Behind the scenes here at the AGECS there are a number of very busy volunteers staying up to date about the best ways to support early childhood and to add value to becoming a member.

As a member there are opportunities to join our Council, or to volunteer to help organise events or institute programs. If you have any suggestions or ideas on how the Association can serve you change to the ECEC field, please either email us directly or comment on one of our social media channels. Alternatively as a member, you are invited to attend meetings and the AGM and talk to any current Council members directly.

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 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.

Vice-President Sarah O'Donnell


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.

Honourary Treasurer Avril McHugh - AGECS Director


Diploma of Teaching (Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College)


After graduation Avril’s first kindergarten was at Lalor in the Shire of Whittlesea. It was a new kindergarten in a new housing development. She taught there for five years before moving to Bendigo where she taught at the Maldon Preschool. After a break to have children, Avril did some emergency relief teaching in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. With her family she then moved to North –West Tasmania, where she worked for the Tasmania Education Department. Initially she worked as a kindergarten teacher at Moriarty Primary School and then in a literacy recovery program at the Ulverstone Primary School.

Upon returning to Melbourne Avril taught a three year old Group at Vista Valley Pre-school, Bulleen. In 1997 she accepted a position at Yarralea Children’s Centre teaching the three year old group and today she is still happily working there. During her time at Yarralea she taught with some wonderful directors. At Yarralea, Avril worked under the Educational Charter: Story- Spring board for Learning, Literacy and Life. Under this governance, she greatly expanded her knowledge and teaching experience.

In 2015 Avril retired from Yarralea Children’s Centre and did relief teaching there until 2020. Avril is now fully retired but continues her interest in Early Childhood Education by being on The AGECS Council.

Assistant 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.

Honorary Secretary Sandra McCarthy-Wilson

General Member Dorothy Connop


Master of Education, Grad Dip Special Ed, Grad Dip Ed. Admin, Grad Dip Movement and Dance, Grad. Dip Special Ed.(Visual Impairment), Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), Diploma Teaching (Early Childhood)


Trained at the Institute of Early Childhood Development in Victoria, Dorothy worked in Kindergartens and Long Day Care Centres, before moving to work in Special Education, in Day Training Centres and Early Intervention. Dorothy worked for the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (now Vision Australia), and the Royal National Institute for the Blind, in the UK. She also worked as a TAFE teacher on the Diploma of Children’s Services and Certificate III in Child Care courses.  Returning to mainstream education, she worked as a Literacy Support Teacher and a Reading Recovery Teacher in Primary Schools. Most recently Dorothy has spent 7 years working in the Nationwide Inclusion Support Programme, as an Inclusion Professional.

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 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 is currently working part time as a Team Leader in Integrated Kindergartens.

General Member Nichola Marriott


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 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 Gillian Shelley

General Member Maree Wiggins


Master of Education (Research), Bachelor of Education (EC), Graduate Diploma in Special Education and Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood)


Maree has been working as a Kindergarten Teacher and PSFO since 1979 and has also participated in research projects with the Education Department and LaTrobe University. Maree is committed to supporting Early Childhood professionals to provide high quality care and education to children and their families.

Administration Officer 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.

Events 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. 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.