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Meet the Open State ambassadors


Open State curators are bringing their ideas, energy and world class expertise to Open State.

They are making sure Open State reaches new audiences, sparks collaborations and brings fresh ideas into action.

1 David Paterson

Professor David Paterson

Professor David Paterson is a specialist in strategic innovation, with extensive international industry experience spanning the business, government and social spheres. He is Industry Professor and Program Director of Innovation and Enterprise at the University of South Australia.

Previously, David was Chief Innovation Officer of World Vision. In his marketing career he was the Chief Marketing Officer of Medibank Private Ltd and World Vision Australia, and the Chief Strategy Officer of a prominent international advertising agency network.

David also has extensive experience as a strategy and innovation adviser to senior leaders in the public, private and civil society sectors, including the United Nations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Adelaide City Council. He is a co-founder and/or director of several non-profit organisations, including Social Capital and The Bridge Project.

2 Eva

Dr Eva Balan-Vnuk

Eva completed a PhD in innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Adelaide to better understand the business model strategies of non-profit social enterprises in Australia, and is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and the Innovation Centre at the University of Adelaide.

Eva is Deputy Chair of the Australian Information Industry Association, a Director of Novita Children’s Services, a Trustee for the History Trust of SA, and member of SA Government’s Chiefs for Gender Equity. Eva is passionate about building the innovation ecosystem in South Australia through the Microsoft Innovation Centre SA, showcasing STEM educational opportunities, particularly for girls, and developing a strong growth mindset.

3 Fiona Kerr

Dr Fiona Kerr

Dr Fiona Kerr is a prominent thought leader in the fields of social cognitive neuroscience and human connectivity. She is a public speaker and science communicator, speaking on the neuroscience of leadership, collaboration and innovation. Fiona combines a half time academic role with Adelaide University as their Systems and Neural Complexity Specialist, with public speaking and consulting on a range of SCN areas, human/technology interaction and systems complexity.

She holds an advisory role with a number of Australia’s largest companies, working on how leaders can build better brains and create organisations that flourish. She also is consult to governments in Australia and overseas on building creative democracies and innovative ecosystems.

5 Kristin

Dr Kristin Alford

Dr Kristin Alford is a futurist and the Director of MOD. at the University of South Australia. MOD. is a futuristic museum of discovery, a place to be and be inspired. Kristin leads a team dedicated to creating dynamic, changing exhibition showcasing the edge of knowledge and emerging technologies.

Kristin also established Bridge8 in 2004 following careers in engineering, human resources, strategy and product development for companies including BHP Billiton, Ansett-Air New Zealand, the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and Nanotechnology Victoria.

Kristin holds a PhD in process engineering and a Masters of Management in Strategic Foresight. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation. She is the licensee of TEDxAdelaide and a sessional lecturer at the University of Adelaide.

4 Jared

Dr Jared Thomas

Dr Jared Thomas is a Nukunu person of the Southern Flinders Ranges. Previously a communications lecturer at the University of South Australia, Jared continues his association as an Adjunct Lecturer and works as Arts Development Officer, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts, Arts South Australia. He is a writer of theatre and fiction and his internationally performed works explore the power of belonging and culture and environmental issues. In 2015 his title ‘Calypso Summer’ joined the 2015 International Youth Library White Raven List, given to books that deserve worldwide attention because of their universal themes and exceptional artistic and literary style.

6 Leanna

Dr Leanna Read

Dr Leanna Read is South Australia’s fourth Chief Scientist, and first woman to hold the position. She is a renowned biotechnology expert and brings a wealth of executive, board and investment experience in technology-based businesses. As Chief Scientist, Leanna works with South Australian bodies involved in science and research, technology, innovation and economic development. Her role includes providing independent advice to the Premier, the Minister and Cabinet on matters of science and research, technology and innovation. Leanna provides leadership in developing strategies to enhance the contribution of science, technology, research and innovation the State’s development.

Leanna is a trained physiologist with experience in biotechnology and commercialisation, and has published over 90 scientific papers. She is currently the chair of the Cooperative Research Centre for Cell Therapy Manufacturing and member of the SA Economic Development Board.

7 Matt

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan is Director, Public Policy and Strategy at The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI). Matt has worked with leaders in government, NGOs, universities and industry to build environments that enable public policy change to be created and sustained.

Before joining TACSI, Matt was the Deputy Chief of Staff to South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, advising on a wide range of policy areas, including strategic engagement and communication, inter-governmental relations and climate change.

In this role he led work on Reforming Democracy: Deciding, Designing and Delivering Together, a program to reform government policy development and decision-making processes. Matt is passionate about making change for and with the people affected by it.

8 MiriamMiriam Silva

Miriam Silva is the Chairperson of the Premier’s Council for Women. Miriam has more than 20 years’ experience managing large and geographically diverse teams across multiple industries, including pharmaceuticals, banking and agriculture. Miriam’s roles include acting Chief Executive of TAFE SA, and prior to that, she was previously General Manager Commercial Operations at Elders Ltd, where she was responsible for operations on a national level.

Miriam held various roles at ANZ Banking Group Ltd, including Chief Operating Officer for the Pacific, which involved looking after operations across a number of Pacific countries.

In addition, Miriam works as a volunteer for a number of organisations, including Muslim Women’s Association, International Women’s Day Committee, and Rotary International. She is a member of the South Australian Women’s Honour Roll for 2011, and a founding mentor for the Australian Financial Review BOSS Emerging Leaders Program. She is Board Director of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, and a Council Member of the University of South Australia.

9 Nick

Nick Begakis, AO

Nick Begakis, AO, has extensive corporate governance experience in several industry sectors as well as in academia and government boards. He is Chairman Nexus 2016/17 at Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is the Chair of the Adelaide Central Market Board, and the Chairman of Renew Adelaide, a not for profit organisation that has been assisting innovative entrepreneurs develop creative enterprise in vacant spaces since 2010.

Nick co-owns and is non-executive Chairman of Bellis Fruit Bars. He primarily sets the organisation’s strategic direction, particularly identifying and mitigating organisational risks and maximising opportunities. In 2015 he was named by The Advertiser as one of the 50 most influential people in food in South Australia.

Nick was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Flinders University for his charitable and entrepreneurial contributions to society.

10 Paul

Paul Daly

Paul Daly is an Advisor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Adelaide City Council. Paul develops and implements strategy and programs that support the establishment and growth of Adelaide-based businesses. Paul established the Adelaide Smart City Studio as a focal point for innovation in IoT applications and services that support the growth of Adelaide as a smart city. He continues to provide strategic oversight to the Studio.

Paul is the convenor of the Adelaide Entrepreneurship Forum. He works closely with key stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem ensuring that Adelaide remains a great place to start and grow a business. Paul is also the co-founder and Chair of MEGA SA Program Working Group.