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.



Philippa Beamish Burton
Deputy Director General, Education Business 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.



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.



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, Cindy held the position of Director, Staff Recruitment and Employment Services since 24 August 2016.

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

Cindy 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.


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.



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


Trish Fraga-Diaz
Executive Director, Finance and Commercial Services

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.

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



Judith King
Assistant Executive Director, Professional Capability

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.




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.

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 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.



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.



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), 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.



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.