Our People

Fiona Chambers

Fiona Chambers

CEO

Fiona has 30 years business experience in the production and marketing of agricultural and horticultural commodities both in Australia and overseas.

Before taking up the position of CEO with the Wheen Bee Foundation, Fiona lectured in business management and marketing at Marcus Oldham College in Geelong, Victoria.

As convenor of the Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program and the Apple and Pear Australia Ltd (APAL) Emerging Leaders’ Program, Fiona developed extensive networks across a range of rural industries throughout Australia.

Fiona is passionate about conserving rare and endangered breeds of farm livestock. In addition to breeding Wessex Saddleback pigs and Shropshire sheep, Fiona was instrumental in establishing a rare breed meat marketing scheme for the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia, of which she was a founding director.

She has delivered papers at numerous national and international conferences. In 2004, Fiona became a director of the international NGO, Rare Breeds International, and remains actively involved in advocating for the global conservation of farm livestock breeds for food security.

Key strengths and experience brought to the Foundation by Fiona:

  • Extensive business and leadership experience and expertise
  • Broad industry networks across a range of pollination-dependent industries
  • National and international understanding of sustainability and food security
Max Whitten

Max Whitten

Chair

Max Whitten (BA, BSc, PhD, FAA, AM) is an Adjunct Professor, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland. He was formerly Chief of CSIRO Entomology and Professor of Genetics at the University of Melbourne. Max was the first Chairman of the Honeybee Research and Development Council. His research interests centred around genetic means of controlling insect pests and the ecological genetics of pesticide resistance. His wider interests have been in public good research, sustainable agriculture and biodiversity.

Max has served as Visitor for a number of Cooperative Research Centres and chaired the Advisory Board for the Special Research Centre on Environmental Stress and Adaptation at the University of Melbourne. Max was a member of the Research Committee for the Slade Foundation. Since retiring from CSIRO in 1996, Max has worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, helping governments and farmers in Asia reduce their dependency on pesticides. He is also helping Australian beekeepers and pollination-dependent industries restructure to cope with new pests and diseases.

Key strengths and experience brought to the Foundation by Max:

  • Extensive experience in biological research and research management
  • Experience in scrutinising and grading research proposals
  • A network of connections internal and external to the industry
Linton Briggs

Linton Briggs

John Linton Briggs (AM) has always resided in the Glenrowan district of North Eastern Victoria where he has been engaged in the business of primary production, including commercial beekeeping. Linton’s practical beekeeping experience began when still a child, and before he left school at 15 years of age in 1945.

For much of his working life Linton was a commercial honey producer, migrating his apiaries each year to districts principally within North Eastern Victoria and the Riverina of southern New South Wales, working both native and introduced flora.

Throughout his career Linton has been particularly interested in the biology of Eucalypt species, including the search for new species, and the systematic genetic improvement of honey bees.

Linton has always participated in the management of various representative organisations of the beekeeping industry, at regional, state and national level. He served the national peak industry representative body, the Federal Council of Australian Apiarists’ Associations Inc. (FCAAA), in various capacities between 1976 and 1998, including holding the offices of national president, secretary and treasurer.

Linton also served the peak body in the capacity of secretary for the International Honey Exporters’ Organisation, and the Australian Honey Bureau. From 1987 to 1997, he was CEO of the FCAAA when the current peak body, the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) was established. Linton became the inaugural CEO of AHBIC overseeing the transition from FCAAA to the new arrangements.

Maintaining his interest in regional and state affairs, Linton continued to serve the Victorian Apiarists’ Association Inc. (VAA) as an executive councillor until his retirement from that position in 2009, after 42 years service. He maintains the position of VAA Inc. Resources Committee secretary, championing the case for the access of managed honey bees to conserved forests in the state of Victoria.

Linton has authored or co-authored many papers and articles on behalf of the constituents he has represented.

In 1990, Linton was invested as a member of the Order of Australia, in recognition of services to apiculture.

Key strengths and experience brought to the Foundation by Linton:

  • An exceptional depth of knowledge of all aspects of apiculture in Australia
  • Deep connections to many experienced beekeepers
  • A tireless commitment to helping the industry
Jodie Goldsworthy

Jodie Goldsworthy

Jodie Goldsworthy (BAppSci, Grad Dip Strat Mkting) is a fourth generation apiarist and Director of Beechworth Honey, one of Australia’s largest independently owned specialist honey businesses.

Her interests are the environment, regional business development, and Australian agriculture and food production. She is determined to increase public awareness about the importance of bees and is a keen advocate for research into the threats to nature’s most efficient pollinators.

Jodie is an executive member of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC), is the current President of the Honey Packers & Marketers Association of Australia and on the Board of Directors of the Australian Food & Grocery Council. In 2015 Jodie was elected President of the Oceania Regional Commission of Apimondia – an international organisation that represents beekeepers and the honey industry – and is part of an Apimondia working group created to intensify the fight against fake honey.

Past appointments include serving as a member of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Regional Women’s Advisory Council, as a board member of North East Victoria Tourism, and on the Australian Government’s Food Processing Industry Strategy Group.

Jodie adores honey and its versatility in food. Her successful 2009 publication Cooking, Tasting, Living Honey is a snapshot into her life living, breathing, eating and sleeping honey.

Key strengths and experience brought to the Foundation by Jodie:

  • Far-reaching knowledge of the commercial honey industry in Australia
  • Proven expertise in marketing to promote Australian honey
  • Solid business expertise
Robert Costa

Robert Costa

Robert Costa is a co-founder of Costa Group, Australia’s largest grower, marketer and exporter of fresh fruit and vegetables.

His knowledge of the commercial aspects of the horticultural industry and strong business acumen played a significant role in building the Costa business into the success that it is today.

Throughout the development years of the Costa Group, Robert managed the company’s asset base and balance sheet, including working capital, liquidity and cash flow.

This experience formed a strong knowledge base for his current position as Chairman of Costa Asset Management, a privately owned investment company that focuses on developing, managing and sustaining capital across a portfolio of agriculture, private equity and property assets.

Key strengths and experience brought to the Foundation by Robert:

  • Exceptional financial and business sense
  • A thorough knowledge of Australia’s horticultural industry
  • Well connected in both the agricultural sector and commercial world
Sam Malfroy

Sam Malfroy

Sam Malfroy comes from a well-known beekeeping family from the Central Tablelands and Blue Mountains of NSW and is passionate about honey bee biology and optimising pollination of agricultural and horticultural crops.

Between 2011– 2016 Sam worked at Plant Health Australia and managed many of the honey bee and pollination programs. This included the establishment of the BeeAware website, the honey bee biosecurity Code of Practice and National Bee Biosecurity Program, and the Varroa Continuity Strategy. Sam also managed the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program and led the development of many educational resources, such as the Honey Bee Biosecurity Manual. For this work, Sam was given the AHBIC Award of Excellence in 2016 for service to the honey bee industry.

Sam has also led honey bee surveillance efforts on behalf of the Australian Government in Norfolk Island (2014), and participated as a beekeeping specialist for a SE Asia aid program that focused on improving beekeeping management practices and the development of university syllabus (2013 – 2015).

From 2016, Sam has been working at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in trade and market access. He has a degree in Horticultural Science (Honours) from Sydney University where he specialised in plant pathology.

Key strengths and experience brought to the Foundation by Sam:

  • Well-established connections with the honey bee industry and pollinator-reliant plant industries
  • A thorough knowledge of honey bee biology and beekeeping practices
  • Understanding of the research sector and government agencies
Des Cannon

Des Cannon

Des started beekeeping while a Science teacher in Canberra, and after completing a TAFE beekeeping course in 1979 started teaching beekeeping to Horticulture students. In 1984 his hobby became a full-time career and he worked as a commercial beekeeper for 25 years.

His Science background played a role with him being on the RIRDC Honeybee R&D Advisory Committee for 11 years, the last 5 as chair. His passion for education continued, working part-time for 10 years with the NSWDPI, teaching ‘Beginning in Bees’ and ‘Beekeeping as a Business’. In 2007 he became the Editor of Australia’s leading beekeeping journal, The Australasian Beekeeper, a role he still fulfils today.