Meet the Board
Sarah Lang (Chair) – Busselton
Sarah has over 14 years’ experience in Banking and Finance. She has extensive experience in cash flow management, financial analytics, risk management and financial modelling. Sarah currently leads a team of 16 regional commercial and agribusiness Relationship Managers for ANZ in WA South to deliver holistic banking solutions and insights to Customers. Sarah manages a portfolio of $750M in funds under management for Customers in a variety of industries with turnover $1M to $100M.
Sarah was selected to participate in the inaugural Accelerating Banking Experience for Women program. Five Women were selected across ANZ to participate in the program which aims to develop future Senior Leaders by broadening their skills and provide leadership and accelerated learning opportunities across difference divisions within ANZ.
Sarah has exceptional written and verbal communication skills and has been quoted in local South West newspapers on economic drivers for South West WA and has also contributed opinion editorials. Sarah is passionate about growing rural and regional communities and understands the importance of driving economic prosperity in regional towns having grown up on a beef and sheep farm in regional Victoria.
Sarah is actively involved in the local community and has been the President of the Busselton Triathlon Club for the past 2 years. Sarah is passionate about raising money for charity having participated in the Smiling for Smiddy charity bike ride from Adelaide to Uluru in June 2016. Sarah cycled 1,600kms over 9 days and personally raised over $4,500 for cancer research. Sarah also participated in the Noosa Triathlon in 2018 raising a further $1,500.
Sarah was instrumental in developing ‘Introduction to Financial Markets for Rural Women’ program in WA which aims to increase the financial knowledge of rural women to enable them to make better business decisions. She was featured in a previous issue of RRR Network news.
Yola Bakker (Deputy Chair) – Tom Price
From the performing arts to real estate, the consular corps to environmental impact, Yola is now based in Western Australia working in social services, arts advocacy and leadership development.
Pursuing her calling as a professional artist at the Jakarta Institute of Arts cemented her commitment to the creative process and more importantly her resilience against conformity and conventional thinking / methodologies. She now challenges mindset and process in remote mining towns of WA.
Yola is an influential leader within the organisations and communities that she works and as the first ever recipient of the Alumni Scholarship of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation’s flagship program, her natural style and authentic passion is attractive to those around her.
Of Makassan and Moluccan ethnicity Yola’s cultural heritage shaped the definitive set of values be which she works and plays, underpinning her astute business drive, and personal practice framework.
Yola has a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Business Management. She has been named Runner-Up Investor of the Year, Semi-Finalist of the Horizon Power Leadership & Innovation Award and ARLP First Alumni Scholarship Recipient.
Yola lives in Tom Price with her husband Joseph Bakker and three daughters.
Alys McKeough (Treasurer) – Carnarvon
Alys lives on and runs a beef cattle business with her husband Harry and three children (8, 9 and 12) at Carey Downs Station in the Gascoyne. Alys grew up in Melbourne and after travelling rural Australia –Nurse meets a Farmer – she has been here for 9 years and cannot imagine being anywhere else. Having had a city upbringing Alys believes the opportunities for rural women abound. She is a Registered Nurse and still practises, she also has a background in business and management.
Alys is currently a Gascoyne Development Commission Board member, Shire Councillor with the Upper Gascoyne, Secretary of the Upper Gascoyne Land Conservation District Committee, Past Vice President and current committee member of the Australian Local Government Women’s Association and hold various committee positions within our local community and region.
Having attended the RRR Entrepreneurs Program and “Stronger” Conference in the past year and seeing the amazing ideas and energy of rural people she would like to be able to share this. As a board member Alys brings past experience, she is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and most of all has a love for regional Australia and the people who live here.
Cath Lyons (Secretary) – Perth
Cath Lyons manages the Strategy Branch in the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.Most recently, she was the Director of Strategy and Governance in the previous Department of Agriculture and Food.
Her career encompasses 30 years of professional experience in roles within government, not-for profit organisations, the mining industry and universities. These roles have involved designing strategies, plans and strategic policy, delivering cultural and organisational change, developing and implementing state legislation, running natural resource management organisations, developing programs and projects, and holding research and teaching roles.
Cath has worked in the Peel-Harvey, and the Avon catchment in the wheatbelt in the not-for-profit sector, liaising between the community, local, state and federal governments.Cath went to university in Townsville, and spent 12 years as a scientist in the fields of botany and marine biology, doing her PhD research in Mount Isa.
She grew up in WA and had family farming ties to Dowerin. Cath is a volunteer with the National Share the Dignity charity, making a real on-the-ground difference to homeless women, teenage girls and victims of domestic violence. Cath joined the RRR Board in 2018 in the role of Secretary, and has focused on both the planning for a strong, connected and influential network of rural, regional and remote women and secondly, the pathway to how we’re going to get there and sustain the network into the future.
Elizabeth Brennan- Wongan Hills
Elizabeth has facilitated numerous community and agricultural development programs and fresh produce marketing strategies in her home WA Wheatbelt region, across Australia and Papua New Guinea. She currently coordinates a multidisciplinary agricultural research program in PNG for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. Elizabeth has also led the marketing strategy for one of WA’s largest citrus operations, Moora Citrus, as well as other international brands including Bravo Apples™, Family Tree Farms and Fruitico.
Elizabeth is ministerially appointed to the Industry Funding Scheme Appointments Committee and as Commissioner for the Agricultural Produce Commission. She is currently Board Director for RRR Women’s Network of WA, mentor for the Australia Awards DFAT Women’s Leadership Initiative and volunteers on many agricultural advisory groups and committees. She was a Board Director with Australian Women in Agriculture for five years, being elected as Vice President, President and Company Secretary during her tenure.
Elizabeth is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Fellow with the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation. In 2014, Elizabeth was awarded Most Outstanding Emerging Leader at the inaugural Women in Australian Agribusiness 100 and in 2016 was awarded WA Young Achiever of the Year.
Fleur Thompson – Geraldton
Fleur is a Purpose Coach based in Geraldton, Western Australia.
She grew up on a mixed enterprise property in the northern wheatbelt, right on the edge of pastoral country, and experienced the challenges of drought, family dynamics and isolation first hand on her family farm, along with the joys of farm-life, freedom and the bush.
After studying science at University and roles with the Department of Agriculture in WA she returned to the family farm. She ran a successful, national award winning, nature-based farm tourism business for six years before becoming a Rural Financial Counsellor in 2008 (following two back to back extremely dry seasons in WA) and worked with farmers and pastoralists in financial stress. Fleur experienced the resilience of rural people and the heartbreak of loss in this job and created her own life coaching business in 2010 specialising in purpose as a pathway to facilitate change.
Fleur has a Bachelor of Applied Science from JCU in North Queensland, is a qualified NLP Practitioner, and has a Diploma of Coaching and a Diploma of Community Services (Financial Counselling).
Fleur specialises with regional, rural and remote people (in particular women on farms and stations and living in rural communities) and finding ways to combat isolation, anxiety and overwhelm by enabling them to turn their energy into a powerful force for good in the world. She believes that women in rural communities who are connected, know how to nurture and care for themselves, and have solid foundations that allow them to move beyond survival mode, are the first to notice when anyone in their community is not okay. And when they have purpose and connection to others, can and will do great things – including having solid relationships and teamwork with their men, and everyone in their communities.
Fleur runs her own business (Fleur Porter- Purpose Coach), is married to her favourite Agronomist and is mother and stepmother to six children.
Georgina Ferreira – Broadwater
Georgina is a coordinator of communications and community engagement in the South West. Born and raised in Carbunup, she returned home in 2017 after a decade working in marketing, recruitment, community outreach and youth leadership programs. Her previous experience includes coordinating the John Curtin Leadership Academy and Sir Charles Court Young Leaders Programs’ – working with outstanding young West Australians from across the State. She also has experience organising youth engagement programs in remote and Indigenous communities in the Eastern Goldfields and as the Media Coordinator for Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School.
She currently works as the Future Students Coordinator at Edith Cowan Universities South West campus. Through engaging with the RRR Network she hopes to share her knowledge of marketing and communications to share stories and advocate for women in regional West Australians communities.
Marilyn Rulyancich – Busselton
Currently starting a new venture to deliver strata training across Western Australia focussing on regional delivery, Stratatac will be run concurrently with Marilyn’s Flame Consulting Services.
Marilyn is an advocate for creating opportunities for women in the regions and remote areas as well as in rural locations.
Marilyn has extensive experience and a background in the fields of economic development, project management, grant writing, event management, tourism and hospitality and has conducted events for the Member for Forrest and the City of Swan in Parliament House in Canberra.
Marilyn will draw on her experience and network developed during her engagements with Regional Development Australia MWG, Austrade in Melbourne, the Australian Institute of Export, the Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the International Business Council, and governments on all levels.
Having worked in economic development in both Victoria and Western Australia, Marilyn also delivered the SBDC Business Local service in the Gascoyne and Warren Blackwood regions for the past 3 years.
Marilyn was a Founding Board Member of both Undalup and RETA-Regional and has served on boards and committees with the Gascoyne Heritage Group, Gascoyne Aboriginal and Heritage Cultural Centre, Gascoyne Arts Council and currently consults governance practices to several not-for-profits.
Marilyn is passionate about recognising small business in the regions and started the Gascoyne Regional Business Awards, an event she has run for the last three years. She has owned and operated seven restaurants and catering facilities located in the metropolitan and regional Western Australia and in Melbourne. Marilyn also ran a family landscaping and construction business for ten years and is experienced at running a business from home.