The Susan V. Nelle Churchill Fellowship is an enduring reminder of her exceptional contribution to the food industry and higher education in South Australia. This Fellowship was available in 2019 for award to South Australian residents working in the food and beverage sector.
About Susan Nelle
The moment Dr Susan Nelle arrived in Australia, in the late 1980s, she knew it was where she belonged. American by birth, Susan loved the straight-forward, laconic nature of Australians. She quickly learned that by engaging with and gaining the trust of the ‘locals’ she could continue doing what she enjoyed most – helping individuals, organisations and industries to strategically grow and develop. It was in South Australia that Susan found her true community, professionally and personally.
Susan was appointed as Executive Director of Food for the Future (later renamed Food South Australia) in 1999, where she created a genuine industry-government partnership aimed at stimulating growth within the food industry through innovation, regional food and market development programs.
Susan’s approach was based on the concept of harnessing the expertise of leading food companies to partner with government to drive growth in South Australia’s food industry. This represented a new paradigm of joint industry-government engagement focused on openness, mutual respect, integrity and a commitment towards shared values and development outcomes. Susan regularly travelled to rural areas such as the Barossa Valley to engage, inspire, and give voice to emerging regional food groups and artisan producers.
Susan introduced the Premier’s Food Awards in 1999 to recognise and foster excellence throughout the industry. And she was instrumental in establishing The Food Export Centre in the premises of Business SA. She fostered a commitment to excellence and achievement and brought courage to her role in challenging traditional thinking and the rigid structures within government and industry.
Increasingly, Susan’s leadership and achievements were being recognized at the national level. In 2001 she won Gourmet Traveller magazine’s Jaguar Award for Innovation in Food and, in 2002 was a finalist in the South Australian Telstra Business Woman of the Year.
Susan’s ongoing contribution to Australia’s food industry saw her work as Managing Director of the National Food Industry Strategy in Canberra and as a Senior Research Fellow with the Australian Innovation Centre (University of Tasmania) and the Centre for Global Food and Resources (University of Adelaide).
About the Susan V Nelle Sponsored Churchill Fellowship
To honour Susan's legacy, this Churchill Fellowship was established through a public campaign and event organised and attended by the Centre for Global Food and Resources (University of Adelaide), SA Food industry stakeholders and the Churchill Trust.
The Fellowship was funded with generous donations from: Food SA, the University of Adelaide, the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia (PIRSA), Mark Laucke, Susan Collins Angas Memorial Fund, Craig Johns, Michael Milan, Margot and Andy Davidson, Haighs Pty Ltd, Margaret Lehman, Janet Davidson, Lynne Yeannakis, Tim Mares, Theo Simos, Susan Avery & Phillip Taylor, Ian Dixon, Staffan Ehnbom, Daniel Gregg, Adam Davey and Sarah Wheeler.The 2019 Dr Susan V Nelle Churchill Fellowship has been awarded to TAFE SA bakery/patisserie lecturer Paul Triglau to travel to Italy to refine his skills in artisan baking/patisserie in order to establish an Italian focused course at TAFE SA.
Other Australians have travelled overseas to advance the food and beverage industry as Churchill Fellows and in support of this initiative share their Fellowship experiences below: