Board of directors - 2021

Steve Horton | Chair

Steven Horton and his family have lived in the Southern Highlands for over thirty years. 

For more than twenty years Steven and Laurel have operated retail businesses in Berrima.

Before opening Baytree in Berrima Steven worked for the NSW Government within the water industry as a Senior Manager Business Improvement. In this role he was tasked with improving both operational and administrative processes and implementing change management across the organization.

Steven is the Chairperson at Southern Highlands Chamber of Commence and Industry and the Berrima Court House Land Management Board.

Steven has been a volunteer firefighter for over 30 years and Captain  and Senior Deputy Captain of the Burrawang Rural Fire Brigade for over 20 years.

Carisa Wells | Vice Chair

Carisa Wells is the CEO and Director of Regional Development of Regional Development Australia - Southern Inland and the Boss Lady at Unconditional Pty Ltd. Having relocated from Sydney in 2017 and with a background in business management and expansion, strategic planning, marketing and sales across industries such as health, retail, hospitality, and fashion she has quickly become part of the business community in the region. 

Carisa knows how to build strong relationships quickly and has the uncanny ability to make connections at exactly the right time. She is a master networker, with extensive government, industry and community relationships, is an excellent communicator, and experienced board member. Carisa is a mother, author, public speaker, animal, arts and culture lover.

Growing up in Goulburn, Carisa saw Bowral as being an aspirational place to live. Bringing her daughter and chihuahua to the Southern Highlands and laying down roots is a dream come true. She is completely obsessed with the region and feels truly blessed to be in a position to assist with the economic and social development of the most beautiful place on earth. 

Debra Blackah | Finance Director

I am a Chartered Accountant, and have been a principal at Oxley Partners in Bowral for over fifteen years. I provide a holistic service from accounting, taxation planning and finance needs and fulfill the Aged Care and Estate Planning advisory role for the practice.     

On a personal note I  am supported by my partner Ian Thorp and have one daughter, but very much care for all my Oxley family.

My enthusiasm in supporting other local charities like Wingecarribee Vocal Muster is one of my passions in life. In the past I have owned a golf driving range for 17 years and completed in the Australian Rally Championships and more recently have been involved in the Takata Airbag recovery program throughout Australia.

Peter Blain | Co-Membership Director

Peter has been involved in the finance business for the past 20 years; in 2001 together with Robyn they started their own business, Effective Finance Pty Ltd, this business now holds their own Australian Credit Licence. Peter is qualified in personal and all business finance matters. Peter helps self employed and small business develop and implement financial strategies for their ongoing financial requirements.

Shane Wellings | Co-Membership Director

While still at school Shane started his working career at Woolworths, developing a good work ethic and retail skills.

After completing school in 1987 Shane moved into a career in the heavy construction industry at Caltex Oil Refinery in Sydney.

In 1989 Shane commenced studies in Psychology, while at the same time working in several industries including hospitality, packing shelves, service station attendant all providing sales skills which are now used in is role with Action Hire.

Shane offers a wealth of knowledge to the chamber board and members.

Kate Ingham | Strategy and Policy Director

Kate has a background in the media industry, government and innovation advisory. She established Ki Media to offer path to money solutions for business, government and creative projects. She is a specialist in grants, tenders, feasibility studies and equity capital raising, having attracted resources for Telcos, Councils, Regional Development Australia, and numerous small businesses. Kate is also the principal of digital agency Seller Central Setup.

Kate’s passion is to facilitate the Southern Highlands diversifying its economic base, whilst maintaining the green between and lifestyle factors that make us love the region.

Aaron Thorp | Data and Digital Director 

Aaron Thorp has been working with computers for nearly 30 years with experience in many disciplines from software, apps, and web design and development, networking and hardware, to robotics, 3D printing and IoT. He also provides consulting services helping to bridge the gap between owners and their IT contractor’s “tech speak” as well as helping them to evaluate and understand and manage the technical requirements in their business.

Aaron achieved a Bachelor of Information Technology from Western Sydney University in 2005 and has grown several successful businesses. He continues to support these businesses through his role as a Partner and programmer in ADEN Works (Business Management Software).

Since 2018 Aaron has expanded his business model to include his passion for audio & visual with consulting and production services through Aaron Media Group. He also encourages the growth of youth initiatives in the Southern Highlands through The Wingecarribee Vocal Muster and providing a technical upgrade to the local community youth radio station.

Aaron enjoys tackling problems in business and the community and solving them using out-of-the-box ideas and perspectives to find creative and effective solutions.



CALL: 02 4861 6917

WRITE: PO BOX 799 Bowral NSW 2576

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