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ESSA announces Danielle Smith as their new Chief Executive

ESSA announces Danielle Smith as their new Chief Executive
May 22, 2024

Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) has named Danielle Smith as their new Chief Executive - a vital role in helping to ignite a national movement in sport and physical activity through accredited experts.

With the 2032 Paralympics and Olympics on the horizon, Smith, formerly from the Melbourne Storm Group, highlights ESSA's role in integrating health, sport, and physical activity both for elite athletes and everyday Australians.

Smith noted “accredited exercise and sports professionals play a crucial role in the development of Paralympians and Olympians and their expertise can help them reach their full potential and achieve incredible results on the world stage.

“These professionals revolutionise how athletes train, compete, and recover while promoting physical health and performance optimisation on a wider scale.

“It’s a very exciting time for ESSA and our industry. The field of sports science is dynamic, evolving, and invaluable.”

Smith emphasised the broader impact of exercise and sports science professionals in boosting physical activity among the general population, preventing chronic disease, and promoting healthy lifestyles for all Australians.

“Accredited exercise and sports professionals are the most qualified to help everyday Australians, kick- start their health journey, fine tune their current training program, or even excel in their chosen sport whether for fun or competition,” said Smith.

“As highly trained professionals, they use evidence-based approaches such as ‘Exercise as Medicine’ to guide patients toward better health through tailored exercise programs.

“Beyond just prescribing activities, they also incorporate behavioural change techniques and motivational interviewing to empower patients to take ownership of their health.

“I am excited to build on ESSA’s strong foundations for all Australians to embrace exercise and sports science to improve their health and performance.”

As former Chief Executive of Sunshine Coast Lightning (part of the Melbourne Storm Group), Smith’s expertise in organisational culture, high-performance, stakeholder engagement and commercial growth helped to deliver a strong membership base and corporate structure that launched Lightning to immediate success.

The club won back-to-back premierships in its first two seasons of 2017 and 2018 and achieved a 40% increase in revenue within three seasons, making it the most successful professional sporting club start-up in Australian history.

ESSA President and Chair of the Board Dr Brendan Joss said ESSA was delighted to welcome Smith as the new Chief Executive after an extensive, nation-wide search process and added “she is a dynamic, values-driven leader, with exceptional strategic capabilities, proven operational effectiveness, and strong experience in national sporting codes and international sporting events.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Acting CEO Carmen Jenkinson for her dedication and leadership of ESSA during this period of transition – her contribution has been immense.”

Smith’s career spans more than 25 years across a range of industries including sport, major events, management consulting, accounting and consumer products. She has also held senior roles with the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and AFL’s Geelong Cats and currently serves on the Board of Sport Inclusion Australia and Sunshine Coast 2032. Smith was awarded QSports’ 2021 Sports Administrator of the Year.

Danielle Smith will officially commence her role as ESSA Chief Executive on 22nd July 2024.

This May, ESSA has launched Exercise Right Week - Just Move campaign, encouraging Australians to just move for 30 minutes every day, their own way – whether cleaning the house, walking the dog, jumping on the trampoline with the kids, or a daily walk with friends.

To kick off Exercise Right Week, Smith outlined how she achieves her 30 minutes of movement each day.

  • Exercise is a key component of my day as it is so important for my mental and physical health
  • I mix it up throughout the week through a combination of running, walking, strength training and playing community sport
  • Easy ways to build movement into my day without structured exercise - lunchtime walks, walking meetings, taking a 5-minute break from sitting at the desk 1 to 2 times per hour to walk or stretch
  • Whether you’re suffering from an injury, battling something bigger like cancer, dementia or diabetes, or you just want to up your fitness game, it’s important to get the right advice from an exercise and movement expert to ensure you’re exercising right.

Founded in 1991, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) is a peak professional organisation representing about 11,000 members, including student members. They are committed to establishing, promoting and representing the career paths of tertiary-trained exercise and sports science practitioners including Accredited Exercise Physiologists, Accredited Exercise Scientists, Accredited Sports Scientists & Accredited High-Performance Managers. ESSA has over 600 volunteers from the member base who provide advice, set standards for regulation, and support the professional development of members in their states/territories. ESSA provides industry leadership through advocacy, research, education and regulation to support exercise and sports science professionals and the Australian community in becoming a more active nation.

This May, ESSA has launched Exercise Right Week – Just Move campaign

More on ESSA 

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13th April 2022 - ESSA challenges people to find ways to move during this Easter break

19th March 2022 - ESSA sets out priorities for 2022 Federal Election

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