, is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program, and has been a finalist in both the Australian Cotton Industry’s Researcher of the Year and Service to Industry Awards.

Appointed: 13/03/2024 by virtue of his appointment as Executive Director of CRDC.

CRDC's Board of Directors: Allan Williams (Executive Director), Sally Ceeney, the Hon. Niall Blair, Michelle Tierney, Richard Haire (Chair), Julie Bird, Bernie George (Deputy Chair) and Ross Burnett.