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 Liza Farquhar
Past President 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.
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.
Honorary Treasurer Sophia Patitsas - AGECS Director
Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood), Graduate Diploma Special Education, Master of Education (University of Melbourne), Certificate IV in Assessment and Training, Recipient Women and Leadership Australia Executive Ready Program.
As a seasoned early childhood teacher, Sophia taught in several kindergartens in the West before joining as an Early Intervention Teacher at Uncle Bob’s Child Development Centre, Royal Children’s Hospital. Teaching in the various settings allowed for Sophia to be granted a Scholarship for 10 months, exploring Early Intervention using the Medical Model in Greece.
Other roles Sophia has undertaken include working as Community Development Officer for a Communities for Children project, Statewide Early Childhood Consultant at Playworks, After School Care Coordinator, Family Day Care Field Worker and Preschool Field Officer.
Sophia is currently working as Early Years Coordinator which is giving her the opportunity to work with Teams, and guide the process of Social Policy Reform by the funding of 3 year olds in kindergartens within the municipality of Moreland.
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 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 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 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 Emma Boag
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.
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.
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.
Engagement Coordinator Alexandra Heard
Alex graduated from her Master of Teaching degree in 2016 and immediately started working in sessional kindergartens in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Alex also worked as a casual relief teacher around inner city and western Melbourne part time for one year, which was an invaluable resource for reflective practice. She currently works as a teacher at Fawkner Kindergarten and an Educational Leader at an LDC in Northcote. In 2017, Alex became a member of the Moreland Early Years Network where she volunteers with other teachers to organise an annual conference for early childhood professionals in the area.