The MSCA Board

Janis Coffey (Chair)

Principal, North-Eastern Montessori School

Janis Coffey

Janis has been the Principal of North-Eastern Montessori School since 2019. She has over 10 years’ experience in various leadership roles in independent schools, including being Head of Middle School, Head of Teaching & Learning and Associate Director of Geelong Grammar’s Institute of Positive Education.  Janis is also a certified Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) facilitator and has spent a large part of her career promoting mental health for young people, serving on the Board for the Positive Education Schools Association from 2016 – 2019. Originally from Philadelphia, Janis has lived in Australia for more than 19 years. She has a teenage daughter and enjoys writing, cooking, yoga, and anything to do with the arts!

Gay Wales (Deputy Chair)

Education Consultant and Former Principal of Melbourne Montessori School

Gay Wales

Gay was the Principal of Melbourne Montessori School for ten years from January 2012 to January 2022. During this time she led the school through several achievements; adding the senior school, gaining IB Authorisation, and receiving one of only seven Innovative Schools Awards for Victorian Schools in 2019. Previously, Gay spent 12 years at Christ Church Grammar School, transforming the curriculum into inquiry-based, concept learning. With an additional 13 years of prior experience in the business world, Gay has the ability to work strategically and bring real-world learning to each child.

Helen Dunn (Finance)

Senior Manager in National Partner Services at Deloitte

Helen Dunn

Helen is an Irish Chartered accountant and has spent 20 + years working at a senior level in Financial Services and managing finance teams.  Born in Dublin, Ireland, Helen emigrated to Australia in 1997. Having worked at IAG, AMP and Westpac, Helen is currently a Senior Manager in National Partner Services at Deloitte. 

Helen is a passionate Montessori parent. Her daughter has attended Montessori education since she was 8 months old. Helen served as Treasurer on the board of Barrenjoey Montessori School for six years, and is delighted to be continuing her support of Montessori education through her new role as Finance Director at MSCA.

Yan Wu

Founder and CEO of Headland Education Group, and Former Investment Banker

Yan Wu

Yan is the Founder and CEO of Headland Education Group, operators of Headland Montessori education facilities and services in Australia, Vietnam and Singapore. Yan (B Sci, M Eng, MBA) has an Investment Banking/Private Equity career prior to starting Headland and is an amateur Jazz Musician (Double Bass). 

Yan believes in the social impact Montessori can bring to our communities and its positive reform to our education systems around the world. 

Bill Conway (Secretary)

Education Consultant, AMI Administrator Course Trainer, and Former Principal.

Bill Conway

Bill Conway is the former principal of Montessori East (2007–2020). Prior to this he worked internationally as a teacher, principal and guidance counsellor. Bill is an international administrator trainer for Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and assisted in the development of the course curriculum. He also served as the chair of the Programme Planning Committee overseeing the most recent AMI congress in Bangkok, Thailand. Bill has four adult children and two granddaughters.

Vanessa Aikins

Principal, Rockingham Montessori School
Western Australia

Vanessa Aikins

Vanessa has been the Principal of Rockingham Montessori School for 10 years, spearheading their expansion to encompass a Montessori high school. In 2013 she travelled to the Hershey Montessori School in Ohio USA and took part in the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies program. Vanessa is committed to school leadership, social inclusion and collaboration across the Montessori community.

Fiona Campbell

Former Principal, Barrenjoey Montessori
New South Wales

Fiona Campbell

Fiona has been involved in Montessori education for more than 45 years, having first obtained her diploma from the Maria Montessori Training Organisation in London in 1974. Since then she has taught, consulted and headed up Montessori schools throughout Australia, currently leading as Principal of Barrenjoey Montessori in NSW.

Cathy France (Events Committee)

Principal, The Hills Montessori School
South Australia

Cathy France

Cathy worked in schools in Australia and the UK for 10 years prior to starting at The Hills Montessori School in 1994 as a Cycle 3 (9-12) teacher. In 2004 Cathy was appointed as Principal of The Hills Montessori School in the Adelaide Hills which caters for 0-16 year olds across two campuses.  Cathy is passionate about collegiate sharing, learning from others and finding ways for Montessori educators and professionals to come together to share ideals, ideas and practice.  She has initiated a number of national forums for Montessori educators and leaders to come together.  Cathy offers the MSCA Board her extensive experience in education, event management and professional development opportunities along with her interest in good governance practices at a Board level.