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Open Gardens Victoria appoints David Epstein as Deputy Chair

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Open Gardens Victoria

The Open Gardens Victoria (OGV) Committee of Management is delighted to announce the appointment of David Epstein as the new Deputy Chair, transitioning to Chair in 2023. David succeeds architect, interior designer and gardener Jason Chongue, who steps down after three years in the role.

OGV is a largely volunteer-run, not-for-profit organisation that promotes the benefits of gardens and gardening. Programming includes opening a diversity of private gardens across all regions of Victoria to showcase everything from inner-city rooftop gardens and courtyards, to produce gardens, native gardens and inspiring rural gardens.

Liz Fazio, inaugural Chair of OGV says it is wonderful to have someone with David’s broad experience step into the role.

“David’s appointment to Deputy Chair will transition to the role of Chair in 2023, creating an exciting opportunity to lead OGV in the next phase of its development. He has a formidable record of leadership within government, major companies and voluntary organisations along with a track record of wise strategic decisions. Luckily for us, he is also passionate about gardens and their importance to the community,” says Liz.

Bringing more than 30 years of experience in a range of leadership roles and as a senior executive, David is Executive Director of the Chifley Research Centre, Chair of Communications Compliance Ltd, and also a non-executive director of The Asia Society – Australia, and the European Australian Business Council. A former Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, David led group public affairs and communications at Qantas and BHP and legal, regulatory and corporate affairs at Optus. He is also a former long-standing director of Opera Australia. David is both surprised and delighted, and not a little daunted, to join Open Gardens Victoria as Deputy Chair and Chair Designate.

“Open Gardens Victoria, under Liz Fazio’s leadership, has done a tremendous job since 2015 ensuring Victorians can enjoy and learn more about gardening through each other’s gardens. My hope is that the transition in leadership is an evolutionary one, bringing new perspectives but building on the work Liz and the Committee have done and are continuing to do.”

Leading OGV since its formation, Liz has watched the not-for-profit organisation grow from a small band of enthusiastic volunteers, into a valued and much-loved part of Victoria’s horticultural scene.

“We are proud to have built an organisation that offers an annual program of topical workshops, talks, tours and masterclasses which sit alongside our calendar of open gardens. And we now have a well-established Giving Program to support horticultural projects in the fields of education, wellness, innovation, community and sustainability,” says Liz.

“I care deeply about OGV and it’s been a privilege to be at the helm for nearly seven years. Stepping down is made easier with the knowledge that someone of David’s calibre will be there to nurture and grow our organisation,” she says.

1 of 2 In taking on the role, David would like to reach out to other gardening and horticultural organisations, as well as local and state government, tourism bodies and Victoria’s cultural institutions. “There’s so much more we can all do together for the community that’s connected to gardens and gardening.”

“I have spent much of the last few decades living interstate and travelling internationally for work, but Victoria’s always been home, and gardens and gardening have always been a comfort. It’s good to be back home in Victoria, still the Garden State, and to be able to give something back to the community.”

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