Michele Carnegie

Chief Executive Officer

As Chief Executive Officer, Michele drives CELA’s strategy to amplify the value of early education, and to raise ECEC quality standards across Australia. Michele is recognised as an influential leader in our sector and is a catalyst for policy reform and new sector initiatives. She is a member of government advisory panels including the NSW Education Department Early Childhood Panel and the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Early Childhood Reference Group. 

Some of Michele's achievements include successfully advocating for vital sector funding during COVID 19, and the implementation of the National Quality Framework, Early Years Learning Framework, Preschool Funding Model and Proposed Jobs for Families Child Care Package in rural New South Wales.  She was also instrumental in implementing the Skilling Rural Children’s Services program, supporting early childhood educators in rural NSW to increase their qualifications. 

Kerrie Maguire

Learning and Development Specialist

Kerrie has been working in children’s services for over 20 years and is one of Australia’s leading early and middle education professional development specialists. Driven by a passionate belief in the significance that educators have in the lives of children, Kerrie is committed to driving quality service delivery within the ECEC sector. She has an in-depth understanding of the National Quality Framework, learning frameworks and supplementary regulations. She is renowned as an inspiring and effective communicator, with a unique ability to connect and engage with professionals at all levels of career development. 


Laura Stevens

Director of Policy and Strategy

Laura worked in the ECEC sector for over a decade representing early educators through their union as part of the Big Steps campaign, before joining CELA. She has extensive experience in ECEC policy with a specialisation in industrial relations. Laura has been part of every generation of negotiations for the Professional Community Standard as well as directly advising on the recent Secure Jobs, Better Pay bill. She continues this work to advocate for a stronger community sector and a valued and professionally paid workforce in her current role as Director of Policy and Strategy for CELA. 

Guita Badaoui

Early Education Specialist

Guita has dedicated over 26 years to the early childhood education sector, starting her career as a daycare educator and supervisor, before becoming the Approved Provider at a childcare service. She then expanded her expertise as a trainer and assessor, and has been an influential facilitator and consultant since 2017. As a core member of CELA's early education specialist team, Guita continues to champion high-quality care and innovative educational practices.

Guita is working towards a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood/Primary), and holds a Diploma in Children's Services, and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. Her deep knowledge of childcare regulations and commitment to nurturing environments for both children and educators makes her a respected consultant and mentor in the field. Her efforts have significantly shaped the professional development of educators through workshops, comprehensive induction programs, and leadership training for senior staff.

Rachel Ho

Professional Learning Coordinator

Rachel has worked in the early childhood sector, specifically in long daycare settings, for more than ten years. During this time, she has held a variety of teaching and leadership positions and is currently studying for a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood Teaching). 

Rachel is particularly passionate about practice with infants and toddlers and loves exploring how that area of practice can be further developed within the care space. She is a staunch advocate for the early years sector and believes in the power of quality early education and care for nurturing neural pathways and fostering holistic well-being in children. She is also passionate about educator well-being and professional development as critical ingredients to professional fulfilment and a sustained and skilled workforce. 

Felicity Dunn

Policy and Research Manager

Working with our CEO, Felicity monitors and analyses government policy changes that relate to our sector, and drives and analyses CELA's pulse check research into how policy is affecting the operations of our members. Felicity provides clear updates for members through our member news page, as well as input for CELA’s advocacy work through documentation and reporting. Felicity’s background includes a Postgraduate Diploma of Public Policy & Management (First Class Honours), Graduate Certificate in Education and Bachelor of Arts, Political Science and Music.

Louise Black

Learning & Development Specialist

With a background in local government as a teacher director, and as a validator and trainer with the National Child Care Accreditation Council, Louise Black brings many years of sector experience.

She is an integral part of the Learning and Development team at CELA, specialising in quality assurance and training needs analysis across all service types. Louise designs customised training to meet the specific needs of individual educators and teams.

Aline Majado

RTO Manager

Aline is an education sector professional with 17 years of experience working across different sector levels; from early childhood to middle years, high school and vocational education. Aline has a background in art education and has worked with welfare projects to support closing the gap of access to the arts in low socioeconomic areas in South America.

Aline has extensive experience in vocational training and has held roles such as trainer and assessor, work placement coordinator and RTO operations manager for independent and not-for-profit Registered Training Organisations.

Dr Debra Williams

Facilitator and Early Education Specialist

Dr Debra Williams brings invaluable expertise to CELA gained over her 40+ year career in the sector where her roles included Director of community based and private sector services. She is a Doctor of Philosophy, holds a Graduate Certificate in Research Methods and a Bachelor of Arts with Diploma of Education Diploma of Management, among other credentials. Debra has also achieved Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher (HALT) Accreditation in NSW, an outstanding milestone demonstrating her leadership and commitment to excellence in teaching.

Jenny Hind

Facilitator and Early Education Specialist

As an experienced Director and Educational Leader in community-based preschools, Jenny has provided training for educators, management committees and early childhood educators in community services from Port Moresby to Sydney’s Sutherland Shire.  

In her role as a facilitator for CELA she primarily teaches management opics, helping leaders to achieve proficiency across a wide range of areas. Jenny is a career-long member of CELA, and understands first-hand the value of having a dedicated ‘go to’ team of early childhood experts to provide interesting and up to date information to support educators at all stages of their career.

Karthika Viknarasah

Facilitator and Early Education Specialist

Karthika had a successful career as an accountant before following her passion to the early childhood sector. She has worked as an educator, early childhood teacher and director in long day care and OOSH services. She holds a Master of Teaching degree and a Master of Educational Leadership degree and is a NESA Early Childhood Teacher Accreditation Supervisor.
Karthika is the recipient of the national “New Voice in Educational Leadership” award from ACECQA and the Australian Council of Educational Leaders. She is also the recipient of the Elizabeth Brennan Scholarship from the University of Sydney. In her work with CELA she uses her specialist qualifications and experience to undertake compliance audits for services as well as facilitating training to support sector professionals pursuing continuous improvement. Karthika is passionate about the performing arts as a conduit for holistic development with a particular emphasis on early literacy and speech development. 
As an advocate for children, families, educators and providers, Karthika has served on the board of a number of committees, peak bodies, community organisations and government advisory panels.

Michelle Urquhart

Facilitator and Early Education Specialist

Michelle is an early education and care professional with particular expertise in special and inclusive education, as well as child protection, assessment and rating, and supervision. She facilitates professional learning webinar sessions for early and middle childhood educators, to support assessment and rating and compliance.  She holds a Master of Special and Inclusive Education and Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood).

During more than 25 years in the ECEC sector, Michelle has worked in a variety of roles, including Centre Director, Family Day Care Educator and in management positions in private and community-based services.  Her work has also included establishing new centres, identifying new business opportunities and drafting the Child-Safe Organisation framework, policy and procedures for a large not-for-profit. 

Michelle Cuthbertson

Facilitator and Early Education Specialist

Michelle has over 40 years of continuous service in early education and welfare, and is highly regarded as a course facilitator by both professionals and families. She is passionate about supporting and empowering educators and families to enrich and strengthen their relationships with children. Michelle’s areas of expertise include emotion coaching, secure attachment, behaviour guidance, educator/family partnerships and child protection.

Michelle has qualifications in early childhood education, adult education, management and Circle of Security™ facilitation. She has worked as a centre manager, family and children’s services manager, senior preschool advisor (DET), resource developer (ACECQA), TAFE teacher, early education consultant and parenting facilitator. She is also the author of two publications: Commonsense Discipline and Do & Learn.

Eva Bowers

RTO Trainer and Assessor

Eva is a trainer and assessor for CELA’s RTO child protection training course. She is a social worker and educator with an extensive practice background in child protection. Eva spent a decade working as a case worker, case work specialist and training with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.

She currently works with the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia as a Regulation 7 Family Consultant/Child Expert and has worked as a teacher, trainer and consultant in the community services education sector for the past 15 years.  

Eva has a passion and commitment to providing education in the VET sector in community services including supporting early childhood educators in a complex and challenging area when responding to child protection concerns. 

Ella de la Motte

Facilitator and Early Education Specialist

Ella has worked in the early childhood education sector for many years and holds an abundance of knowledge and experience gained in a diverse range of early education and care settings. Her qualifications include a Diploma in Early Childhood and a Bachelor of Teaching (Birth to 5 years).

Ella is currently the director/nominated supervisor of a vibrant service located in the Hunter region of NSW. She views the opportunity to support and guide others as a privilege and is driven by a desire to influence the growth of high-quality education and care, leading to better outcomes for children. During her career, she has spent time as a trainer and assessor for Certificate III and Diploma level qualifications in early childhood education and care.

Meg Anastasi

Training Facilitator

Meg is a passionate advocate for early childhood, with a particular focus on inclusion, wellbeing, and teamwork. She is an early education specialist with broad sector experience. Over the past ten years Meg has provided parenting support programs for vulnerable families in playgroup settings, worked in long day care and as a teacher in a sessional kindergarten in Melbourne. Meg also mentors pre-service teachers who are on placement as part of their tertiary studies at university.  

Meg holds a Bachelor in Early Childhood Education and is currently undergoing postgraduate study in adult education at Deakin University. As a lover of robust discussion and deep reflective practice, Meg aims to help, guide and mentor many educators in the development of their practice and pedagogy. 

Jannelle Gallagher

Education and Care Specialist

An early childhood education professional for more than 40 years, Jannelle is a key member of the learning and development team. She has worked as a teacher, director, mentor, lecturer, advocate, academic, and researcher. Jannelle has a strong understanding of different regulatory frameworks and has repeatedly built robust governance structures from scratch, that support strong educators and services. Her work always includes a focus on building sustainable mechanisms, and supporting professional development that enables educators to better support themselves and their colleagues. At CELA, Jannelle provides leadership in the design and delivery of content to assist educators in supporting transitions for children and supporting the role of parents and carers in this process

Jannelle’s experience as a practitioner is underpinned by her commitment to research and ongoing learning. She has travelled to experience first-hand early education in Italy, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, East Timor and Vanuatu. She has co-authored several articles for international journals and reference books and contributed to the book Educator Yarns, published by Koori Curriculum. Jannelle holds a Master of Early Childhood Education from University of Newcastle.

Carrie Rose

Early Education Specialist

Carrie has over 30 years of experience in the early education and care sector. She was previously the Approved Provider and Pedagogical Leader at twice Excellent rated Rosie’s Early Learning for almost 15 years.

Carrie is passionate about advocating for children’s rights, particularly through the lens of leadership, pedagogy, and environment design. She has participated in two study tours to the schools of Reggio Emilia and has visited Geoffrey Canada’s work at the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City. In 2022, Carrie was selected to join the Front Project Apiary Fellowship, a body committed to developing, influencing, and implementing change in the early childhood system. She has a particular interest in children’s rights, inquiry-based learning, leadership, and critical reflection. 

Emma Johnsen

Early Education Specialist

Emma Johnsen is a dedicated early childhood education and care specialist with over 17 years of experience and a Master's degree in children, childhood, and identity. Emma is passionate about working alongside educators and leaders to explain how and why weaving play and intentionality together benefits all children.

She enjoys discovering and discussing new ways to document learning alongside children, honouring their voices. Above all else, her deepest passion is ensuring every child is considered and celebrated through educators' programming, practices, interactions, and early learning environments.

Brianna Melville

Early Education Specialist

Brianna Melville has been working in the early childhood education and care sector for 16 years, specialising in leadership, management, and training. She is an experienced trainer and assessor, a child protection facilitator, CPR and first aid trainer, and a mental health first aider.

Brianna believes that our professional and personal worlds can harmoniously blend when wellbeing is at the core of everything we do. She emphasises that the health, safety, and wellbeing of children is essential to the future success of the early years sector. Brianna has a special interest in supporting educators to develop positive leadership styles that encourage cohesive teams and empower future leaders, including the legal and ethical aspects of running a high-quality early learning service.

Sally Wilson

Early Education Specialist

Sally is an early childhood teacher with particular skills and experience in the area of inclusion. With more than 25 years of teaching and directing in preschools and long day care settings, along with early intervention and education programme delivery in both Australia and the UK. Sally has worked with hundreds of children and their families, as well as managing teams of educators across all aspects of delivering a high-quality early childhood education setting and programme. She especially loves engaging in language, literacy, and music experiences with very young children.

Sally holds a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master's degree in Special Education. She is a certified Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) therapist and a Circle of Security Parent (COSP) facilitator.

Jen Boddy

Early Education Specialist

Jen is an experienced early education and care professional who has worked across long day care, preschool, and outside of school hours care settings. Through her work as a facilitator, Jen has supported leadership teams to build capacity in reflective practice, quality improvement planning, leadership, and governance. She has also developed key resources to support understanding of the National Quality Framework in practice.

Jen’s commitment to the sector is underpinned by her recognition of the critical role that education and care services play in upholding the rights of children, supporting families, and connecting communities. Throughout her practice, Jen maintains an enduring commitment to inclusive education and the celebration of diverse ways of existing, understanding, and acting in the world. She is an advocate for infusing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and perspectives into curriculum and practice, recognising this as integral to a future reconciled Australia. 

Emma Jayne Peard

Early Education Specialist

Emma Jayne brings over thirty years of experience in the education and care sector, with a focus on supporting healthy and safe workplaces. Her approach is based on the Servant Leadership model, working collaboratively with teams to ensure positive outcomes.

Emma is passionate about simplifying regulatory compliance, building team capacity, particularly in the area of curriculum development and implementation. She believes that open-ended approaches are for everybody, not just the children in our care, and that this is the pathway to embedded lifelong learning and development.

Lisa Walker

Cultural Advisor

Lisa is a proud First Nations saltwater and freshwater woman who comes from the east coast Peoples of the Bundjalung, Gubbi Gubbi Kabi Kabi, Yaegl and Yuin Nations. Lisa remains grounded and refills her cultural cup by living near the water in beautiful Bullinah (Ballina), staying connected to her mob and being on Country. 

Lisa’s career has always combined her passion for her people, particularly jarjums (children), with her spirit and purpose in honouring her Ancestors, Old People and Elders by walking lightly in their footsteps and continuing the journey to much needed change for future generations. As an early childhood guide and Cultural Advisor and Consultant, Lisa has spent almost 20 years creating nurturing, inclusive and culturally safe environments for jarjums, their families and communities to develop and thrive in. 

Lisa shares her deep wisdom, expertise and experience of walking in two worlds with others. With her humility and quiet power, Lisa encourages open, honest and ongoing two-way cultural learnings for a range of global, national and local organisations who focus on jarjums and young people. 

Kirsty Simmonds

Kirsty combines commercial acumen with an executive’s and communicator’s perspective to build and shape strategy, transform businesses, support leaders and teams, for change and growth. ​ 

An accomplished leader, she has experience in London, San Francisco and Sydney working on complex, world-class, globally recognised projects and award-winning initiatives, with excellent teams. She has led teams through major, difficult corporate changes. ​ 

With career foundations in market growth and marketing strategy grounded in audience insights, she understands the implications and value of data-driven innovation and its applications. Kirsty is experienced in developing strategy, planning, product and experience design, positioning, engagement, marketing, and communications, operationalising across an organisation. ​ 

She brings a deep understanding of financial services plus experience in consulting in technology, data and analytics, consumer and market research, early childhood and tertiary education, MedTech, environmental-sustainable fashion, arts and culture, other government services, tourism and the arts, and NFP. ​ 

A leader, strategist, and doer, she brings a profitable combination of experience, adaptability, resilience, a capacity and appetite for rapid learning and problem solving.

Tracey Sharp

Facilitator and Early Education Specialist

Tracey has been involved in the early childhood sector for the last twenty years in a variety of roles including teacher, director, area manager and consultant. Tracey has a Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching (Early Childhood Education), a Bachelor of Interior Architecture with Honours, an Associate Diploma in Social Science (Child Studies) and a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

She is incredibly passionate about children’s rights, the experiences they have and their emotional well-being. She believes that the physical environment that is presented to children can impact on the experiences they have and their learning outcomes.

Rod Soper

Facilitator and Early Education Specialist

Rod Soper is a highly regarded ECEC author, leader, wellbeing researcher and visionary co-founder of Thinkers.inq preschool and early years school.

 He is founder of Playing with Gratitude Project—an international wellbeing action research project now with over 4,000 participants including children, families and educators. His vision is also expressed through consulting work within the education sector, partnering with workplaces to inspire and support building wellbeing in communities through organisational change. In his work as a training facilitator with CELA, Rod aims to help educators thrive in their professional practices. He holds a Diploma of Leadership and Management, Graduate Diploma Counselling, Master of Teaching (Hons and Special Education) and Bachelor of Arts. 

Meet us!

CELA Facilitators

CELA’s Learning and Development facilitators come from a wide range of early education backgrounds, equipping them with practical sector based experience which is second to none. All our facilitators have a common passion for meaningful growth in every educators practice, resulting in better outcomes for children.

Guild Insurance

CELA’s insurer of choice. Protecting Australian businesses and individuals with tailored insurance products and caring personal service.