Jane Hunt is an innovative and results driven social change leader who has dedicated her career to empowering people to improve the world.
Jane’s contribution to advancing social innovation has received international recognition by the Schwab Foundation who honoured her work and thought leadership with a global Social Entrepreneur Award, granting her a seat at World Economic Forum events. In Australia, Jane’s work to strengthen businesses and communities has been recognised through the Victorian Telstra Business Women's Award and the Melbourne Business 3000 Award for Community Innovation.
As the founding CEO of the Front Project, Jane and the team are creating systemic change in early learning in Australia, with the goal to improve developmental outcomes for all children, especially those experiencing disadvantage. This work combines her passion for children’s education, health and development and her commitment to empowering leaders to make change for the better.
In creating the Front Project, Jane was able to tap into her extensive senior experience across the for-benefit, corporate and academic sectors. Her various roles have included CEO at both Adopt Change and Fitted for Work, Non-Executive Director of Unison Community Housing and the Victorian Strategy and Operations Manager for Mission Australia. Jane also currently serves on the CEDA Vic/Tas Advisory Group.
Jane has a BA (Hons), MA (Hons) and Masters in Business Leadership, and is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Lisa is an experienced Non-Executive Director and sits on the Boards of various commercial and for-purpose organisations, spanning a wide range of sectors. She was previously Chair of Australia’s oldest charity, The Benevolent Society.
“When I first heard about The Front Project and its mission to improve quality and access in Australia’s early childhood education system, I felt it was the perfect fit for me. I have relished the opportunity to bring my corporate and not-for-profit expertise to the early childhood education sector and am proud to have become a business champion for change in this space.”
Lisa has a diverse background, with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Tasmania leading to a successful 30-year career in the legal profession. During this time, she specialised in the area of commercial property, and a Partner at firms Maddocks and Blake Dawson (now Ashurst).
In 2004, Lisa completed the Advanced Management Program at INSEAD (‘the Business School for the World’) in France. In 2006, she undertook the Australian Institute of Company Directors course, before being made a Fellow of the Institute. She is also a member of Chief Executive Women, an organisation comprising women leaders committed to enabling other women leaders.
In 2020, Lisa became a member of the General Division of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community through charitable and cultural organisations.
Wendy is an experienced manager and company director who began her career as a secondary school teacher. Since moving into public life she has been working for change across the public, private and community sectors, in education, family planning, human rights, public health, overseas aid and development, conservation, heritage, and media.
Wendy held many significant leadership roles including eight years as Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ten years as Chancellor of the University of Canberra, and 12 years as Plan Australia’s Chair, with three years as Global Deputy Chair for Plan International. In 2016 she completed eight years as chair of headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation and in 2017 she completed 9 years as Chair of Circus Oz, Australia’s leading circus.
Currently Wendy is Deputy-Chair of Goodstart Early Learning and a non-executive Director of IMF Bentham, the world’s most experienced and successful publicly listed litigation funder. She is a Patron of the Sydney Women’s Fund, Ambassador for 1 Million Women and Advisor to Grace Papers.
She enjoys writing and is the author several books including her memoir Don’t Fence Me In published by Random House in 2000.
Simon Kent has extensive experience in leadership, strategy and social reform with expertise across a range of policy areas including health, human services, justice and the entire education continuum.
“When the opportunity to contribute to the fantastic work of The Front Project came up I thought it was a perfect match. Systems change and the early years are both passions of mine, so I am proud to use my experience to contribute to bringing them together at TFP to help advocate for children and the value of early childhood education.”
Simon is a Senior Adviser to a cabinet minister in the Commonwealth Government, working on reform of skills and training. He was a Deputy Secretary in the Victorian Department of Education and Training for six years (2013-2019) with responsibility variously for policy, strategy, performance, evaluation, planning, and delivery, across all education, training and developmental life stages. He led development of the Victorian early childhood reform plan, Ready for Kinder, Ready for School, Ready for Life, and policy for the introduction of universal three year old kindergarten
His six years in the education department followed eight years in the Social Policy Branch of the Department of Premier and Cabinet (2005-2013) where he worked on major Victorian and COAG reforms, including National Partnerships for the National Quality System and universal four year old kindergarten. . Simon also spent two years at the Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) as its Deputy CEO Thought Leadership. Simon has also been a Public Policy Fellow in the Chancellery at the University of Melbourne.
Simon commenced his career in higher education advocacy and advisory roles, then expanded to include schools' policy while a shadow ministerial adviser in the Federal Parliament before joining DPC. He also held the statutory role of Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor to the Victorian Parliament in 2019.
Simon is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria), and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is winner of the 2022 Australian Council for Educational Leadership President’s Award, and a founding member of the ANZSOG Alumni Advisory Council.
Verity has more than twenty years of experience working at the highest levels of government, and the university and not-for-profit sectors in Australia. Previously Minister for Education and Training in NSW, Verity was heavily focussed on equity in education, and how to best address educational disadvantage amongst low socio-economic groups, including rural and remote Indigenous communities.
Verity is currently Pro Vice-Chancellor (Social Justice & Inclusion) at the University of Technology Sydney. In this role, she is responsible for spearheading the university’s Social Impact Framework, a first of its kind in the Australian university sector.
“When learning about The Front Project for the first time, my background in education placed me in a strong position to support the organisation’s great work. I am very much aligned with The Front Project’s vision of improving education quality and access for all children in their earliest years, and have a particular passion for the potential of early education in helping to address and overcome disadvantage.”
Between 2011 and 2014, Verity was Chief Executive of the Public Education Foundation, and was responsible for leading the Foundation's transformation from fledgling organisation to major provider of scholarships and support in public education.
Prior to her parliamentary career, Verity worked as a lawyer, and enjoyed a spell as Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney. She is also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).
Anne Kennedy is a highly respected and experienced consultant in the early childhood sector. Her consultancy work follows extensive experience as an early childhood teacher and academic working in university based teacher education programs in Australia, Sweden, Singapore and the USA.
Anne is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne, Graduate School of Education. She is a Board member of the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO), and the Victorian Children’s Council, and a Trustee of the Creswick Foundation. In 2021 she was appointed to the Australian government Ministerial Preschool Measure Expert Advisory Group. She is a member of the Victorian government Best Start, Best Life task force advisory group established in 2022.
Anne is Co- Director of Research and Practice for the Parkville Institute, which was established to support the implementation of an intensive, high quality early childhood education and care program in three sites and an additional co-designed model with an Aboriginal controlled and led child and family service. The program achieved remarkable learning and development outcomes for young children living with significant social disadvantage and risk factors in the trial phase of the research. Anne’s involvement in this research project has confirmed her belief in the importance of robust evidence to support policy and practice reforms that can improve equity in children’s outcomes and life trajectories.
Arminé Nalbandian is the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Social Impact. She is a public policy leader who has spent her career advising governments and for-purpose organisations on social policy and economic development strategies.
Most recently, she was Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy to the New South Wales Premier and has worked with organisations such as the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council. Arminé’s previous positions within the NSW Government included Head of Social Policy and Premier's Priorities to the Premier, and Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser to the NSW Treasurer.
Arminé is a US Fulbright Scholar and graduated summa cum laude as a Presidential Scholar from Northeastern University in Boston. She also holds a Master of Science in International Development from the London School of Economics as a Luys Scholar, and a Master of Commerce in Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship from the University of Sydney as a Business Leaders Scholar.
Lead - Impact Foundry
With a background in organisation and policy studies, Chris has worked with governments and agencies, university, philanthropy, not-for-profits, and corporate partners.
Chris has been driving change in the social economy for over 20 years and believes in the power of working across traditional sector boundaries to nurture ideas and practices to transform how we think and work. His projects have created new thinking in areas such as social enterprise, social housing, homelessness, and health equity, and he places great importance on listening to the voices of practitioners and stakeholders to support the growth of a vibrant, innovative, and successful early years sector to benefit all children.
Policy and Government Relations Manager
As Policy and Government Relations Manager, Rachel is managing and executing the Front’s Project’s engagement with all levels of government and will work with The Front Project team to develop high impact, evidenced based policy.
Penny has a background in philanthropy and social policy having worked on Youth Policy and large-scale service redesign for the Victorian Government before moving to the UK in 2013.
She has since held roles across research and policy, grant making and fund development in some of the UK’s largest grant-makers including Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Comic Relief and The National Lottery Heritage Fund. She has a particular interest in innovation and how funders can support organisations to explore, test and grow new ideas and build movements.
Penny completed an MSc in Public Policy at University College London focusing on the intersection between government and philanthropic activities as a route to innovation, and more recently, a Graduate Certificate in Service Design at RMIT, building her toolkit for developing user-centred responses to social challenges.
Manager, Research and Evaluation
Dan has worked in early childhood and community services for more than twenty years.
Strategic Policy Advisor
Martel has over twenty years experience in the early childhood sector, as a teacher, union leader and senior Ministerial Adviser.
She has worked to help deliver better funding and access to kindergarten education in Victoria, driven by the belief that every child deserves the best start in life. With a particular interest in supporting and valuing the profession, she has negotiated various industrial agreements to improve the pay and conditions of Victorian early childhood teachers and educators.
Martel enjoys looking strategically at issues that impact the sector and how to work with governments, policymakers and stakeholders on outcomes that make children's lives better.
As Project Manager, Fiona primarily oversees the delivery of the EDGE Project, along with managing other projects through the Impact Foundry.
Fiona has previously worked as an organiser, member engagement and researcher at the Health and Community Services Union Victoria (HACSU) - representing workers in the disability and mental health sectors through NDIS rollout, privatisation, and the Royal Commission into Mental Health.She held the role of executive member of HACSU women’s committee and founded a worker-lead climate action network. As a peace and anti-nuclear weapon activist, she has attended nuclear weapon prohibition conferences and spoken at rallies in Australia, Russia, and Japan.
Fiona has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Japanese Language and Anthropology.
Research and Evaluation Officer
Working across TFP’s research and evaluation projects, Dan brings over a decade’s worth of experience in diverse academic, NGO, and government-based contexts.
Manager, the Apiary Fellowship
Rachael has more than 10 years’ experience in the child and youth sector, working with leadership teams, implementing project and quality processes, managing collaborative initiatives with stakeholders and colleagues.
Having cut her teeth several years earlier in the complex area of acquired brain injury and working alongside some of the leading Victorian disability advocates, she has ever since been captivated by systems change and its ability to bring about lasting significant impact. Throughout Rachael's career she has been privileged to learn about social change from the people that are leading the way, working with them to ensure an environment and conditions that support them to achieve their objectives. She has had the unique opportunity to work with community leaders in a variety of settings in Australia and overseas, from local grassroots international development and youth services to state and national organisations bridging research, policy and practice initiatives.
Innovation Hub Transition Manager
Kate Oubridge-Egan is our new Innovation Hub Transition Manager with a passion for early childhood education and care (ECEC) and systems learning.
She believes that encouraging collective learning, collaboration and leadership is fundamental in enriching existing as well as newfound high-quality ECEC programs, the likes of which are critical in building strong and equitable societies across Australia from the ground up.
Over the course of this year, Kate will be stepping into Rachael’s role whilst she is on parental leave, managing the daily running of The Apiary Fellowship and the Transforming Early Learning Initiative. Following this, she will transition into managing the new Innovation Hub which aims to share existing as well as generate new evidence to galvanise government, business, and sectoral action.
Prior to her current role, Kate worked at i-APS, where she developed her expertise in program management and design, third-party monitoring and evaluation, strategic planning, and partnership building. Her ability to effectively manage diverse teams and foster collaboration among international stakeholders was evident in her work on several large-scale projects with partners such as UNICEF, Syria Relief, and Plan International.
Kate holds an MSc in International Development with Conflict and Humanitarian Action from the University of Bath. Her studies focused on understanding the complex systems that underpin social change and the importance of a holistic approach to international development and humanitarian action.
Sophie comes to The Front Project with experience in project delivery having worked at Parkinson’s UK for a number of years delivering an information and support programme for people newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s and their families.
Her experience of collaborating with people with Parkinson’s and their families to inform and shape the programme to their needs, has led her to develop a keen interest in the power of collaborating with communities to develop better solutions.
As Apiary Coordinator, Sophie will support the effective management of The Apiary, allowing her to combine her passion for collaboration and project delivery to achieve better outcomes for children in Australian.
Mentoring Program Manager
Ashlea is an experienced communications professional with a specialisation in e-marketing and CRM programs. As the Acting Strategic Communications Manager, Ashlea helps to develop the Front Project’s marketing goals and drive transformative change to the early childhood education and care sector.
With over seven years’ experience across various industries in the private sector, Ashlea is passionate about increasing awareness and participation in the Front Project’s work, with a particular focus on the Upskill Program and Online Community.
Ashlea holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Media Communications and a Post Graduate Certificate in Public Relations and is excited about working with organisations that make sustainable, systemic changes to society. Ashlea’s role at the Front Project allows her to combine her passion for communication marketing with the opportunity to influence long-term policy and social change for children and educators in Australia.
Senior Communications Officer
As the Senior Communications Officer, Stephanie helps implement the Front Project’s strategic communications plan to raise its profile of an independent, national enterprise improving the quality of Australia’s early childhood education system for all.
Stephanie has over a decade of experience in communications and journalism, including working for nonprofits across Southeast Asia and Tanzania. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and English Literature and thrives on working for sustainable organisations making a tangible difference in the world.
Stephanie is passionate about using her storytelling and communications skills for social change, especially in advocating for children to have access to a high-quality education so they have the best start in life.
Digital Communications Officer
As the Digital Communications Officer, Raj will deliver a broad range of communications activities aimed at building awareness of and engagement with the Front Project’s work. It involves collaborating with all TFP teams and some external stakeholders and service providers.
Raj has over 5 years of experience in digital communications, content creation, and social media management in a wide number of industries. Raj recently completed his Masters in Communications and Media studies from Monash University as well.
Raj has a deep passion for the education industry and is keen on making a change at the grassroots level by ensuring that children across Australia have access to the best early education.