The executive who implemented Australia's paid parental leave system will be the Coorong council's new chief executive officer.
Bridget Mather will begin work at the council on January 20, it announced on Friday, after completing a four-year term as a departmental director with the Mackay Regional Council in Queensland.
Prior to that she worked within the federal Department of Human Services, implementing reforms of the nation's aged care system - for which she received the Public Service Medal - and developing and introducing the government's paid parental leave system, which began operating in 2011.
In all, she has spent more than 25 years in leadership positions in local and federal government.
"I'm passionate about working with people and am looking forward to helping create vibrant places and spaces that make people want to live, work and play in the Coorong," she said.
"I also have the philosophy that if your staff are feeling engaged and genuinely want to come to work, then you can really deliver for your community.
"With this in mind, one of my priorities will be to help the staff overcome the disruption of recent times and get back to becoming the best organisation we can be."
Serving the community, managing infrastructure and maintaining exceptional customer service would be among her priorities, she said.
Her farming background would help her to understand the challenges facing the Coorong's biggest industry, she said; she also saw opportunities for tourism growth.
Though Ms Mather has family in Adelaide, she said she and her husband planned to live in the Coorong district.
Mayor Paul Simmons said the Coorong's first female CEO would be an exceptional asset to the council.
"Ms Mather will bring an objective vision to our organisation, and her extensive experience working with communities, stakeholders and customers with diverse needs in complex environments will be vital to helping our council take positive steps forward in the way we do business," he said.
That would be especially important after 12 months which he acknowledged had been "challenging".
"What we need now is a change in culture and a fresh start for our committed staff, elected members and - most importantly - our community," he said.
Cr Simmons thanked acting CEO David Mosel for his leadership and tireless work, and staff for making efforts to adjust to the turnover of a majority of councillors and the loss of two departmental heads.