Wendy Lindgren


Wendy is a graduate of both the University of Newcastle and Macquarie University. She has extensive teaching experience, having taught across all sectors, first within the school system and later in the TAFE sector. Wendy was the Head of Child Studies in NSW TAFE for a number of years. She has also been widely involved in Australia’s diverse community sector over many years.


Michelle Muller

Board Member

Michelle is a graduate of Charles Sturt University, holding a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood. Michelle’s career began as a preschool teacher, and she later became a director and teacher at Ross Circuit Preschool in Albury from 2008 to 2018. Michelle is currently a team leader at Greater Hume Children’s Services, responsible for the management of four long day care services. She has experience working in regional community environments and is the Chairperson of the Building Bridges Regional Early Childhood Bi-annual Conference. 

Michelle joins the CELA Board in 2022 and brings a wealth of experience in understanding the National Quality Framework, including the implementation of the Early Years Learning Framework, the National Quality Standards and the National Law and Regulations.

Ariane Simon

Board Member

Ariane is the Director of St Stephen’s Preschool, Normanhurst, where she has worked as both a teaching and non-teaching Director. Ariane first became a Director at the age of 20 and has since worked both as a Director and as a teacher at Charles Sturt University and TAFE campuses all over the state. She is a strong advocate for the ECEC sector, leveraging her position on the Independent Education Union, Early Childhood Council to ensure early childhood teachers are supported in their work through better conditions and pay parity.


Gary Withyman

Board Member

Gary has broad experience in the government and private sectors. With a Master of Business in Employment Relations, Graduate Diploma in Employment Relations and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, he worked in the state public sector for 24 years before moving into the private sector for eight years. Gary established and successfully operated his own consulting business in strategic human resources and recruiting for senior roles for 18 years, from which he only recently retired. He is a Fellow of the Australian Human Resources Institute and was state president for 5 years during the formative years of the new Institute.


Gabrielle Connell

Board Member

Gabrielle Connell has been an Early Childhood teacher and Director for over 35 years. Currently, she is the Early Childhood State Representative on the Independent Education Union Executive as well as a member of the Early Childhood Services Council, and has been elected as the Early Childhood Services representative on the Quality Teaching Council for NESA. She is contracted by NESA as a Teacher Accreditation Supervisor supporting and mentoring new teachers through the accreditation process.

As new member of CELA's board, Gabrielle will continue to support services, teachers, educators and families in their endeavours to deliver educationally sound programs and care to all children of NSW. 


Fiona Burman

Board Member

After teaching maths and science in NSW High Schools and basic adult education in TAFE, Fiona went on to study Law. She was employed as a Judges Associate in the District Court before spending some time in a general practice in country NSW. There she encountered many people whose limited education adversely affected their life choices and she noted the difficulties facing parents seeking the best for their children. Those difficulties included lack of publicly funded early childhood learning services and long day care. Fiona moved from the country to large city based corporations, where her belief in the importance of early childhood education for all children, both for the well-being of children and their parents, was confirmed.

As a new member of CELA’s Board, Fiona looks forward to contributing to an organisation that supports teachers, educators and their families.


Eve Hawkes

Board Member

Eve graduated in 1980 from the Nursery School Teachers College, before first becoming a Director at the age of 20. Today, she is experienced in a wide range of service delivery models, including Early Intervention Itinerant Support, long day care, community-based preschools and campus-based care. She has been the Director at Engadine Preschool Kindergarten since 1994 and is a founding member of the Sutherland Shire Preschool Alliance, where she has held various leadership positions within the governance of the organisation. Eve also has an Advanced Diploma in Community Sector Management and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Eve joins CELA’s Board in 2022, with the goal of supporting our sector to build strong relationships in communities and with children and families, whilst delivering quality early childhood educational programs. Eve is a strong advocate for early childhood education and meets regularly with the local member of Engadine/Heathcote, as well as with state ministers, to advocate for the issues faced by our sector.

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