Peter Cullen Trust announces Chairperson designate

The Board of the Peter Cullen Trust is seeking a highly motivated, collaborative, and entrepreneurial executive to lead the organisation through its next stage of development.

The Board of the Peter Cullen Trust today announced the appointment of Professor Emerita Cynthia Mitchell as Chairperson designate, with her formal commencement scheduled for February 2024.

Outgoing Chair of the Trust, the Hon Karlene Maywald, will step down from the role of Chairperson at the conclusion of the Trust’s February Board meeting, after over four years leading the Board.

Announcing the move, Ms Maywald said, “My time with the Peter Cullen Trust has been rich and rewarding, and I am immensely proud of the work that we have achieved over the past four years, much of it through the testing Covid period.  The resilience of this organization, its staff, Fellows and Board has highlighted for me just how necessary the Trust and its programs are in fostering courageous leadership, which I think we have also embodied.  We are fast approaching a Fellows cohort of 300 and I sense that their time as change-makers and champions in the water industry – and beyond – has come.  What better time to inject the Trust with the new perspectives and opportunities that my successor will surely bring.”

Ms Maywald went on to commend her successor, saying, “Cynthia Mitchell is respected globally as a leading advisor and thinker around how we transform ourselves, our systems, and our institutions towards regenerative futures, especially in the water sector.  A force of nature, Cynthia casts a light wherever she goes, and elevates conversations from the mundane to the profound.  In 2015 she was honoured as one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence; and in 2018, was recognized by the industry as a Legend of Water. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, a Fellow of Engineers Australia, and a Fellow of the Institute of Community Directors. She is proud to serve on the national Community Directors Council, providing governance oversight to the not-for-profit sector.”

In taking up this appointment, Professor Cynthia Mitchell said “Karlene Maywald has been an exceptional Chair – she has been deeply engaged and deftly steered the Trust through the pandemic and beyond – without doubt the most challenging period in the Trust’s history. Under her guidance, the Trust distilled its raison d’être to this powerful statement of purpose: ‘To foster courageous leadership to tackle big challenges in water and environment.’ Perhaps her most important legacy is the transformation Karlene delivered in Board membership, with it now comprised entirely of outstanding PCT Fellows with an independent Chair.”

“It is a privilege, an honour, and just a little daunting to follow Karlene’s inspiring example in this role, and indeed to follow Peter’s legendary example. I believe the Trust is poised, rather like a coiled spring, about to burst forth into its next life-stage, and I can’t wait to engage with our amazing Board, our marvelous new CEO, our extraordinary staff, and all our inspiring Fellows and Friends to co-create this new era. Speaking truth to power in Peter Cullen’s inimitable style was never more needed than it is now.”

In announcing this significant appointment, at its Annual General Meeting on Friday, the Trust also affirmed the appointments of Directors Chris Arnott, Susie Williams, Professor Katherine Daniell, Dr Andrew O’Neill and Dr Lisa Ehrenfried – all Fellows of the Trust.

The Peter Cullen Trust is a not-for-profit organisation that works to bridge the gap between science and policy in the water sector.  Our purpose is to foster courageous leadership to tackle big challenges in water and environment.

For further enquiries, please contact Darryl Day, CEO, on 0401118190 or

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