Meet LGAQ's next-gen managers

Published: 5th March 2021

The LGAQ started 2021 with some new faces including a new Head of Advocacy and the addition of the association’s first Chief Digital Officer.

Our new Head of Advocacy—and our first ASX Top 100 C-suiter—is Alison Smith, who joins Queensland’s peak body for local government after a successful five years at The Star Entertainment Group, most recently as Group Executive Corporate Affairs. 

Her CV also includes stints at Rio Tinto, Queensland State Government, and ABC News. Managing Director at The Star, Matt Bekier, hailed Alison’s corporate affairs, community consultation, and government engagement and relations expertise, saying she helped The Star Entertainment Group to “build strong and positive relationships with the Queensland and Federal governments and opposition parties.

LGAQ's Head of Advocacy Alison Smith

LGAQ's Head of Advocacy Alison Smith

This has grown awareness of The Star with political decision-makers and strengthened our voice in the tourism sector”.

During last year’s COVID-19 shutdown, Alison led The Star’s liaison with the Federal Government on policy initiatives to support the business and the broader tourism industry. She partnered with the company’s operational, legal and workplace health and safety teams to develop the site-specific plans and checklists they needed to reopen their doors and continued to guide as restrictions changed post-reopening.  

“I am excited to be joining LGAQ at such a critical time,” she said.

“Before my arrival, the LGAQ team had already put in place some great initiatives such as the Battleplan for Queensland Local Communities, the Drought Action Plan and the Rural and Remote Councils Compact. For me to be starting so soon after the October 2020 State Election, I will be prioritising our relationships with a new State Cabinet and our partnership agreement with the State Government. The LGAQ team had recently extracted some great funding commitments from both State and Federal governments, so now it’s time to grow these partnerships and ensure direct funding to councils is rolled out swiftly to achieve rapid stimulus to local communities and their economies.

“Following the COVID-19 pandemic, we are entering a new era of local council-led recovery. This will only see community needs continue to increase. I am passionate about advocacy and service delivery, and I am looking forward to how I can help LGAQ keep driving enhanced policy and funding outcomes to enable Queensland councils to thrive and deliver for their communities.

“For more than 20 years, my career has required me to work closely with many of  LGAQ’s stakeholders, including mayors, councillors, federal and state ministers, members of Parliament, CEOs, and senior bureaucrats. Having left a national role to join the LGAQ, I can’t wait to be focusing entirely on our great state and its people, and hearing from members about what more we can do to help.”

Manager of Infrastructure, Economics 
and Regional Development, Lau Chean

Manager of Infrastructure, Economics and Regional Development, Lau Chean

The advocacy team has been further bolstered with the recent recruitment of Lau Chean as Manager of Infrastructure, Economics and Regional Development, Amanda Dryden as Manager of Planning, Development and Environment, and the appointment of former Brisbane City Councillor and NQROC Executive Officer Shayne Sutton to the key Manager of Intergovernmental Relations and Special Projects role.

Manager of Planning, Development and Environment, Amanda Dryden

Manager of Planning, Development and Environment, Amanda Dryden

LGAQ’s new Chief Digital Officer, Tracy Whitelaw, labels herself a proud ‘Scozzie’, who arrived from Scotland in 2007 and now calls Australia home. Tracy is a digital specialist and thought-leader with over 20 years’ experience in creating customer-centric digital strategies and building high-performing, award-winning teams.  She has led digital transformation and digital marketing for a wide range of organisations, successfully combining strategy and delivery across the wider digital ecosystem. 

“I’m excited about the opportunities at LGAQ to drive lasting digital transformation not only for the organisation, but for our members and their communities,” Ms Whitelaw said.

“Local councils play a significant role in what our experiences are as Queenslanders. By embracing digital technology, we have the opportunity to better connect with our communities and provide truly next-generation services.”

Tracy has led digital and social media for some of the largest events in Australia over the last decade. She was part of the digital and innovation team at Brisbane City Council between 2010-2015 and led the social media response during the Brisbane floods of 2011 and 2013. In 2015, Tracy went on to head up digital for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, spending three years building the strategies and team to deliver digital services for over 1.2 million ticket holders and over 1.5 billion viewers around the world.  Tracy advocates for data-driven decisions to improve both the customer experience and employee experience. She is a strong, calm, leader and mentor whose relaxed approach drives cultural change and generates strong results. Her focus as our inaugural Chief Digital Officer will be on driving transformation across the organisation and for our member councils and their communities. 

LGAQ’s new Chief Digital Officer, Tracy Whitelaw

LGAQ’s new Chief Digital Officer, Tracy Whitelaw

In the rare moments she is not online, Tracy loves nothing more than spending time with her wife and family and living up to her deep-rooted geekiness by indulging her love of gaming and gadgets.  She also admits to a borderline unhealthy obsession with Converse sneakers, and she’s definitely a Mac, not PC person.