Hawkesbury Conference

Inspiration and Innovation for the Hawkesbury are the theme of our inaugural conference. Local people, bringing big ideas for all businesses in the Hawkesbury.

The inspirational and innovative line up of presenters includes:

  • Karen Lebsanft from local success, Kurrajong Kitchen
  • Damien Feneley Hawkesbury academic and complex problem solving expert that has presented for the UN
  • Charles Liggett the placemaking expert
  • Maureen Bartlett, previous Australian Small Business of the Year winner and multi-generational family business owner
  • Krys Francica the owner of multiple businesses and expert in making your business work for you and not you for your business
  • Angus Crossan of Food Innovation Australia Ltd
  • Rochelle Nixon a local youth worker that understands what the youth perspective can bring to the workplace

A 2 course lunch is included with a Q&A session featuring some of the presenters. Morning tea and afternoon tea will also be provided and allow for networking between the participants

Date And Time

Thursday 27 June 2019, 9:30 am


Richmond School of Arts
26 West Market Street
Richmond, NSW 2753



Keynote Speaker – Karen Lebsanft
CEO and Co-founder of Kurrajong Kitchen

Karen and her husband Ben started Kurrajong Kitchen lavosh, at their Kurrajong restaurant in 1993. The business grew steadily from a home and small restaurant operation, to their current facility in 2003 and large-scale production in 2010. Throughout the growth the brand has remained in the Hawkesbury and is now being transitioned to the next generation of their family.

Karen has been recognised as one of the 50 Unsung Business Heroes of Australia, featured on Foxtel’s Industrial Leaders and Kurrajong Kitchen was named Manufacturer of the Year for the 2018 Australian Small Business Awards. In addition to her business achievements, Karen has completed the New York Marathon raising funds for local charity Feel the Magic and is planning a group Murray River paddle to raise funds and awareness for mental health and The Black Dog Institute.

Topic – The Challenges of 25 years Brand Building with self-care, team care and business care.

Her talk will share the journey – the challenges, the wins and the future of a nationally recognised brand growing up in the Hawkesbury.

Damien Feneley
Academic and former small business owner

Damien Feneley is Principal of Grose View Public School and an Executive member of the Greater Western Sydney, Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development, endorsed through the United Nations Institute for Advanced Studies. In 2017, he was invited to present at the United Nations Global RCE Conference on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, in Okayama Japan. Damien was a former consultant for the NSW Department of Education and was responsible for the development of a number of innovative professional development programs to support the transition to 21st century education.

Topic – Open Innovation; creative solutions to complex problems

Through the lens of education, this presentation will examine some of the myriad of complex problems currently facing governments, business and policy makers. It will explore opportunities to utilise new technologies through our hyper-connected world to develop learning systems and business opportunities that are responsive to local need, agile and adaptable to change.

Ben Britton
Director of Wild Cat Conservation Centre, Wilberforce

Passionate about wildlife, Ben has more than 20 years of professional experience in animal husbandry and wildlife conservation which has taken him across the world, from reserves in Africa to sanctuaries in Asia. As the face of Nat Geo Wild in Australia, Ben has appeared in numerous documentaries and is currently featured in a series of vignettes deciphering the mysteries of animal behaviour for viewers.

Ben believes strongly in conservation through education and is well versed in communicating wildlife conservation messages in entertaining ways through the media. Ben splits his time between his home in Sydney and Botswana, Africa where alongside the team at Mashatu Research he is working to help conserve big cats and other African wildlife.  He can currently be seen on Nat Geo Wild, channel 616.

Topic – Creating a life, not a job\

Ben will outline how he has taken his love of wildlife and nature and created a company to suit his lifestyle. And discuss the difficulties and obstacles that he has encountered along the way, and how the business continues to evolve and adapt in line with Ben’s changing vocations.