our Steering Committee
The role of the Teachers of STEM Initiative (ToSI) Steering Committee is to provide expert advice on the Teachers of STEM Initiative.
The Steering committee members:
- provide expert advice and guidance to the Project Team on any issues that might arise in relation program design and content, timelines or budgets;
- ensure the services provided by the project are of high quality and meet stakeholder expectations;
- ensure that all risk mitigation strategies as detailed in the risk management plan are in place and provide advice on any risks that emerge;
- ensure the project stays within scope and advise on any issues that might emerge; and
- report to the Institute Board on any issues in relation to project quality, scope, timelines, risks and budget.
Meet Our Steering Committee Members
Professor Grace Sarra
Professor Grace Sarra is an academic and a researcher within the School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Grace is of Aboriginal heritage from Bindal and Birri clan groups of the Birrigubba nation and Torres Strait Islander heritage of Mauar, Stephen and Murray Islands. She has 30 years of experience in teaching and leadership roles in schools and universities.
Professor Sarra has published in a wide range of journals and books and her research produces non-traditional outputs aimed engaging and impacting on the communities where she researches. Her research work utilizes Indigenous knowledges and frameworks with theoretical frameworks to contest prevailing assumptions and stereotypes that contribute to the lack of success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in schools and juvenile detention Centres.
Dyonne is a proud Githabal woman from the Far North Coast of NSW. She is an experienced school principal and senior management roles including curriculum consultant at a regional and state level. Dyonne has held previous roles of Chief Operations Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry with a focus and priority on First Nations success.
She is skilled in Non-profit Organisations, Career Development, Coaching, Educational Technology, and Instructional Design. Dyonne is currently the President of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Principals Association.
Renee Phillips is a Saibai woman from Zenadth Kes (Torres Strait) with ties to Papuan New Guinea woman living and working on Ngunnawal/Ngambri country. She is a 4th year teacher of Science and Maths at a local public high school in Canberra.
"I am a co-founding member of the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition (NIYEC) and I am currently studying a Masters in Indigenous Education at Macquarie University," says Renee.
"I am a proud advocate for seeing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers dominating education but importantly calling for our own First Nation education system. We must recognise that we had and do have sophisticated and innovative educational systems that have enabled us to thrive and be the world’s longest continuing culture."
Elle Davidson, GHD'S Indigenous Engagement Leader, is one of NSW's only Aboriginal qualified Town Planners. Having worked with Local Government for seven years in Development Assessment and Urban Design, Elle transitioned into consultancy in 2015. Beginning with the Stakeholder Engagement and Social Sustainability team she worked across multidisciplinary projects.
In 2016, she began developing GHD's first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which outlines how GHD will contribute to reconciliation in Australia through their projects and operations. Elle is the Co-Chair of GHD's RAP Advisory Committee. After launching GHD's second RAP in 2018, Elle began focusing on providing Indigenous Engagement services to clients. She has led the development of an Aboriginal Cultural Values Interpretation Strategy for a Western Sydney Council, which will result in cultural celebrations in the built form. She is also working with a client to incorporate cultural values into a new building fit out.
Elle is passionate about increasing STEM awareness and career pathway opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. She understands the rich contribution that traditional knowledge can make to the STEM industry and practice. Elle has been raising awareness amongst Indigenous students regarding the impact that STEM can have in giving back to community.
Fiona Kelly is a proud Barkindji/Ngiyampaa woman and she is the Executive Principal of Menindee Central School. Menindee Central School is a remote school in far western New South Wales on the Darling River. Fiona’s students range from Kindergarten to Year 12 and 71% of the students at that school are Aboriginal. Fiona came from Menindee, she grew up in Menindee and attended the school that she now leads.
There are strong community links at that school based on mutual respect and her school results show the academic and well-being results in high attendance and student retention and she is determined to build great pathways into work and study for the students at her school.
Hayley is a proud Darumbal and South Sea Islander woman from Rockhampton, Central Queensland and a passionate advocate for Indigenous social justice and First Nations lead education. Her roots are in Indigenous community media, vocational training and Indigenous Affairs policy. She was selected and served for four years on the Youth Advocacy Group for the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative to support young people around the world to advocate for their rights to education.
She worked with national education coalitions to advocate for education rights and policy in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. In 2015, Hayley facilitated the first national meeting to establish the National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition, where she serves currently as National Coordinator and Director. She is also the current Co-Chair of Learning Creates Australia, a growing alliance of people and organisations committed to education change in Australia
Ashlen is a proud Wiradjuri woman from Queanbeyan NSW, who from a young age aspired to work in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) on Indigenous Affairs. In 2015 Ashlen started her career in PM&C in the Indigenous Affairs Group. She is now an Adviser in the Education and Youth Policy Branch at the National Indigenous Australians Agency working on the Commonwealth’s $25m Indigenous Girls’ STEM Academy.
Ashlen is passionate about empowering Indigenous Youth and is an Indigenous mentor for the Work Exposure in Government (WEX) Program. WEX aims to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in the Australian Government and gathers selected year 10, 11 and 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Canberra to provide them with practical hands-on experience and exposure to information about job opportunities and career pathways in the Australian Government.
Chris is a Ngunnawal man from Canberra who has committed his career in the Commonwealth public sector to Indigenous affairs. He has worked across policy, program management, system support and HR areas, but education remains a particular passion. As Acting Senior Adviser in the Education and Youth Policy Branch at the National Indigenous Australians Agency, Chris has oversight of the implementation of the Commonwealth's $25 million Indigenous Girls’ STEM Academy. Chris spends his "spare" time with his 5 kids, enjoying all things rugby league and working with his community on revitalising their language.
"Education has the power to change lives and I see no more important policy area to work in than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education."
"I've seen the impact of high expectations and agency on empowerment, and what better way to empower Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women than by supporting and strengthening their educational aspirations."