Our senior staff
Our senior staff
At 30 June 2023
Lisa Rodgers – Director General
Lisa was appointed as the Director General of the Department of Education in January 2019. As a widely respected leader in education, Lisa is committed to the progress and achievement of children and young people across Western Australia. She is a powerful voice and advocate of reform and reconciliation and is highly committed to student outcomes, connected communities and effective leadership in schools. Her career in the public sector has seen her appointed to executive positions across Australia and internationally. She has held roles in psychology specialising in child mental health, has worked in intelligence in the British Army, led the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, and was the Deputy Secretary of Education in New Zealand. Lisa has a degree in psychology and served as a Board Director on The Foundation for Young Australians. In 2021, Lisa was awarded the Australian Council for Educational Leaders Western Australian Pre‑Eminent Educational Leader Award.
Melesha Sands – Deputy Director General, Schools
Melesha was appointed to this position in 2021. Melesha is responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction for 8 education regions and networks of schools across the state; Agricultural Education, supporting the 5 WA agricultural colleges and 9 farm‑based schools located in regional and metropolitan areas; and the Department’s Incident Support Unit. All Directors of Education and operational initiatives report to this position. Melesha was previously Executive Director, Recovery and Coordination, and has previously led the Department’s COVID‑19 incident management team. Melesha’s extensive educational leadership includes principalships at Swan View Senior High School and Belridge Secondary College, and leadership positions in regional and metropolitan secondary schools.
Jim Bell – Deputy Director General, Student Achievement
Jim was appointed to this position in 2020. He leads the integration of teaching practice with workforce strategy and support services to strengthen support for teaching and learning excellence and enable the best possible outcomes for every student. Jim has more than 25 years’ experience in education, holding a number of teaching and leadership positions, including as principal of Lakelands and Success Primary Schools. He was also a Director of Public School Review, an assistant director in the South Metropolitan Education Region, and most recently Executive Director, Strategy and Policy. Jim’s educational leadership is complemented by commercial experience in a multi‑national company managing Aboriginal employment strategies, leadership development programs and the business development portfolio.
Philippa Beamish Burton – Deputy Director General, Education Business Services
Philippa joined the Department in late 2017 as the Director, Financial Planning and Resourcing. With more than 19 years’ experience in the Western Australian public sector, Philippa has held senior positions at the former Department for Child Protection and Family Support and the Department of Communities. Philippa has a Bachelor of Business, is a Certified Practising Accountant, and was awarded the Chief Financial Officer of the Year at the 2022 W.S. Lonnie Awards. Philippa was also named the Finance Practitioner of the Year by the Institute of Public Administration Australia in 2017 and 2022.
Juanita Healy – Executive Director, School Curriculum and Standards
Juanita is responsible for leading the development of curriculum, assessment and standards for student achievement in all schools across Western Australia. Juanita has many years of experience in Kindergarten to Year 12 education leadership, having held executive roles in the Department of Education and the School Curriculum and Standards Authority, and teaching in regional and metropolitan schools. Juanita holds a Master of Education (Policy and Administration), is a member of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority Board, and is Chair of the Australasian Curriculum, Assessment and Certification Authorities’ vocational education and training committee. Juanita reports to the Chair of the School Curriculum and Standards Authority and the Director General.
Mary Brown – Executive Director, Professional Standards and Conduct
Mary was appointed to this position in 2022. Mary has had a distinguished career in a variety of roles in both public and private settings, including with the Western Australia Police Force, and most recently at the Corruption and Crime Commission and Deloitte Australia. Mary has a wealth of experience in executive leadership, and is skilled in delivering strategic reform, organisational change and capability building in complex situations, as well as extensive experience in undertaking and overseeing high level investigations and using evidence‑based insights to deliver operational outcomes.
Milanna Heberle – Executive Director, System Response and Transformation
Milanna has more than 30 years’ experience in public education, having held executive and leadership positions in central services, regional and metropolitan schools, including principalships at Newman Senior High School and Rossmoyne Senior High School. Milanna is acknowledged as a strong, innovative and visionary leader who has participated in a variety of educational committees and contributed extensively to system initiatives. As part of the Department’s leadership strategy, Milanna undertook studies at Harvard University in 2018 and, during 2021 and 2022, led the Department’s response to COVID‑19, where she was instrumental in ensuring schools followed advice for public health and social measures from Western Australia’s Chief Health Officer. In her current role, Milanna is responsible for managing and overseeing complex system‑wide programs and projects.
Raechelle Lee – Executive Director, Strategy and Policy
Raechelle is responsible for leading system‑wide strategy and policies to support Department and student outcomes. Raechelle has considerable experience across the education portfolio, leading organisational priorities in complex policy environments. Raechelle started her early career as a teacher and has worked in a range of education policy‑related roles since 2007, including in Aboriginal Education and Intergovernmental Relations.
Martin Clery – Executive Director, Statewide Services
Martin leads the division responsible for delivering support services to school staff and students to improve student achievement and outcomes, including teaching and learning resources, professional learning for teachers and school leaders, and support for students with specific learning needs. Martin brings considerable experience in education across Western Australia, teaching in regional and metropolitan schools and working in central support roles. Martin reports to the Deputy Director General, Student Achievement.
Marie‑Anne Keeffe – Director, Communications
Marie‑Anne Keeffe (MAK) was appointed to lead our Communications team in 2023, bringing extensive experience in strategic communications and media across radio, television, print and digital. MAK spent 25 years at Channel 7 Perth, including as Telethon General Manager, where she helped raise more than $80 million for sick children. She was also an executive producer for Today Tonight, produced Howard Sattler’s top‑rating radio show on 6PR and ran a boutique strategic communications and media training agency in Perth. Most recently MAK was seconded to Consumer Protection as campaign manager for the COVID‑19 taskforce, where she was able to combine her communications and legal skills.
Cindy Barnard – Executive Director, Workforce
Cindy was appointed to the position in 2022 and leads Workforce Policy and Coordination, Staff Recruitment and Employment, and Employee Relations. Prior to this role, Cindy had held the position of Director, Staff Recruitment and Employment Services since August 2016. Cindy has more than 25 years’ experience in the state’s public service, in the education and training sector. Cindy reports to the Deputy Director General, Student Achievement.
Richard Miles – Director, Teacher Registration
Richard leads the division responsible for the regulation of the teaching profession in Western Australia, across the public education, non‑government and early childhood sectors. He leads secretariat services to the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia, including administration of registration services to more than 58,000 teachers, ensuring the safe, competent and professional practice of teaching in Western Australian educational venues. This includes assessment and investigation of disciplinary and impairment matters involving registered teachers, and accreditation of initial teacher education programs delivered by university and other providers. Richard is the national convenor of the Australasian Teacher Regulatory Authorities and in 2022–23, he was the drafting instructor for amendments to the Teacher Registration Act 2012 (WA). Richard has a background in strategic policy, labour market analysis, intergovernmental relations and legislative review and holds a Master of Arts (Political Science), Bachelor of Laws and Graduate Diploma in Practical Legal Training. Richard reports to the Chair of the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia and the Director General.
Kevin O’Keefe OAM – Principal Advisor, Student Achievement
Kevin was co‑opted as a member of Corporate Executive in May 2019 to provide advice and guidance drawn from his extensive experience in Aboriginal education in school and system contexts. Kevin has held a number of teaching and senior leadership positions in a range of schools, including leading a multi‑campus remote community school in the Western Desert as Executive Principal of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands School. Kevin was also an executive director in the former Department of Education and Training, with oversight for Aboriginal education and training, and worked as a senior research officer at Edith Cowan University leading a national research project into Indigenous education. Kevin is a Noongar person with roots in Yued country.
Other senior officers or division heads
Trish Fraga‑Diaz – Executive Director, Finance and Commercial Services and Chief Finance Officer
Trish joined the Department in 2006 and has more than 30 years’ experience in the Western Australian public sector, working in a range of agencies and complex projects. Trish has extensive experience in financial management, corporate services, financial policy and governance and major reform. Holding a Bachelor of Business, Trish is a Certified Practising Accountant, with a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management.
Rob Thomson – Executive Director, Infrastructure
Rob was appointed to this position in the second half of 2021. He is responsible for managing the Department’s asset portfolio, which includes strategic asset planning, land acquisition, capital works, services contracting, and maintenance and minor works programs. Rob has 20 years of experience in infrastructure planning and investment in the public sector, having held senior positions at the former Department of Sport and Recreation and the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.
Lisa Criddle – Executive Director, Early Childhood Education
Lisa led the Midwest Education Region from 2020 to 2023, having also previously been a director in the Goldfields Education Region and the Principal of Allendale Primary School. Lisa brings extensive experience from both a school and system level, was named WA Primary Principal of the Year in 2017, and is a Principal Fellow. Lisa now holds the position of Executive Director, Early Childhood Education.
Tim Yorke – Chief Information Officer
Tim has worked in various roles across several organisations and has qualifications in psychology, management, and information systems. Tim has more than 25 years’ experience in the Department, with extensive experience in ICT Operations and Customer Service. In 2013, he was highly commended for the Customer Service Project of the Year by the Customer Service Institute of Australia.
Our Directors of Education
Leigh Nelson – Director of Education, Goldfields
A public school leader for more than 20 years working predominantly in regional and remote schools, Leigh has been committed to establishing a culture of high performance both as a principal and system leader. Leigh is an effective change manager with excellent interpersonal skills and demonstrated capacity to bring groups of people together to achieve improved outcomes for students and staff. Leigh has previously been principal of a WA Primary School of the Year and is also a Principal Fellow.
Paul Bridge – Director of Education, Kimberley
Paul has held leadership and principal positions across the Kimberley Education Region. As an Aboriginal educator of immense experience, he is aware of the critical challenges facing Aboriginal students in public schools and also in rural and remote community schools. He has been involved in projects liaising with Aboriginal communities, government agencies, universities and community bodies. Paul is also a ministerially appointed member of the Rural and Remote Education Advisory Council and a previous Senior Vice President of the State School Teachers’ Union of WA.
Julie Carlson – Director of Education, Midwest
Julie’s first experiences as a teacher at Balgo Hills Aboriginal Community ignited a passion for regional and remote education that continues today. Julie has held many varied roles and lived in many locations, including Christmas Island, Donnybrook, Merredin and Port Hedland. Julie has been a curriculum manager, principal consultant, manager of Kindergarten to Year 12 resource development at the School of Isolated and Distance Education and a collegiate principal supporting beginning to experienced principals in all Western Australian regions. Julie is driven by a moral imperative to provide students with the very best education.
Joanne Harris – Director of Education, North Metropolitan
Joanne is an experienced leader in education, innovation and reform. Joanne was formerly an assistant director for the North Metropolitan Education Region and has acted as director in 5 other education regions. Joanne has previously held central roles driving new initiatives and implementing reform to improve our system, including as a principal advisor for the student‑centred funding model and a director of Public School Review. Joanne has also had a number of years in a variety of secondary school leadership positions, most recently as Principal of Greenwood College, and is a Principal Fellow.
Cheryl Parkin – Director of Education, Pilbara
Cheryl has previously held system leadership roles as Director, Expert Review Group and Regional Executive Director, Pilbara Education Region. Cheryl has been Director of Education in the Pilbara Education Region since 2021. Cheryl has contributed to system‑wide initiatives and reforms, including the current model of school review. She brings to the role extensive experience as foundation Principal of Piara Waters Primary School. She also led schools in Embleton, Boulder and Kalgoorlie, and is a Principal Fellow.
Cheryl Townsend – Director of Education, South Metropolitan
Cheryl had her contributions to public education acknowledged by being a WA Education Awards finalist for WA Secondary Principal of the Year (2016 and 2017), awarded an Australian Council for Educational Leaders Certificate of Excellence in Educational Leadership (2017), the 2017 Women of Achievement Award winner and is a Principal Fellow. Cheryl was a principal advisor driving Department initiatives before commencing her leadership role in the South Metropolitan Education Region.
Sue Cuneo – Director of Education, Southwest
Sue is an experienced educational leader who has held a variety of principal positions in regional and metropolitan schools before engaging in system leadership roles in central services and director‑level leadership across 5 education regions. Sue recently moved from Regional Executive Director, South Metropolitan Education Region to Director of Education, Southwest Education Region. Sue actively promotes diversity and equity of education for all students across Western Australia, understanding the need to develop and maintain genuine connection to community.
Douglas Cook – Director of Education, Wheatbelt
Douglas is a highly experienced school and system leader who enables student achievement by creating positive school cultures and empowering staff. Douglas has a deep understanding of the diversity of our schools through his previous central leadership roles, including as a principal advisor. His experience as a principal in regional schools supports his work to provide children and young people access to a quality education and connection to their community, no matter where they live. Douglas was a finalist for WA Primary Principal of the Year in 2016 and is a Principal Fellow.
Senior officers who left the Department during 2022–23
- Damien Stewart, Executive Director, Workforce left the Department in October 2022 and was appointed Executive Director, State Services for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.
- Deborah Leavitt, Director, Communications left the Department in March 2023 and was appointed to a position within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.
- Saeed Amin, Director of Education, Goldfields left the Department in April 2023 and was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Regional Services, Department of Education, Northern Territory.