Textbox Section

The ACIUCN Director

Textbox Section

Tandi Spencer-Smith


Tandi is a senior manager with over fifteen years of experience in the not-for-profit, corporate and government sectors, and a Master of Science in Biodiversity Conservation. Before taking on the role of ACIUCN Director, Tandi held senior roles at the National Parks Association of NSW, the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative and most recently, worked as the Manager, Marketing & Communications for Greening Australia.

She has broad experience in conservation and restoration across public and private land; community outreach; science communications; strategic planning; and program and business development.


Katherine Zischka

Director 2015-2018

In January 2015, Kathy took up the role of Acting Director of the Australian Committee for IUCN and now continues in the role as Director.

Kathy has built a career in environmental conservation through her work in marine and environmental research, conservation, ecotourism, policy and management. She has worked with both award-winning and international NGOs including Greenpeace, in academia, with state government and with federal government internationally in the Pacific Kingdom of Tonga. As a dual citizen of Australia and Germany, Katherine has worked in Australia, the Pacific and Europe.

Kathy has supported ACIUCN since 2011 and is an active Member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) including the Young Professionals (YP, under 35 years of age) and Marine groups. She is the Co-Vice Chair of the recently launched WCPA YP Marine Task Force and was involved in YP, Marine and World Heritage events at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress (WPC) in Sydney.

Kathy has two tertiary degrees including a Master of Environmental Management and BSc (Hons) in Marine & Environmental Biology and has published work in ACIUCN and IUCN peer-reviewed publications including the recent IUCN WCPA Protected Areas and Governance book. She is also currently guest editor for a special WPC issue of the Journal of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.


Penelope Figgis AO

Director 2011-2014

Penelope Figgis AO was Director of the Australian Committee for IUCN (ACIUCN) between 2011 and 2014, during which time she led the revitalisation of ACIUCN.

Penelope has been a leading member of the Australian environment movement for over 30 years. Since 2005 she has been Regional Vice Chair for the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and served on the Executive. Her other current positions include Trustee Parks Forum and Visiting Fellow Graduate School of the Environment, Macquarie University.

A political scientist by training Penelope has made significant contributions to environmental policy in Australia through governance of NGOs, writing, policy development, advocacy and public speaking. She has written and spoken extensively on protected area policy, World Heritage, conservation on private lands, and nature based tourism. As Vice Chair of WCPA she has built a major national network of leading biodiversity and protected area specialists across all sectors and in partnership with others has achieved real conservation outcomes in increased budgets for protected areas and indigenous employment in land and sea management, the promotion of connectivity conservation and incorporating ecosystems into climate change mitigation and adaptation responses.

She was the national lobbyist of the key national NGO, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) in the 1980s and later served seventeen years as Vice President of the governing Council. Other NGO roles include the governing councils of the Australian Bush Heritage Fund and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW. Penelope has served many years on statutory governing bodies including the boards of Sydney Olympic Park Authority, Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council, the Australian Tourist Commission, the Environment Protection Authority of New South Wales, the Great Barrier Reef Consultative Committee, Landcare Australia, and the Jenolan Caves Trust.

In 1994 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her services to conservation and the environment and in Penelope was given one of Australia’s highest honours, Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) for service to the environment, nature conservation and sustainable tourism. In 2003 she was awarded the Centenary Medal for outstanding contribution to the environment. In 2005 she was made an Honorary Life Member of ACF and in 2010 she was awarded the Sir Edmund Hillary Award for Parks by the Parks Forum and listed on the Allen Strom Hall of Fame of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW. In 2014, she was also made an ACIUCN honorary life member for her contributions to the organisation.

Penelope continues in her role as WCPA Vice Chair for Oceania.