Agriculture Association Executive Members

The Agriculture and Environment Executive comprises key volunteers (office holders of the Alumni Association) who assist the Faculty in broadening its alumni outreach and building support for Faculty priorities and projects. They lead the Alumni Awards Program and alumni reunions, provide a key alumni advisory role, and strengthen our agriculture and environment profession through their support of the Faculty.

Members’ profiles appear below:

Michael Whiteley (BScAgr (Hons) '60) – President

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Originally a farmer from Molong, NSW, Whiteley was the National Director of Caritas Australia for almost 20 years with a major involvement in the rehabilitation of Cambodia in the 1980s. Has had significant involvement in re-establishing their Agricultural Extension and Water Management programs. He has been involved, in retirement, in support services for the elderly in southern Sydney. Email: mwhit

Tiffany Patrick (BAgrEc (Hons) '07) – Vice President

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Patrick is the Executive Director of the Securities Division at Goldman Sachs Australia, where she has worked for the last six years. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs Australia, Patrick gained experience in Financial Markets and Agricultural Economics, through various internships with agricultural, financial and government institutions.

A.B. (Tony) Blakeney (BScAgr '70 MScAgr '80)

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Blakeney was an employee of the former NSW Department of Agriculture as a cereal chemist working mainly on rice. With the Yanco Agricultural rice breeding team he participated in the release of 14 rice varieties. With Graeme Battern he developed Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy methods for tissue testing crop nutrient status in Rice, winter cereals, tomatoes and grapes. During the 1960s, Blakeney was a member of the Wheat Research Council, which is one of the four councils that combined to form GRDC. He was awarded the 1994 F.B. Guthrie Medal for meritorious service to the Cereal Industry. He is a Fellow of the American Association of Cereal Chemists International and is a ISI Most highly cited researcher.

Dennis de Kantzow (BScAgr '59 DipAgEcon '72) FAIAS

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De Kantzow has been farming at Mudgee since the 1960s. In the mid-1960s he began one of the first Farm Management Consulting practices and provided regular commentaries for local then national ABC rural programs. In 1967 he began a substantial meat sheep breeding program. From 1970 to 2005, de Kantzow joined the Faculty of Agriculture as Principal Tutor to assist budding Farm Management Consultants, and later became Senior Lecturer in Agronomy and Sub Dean for the Professional Experience component of Faculty degrees. Since the mid-1980’s, he's been a representative for Agriculture on the University of Sydney Alumni Council, and is currently on the Alumni/Student Engagement Committee.

Danica Leys (BScAgr Syd. LLB UNE)

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Leys is an admitted Solicitor and is Senior Industrial Relations Advisor with NSW Farmers, coming from a strong agribusiness background with stints as an agronomist, and as a chemical sales representative. She has spent the last two years working for an employment law firm in Sydney before making the move to NSW Farmers. She is also the winner of the 2012 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award for NSW for her efforts in the use of social media in the agricultural community and specifically on the AgChatOZ twitter forum.

Chris Main (BScAgr '01)

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After working in beef, cotton and grain production, Main moved back to Sydney and worked in the financial industry for several years. In late 2011, Main moved to Armidale NSW with his young family and is currently working with farmers helping to extend regenerative agriculture techniques, as well as working on a family beef operation.

Virginia Shaw (BMgmt (Farm Business) '97)

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Shaw is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and holds an MBA specialising in change management. For over 15 years, she has been involved in the primary industry sector, including farm management through to agri-politics and lobbying. She ran a consultancy specialising in project management and business planning, public relations and event management. Currently Shaw is a senior project director in the Department of Health and Ageing working on ICT infrastructure projects.

Jim Swain (BScAgr '61)

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Swain has worked in the agricultural chemical industry for 42 years with Ciba-Geigy until his retirement as Research and Development Manager for Australia and New Zealand in 1997. He established a consulting company which has been involved with projects for the crop protection industry together with providing technical training both in Australia and overseas. He ceased working actively as a consultant in 2008. Swain is a Life Member of Crop Life Australia and the Weed Society of NSW.

David Thomson (BScAgr '78)

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Thomson currently runs a small seed production company called Frontier Seeds Pty Ltd. producing hybrid canola seed over winter and hybrid sunflower and hybrid sorghum seed over summer. He is very passionate about the place of Agriculture in the 21st Century with the challenges of water, food supply and energy production.

Professor David Guest (BScAgr (Hons) '77, PhD '83)

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David Guest is Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Sydney. He teaches undergraduate courses at all levels and has supervised over 20 PhD and Research Masters students. His research into plant disease resistance mechanisms, managing Phytophthora diseases in tropical horticulture and in Australian ecosystems links him with farmers locally and in Southeast Asia, the Pacific and South America. Guest is a Fellow and Past-President of the Australasian Plant Pathology Society and President of the Asian Association of Societies of Plant Pathology.