2017 Keynote Speakers

Carol Ellinger Haddock, P.E.

Acting, Director, Public Works and Engineering, City of Houston. 

Carol Ellinger Haddock, was appointed as the Acting Director of Public Works & Engineering for the City of Houston on July 12, 2017.  The Director of Public Works and Engineering is responsible for overseeing the Department’s services to Houston citizens through the planning, operation, maintenance, construction management and technical engineering of the City's public infrastructure. The Department’s responsibilities include operation and maintenance of the City’s streets and drainage, production and distribution of water, collection and treatment of wastewater, and permitting and regulation of public and private construction. The Department is staffed with a trained work force of over 3,900 employees and operates with an annual budget of $2.1 billion.

Carol has an extensive background managing capital engineering projects and programs and is the co-author of the City’s Capital Improvement Plan Process Manual for Infrastructure Programs which sets guidelines, criteria and a transparent process to identify and prioritize infrastructure needs throughout the city.

Carol has worked for the City of Houston for twelve years. Prior to joining the Department of Public Works and Engineering, Carol was a Project Manager for the Harris County Flood Control District where she led efforts to implement Project Brays, a Congressional Fellow in Washington, DC. and a Project Manager with Klotz Associates, Inc., a Houston consulting firm.

Carol serves on the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Board of Directors.  She has previously served on ASCE’s Environment and Water Resources Institute Governing Board. Carol is a licensed Professional Engineer, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Rice University and has a Master of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Houston.

Dr Jim Bentley

Managing Director, Hunter Water

Jim Bentley is a senior executive in the infrastructure sector, with more than 20 years’ experience, much of it in the water business.  His career has spanned several countries from the UK to NZ and he has played senior roles in public and private sectors, as client, contractor, operator, investor, consultant and researcher.

In 1998 Jim moved from London to live in Istanbul and oversee commercial operations of the largest privately financed water project in the world; the US$900m Public-Private-Partnership for the Iznit Water Supply Project.  Shortly afterwards a massive earthquake hit this part of Turkey, killing 15,000 people, and Jim found himself managing a complex range of issues, including the humanitarian response of an essential service provider in the region.

Jim moved to Newcastle in July 2016 to take up his position as Managing Director of Hunter Water Corporation.  His interests outside his day job include his role as Chairman of Building for Education, a NZ registered charity which funds the building of schools and related infrastructure for poor communities in East Africa

Dr Mehreen Faruqi

NSW Member of Legislative Council representing the NSW Greens

Dr Mehreen Faruqi joined the NSW Legislative Council in June 2013 as a member of the NSW Greens. Since migrating from Pakistan to Australia in 1992, with her young family, Mehreen’s work has focussed on developing real solutions to social and environmental challenges.

Mehreen has a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore, and a Master and PhD in Environmental Engineering from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). She has worked in leadership positions in local government, consulting firms and higher education institutions in Australia and internationally.  This includes her role as Manager of Environment and Services for Mosman Council, Manager of Natural Resources and Catchments for Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, and as the Director of the Institute of Environmental Studies (UNSW) and an Associate Professor in Business and Sustainability (AGSM UNSW).

Mehreen has delivered major projects such as stormwater reuse and recycling infrastructure, cycle ways, hydropower generation and rainforest rehabilitation as well as doing work for action on climate change and waste reduction. She has chaired a number of panels and committees on sustainability, water and waste management for industry, local, state and federal government.

She is a Fellow of the Institution on Engineers Australia and a member of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand.

Mehreen is a passionate activist on a range of issues, and has worked as a volunteer, campaigner, Convenor of NSW Greens’ Women’s Group and candidate for The Greens NSW, including achieving a record 30% of the vote in the 2012 Heffron by-election.

In 2013, Mehreen received the UNSW Faculty of Engineering Award for Leadership and was voted No.5 in Fairfax Media Daily Life list of top 20 women for 2013 who made a difference and inspired Australians  and a finalist in 2015. In 2015 she was announced as one of the top 100 Most Influential Engineers in Australia.


Diane McGrath

Mars One Astronaut Candidate

Dianne McGrath is one of 7 Australian shortlisted Mars One astronaut candidates in the remaining “Mars 100”. The Mars One mission seeks to establish the first permanent human settlement on Mars – it is a one-way journey.

What makes Dianne a suitable astronaut candidate? She is a leader, team player, project manager and creative problem solver. Her experience working in and managing teams in sales, marketing, emergency services and government provides her with a strong platform to work as a unit to deliver on outcomes.  Dianne’s sense of adventure, determination and fitness has seen her sail tall ships in the southern ocean, cycle extreme distances, jump from planes, and run marathons and an ultra marathon. She believes nothing is insurmountable.

Dianne has a special interest and growing expertise in sustainable food systems - something that will be critical in a completely new environment for human habitation.

Dianne’s work experience has provided her with strong expertise in project management, marketing and government organisations in her time with the Australian Energy Regulator, Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). While at GSK she held numerous positions, including a global marketing position based in Europe where she was responsible for a $1billion (AUD) brand portfolio, and won a global marketing award.

Dianne leads a purposeful life that seeks to create better environmental outcomes. Towards this goal, she is currently the Director of the sustainability and business consultancy, Food for Thought Consulting Australia. Passionate about sustainable food systems, she is also a Director on the boards of three not-for-profit organisations that operate in the food sustainability/community food space: Cultivating Community, 3000acres and the Open Food Network.

A Higher Degree by Research Master of Engineering (Environmental Engineering) student at RMIT University, Dianne has completed 4 university degrees with a more recent focus on environmental engineering, environmental management and sustainable food systems. Her current research project in her Higher Degree by Research, Watch My Waste, examines food waste in the Australian hospitality sector. Watch My Waste is a national study that aims to quantify food waste across the foodservice sector, as well as identify the contributing factors.


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