Director Profile: Davina Boyd

By Gabrielle Stannus

We profile Davina Boyd, Director of Greenlife Industry Australia, whose environmental experience and community engagement skills make her a perfect recruit to our new Sustainability Committee.

Davina Boyd is an applied social researcher and development practitioner with broad experience working on development projects internationally and in Australia. Originally from New Zealand, Davina was persuaded to move to Western Australia to complete her PhD at Murdoch University after a brief stint in Japan working for an environmental policy and research institute. For over 16 years, Davina has maintained an involvement at Murdoch University, initially as a student and then as an academic, while also working as a consultant.

Davina’s current research is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). ACIAR is the Australian Government’s specialist agricultural research-for-development agency, within the Australian aid program.

“I have a science background. My undergraduate degree was all science: environmental science, marine biology, entomology,” says Davina, “As I got older, I got to know myself better and realized I actually liked people more than the biophysical. I did a quite a big shift later in life towards environmental education, development and capacity building, and moved into the community development and international development space. Now I am a social researcher.”

Having worked previously in Africa, Davina’s work is currently focussed on Asia, namely Laos, Cambodia and Bangladesh. Her research is designed to help policy makers, farmers and extension providers in those countries to improve local farming systems, rural livelihoods and food security.

Davina’s decision to become a Director of Greenlife Industry Australia stems from that interest in building resilient communities. “I have always been interested in green spaces and their role in mental health and community,” says Davina, “Many of the projects I work on are environmental in nature or they have got a wellbeing component.”

Davina has the board skills to go with her sustainability knowledge, having completed her Company Directors Course through the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) two years ago. Last year, Davina also completed AICD’s Director Pipeline Program. This unique Western Australian program helps senior professional women expand their networks, develop their skills and raise their profiles within the director community.

Davina claims to have little direct horticultural experience. However, she is the chair of her local community garden, Hilton Harvest. This garden includes a communal section, individual allotments, chickens, an orchard, community composting bank and an olive grove. “I have learnt a lot from my community garden, I am a much better gardener now than I used to be,” Davina says, “Community gardens are great spaces. Our garden has a little nursery and we run gardening workshops. We have got some good relationships with some of the local retail nurseries who support us.”

Davina’s work with her local community garden and other boards has given her insight into strategies for effective community and membership engagement. “GIA has a broad stakeholder base. How you reconcile that and be something that can be representative of that broad group is quite challenging. What is also interesting is how you manage those relationships,” says Davina, “I guess I am quite relational. I have always been interested in how you have real and effective relationships with people.”

As well as volunteering at her community garden, Davina also finds the time to exercise regularly. “I am very active. I run, do Pilates and play tennis. I am currently doing Latin and ballroom dancing. I just spent three hours yesterday doing the tango and every part of my body hurts as a result!” says Davina.

A keen traveller, Davina is also looking forward to the time, post-COVID, when she can continue connecting with members of the greenlife industry across Australia. “I am hoping to find opportunities to meet up with people and have some nursery tours to give me some more background on the actual nitty gritty of the industry.”