Outstanding local leaders named winners in Central QLD Australian Leadership Excellence Awards



Celebrated local leaders have been named winners in the Central Queensland regional Australian Leadership Excellence Awards (ALEAs) in a gala dinner event on Friday night held at the Ocean International Hotel in Mackay. Amongst those with their achievements celebrated were Rob Porter, General Manager at Mackay Airport, and Victoria Gracie, Regional Director at Opteon Central Queensland.


The prestigious national awards series presented by the Institute of Managers and Leaders, has been celebrating outstanding leadership for 28 years, with ALEAs winners being championed by leadership professionals Australia-wide.


This year, 22 local leaders were shortlisted as finalists across several categories including Leader/Manager, Owner/Entrepreneur, Not for Profit, Community Leader, Emerging Leader and Student leader, reflecting the diverse professional backgrounds of Central Queensland’ leadership, from the public sector, to small business, to charity organisations. The six winners of the Central Queensland ALEAs announced in Friday night’s ceremony include:


  • Rob Porter, General Manager at Mackay Airport | Leader/Manager category
  • Amanda Webber, Ma’s Pizza Kitchen | Owner/Entrepreneur category
  • Nicolette Ffrost MIML, Senior Program Manager at George Street Neighbourhood Centre Association | Not for Profit category
  • Maree Franettovich MIML, Volunteer Director at Sarina Community Bank | Community Leader category
  • Victoria Gracie, Regional Director at Opteon Central Queensland | Emerging Leader category
  • Courtney Maynard, Nursing Student at Central Queensland University | Student Leader category


“The consistently high calibre of finalists and winners in regional Queensland shows that great leadership isn’t only found in places like Silicon Valley or New York, and isn’t limited to the capital cities like Sydney or Brisbane,” said David Pich, Chief Executive of the Institute of Managers and Leaders.


“Great leadership is as prevalent in regional Queensland through community leaders and local business owners, as in large multi-national corporations. Mackay’s outstanding leaders are an inspiration to everyday Australians and we are honoured to be celebrating their accomplishments”.


Rob Porter, winner of the Leader/Manager award for his outstanding leadership as General Manager of Mackay Airport, one of the largest airports in Queensland with 1 million travellers passing through every year, said, “I am so proud to win this award this evening, and more proud to be able to represent Mackay down in Brisbane [State Finals] in a couple weeks’ time. To be able to go down and put Mackay on the stage is going to be really rewarding for me and rewarding for this community. I’m really looking forward to it, I’m excited to have the opportunity.”


Winner of the Not For Profit award for her leadership excellence at George Street Neighbourhood Centre Association, Nicolette Ffrost said, “It’s a humbling experience. I’ve learnt so much about myself and had the opportunity to self-reflect. I’m proud of the organisation I work for and I can’t wait for the next chapter.”


The regional winners were judged and awarded from a shortlisted group of 22 exceptional local leaders including:


  • Therese Hegerty FIML, Chief Financial Officer at TEAM Group | Leader/Manager category
  • Nicole Higgins, General Practitioner at Health on Central | Owner/Entrepreneur category
  • Collett Mathieson, Director at Defined Business Matters | Owner/Entrepreneur category
  • Nick Bennett FIML, Director of Minds Aligned | Owner/Entrepreneur category
  • Rex Kinder FIML, Consultant at Gopa Worldwide Consulting | Owner/Entrepreneur category
  • Thomas Block FIML, Chief Executive Officer at MADEC | Not for Profit category
  • Chrissy Evangelou, Leader at LRC Running Club | Community Leader category
  • Linda Danvers, Volunteer at Mackay Tourism | Community Leader category
  • Frank Cowell, Leader at The Shed Program | Community Leader category
  • Viven Hanrahan, Volunteer at GSNC under Good Beginnings | Community Leader category
  • Josh Drinkwater MIML, Financial Management at Ergon Energy | Emerging Leader category
  • Dave Le Page, Project Manager at Mastermyne | Emerging Leader category
  • Daniel Werthenbach, Customer Service Manager at Ergon Energy | Emerging Leader category
  • Stephanie Taylor, Nursing Student at Central Queensland University | Student Leader category
  • Megan Brunker, Student Ambassador at Central Queensland University | Student Leader category
  • Erin Daly, Student Mentor at Central Queensland University | Student Leader category


Winners from Friday’s ceremony will become finalists in the Queensland State ALEAs held in September at Brisbane City Hall.


For more information about the Australian Leadership Excellence Awards, please visit https://managersandleaders.co.nz/leadership-excellence-awards/


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Contacts of finalists and David Pich are available for interviews upon request.


Notes to the Editor:

The Australian Leadership Excellence Awards, formerly known as the AIM Leadership Excellence Awards, was renamed following the rebrand of the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) to the Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML) in July 2017.


For media enquiries, contact

Tamara Wright, Signature Events Manager

0439 956 104 | tamara.wright@managersandleaders.com.au