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 is the former CEO of Cape York Partnership with a career working with Indigenous peoples, state and federal Governments on education and community development partnerships. She was instrumental in the design of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy. Bernardine was the recipient of a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study education reform in the United States and received a scholarship from Harvard Business School in 2011-12. Bernardine leads the organisation with a strong focus on innovation and co-design.

Julie Grantham – Manager of Government Relations and Stakeholder Engagement

Julie Grantham has held many positions in the Queensland state education sector from teacher to director general. During her tenure, Julie led many wide ranging reforms in education. This included the expansion of early childhood education, the planning of the move of Year 7 into secondary schools and major reforms of TAFE Queensland.

Lyn McKenzie – Education Consultant

Lyn is a former Deputy Director-General of the Queensland Department of Education. Whilst with the Department, Lyn oversaw the Queensland Government’s implementation of the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy (CYAAA).

As Director of the Academy, Lyn leads the sustainable development of the school model and provides leadership to principals. Drawing on decades experience as a teacher, principal and district director, Lyn is directing the Academy on its journey from Fair to Great.

Justin Reeves – Business Services Manager

Justin is an experienced operations manager with over 15 years’ experience in the global mining and health industries. He is passionate about effectively managing and mentoring his teams to deliver successful outcomes and exceed goals.

As the Business Services Manager at Good to Great Schools Australia, Justin oversees the organisation’s operations including finance, contract management, human resources, IT, assets and facilities, administration, and workplace health and safety, providing an oversight on behalf of the CEO.

Justin spent much of his career working internationally delivering specialist mining equipment packages to some of the most remote areas of the world for companies such as BHP, Rio Tinto and Barrick Gold.

More recently he was a part of the operational management team implementing the recovery strategy for a struggling ASX listed national dental group. As part of this strategy he developed and implemented a procurement and automated accounts payable system across the organisation.

In addition to this Justin is also a qualified meditation teacher and brings deep sense of composure and intuition with all tasks he performs.

In his role with Good to Great Schools Australia, Justin works in developing and implementing business strategies, financial plans, modelling and reporting and is a part of the senior management team, making strategic decisions about the organisation’s policies, practices and compliance points across the business.

Interesting fact: Justin grew up in Indonesia and is an avid cook and foodie. He has run an Asian cooking school and luxury meditation retreat with his wife that was featured twice on national travel shows.

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