About Margaret Dugdale

Social and Environmental Planning Partnerships was established in 1989 and is led by Margaret Dugdale.

Margaret has earned a reputation for sound and quality approaches to community engagement and participation, social impact assessments and strategic planning. She is also a skilled and dynamic teacher. She graduated in Social Science from Sydney University and in Environmental Studies from Adelaide University. Margaret is also a mediator.

Drawing on 25 years experience in the social sciences, tertiary teaching and environmental planning Margaret brings to her work a unique combination of skills and experience in understanding individuals, groups, communities and organisations, and a comprehensive knowledge of natural resources and urban planning issues. Margaret has also published in the area of public participation in planning.

Louise Portway

Louise has twenty-five years experience in community development, community information, social policy, management of not-for-profit organisations and adult learning.  She is a skilled and experienced group facilitator and educator.  For the past fifteen years Louise has worked as a trainer and consultant specialising in communication skills, team development, conflict management and leadership skills. For many years Louise ran the very successful Catalyst Women in Leadership program.


Jen McDonnell

Jen has been working in the field of community and stakeholder engagement for the past 15 years.  Jen’s background in psychology complements her work in relation to social research, community capacity building, communications, evaluation and community participation and engagement in the environmental planning and management.  Jen has worked in Local Government, in her own private consultancy and some 10 years in a large consulting firm in the field of community and stakeholder engagement.  She has experience working on controversial community engagement projects particularly in the renewable energy field. 
Jen is a skilled and experienced facilitator.

Jen has been working in the field of community and stakeholder engagement in environmental planning and management for the past eighteen years.  Jen also works part-time as a Principal Stakeholder Engagement Consultant for WSP. Her background in psychology complements her work in social research, community capacity building, communications, evaluation and community participation in environmental planning and management.She has experience in a wide range of complex and controversial consultation projects, particularly in relation to wind energy, hybrid- off grid power, Smart Grids and major water and power infrastructure projects. She has extensive experience working on controversial projects. Jen is a skilled and experienced facilitator.

Emily Synnott

Emily is a freelance facilitator and consultant. She has deep experience managing complex partnerships and engaging communities with over 18 years of working in the not-for-profit sector, for government and as a consultant. Most recently Emily was Project Director at the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) where she headed up key strategic multi-stakeholder projects focused on transforming the way government, industry and community sectors view and engage with young people to rethink systems that shape the world. Over her six years at FYA, Emily brought to life projects that offered young people opportunities to succeed in life which aren’t traditionally offered through education. Before joining FYA, Emily spent time in the Victorian Government and 11 years in the UK working in both Policy and Strategy for the UK Government and as a consultant. Key areas of work included extensive evaluation of government employment initiatives, the redesign of civil legal aid delivery across the UK and working with the judiciary to transition Social, Health and Welfare appeals policy into the new Tribunals Service.


Steve Willing

Steve is a trained facilitator and certified executive coach who has facilitated leadership, personal and organisational development for over 20 years.  He uses a range of accredited tools and models to develop the awareness and perspectives needed for constructive conversations about creating a future of thriving possibilities.

His background includes Agricultural Extension, Outdoor Leadership Expeditions (in USA, NZ & Australia) and Organisational Development (Tasmania Fire Service). The common theme has been a passion for understanding what drives us to act and react, and how to make conscious choices.

He has facilitated in complex environments in the primary industries, community, emergency services, government and private sectors.  He sees facilitation as an essential skill and a powerful and under-used form of influence (i.e. leadership).

Steve’s calm and down-to-earth approach allows supportive exploration of thinking, motives, insights, choices and accountability. He also has his own consultancy as Facilitator & Coach, Leadership & Vertical Development @ Growth in Mind.

Leonie Schmidt - Our Caterer

You work very hard on our courses. The days are full and demanding and we believe that you should be fed good food. Leonie’s food is not only healthy and nutritious but interesting, varied and beautiful. If you have special dietary requirements let us know on your course registration form and Leonie will expertly weave them into her menu planning.







    Margaret Dugdale


    Louise Portway


    Jen McDonnell


    Leonie Schmidt