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Jack Archer
Jack Archer

Chief Executive Officer

BNatResMgt(Hons), GAICD

Jack has worked with the RAI since its inception in 2012 and was appointed CEO in July 2015. Jack developed the RAI’s policy and research program as well as major tools including [In]Sight: Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index and [In]Form: Australia’s Online Library of Regional Research. In previous roles as a consultant and public servant, Jack contributed to major regional reform in water, climate change, indigenous issues and industry. Originally from Paterson in the lower Hunter Valley of NSW, he now lives in the hills west of Canberra.

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Kim Houghton
Kim Houghton

General Manager Policy and Research

BSc(Hons), PhD(Econ)

Kim manages the RAI’s policy and research portfolio to ensure the Institute’s work has practical application and supports a better policy environment and more vibrant regional economies. Having worked on regional economic development in Australia for almost 20 years, Kim has a passion for engaging, motivating, informing and connecting entrepreneurial business owners.

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David Spear
David Spear

General Manager Partnerships & Communications

MBA, BAProdDsgn(Hons)

David has a strong track record as an innovator, strategist, leader and senior executive level manager in several Australian not for profit and private sector organisations. David’s role as General Manager – Partnerships and Communications focuses on ensuring the organisation has strong engagement with all levels of government, the community and the corporate sector.

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Chris Swan

Leader, [In]Sight and Data Projects


Chris is responsible for data-driven research projects at the RAI. He has a keen interest in data science, mapping and using data (for good, not evil) in the public policy space. Previous roles in Federal and State ministerial and parliamentary offices in Gippsland, Melbourne and Canberra paired with specific skills in quantitative research, demographic profiling, geospatial analysis and data visualisation add to his contribution to the RAI team.

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Leonie Pearson

Leader, Major Research Projects (Economist)

BSc(Hons), PhD, GAICD

Leonie leads the RAI’s major research projects. With specialisation in integrating economics with social-ecological context, Leonie’s role with the RAI builds on her earlier work investigating why communities adapt and transform to achieve sustainable futures. Having lived in five Australian States and Territories in both regional and metropolitan cities, as well as overseas, Leonie is passionate about working with people in the regions and understanding ‘the local story’.

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Samantha Neal

National Communications & Marketing Coordinator

BA(Comm – PubRel&OrgComm)

Sam coordinates the RAI’s media and corporate communications, public relations, marketing and events activities. With a focus on identifying and acting on emerging issues and opportunities for the RAI, Sam partners with RAI staff to bring to life the story of regional Australia and advance the Institute’s objectives. Sam is located in Wagga Wagga, NSW.  

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Julie Anderson

Business Officer

Julie is Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer and Board, and provides support to the RAI research team. Julie joined the RAI in February 2014 bringing with her extensive experience in senior roles in the not-for-profit sector, including the Australian Automobile Association, the Minerals Council and Grains Council of Australia. 

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Morgan Rennie



Morgan focuses on translating data and research into a format that can be easily understood and applied. Having worked at the RAI since 2013, Morgan has covered a variety of subject matter including demographics, natural disaster policy and innovative practice in regional development.

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Tai Nguyen

Researcher (P/T)

PhD(Econ), MBA(Finance)

Tai has extensive experience in conducting quantitative economic and policy analysis in Vietnam, the United States and Australia. He previously worked for Oregon Metro, the regional government in Portland USA, assisting the Council with analytical analysis and policy in public infrastructure finance. Recent work at the RAI has included the development of [In]Sight – Australia’s Regional Competitiveness Index, research on economic diversity at the regional level and the future prospects of regional competitiveness.

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Ben Vonthethoff

Research Assistant

BEc, BA(Hons)

As Research Assistant, Ben contributes to the delivery of high profile research projects on issues relating to regional Australia.

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Graphic Designer

BA(GraphicDsgn), MLA

Shannon creates visual material to complement the work of the RAI and ensures all content is presented in a memorable and easily digestible format. Shannon is based in Germany.

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