Our Board

Our Board of Directors oversees our organisation’s policies, management and performance. The Board sets our strategic direction, and ensures we achieve our business and regulatory commitments.

Hunter Water’s Board of Directors has been appointed under the Hunter Water Act 1991. The Board comprises of up to nine members, including the Managing Director (Chief Executive Officer), Chairperson and seven independent Directors.

Darren Cleary

Managing Director

Initial Appointment Date: 29 April 2020

Current Term of Appointment: 29 April 2024 - 27 April 2029

Darren has more than 25 years of experience working for utilities in the water sector, including in infrastructure planning, capital delivery and operations. He leads the Executive Management Team and is responsible for the management and day-to-day operations of Hunter Water.

Darren is a member of the Advisory Board for the Newcastle Institute of Energy & Resources and a previous Director of the Committee for the Hunter.

Prior to being appointed Managing Director, Darren held a number of executive roles at Hunter Water including Chief Investment Officer, Executive Manager of Strategy and Planning, and Chief Operating Officer.

Darren holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Environmental) (Honours) from the University of NSW and a Masters of Engineering Management from the University of Technology Sydney.

Darren Cleary

Michelle Vanzella

Non-executive Director

Initial Appointment Date: 22 February 2018

Current Term of Appointment: 22 February 2021 - 21 February 2024

Michelle has an extensive combination of customer, marketing, digital, data and commercial legal skills built across multiple industries including technology, retail, property and financial services.

Michelle is currently an independent Non-executive Director of Collaborate Corporation (ASX:CL8), holding roles as Chair of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee and member of the Audit & Risk Committee. She is also currently a Non-executive Director at Abbotsleigh School and member of the Strategic Planning Committee.

Michelle practiced Corporate and Commercial Law at Allens and has held senior executive positions with iconic Australian brands including Westfield, Suncorp and AAMI. She was also previously an independent Non-Executive Director of Canteen Australia and Chair of the People and Performance Committee.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Economics, Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Master of Business Administration, and is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Michelle Vanzella

geoff crowe

Non-executive Director

Initial Appointment Date: 31 August 2020

Current Term of Appointment: 31 August 2023 - 30 August 2026

Geoff has experience in the ports, shipping, resources, and logistics sector having held CEO and senior executive roles across these sectors including Port of Newcastle, Port Waratah Coal Services, Coal & Allied and BHP amongst others.

Geoff is a Non-Executive Director of Hunter Water Corporation and Independent member of Sydney Trains Safety & Environmental Sustainability Sub-Committee. He is a past Director of the Hunter Business Chamber, Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator, Ports Australia and the University of Newcastle Advisory Boards.

Geoff is an executive and Director with strong experience and skills gained in commercial, legal, operations, logistics, safety, projects, change management, strategy setting and logistics. He was heavily involved in the coal industry’s development of the logistics framework - the Capacity Framework Arrangement and led the development of the Ports diversification strategy.

Geoff holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Newcastle and is a Fellow of the Certified Practising Accountants Australia, and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Geoff Crowe

eric de rooy

Non-executive Director

Initial Appointment Date: 25 August 2020

Current Term of Appointment: 28 August 2023 - 27 August 2026

Eric is a water industry professional with more than 40 years of experience, predominantly with Sydney Water, ensuring the delivery of essential water- related products and services to more than five million people. He operated as a key member of the Sydney Water executive team, and was directly accountable for the commercial, customer- focused operations and compliance outcomes for the organisation.

Eric has extensive experience and skills in asset management/investment, strategic business planning, business development and risk management.

Eric was previously (2018 -2020) an appointed member of Dam Safety NSW, helping to govern the introduction of the new regulatory approach to dam safety on behalf of the public of NSW. He was also previously (2017-2022) a Non-executive Director for Scripture Union NSW (religious charity), operating as Deputy Chair of the Board, Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee and member of the Risk Working Group.

Eric holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil), a Master of Business Administration and is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Eric de Rooy

Julie Savet Ward

Non-executive Director

Initial Appointment Date: 1 March 2021

Current Term of Appointment: 1 March 2021 - 29 February 2024

Julie has more than 25 years of experience on government, private sector and not-for-profit boards, including significant experience as a chairperson. Julie was a member of the NSW Environment Protection Authority Board for nine years, chair of Link Housing for ten years and chair of SGS Economics and Planning for six years. She is presently an advisory board member of Arcadia Landscape Architecture.

Julie has an environmental planning, assessment, and management background of more than 35 years experience in planning, construction, management, determination and delivery of large-scale infrastructure and property projects. She has significant experience and a deep passion for water infrastructure. Julie was, until December 2022, a State Member of the Sydney North Planning Panel determining regionally significant development applications of $30-100m in value.

Julie holds a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physical Geography with Honours, and a Master of Landscape Planning, both from the University of New South Wales. Julie was a finalist in the 1998 Telstra Business Women’s Awards and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Julie Savet Ward


Non-executive Director

Initial Appointment Date: 21 March 2022

Current Term of Appointment: 21 March 2022 - 20 March 2025

Donna’s extensive experience in board directorships, strategy, business, operations, risk management, governance data, digital technology, and her track record of delivering digital disruption and a transformation projects for major financial services organisations globally enables her to play a key role in business transformation as they continue to digitise their business and create new customer experiences.

In addition to being a member of Hunter Water, Donna is a Non-executive Director of Newcastle Greater Mutual Group, Capricorn Society, MS Plus and Oakhill College.

Donna has used her experience and opportunities to elevate her people and businesses to be connected with the needs and expectations of their customers and staff, and adapt the business to relevant, sustainable and competitive in the fast pace of change.

Donna previously held senior leadership positions at Bank of Queensland as the Chief Digital and Information Officer, IAG where she was Group General Manager, Group Digital and Group CIO, Chief Operations Officer, GenVis (startup) and prior to that, Donna was the Chief Operations and Information Officer at Westpac’s Institutional Bank for four and half years. Donna has also held many global executive management roles at Citigroup over a span of fifteen years, including Regional CIO and Global Head of Technology Risk Management and held other senior management roles at Potter Warburg and was a Director at Country Natwest.

Donna is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and Competent Boards (ESG Leadership Certificate) and certified as a Fellow (FGIA) with the Governance Institute of Australia. Donna was awarded Cisco's Women in IT, 2019, CIO of the Year Award.

Donna’s focus is not just technologically driven, a large part of her approach is centred on culture/mindset, customer, partnership, team development, leadership, sustainability and governance and a commitment to continuously learn through new experiences and creating new possibilities that enable change.

Donna Vinci


Company Secretary and General Counsel

Laura has extensive experience in private practice and in-house legal roles, specialising in the construction, transport and infrastructure sectors.

At Hunter Water, Laura oversees the legal, board and governance functions.

Laura has a Bachelor of Finance and Bachelor of Laws/Diploma of Legal Practice (Class 1 Honours) from University of Newcastle and Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance from the Governance Institute.

Laura Hails

Leadership team

Learn more about Hunter Water's Executive Leadership team who are leading the way.