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Our people

Our people

Our Corporate Executive and senior staff are leaders in education strategy, planning and innovation, providing the best possible environment for schools and students to thrive.

The Department of Education is responsible to the Hon Dr Tony Buti MLA, Minister for Education.

Corporate Executive


Lisa Rodgers
Director General

Lisa Rodgers is a powerful voice and respected advocate in education. She is an experienced executive, having provided exemplary service for the profession, governments and the public in various jurisdictions including the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

Prior to joining the Department of Education, Lisa was Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and Deputy Secretary, Early Learning and Student Achievement and Deputy Secretary, Evidence, Data and Knowledge in the Ministry of Education in New Zealand. With over 16 years of experience in education, Lisa has led significant reforms in assessment innovation, curriculum and the use of evidence for impact at the classroom and national level.

Lisa has an Honours Degree in Psychology and has held several other substantial posts in justice, health and defence.

Lisa is passionate about the profession and is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for young people.



Melesha Sands
Deputy Director General, Schools

Melesha Sands was appointed to this position in 2021. She is responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction for 8 education regions and networks of schools across the state. All directors of education report to this position.

Ms Sands was previously Executive Director, Recovery and Coordination, and has previously led the Department’s COVID‑19 incident management team. Her extensive educational leadership includes principalships at Swan View Senior High School and Belridge Secondary College, and leadership positions in regional and metropolitan secondary schools.

A 2017 Principal Fellow, Ms Sands has made significant contributions to the public school system in strategic planning, innovation, and progressing the Department’s Leadership Strategy.



Jim Bell
Deputy Director General, Student Achievement

Jim Bell 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.

Mr Bell 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 region, and most recently Executive Director, Strategy and Policy.

Mr Bell’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.



Jay Peckitt
Deputy Director General, Education Business Services

Jay Peckitt joined the Department in 2016 and leads our Finance and Commercial Services, Infrastructure, ICT, and Business and Customer Services divisions.

Mr Peckitt has been in the state’s public sector for 18 years and has held senior positions at the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and the Department of Finance. In 2018, Mr Peckitt was named Young Leader of the Year and Chief Financial Officer of the Year by the Institute of Public Administration Australia.

Mr Peckitt has a Bachelor of Business, is a Fellow of CPA Australia and holds a Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance.



Martin Clery
Executive Director, Statewide Services

Martin Clery 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.

Mr Clery brings considerable experience in education across Western Australia, teaching in regional and metropolitan schools and working in central support roles.

Mr Clery reports to the Deputy Director General, Student Achievement.



Cindy Barnard
Executive Director, Workforce

Cindy Barnard was appointed to the position on 19 September 2022 and leads workforce policy and coordination, staff recruitment and employment, and employee relations. Prior to this role, Ms Barnard held the position of Director, Staff Recruitment and Employment Services since 24 August 2016.

Ms Barnard has more than 25 years of experience in the state’s public service, in the education and training sector.

Ms Barnard reports to the Deputy Director General, Student Achievement.



Mary Brown
Executive Director, Professional Standards and Conduct

Mary Brown was appointed to this position in 2022. Ms Brown has had a distinguished career in a variety of roles in both public and private settings and brings a wealth of experience in executive leadership to the Department.

Ms Brown has extensive experience from her time with the WA Police Force, and most recently held roles at the Corruption and Crime Commission and Deloitte.

Ms Brown was previously with the Department in 2020 when she led a reform and business improvement project.




Allan Blagaich
Executive Director, School Curriculum and Standards

Allan Blagaich took up this position in 2017 and is responsible for leading the development of curriculum, assessment and standards for student achievement in all schools across Western Australia. Before this, he was Chief Executive Officer of the School Curriculum and Standards Authority, appointed in 2011.

He has many years of experience in education leadership, having held executive roles in statewide planning and metropolitan public schooling. He is a board member of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority and chairs the Australasian Curriculum, Assessment and Certification Authorities' vocational education and training committee.

Mr Blagaich reports to the chair of the School Curriculum and Standards Authority, and maintains a strategic reporting relationship with the Director General.



Raechelle Lee
Executive Director, Strategy and Policy

Raechelle Lee is responsible for leading system-wide strategy and policies to support Department and student outcomes.

Ms Lee comes to this position as Director, Intergovernmental Relations, following considerable experience across the education portfolio leading organisational priorities in complex policy environments. She started her early career as a teacher and has worked in a range of policy-related roles in central and statewide services since 2007, including in Aboriginal Education.



Milanna Heberle
Executive Director, System Response and Transformation

Milanna was appointed to this position in 2021, and leads teams responsible for COVID-19 recovery and incident support. She has more than 30 years’ experience in public education, having held leadership positions in regional and metropolitan schools and as a Principal Consultant, developing curriculum and leading system change. Her leadership positions include principalships at Newman and Rossmoyne senior high schools.

Ms Heberle is acknowledged as a strong, innovative and visionary leader with high expectations of staff and students. She is a 2019 Principal Fellow who has extensive experience with strategic planning, change management, leadership development and data analysis. She actively participates in a variety of educational committees and forums and contributes extensively to system initiatives.


Marie-Anne Keeffe
Director, Communications 

Marie-Anne Keeffe (MAK) was appointed to lead our Communications team in 2023, bringing extensive experience in communications and media in Western Australia.

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.



Richard Miles
Director, Teacher Registration

Richard Miles was appointed in 2013 and is responsible for secretariat services to the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia, including administration of registration services to more than 50,000 teachers, assessment and investigation of disciplinary and impairment matters involving registered teachers, and accreditation of initial teacher education programs.

Mr Miles has a Master of Arts (Political Science), Bachelor of Laws and Graduate Diploma in Practical Legal Training.

Mr Miles reports to the chair of the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia and the Director General.



Kevin O'Keefe
Principal Advisor, Aboriginal Education Teaching and Learning

Kevin O'Keefe joined the Corporate Executive in 2019 to provide advice and guidance drawn from his extensive experience in Aboriginal education in school and system contexts.

He 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. He 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.



Senior staff


Philippa Beamish Burton
Executive Director, Finance and Commercial Services

Philippa Beamish Burton joined the Department in late 2017 as the Director Financial Planning and Resourcing. With more than 15 years' experience in the Western Australian public sector, she has held senior positions at the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and Department of Communities.

Mrs Beamish Burton has a Bachelor of Business, is a Certified Practising Accountant, and in 2017 was named as the Finance Practitioner of the Year by the Institute of Public Administration Australia.

Mrs Beamish Burton reports to the Deputy Director General, Education Business Services.



David Dans
Chief Information Officer

David Dans was appointed to this position in 2017 and is responsible for information and communication technology services, including strategic service delivery, infrastructure and telecommunications, e-learning and business systems, student information systems and ICT governance.

Mr Dans has over 30 years’ experience working in the technology and commercial arena for public and private sectors in Australia and overseas. Before joining the Department, he was Chief Digital Officer at Landgate.

Mr Dans reports to the Deputy Director General, Education Business Services.



Rob Thomson
Executive Director, Infrastructure 

Rob Thomson was appointed to this position in 2021 and is responsible for managing the provision of public school facilities including strategic asset management, capital works programs, and maintenance and minor works programs.

Mr Thomson reports to the Deputy Director General, Education Business Services.



Juanita Healy
Assistant Executive Director, Curriculum, Assessment and Strategic Policy

Juanita Healy took up this position in 2017 and leads the research, development and review of Kindergarten to Year 12 curriculum and assessment to support the Western Australian Curriculum and Assessment Outline and the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE). Before this she was an executive director at the School Curriculum and Standards Authority.

Ms Healy is a member of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’s Curriculum Directors' Group. She has a Master of Education (Education Administration and Policy).

Ms Healy reports to the Executive Director, School Curriculum and Standards.



Russell Dyer
Assistant Executive Director, Examinations, Certification and Testing

Mr Dyer took up this position in 2018 and is responsible for managing data reporting requirements for the School Curriculum and Standards Authority, examination logistics, certification of student achievement and implementation of NAPLAN and OLNA across all Western Australian schools. Before this he was an executive director at the School Curriculum and Standards Authority.

Mr Dyer has led project evaluation, review and performance monitoring activities at school and system levels.

Mr Dyer reports to the Executive Director, School Curriculum and Standards.



Catherine Shepherd
Assistant Executive Director, Professional Capability

Catherine Shepherd leads and oversees professional capability activities to improve student achievement by enabling teaching and leadership excellence.

Ms Shepherd has significant school and system leadership experience. Previously Assistant Executive Director, Student Support and Aboriginal Education, and Director, Student Support Services, she has led major education reform and initiatives to strengthen support of schools, build professional capability, and support student achievement and wellbeing. Having led regional, remote and metropolitan schools, Ms Shepherd has extensive insights into the needs of schools in their various contexts.

Ms Shepherd reports to the Executive Director, Statewide Services.



Neil Darby
Assistant Executive Director, Service Delivery

Neil Darby leads and oversees the coordination and integration of responsive specialist support services, including the implementation and management of a new cohesive single entry point process to support schools.

Mr Darby has significant educational leadership having led regional, remote and metropolitan school communities. As a regional executive director, he led schools through significant education reform and the increasing expectations of school communities. It is this experience in regions and leadership positions across the system that contributes to his extensive knowledge and insights into the needs of students and schools in their various contexts. More recently, Mr Darby was Assistant Executive Director Teaching, Learning and Early Childhood Services.

Mr Darby reports to the Executive Director, Statewide Services.


Directors of education

Directors of education

Directors of education report to the Deputy Director General, Schools.


Leila Bothams
Director of Education, Goldfields

Ms Bothams previously held positions as principal of Rossmoyne Senior High School (2006-2015) and Harrisdale Senior High School (2017-2021). Ms Bothams is also a Principal Fellow.



Paul Bridge
Director of Education, Kimberley

Paul Bridge brings considerable experience in rural and remote education, working to help improve outcomes for students in collaboration with their local communities.

Mr Bridge was previously principal of Bayulu and One Arm Point remote community schools, as well as schools in Derby and Kiara. He was also a director in the Ngaanyatjarra and Goldfields areas and is a Churchill Fellow.



Lisa Criddle
Director of Education, Midwest

Lisa Criddle has led the Midwest region since 2020, having also previously been a director in the Goldfields region. She was most recently principal of Allendale Primary School.

She brings extensive experience to the role from both a school and system level, was named WA Primary Principal of the Year in 2017, and is a Principal Fellow.




Joanne Harris
Director of Education, North Metropolitan

Joanne Harris is an experienced leader in education, innovation and reform. She was formerly an assistant director for the North Metropolitan region and has acted as director in 5 other regions.

Ms Harris 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. Ms Harris has 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 Parkin comes to this role having led the Pilbara education region since 2019. She brings extensive experience as a principal of primary schools in Piara Waters, Embleton, Boulder and Kalgoorlie.

Ms Parkin has contributed to system-wide initiatives and reforms, managing student behaviour projects and advancing school improvement. Ms Parkin is also a Principal Fellow.



Ken Perris
Director of Education, South Metropolitan

Ken Perris brings to this role extensive experience in teacher and leadership roles in rural, remote and metropolitan schools across the State.

Previously a director in the Goldfields, Mr Perris has strong knowledge in regional leadership and is committed to supporting and developing women in leadership. He has also held central roles to help shape and implement public school review and improvement.



Sue Cuneo
Director of Education, Southwest

Sue Cuneo brings considerable regional leadership experience to this role, having been a director in regions across the state including for South Metropolitan and the Pilbara.

Ms Cuneo is experienced as a teacher and leader across small remote schools, large metropolitan schools and district high schools, as well as in a number of central leadership roles.



Douglas Cook
Director of Education, Wheatbelt

Douglas Cook is a highly experienced school and system leader who enables student achievement by creating positive school cultures and empowering staff.

Mr Cook 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. Mr Cook was a finalist for WA Primary Principal of the Year in 2016, and is a Principal Fellow.