Our Council Members
The Council meets quarterly. As well as addressing official business, discussion surrounds what programs and events the Association can become involved in or organise. The best way we can institute this is to hear from you. What are your greatest needs at study, at work, or at play with children?
President Sarah O'Donnell - AGECS Director
Post Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood, Certified Practitioner EFT, Certificate III in Meditation Teaching, Tuning into Kids and Teens facilitator.
After graduating from Melbourne University, Sarah spent a year living and teaching in London before settling into the city of Knox as a preschool teacher. Since this initial teaching role, Sarah has worked as a PSFO coordinator, been Team Leader of Specialist Children’s Service for the Department of Education and overseen the build and establishment of an integrated children’s service which included early learning programs, MCH, and a toy library. For the last few years Sarah has worked in senior leadership positions managing Children’s Services Clusters and managing the trial of the Short Term Kindergarten Inclusion Support Program. Currently Sarah works at Uniting part time while establishing her own business Empowered Living working with Educators and families to reduce their stress as a Certified EFT (Tapping) Practitioner and meditation teacher.
Vice President Melissa Adam
M.Ed. (Arts and Social Ed.), Grad. Dip. Ed. (Social Ed.), Grad. Dip. Div., BECS, Current PhD candidate.
Melissa is a PhD student, teaching coach and casual academic at Deakin University. She has 28 years of experience in a range of roles across early childhood education. Melissa has directed and taught in Victorian preschools and early learning settings, led multiple teams through assessments, ratings, and centre rebuilds, worked as an Educational Leader and Nominated Supervisor, lectured in professional pedagogy and practice, creative arts and law/ethics in early childhood. She thoroughly enjoys coaching and mentoring preservice teachers as part of the placement liaison and assessment team. Melissa has facilitated numerous parenting and early childhood workshops and is passionate about meaningful, supportive, and collaborative engagements with children, families, teachers and educators.
Honorary Treasurer Emma Boag - AGECS Director
Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood)
Emma is an experienced teacher and leader. She has gained an excellent understanding of the characteristics of young children’s learning through extensive experience teaching and including children 0-8 in different contexts. She has taught and led in kindergarten and school settings in Australia and the UK. Emma has a sound knowledge of teaching and leading teachers using different curriculum frameworks, a perceptive and innovative leadership style and a drive to progress children’s outcomes. Her current role is with Community Kinders Plus as the Leader of Pedagogy, supporting teachers and educators to deliver high quality early learning to kindergarten aged children.
Honorary Secretary Nichola Marriott - AGECS Director
Master of Education (Early Childhood), Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood)
Nichola has taught in a variety of settings including rural Victoria, remote WA, Singapore and suburban Melbourne. She has been a PSFO and a pedagogical leader and is currently sharing her passion for inclusion by working at Yooralla in the KIS programme.
General Member Helen Baker
Diploma of Teaching, Early Childhood; Graduate Diploma, Special Education, Certificate IV, Project
Helen has worked in the early childhood field for the past 40 years. She has experience in
sessional kindergarten, extended hours education and care, special education and early
childhood intervention. Helen has valued various roles including Early Childhood Teacher,
Play Specialist, Special Education Teacher, Early Years Project Officer, Preschool Field Officer
and Team Leader.
In 2017, Helen was the recipient of an AGECS, Fellowship grant. She attended the National
Training Institute on Effective Practices, Addressing Challenging Behaviour Conference in
Florida and visited a number of early years services in Colorado implementing the Pyramid
Model. The focus for Helen’s grant was to develop peer group coaching to enhance
children’s social and emotional competence. On return to Australia Helen worked with
colleagues to implemented a peer group mentoring program for Educational Leaders.
Helen is an advocate for educators and their crucial role in teaching children social skills and
General Member Alannah Dore
Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood), Bachelor of Education, Master in Early childhood, Graduate Certificate in Education (Tertiary), Certificate in Developmental Psychiatry, Advanced Certificate in Systems Therapy, Currently studying Doctorate of Philosophy
Professional background; Lecturer Federation University, AGECS President 2019 – 2021, Inclusion Support KU Children’s Services, Consultant (casual) FKA Children’s Services, Professional development (PD) for teachers; preschool to secondary, TAFE teaching for trainee Parent Facilitators, Certification for pre-service early childhood educators, Preschool teaching in rural and urban settings, Director of Personal Development Organisation in Holistic Wellbeing. Recipient of the AGECS Fellowship for Leadership and Change Grant 2016.
Cultural inclusion and emotional wellbeing are at the heart of Alannah’s work in early childhood education.
General Member Sue Emmett
Dr Sue Emmett has been extensively involved in early childhood education and the translation of research into the practical environment for over thirty-five years. Her professional experience includes early childhood teaching in a range of settings, work as an early childhood educational consultant and teaching and researching within TAFE and Higher Education sectors. Sue is currently working as Senior Lecturer in Education at Federation University Australia where she coordinates and teaches in Bachelor and Master of Education in Early Childhood Programs. Her research interests include the wellbeing and resilience of children and educators including trauma informed, inclusive pedagogy and relationship-focused practice in early childhood contexts.
General Member Liza Farquhar
Diploma of ECEC, Bachelor in Education, Masters of Education
Liza trained in New Zealand before moving to London and teaching for 6 years. She moved to Melbourne in 2006 and while teaching at The Melbourne University Early Learning Centre in Abbotsford, completed her Masters of Education, specialising in leadership and change within early childhood education. Liza became the team leaders of the Preschool Field Officer program at Connections and the KIS consultant for 4 years before taking the Program managers position of the North East Metro KIS program at Uniting. This is Liza‘s first year joining the AGECS committee and is looking forward to contributing her experience and knowledge about leadership and inclusion.
General Member Justeen Fitzgibbon
Bachelor Education (Primary), Graduate Diploma (Early Childhood)
Justeen has worked in the education sector for almost 30 years.
Starting in the primary school sector in central Victoria, Justeen worked with vulnerable children and families supporting engagement in learning for children from diverse backgrounds.
Justeen then moved into the early childhood sector working across a variety of roles in long day care, sessional kindergarten, as a member of the Regional Advisory Group assessing KIS funding applications, as a Preschool Field Officer and most recently Team Leader of Pedagogy and Practice in the inner city.
Justeen’s passion lies in the pedagogy of professional growth.
Mentoring student teaching candidates and recent graduates, resourcing colleagues with contemporary support and participating in personal professional opportunities are a critical part of Justeen’s daily practice and opportunities that bring growth for the mentor as well as the mentee.
General Member Wendy Grenfell (AUDAX Editor)
Diploma in Early Childhood Development, Bachelor of Special Education
Wendy has worked extensively in Victorian local government, as an EC Teacher for the City of Keilor, for the City of Knox in sessional kindergartens, and for the city of Boroondara and Knox as a PSFO. Over time, Wendy has also worked as a Toddler group Teacher, Playgroup Field Officer, Preschool Field Officer, Validation Officer, Early Intervention Teacher and Kindergarten Team Leader.
While overseas, Wendy worked for the University of New Brunswick as an Early Years facilitator supporting families of children with additional needs. Wendy has volunteered with the Knox Kindergarten Teachers Association (6 years), PSFO Association (9 years) and currently with AGECS (11 years). Wendy was until recently working part time as a Team Leader in Integrated Kindergartens but is currently retired.
General Member Sandra McCarthy-Wilson
Diploma of Teaching Early Childhood, Graduate Diploma Teaching (Music), Certificate IV in Assessment and Training, Course in Aboriginal Cultural Education.
Sandra has worked in the early childhood field for the past 37 years. She has experience in in Long Day Care, sessional kindergarten, Assessment and Training, Professional Development for Cert III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care and Professional Development. Her roles have been Director in Long Day Care, Special Education Teacher, Assessor and Trainer for Cert III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care. Professional Development Facilitator and currently Educational Leader.
Sandra has a passion in the educational program and supporting her educators in their growth in understanding different pedagogies that underpin best outcomes for children and how to use reflective practice to support these understandings and best outcomes.
She also enjoys the advocacy and support that AGECS provides in being part of the council which is very fulfilling to give back to the community.
General Member Sinead O Conaill
Bachelor of Arts and Humanities (Music and Human Development), Postgraduate Degree in Early Childhood Education and Montessori Studies, Masters of Education (University of Melbourne) and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.
Sinead has worked in the early childhood sector for more than 10 years. Sinead started her career as a kindergarten teacher in Ireland. Sinead moved to Australia in 2015 where she has held a range of roles across early childhood education. In Melbourne, Sinead has taught 3 and 4 year old kindergarten, managed a long day care/kindergarten service, was a regional manager for 15 long day care centres, a training manager for over 200 employees and director of an early childhood education professional development company, delivering training both online and in person. Across these roles Sinead has advocated for professional practice, focused on quality improvement and developed a knowledge of the impact leadership and governance can have on the industry. Sinead is currently working as a Preschool Field Officer and is enjoying connecting with families and educators across Melbourne to support the promotion of inclusion.
General Member Bridie Raban
PhD, MEd, BA, PGCE, CertEd, DipEd. Mooroolbeek Professor of Early Childhood Studies, Melbourne University 1995-2007.
After 12 years teaching, Bridie joined the staff of the Universities of Bristol, Reading, Oxford and Warwick where she was Professor of Primary Education (Early Years) before coming to Australia.
She has published widely and presented at conferences across the world.
In 2021 she was awarded an Honorary University Fellowship by the Hong Kong Baptist University in recognition of her significant research and scholarship.
Her latest books:
Raban, B. 2020 Developing Self and Self-Concept in early childhood education and beyond. Bingley: Emerald Points.
Kilderry, A. & Raban, B. (Eds.). 2020. Strong Foundations: Evidence-informing practice in early childhood education and care, Melbourne: ACER Press.
General Member Nicole Talarico
Bachelor of Early Childhood Studies
Certificate Supervisory Management
Certificate IV Workplace Training & Assessment
Nicole has Bachelor in Early Childhood Studies (University of Melbourne) which led her to long day care, sessional preschool, coordinating the University of Melbourne’s Vacation Care programs and was a tertiary supervisor for the University of Melbourne. Nicole spent time working in local government in children’s services teams and managed a childcare field officer team before she became an early childhood consultant at Gowrie Victoria. Nicole is a Reconciliation Ambassador for AGECS but also sits on the Reconciliation Advisory Group for Early Childhood Australia (ECA) and is a committee member of ECA Victoria Branch. Her mentoring strategies have been outlined in a range of early childhood sector publications and podcasts, and her insights shared at conferences both nationwide and overseas. With a long-term commitment to supporting sector growth, Nicole has a strong focus on the prevention of child abuse and neglect.Nicole recently authored a book, Asserting a Culture of Child Safety, aimed at helping early childhood education and care services to create and maintain environments that are physically, emotionally, spiritually and culturally safe. Nicole is the mother of four children and is also the founding Director of Medical Action Bag supporting First Aid and environmental practices in Australia & New Zealand.
In order to achieve our charitable goals, AGECS works with a small number of contractors.
Engagement Coordinator Alex Heard
Alex has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Teaching from the University of Melbourne. She is currently at the beginning of a PhD at ACU, looking at young children’s internet use.
Alex has several years of teaching experience, and has been both teacher and educational leader in this time. She still practices teaching the northern suburbs of Melbourne. In 2017, Alex became a member of the Merri-bek Early Years Network where she volunteers with other early childhood professionals to organise an annual conference. Alex has also worked with the University of Melbourne’s Master of Teaching program as a Clinical Specialist Tutor, and from time to consults on children’s educational apps. She is a current Apiary Fellow with the Front Project.
Program Manager Liz Potter
Liz is Founder and Director of Business Answers & Support and brings a wealth of experience from many years’ work supporting a wide range of businesses, organisations and not-for-profits. Liz has a Bachelor of Arts from University of Melbourne, is registered with the Tax Practitioners Board as a BAS Agent, and is a Member in Practice of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. Liz is a skilled project manager who combines high level communications with proven leadership to get the job done. She brings a calm and positive presence to each workplace she serves.
Bookkeeper Narelle Wilson
Narelle is the Director of Volta Consulting, a purpose-led consulting firm that aims to bridge the gap between profit and purpose. Narelle holds a Bachelor or Commerce (Accounting and Business Law) from Curtin University, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance from the Governance Institute of Australia, a Graduate Certificate in Gender, Peace and Security and is part way through a Master of International Relations at Monash University. She is also a registered BAS Agent and has over 20 years corporate experience, including 13 years managing a private equity firm and now works with a range of business owners in various sectors including NFP, education, coaching, and professional services.