Our people

ACIAR has an executive management governance structure. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) manages the administrative and financial affairs of ACIAR and its staff, subject to, and in accordance with, any directions given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The CEO leads an executive team, which provides strategic leadership of the agency to ensure program delivery is consistent with government policy objectives to an appropriate level of performance.

 

Chief Executive Officer

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Professor Wendy Umberger

Professor Wendy Umberger is directly responsible to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and was appointed CEO in 2023. As agency head, the CEO manages the administrative and financial affairs of ACIAR and its staff.

Professor Umberger has played influential roles in sustainable agriculture for over 20 years. From 2013 to 2022, she founded and led the Centre for Global Food and Resources at the University of Adelaide, which engaged with policymakers and industry to make positive changes in agriculture, food, and resource systems. Professor Umberger has also served as President of Australia's Policy Advisory Council (for International Agricultural Research and Development) from 2020 to 2023 and was on the Board of Trustees of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) from 2015 to 2021.

Professor Umberger is an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Agriculture and Food at the University of Melbourne and an expert in agricultural economics, development, and food policy. She has worked on food system issues across the Indo-Pacific region and led interdisciplinary value chain research projects in Asia, Australia, North America, the Pacific Islands and South Africa. Her research has explored opportunities for smallholder agricultural households to produce high-value (horticulture, dairy, beef) food products and adopt new technology to access modern food value chains.

Professor Umberger is also a Director of the International Association of Agricultural Economists, a board member of Food Bank SA, an Honorary Fellow of Food Standards Australia New Zealand, a Distinguished Fellow of the Australasian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society and served as an Independent Director of Grain Producers South Australia (GPSA) for six years. Wendy has a B.S. in Animal Science (1996), an M.S. in Economics (1998) from South Dakota State University and a PhD in Agricultural Economics (2001) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

 

General Manager, Corporate (Acting)

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Paul Morgan, General Manager, Corporate

Mr Paul Morgan is responsible for providing strategic advice and management across finance and procurement, property, human resources, corporate legislation and frameworks, information technology, security and compliance.  He joined ACIAR in June 2024, bringing 30 years’ experience leading corporate and enabling programs across the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  Paul has represented the Australian government on postings to Damascus, Beirut, Abu Dhabi, Accra, Geneva and Baghdad.

 

 

General Manager, Research (Acting)

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Dr James Quilty

Dr James Quilty oversees the strategic science focus of the ACIAR research portfolio and its impact assessment, monitoring and evaluation work. The General Manager Research also provides leadership for Research Program Managers across ten research areas, and oversight of our relationship with the Australian innovation system.

James joined ACIAR in 2019 as the Research Program Manager for Soil and Land Management. Prior to joining ACIAR, James worked at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in the Philippines for seven years. He completed a PhD in Soil Science at the University of Sydney in 2010, studying the soil health implications of organic amendments in conventional irrigated cotton systems in central western NSW.