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USQ and Toowoomba Chamber – Building Capacity through Engagement

USQ and the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce will continue to build regional capacity with the University’s appointment of a key stakeholder engagement executive.

In August Jo Sheppard, CEO of the Toowoomba Chamber, will take up the newly created role of Director (Stakeholder Engagement) at USQ.

Ms Sheppard will join the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce Board as the USQ representative, continuing to work closely with Chamber members and the local business community.

USQ Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geraldine Mackenzie, said Ms Sheppard would bring a wealth of knowledge to the University having worked across a number of industries from agriculture, small business and local government to education, communications and the not-for-profit sector.

“This is a win-win for both organisations and a real benefit to the region. Jo has a proven track record of understanding regional and remote communities and will strengthen USQ’s engagement with regional constituencies in southern Queensland,” Professor Mackenzie said.

“We are delighted that Jo will be joining a professional team of engagement specialists that will do much to leverage the role and value of the University in the broader community, economy and region."

Ms Sheppard said she had thoroughly enjoyed her time as CEO with the Toowoomba Chamber but was equally looking forward to taking up the new role pleased that she would continue to have the opportunity to work closely with business and industry, both locally and across the broader region.

“The establishment of the Engagement portfolio shows the University’s long term commitment to building strategic alliances with business and industry, to establish a mutually beneficial impactful and outcome orientated environment. I’m looking forward to being able to use my knowledge of business and industry to make a difference and contribute to this objective,” she said.

President of Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce, Joy Mingay, said Debbie-Anne Bender, previous CEO of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, would be stepping into the Toowoomba Chamber CEO role in August.

“Jo has done a fantastic job during her time with us and while we are sad to see her go, it’s extremely pleasing to know she will be joining the Toowoomba Chamber board and continue to work with us to strengthen our local business community,” she said.

“USQ is a long-standing and important Foundation Partner for the Toowoomba Chamber and we look forward to leveraging the many opportunities having a regional university here in our city provides for our business community.

“Toowoomba Chamber has been going from strength to strength over the past few years and it is with great excitement that we welcome Debbie as the incoming CEO. She comes to us with a wealth of business experience, including most recently as the CEO of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce, so without a doubt there will be exciting times ahead.

“Debbie is well versed with the operations and purpose of Chamber, an experienced advocate for business with strong state and federal connections and a passionate supporter of small business.”

Debbie-Anne Bender will be relocating to Toowoomba in late July to take up the role of CEO with Toowoomba Chamber.

“It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to work alongside the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce Management Committee in supporting the growth and prosperity of the Toowoomba Business Community,” she said.

“I feel honoured to be the new CEO of the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce and will strive to continue the excellence that has come to be expected from its members and the Toowoomba business community as a whole.”

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Toowoomba Chamber CEO Jo Sheppard will take up the newly created role of USQ Director (Stakeholder Engagement).