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Executive Leadership

Our department is formed by the following business groups:

  • Office of the Director-General
  • Innovation
  • Tourism
  • Sport
  • Corporate

The department is led by our executive leadership team.

John Lee, Acting Director-General

John Lee headshot © Queensland Government

As Acting Director-General, Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport, John Lee is leading the Government’s objectives for Queensland to drive economic growth and support jobs through strengthening and growing the state’s tourism and innovation sectors.

John is also leading government support of Queensland’s participation and success in sport and active recreation; through grant funding, infrastructure and planning, major events, world-class venues and support for the state’s elite athletes via the Queensland Academy of Sport.

He is on the Tourism and Events Queensland Board (ex officio board member - non-remunerated).

John has enjoyed a highly successful career working in Government, Tourism, Sport, Major Events, and Transport. He has extensive experience in Sports Administration, Operations, Asset Management, Venue Leasing and has a detailed understanding of both the private and public sectors.

In 2018, John chaired the Queensland Government’s Stadiums Taskforce which reviewed the hiring practices for all major venues in Queensland. His interim and final reports contained a series of recommendations to improve the attraction of major events to Queensland.

He has worked closely with the Queensland Government as a Special Advisor in the COVID-19 Taskforce with a role to liaise with the Tourism Industry, major sporting codes and related bodies to minimise the impacts of the pandemic to these sectors.

John is a former Australian Sports Commissioner, who has extensive experience in governance having served as a Director of Netball Australia, the Australian Advertising Standards Board, North Queensland Cowboys, Chair of the ACU Elite Athlete Performance Program and Melanoma Patients Australia.

John is recognised for his leadership skills, strategic thinking, commercial acumen, and strong communication skills.

Dr Sarah Pearson, Deputy Director-General, Innovation

© Queensland Government

Sarah Pearson is an internationally experienced Open Innovation practitioner, innovation ecosystem builder, scientist and advocate for collaborative innovation and entrepreneurship in Australia.

Prior to her role as DDG, Innovation, Sarah came from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) where she was the Chief Scientist and Chief Innovation Officer.

Her career has spanned the innovation sector from schools to higher education, SMEs to multinationals, startups and startup programs, venture capitalists to Angels, State Government and corporate boards as well as leadership positions in and for the Australian Government.

Sarah has a PhD from Oxford University in particle physics, has conducted research into diagnosing cancer, and was head of Open Innovation at Cadbury. Sarah has also worked as a management consultant at McKinsey for technology companies, and led ANU Enterprise as Chief Executive Officer, attempting to connect research with industry.

She is passionate about helping Australia become an innovative nation, creating economic and social impact, and her advice is sought out regularly at all levels of Government regarding new policy, strategy and programs for Australian innovation.

Jeff McAlister, Deputy Director-General, Tourism and Major Events

Photo of Jeff McAlister © Queensland Government

Jeff leads the tourism industry development effort in the Department where he is focussed on ensuring Queensland has the infrastructure, connectivity, and strategic positioning it needs to sustain and transform our tourism industry.

Key priorities include: supporting industry to respond to and recover from COVID-19; delivering new products across the state in partnership with the private sector; helping to strengthen business capability and resilience; facilitating a $9 billion pipeline of investment in accommodation, attractions and related visitor infrastructure; and securing major events for Queensland.

Through COVID-19 Jeff has been instrumental in leading the response effort to support and sustain businesses through the crisis and to help the sector navigate reopening and recovery.  Jeff previously worked in the Northern Territory as Director-General for Asian Engagement, Trade and Investment where he helped the private sector diversify the NT’s export base, attracted investors for major projects, and refocused strategic engagement with overseas partners.

Prior to the NT, Jeff worked for the New Zealand Government mostly in international trade and investment roles, lastly as the Head of NZ Inc in Brazil where he facilitated two way investments in agribusiness and gas, and trebled New Zealand exports.

Chelsea Warr, Chief Executive, Queensland Academy of Sport

Chelsea Warr head shot © Queensland Government

Chelsea is an experienced leader in driving transformational change within high performance sporting industries.  She is well positioned to lead the state’s leading high-performance sport agency responsible for the preparation of Queensland’s most talented athletes to perform on the world stage.

Prior to her position as Chief Executive of Queensland Academy of Sport, Chelsea held the positions of Deputy Director of the Great Britain High Performance system for the 2016 Rio cycle and then Director, where her primary objective was to drive the strategic development of the British High Performance system to ensure sustained medal winning success.

Over the 20-year period she played pivotal leadership role enabling Team GB and Paralympics GB to progress from 36th on the medal table in Atlanta 1996, to second in the world by Rio 2016.

Chelsea has also held numerous Board position across several National Sporting Bodies and Institutes of Sport such as British Tennis and the English Institute of Sport.

Chelsea hopes her leadership skills, international high-performance experience and expertise can play a significant role in supporting Queensland become a sporting powerhouse, especially within the context of a potential 2032 Queensland Home Games.

Andrew Sly, Assistant Director-General, Sport and Recreation

Andrew Sly headshot © Queensland Government


Andrew Sly has over 20 years’ leadership experience in property, infrastructure, stakeholder engagement and public administration and is the Assistant Director-General leading sport and active recreation across Queensland.

Andrew previously held the position of Executive Director of Venues and Sport Infrastructure within sport and recreation where he led the program management, infrastructure planning and investment and delivery of key sporting capital projects, and the management of the Queensland Venues and Recreation Centres.

Prior to joining sport and recreation, he held the positions of Executive Director of Development Strategy and Executive Director of Regional and Residential Development at the Queensland Government’s specialist land use planning and property development unit, Economic Development Queensland, where he led the facilitation and delivery of projects and programs throughout Queensland.

Tess Bishop, Deputy Director-General Corporate Services

© Queensland Government

Prior to her appointment as Deputy Director-General Corporate Services in November 2020, Tess Bishop commenced in the multifaceted role of Office of the Director General, Economic Policy and Communications in May 2020.

Prior to this Tess was Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication.

Tess has more than 20 years’ experience across the public and private sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom.

She has held senior positions in the Queensland and Victorian public sector and has experience working in both central and line agencies. Tess’s career in government is complemented by her extensive practice in the private sector, including her work with KPMG Europe, where she forged strategic relationships with business and industry stakeholders.

Voted by her peers, Tess was awarded an Australia Day Certificate of Achievement in January 2017. Tess is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a Masters of International Relations, a Graduate Diploma in Business Management and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in political science and public policy.

Last updated: 08 Mar 2021