While Council’s new Director Environmental Services, Jessica Rippon, has been with Shoalhaven Council for the past 14 years, she has considered Kiama her home for much longer.
She counts herself as a local given her strong sporting ties and the involvement she and her family has with the Kiama community, from their home in nearby Albion Park.
“I surf at all the beaches, my kids play football for Jamberoo Rugby League Club, and I have spent all of my spare time here over more than 20 years,” she says.
“I already know a lot of people around my age in the community, and I want to get out and about as much as I can to meet more people.
“I have a passion for working closely with the community.”
Ms Rippon has already begun meeting with representatives of the various precinct groups to introduce herself and find out what concerns them.
Having spent the last 14 years at Shoalhaven Council, she is relishing the opportunity of working for a smaller council,where her work can make a real impact.
“You can make a lot of difference and help on the ground a lot more in a smaller council.
“Your efforts can sometimes get lost in those large organisations and communities. Having something that is a lot smaller gives you a lot of opportunity to make real improvements.”
Over recent years, the Director Environmental Services’ responsibilities have expanded from Planning to include Community and Cultural Development, Environment and Health, and Library Services.
Ms Rippon has a broad range of qualifications and experience to match the breadth of her new role, with a Masters in Planning, a Bachelor of Science in human geography (looking at community development in the planning space), and a Bachelor of Commerce in marketing and communications. She is in the process of finishing a Masters of Management.
After beginning her career as a planner in the private sector, she moved to Shoalhaven Council, initially as a strategic planner.
During her time there she worked in a variety of roles, from planning and development assessment and management roles in planning to looking after a broad range of corporate functions including internal audit, communications and community engagement.
During the recent bushfire season, she had responsibility for Shoalhaven Council’s Emergency Services operations.
Her prior knowledge of the geography of the region and the issues facing the community have given her a head start in settling in.
“I love the diversity of the role,” she says.