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Our Board and leadership team

Board of directors

Our Board is made up of education, business and government leaders with decades of high level, diverse leadership experience.

Noel Pearson – Founder and Co-Chair

Noel is an Indigenous Australian, who has spent decades advancing reform on native title, economic development and social policy for his people in Cape York Peninsula. He is Director of Strategy of Cape York Partnership and Co-Chair of Good to Great Schools Australia. Noel intends to devote the next decade of his working life to education reform and is working closely with government and business to form partnerships to advance education opportunities for Australian children.

Tony Denholder – Partner Ashurst Australia and Co-Chair

Tony is the head of Ashurst’s resources practice in Brisbane, specialising in energy and resources, government and native title. He has advised companies in the mining sector for over 15 years including Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton and was recognised as one of Australia’s leading lawyers in the 2009 to 2014 editions of Best Lawyers Australia.

Richard Ah Mat - Chair, Cape York Land Council

Richard (Richie) Ah Mat is a descendant of the Yupungathi peoples from western Cape York and the Wuthathi people of the eastern Cape region. Born on Thursday Island, and later moving to Weipa, Richie led the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU Weipa Branch) in the mid 1990’s against mining giant Comalco, in the fight against individual contracts. In 1997, Richie was elected as the Chairperson of the Cape York Land Council, an Aboriginal organisation appointed by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs as the Native Title Representative Body for the Cape York region. Richie held this role for 4 years before serving as the Land Council’s Executive Director for a further 4 year period. In 2009, Richie returned to the role of Chairperson and has held the role since.

Richie is the co-chairperson of the Cape York Partnership group and serves on the board of Good to Great Schools Australia, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, the Forestry Industry Advisory Council, Bama Civil and Construction Services, Ngak Min Health, Cape York Girl Academy and Djarragun College.

Richie was elected as a founding member of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council and is committed to the promotion of economic and social development of First Nations people of Cape York and across the nation.

Peter Chandler - Former Northern Territory Minister for Education

Peter is General Manager Operations at FoodBank NT and a former member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. As Minister for Education, Peter was instrumental in bringing GGSA’s Literacy in Remote Schools program to the Northern Territory. As a recipient of the Winston Churchill Fellowship, Pater travelled to Canada, the US and the UK to study animal management, welfare and disaster management.

Our leaders

Our leaders have a wealth of collective experience in delivering the Good to Great Schools Australia agenda.

Bernardine Denigan – Chief Executive Officer

Bernardine Denigan is the founding CEO of Good to Great Schools Australia (GGSA) and former CEO of Australia’s leading Indigenous think-tank, Cape York Partnership. Bernie has led GGSA to become Australia’s leading provider of evidence-based effective teaching to schools.

Under Bernie’s leadership, GGSA has partnered with the Queensland Government for more than ten years to implement GGSA’s unique school improvement model through the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy (CYAAA). During this time, CYAAA has transformed the Hope Vale and Coen campuses from chronically low performing to the top of majority Indigenous schools, as evidenced by departmental data.

Bernie also led the development and implementation of several national education programs funded by the Australian Government that promoted school improvement and effective teaching. Results from these programs have led to unprecedented successes in the schools they were implemented in.

As CEO of Cape York Partnership, Bernie led the establishment of partnerships between Indigenous people and state and federal governments to pursue empowerment through education and community development.

In 2008, Bernie received a Churchill Fellowship to study education reform in the United States. This award is for Australians to explore other countries’ new ideas, innovation and excellence. Bernie’s fellowship led to the development of GGSA’s effective teaching model, and the design of a remote Indigenous schooling model adopted by CYAAA.

Harvard Business School awarded Bernie a scholarship in their personalised Leadership Development Program, which develops decision-making and leadership skills by deepening understanding of core business operations and broader business knowledge, global perspectives and leadership insights.

As CEO of GGSA, Bernie leads and drives the development of the business with a focus on innovating education products that delight customers.

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