The Committee for the Hunter has appointed Alice Thompson, a senior policy adviser to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, as its first chief executive.
Ms Thompson, who was in charge of infrastructure and cities policy in Mr Turnbull's office until late 2017, will move with her family from Sydney to the Hunter in March to take up the job.
She resigned from her position as professional services firm KPMG's national lead for cities and regions in December 2018 to run against Mr Turnbull's political rival, Tony Abbott, in the seat of Warringah in last year's federal election.
She withdrew from the race in February and backed fellow independent Zali Steggall instead.
Committee for the Hunter chair Richard Anicich said on Tuesday that Ms Thompson's resume was "tailor-made" for the fledgling organisation, which is pushing for more government and private investment in the region.
She was a director of economic policy in the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, where she worked on the Newcastle light rail project and the Bays and Central to Eveleigh urban renewal precincts.
Ms Thompson was also director of Infrastructure Australia's major cities unit from 2008 to 2013, when Opposition leader Anthony Albanese was the overseeing minister, and was an architect of the City Deals growth accelerator program.
Mr Anicich said Ms Thompson's experience and connections would be critical for the organisation in championing the region.
"Her experience spans both sides of politics," he said.
"She has terrific experience working for state and federal government ... and most recently working with the cities and regions team at KPMG.
"She's had a lot of involvement in working with the councils in western Sydney in their collaborative effort to secure a City Deal."
He said Ms Thompson was a public policy leader with significant expertise in infrastructure, developing and attracting industry, urban planning and regional development.
The Western Sydney City Deal involved eight councils partnering with the federal and state governments in a long-term plan for investment, jobs and transport.
"I look forward to bringing my experience from the collaborative thinking, planning and investment that is being tested and getting results in Western Sydney to the Hunter," Ms Thompson said in a media statement.
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