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 has worked for Western Australia’s public sector for more than 20 years. He has held senior positions across several departments including child protection, finance and communities, as well as education. In his current role, he leads and oversees the Department’s:

  • statewide planning, delivery and maintenance of education infrastructure
  • financial, fleet and contracting management and budget processes, including the funding of all schools in the state
  • ICT infrastructure, services and security
  • other business services like payroll, compliance, information access and data privacy.

 Jay holds a Bachelor of Business and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Corporate Governance and is a Fellow of CPA Australia. In 2018 the Western Australian Institute of Public Administration Australia named him Chief Financial Officer of the Year and Young Leader of the Year.



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.

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.



Karen Roberts
Executive Director, Workforce

Karen 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.

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

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




Juanita Healy
Executive Director, School Curriculum and Standards

Juanita Healy 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 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.

Raechelle 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 has more than 30 years’ experience in public education, having held executive and leadership positions in central services, regional and metropolitan schools, including 10 years of experience as a secondary school principal.

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 2019 and during 2021–22, 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.



Steve Watson
Executive Director, Schooling Operations and Initiatives

Steve Watson commenced in the Director of Education role at the start of 2024, leading the relationship and support for all public schools in the region.

Steve brings to the role experience from leading Special Educational Needs schools, including teaching and leading in Deaf Education for 17 years. Steve has 25 years of experience having worked in regional and metropolitan schools and services.

Steve reports to the Deputy Director General, Schools.



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.

Richard has 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.



Principal Advisor, Aboriginal Education Teaching and Learning




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 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.

Philippa 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.

David 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.

David 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 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.

Rob reports to the Deputy Director General, Education Business Services.



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.




Ivan Banks
Assistant Executive Director, Examinations, Certification and Testing

Ivan has more than 30 years of experience as a school leader and more than 20 years of experience as a principal in Western Australian high schools.

Ivan leads the directorate responsible for the development and administration of high-quality examination, testing and certification programs to instil confidence in the Western Australian curriculum and standards of achievement. This includes maintaining the integrity of the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) and the administration of the Online Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (OLNA) and the National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) in Western Australia. It also includes researching how technology is used in testing, assessment and certification, and researching strategies to report student engagement with the general capabilities on the Western Australian Statement of Student Achievement (WASSA).

Ivan reports to the Executive Director, School Curriculum and Standards.



Judith King
Assistant Executive Director, Professional Capability

Judith King has a Bachelor of Education from La Trobe University and a wealth of school and system leadership experience.

Judith started her career in Victoria, before spending 13 years in the Goldfields. In the Goldfields she had a range of roles including level 3 classroom teacher, deputy principal, coordinator regional services. For her last 4 years in the region, Judith was the principal at East Kalgoorlie Primary School.

After moving to Perth, Judith was a principal in the north metropolitan region before taking on a system role as Director, Teaching Quality and Innovation. In this role she led the development of Teaching for Impact and the Quality Teaching Strategy.  

In recognition of her outstanding school leadership and innovative educational practices, Judith received a Churchill Fellowship in 2018. In her change management project she drew on her experience as a school principal in 2 diverse metropolitan and regional primary schools. She researched how schools can change communities to create students who are ready to ‘thrive and learn’. She is passionate about investing authority and leadership in others. [KS[C1] She has a strong focus on responding to the complex needs of students and school communities. 

Judith reports to the Executive Director, Statewide Services.



Stuart Percival
Assistant Executive Director, Service Delivery

Stuart reports to the Executive Director, Statewide Services.



Directors of education

Directors of education

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


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 Bridge 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 Indigenous students in public schools and also in rural and remote community schools.

Paul 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 Teacher’s Union of WA.



Lisa Criddle
Director of Education, Midwest

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 Director of Education, Midwest.




Cheryl Townsend
Director of Education, North 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), Australian Council for Educational Leaders Certificate of Excellence in Educational Leadership (2017), winner of the 2017 Women of Achievement Award and is a Principal Fellow.

Cheryl was a principal advisor driving Department initiatives before commencing her leadership role in the South Metropolitan Education Region.



Sally Panizza 
Director of Education, Pilbara

Sally has led school and system reforms through an evidence-based, strategic and collaborative approach to change management. To achieve positive outcomes, she has drawn on her extensive business experience and interpersonal acumen. Sally’s principal appointments cover Kindergarten to Year 12 settings, including principal of a district high school and a WA College of Agriculture. Sally was the first female director of Agricultural Education, a finalist for the Women of Achievement Award in 2021 and is a principal fellow.



Sue Cuneo
Director of Education, South Metropolitan

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.



Dainon Couzic
Director of Education, Southwest

Dainon is an experienced leader in education. He served as the Assistant Director of Education for the Southwest Education Region from 2021 to 2024. Before this, he held leadership roles at large secondary schools in regional and metropolitan areas. Dainon was a finalist for the Secondary Principal of the Year award in 2019 and a fellow in 2017. He received the Fogarty Foundation Success Through Educational Excellence Master of School Leadership Prize in 2016. He is an inclusive leader who is passionate about helping schools and students succeed and reach their potential.




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.