The AERO team
We employ staff from all over Australia. With staff based in every state and territory, our team brings together a wealth of experience and diversity of backgrounds. Our staff include many past and practising teachers and educators from schools and early childhood education and care.
We work online, enabling us to bring together the very best talent, no matter their location.
AERO is a ministerial-owned company. An independent Board governs AERO.
Dr Lisa O’Brien AM, Chair
Dr O’Brien has worked in leadership roles across the public, not-for-profit and commercial sectors. She is a non-executive director of Bupa, Australia and New Zealand, a Council Member of the University of Technology Sydney and a member of Chief Executive Women. In 2021, Lisa stepped down after 10 years as Chief Executive Officer of The Smith Family. During that time, she has led significant growth in both the reach and the effectiveness of The Smith Family’s education-oriented programs to support more disadvantaged children and young people.
Lisa chaired the Expert Panel to Inform a Better and Fairer Education System, which advised Education Ministers on the key targets and specific reforms that should be tied to funding in the National School Reform Agreement in 2023. In 2022, she was recognised as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia. A Medical Practitioner registered in New South Wales and a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators, Lisa also holds a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Human Resource Management and Coaching and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Emeritus Professor Colleen Hayward AM, Deputy chair
Colleen Hayward is a senior Noongar woman with extensive family links throughout the south-west of Western Australia. For more than 35 years, Colleen has provided significant input to policies and programs on a wide range of issues, reflecting the needs of minority groups at community, state and national levels. Among her many achievements, she has been recognised for her long-standing work for and on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia by winning the 2008 National NAIDOC Aboriginal Person of the Year Award. Colleen is also an inductee into the WA Department of Education’s Hall of Fame for Achievement in Aboriginal Education. In 2012, she was recognised as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia, and 2015 saw Colleen awarded one of Murdoch University’s Distinguished Alumni for her work in the areas of Equity and Social Justice.
Professor Sir Kevan Collins
Kevan has a long career in education and public service. After stepping down from full-time work as the Chief Executive at the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), he now supports a range of UK and international child and youth-focused organisations. Prior to joining the EEF in 2011 as its first CEO, he was Chief Executive and Director of Children’s Services in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Kevan is now a Board member of the EEF, which is a grant-making education charity dedicated to challenging educational disadvantage, sharing evidence and finding out what works in education. The EEF supports work in more than half of England’s schools and increasingly operates globally supporting work in Australia, Latin America, South Africa and Europe.
Kevan started his career teaching in east London. He went on to lead schools in Yorkshire and London and became the National Director of the Primary National Strategy in 2002. Kevan has gained international experience working in Mozambique, supporting the development of a national literacy initiative in the USA and is a Board member at Goodstart, Australia’s largest early learning provider. Kevan chairs the Youth Endowment Fund managing a £300 million pound UK Home Office fund generating and mobilising the evidence around what works to reduce youth crime and violence. Kevan completed his doctorate in 2001 and is a visiting professor at the University College London Institute of Education. He was knighted for his services to education in 2015.
Judy Fahey is currently an Improvement Consultant with the Tasmanian Department of Education. Previously, as a principal with 21 years’ experience, she has led 3 schools in Tasmania’s north-west and demonstrated a consistent commitment to evidence-based school improvement which has resulted in greatly improved student outcomes and enhanced staff culture. Ms Fahey has previously led Ulverstone Secondary College, Burnie High School and Hellyer College. All serve geographically dispersed and socially and economically disadvantaged regions of Tasmania. Ms Fahey believes that education is the greatest gift that a fair and equitable adult community can bestow upon its youth. She is a proud advocate for public education.
Ms Fahey is recognised as an educational and community leader and was a founding member of Burnie’s BIG Committee, established in 2014. This organisation is a coalition of industry and educational leaders focused on raising community aspiration as it relates to educational attainment.
In 2015, in recognition of her educational leadership, Ms Fahey was awarded a Hardie Scholarship, which allowed her to complete a residential at Harvard University. The focus of this study was the interplay of educational vision, strategy and organisational culture. In 2017, Ms Fahey was selected to undertake the ANZOG Senior Executive Development Program.
As a lifelong learner and passionate educator, Kerri Jones has had the privilege of working with students, teachers and leaders across the state for over 30 years. During her career, Kerri has been a teacher, deputy principal and principal in a variety of schools and has also had the opportunity to share her expertise and love of learning with Principals and their leadership teams in her role as Assistant Regional Director for the Queensland Department of Education. Kerri has worked with the Queensland Department of Education, State Schooling team on a number of key initiatives including the Lifting our Top Performing Students state-wide Inquiry and reshaped the state-wide Principal Induction program to ensure that all new principals have the knowledge and skills to ensure that every student in Queensland has the opportunity to be successful. As the Assistant Director General, Capability, Kerri is now leading the development of the world class Education Futures Institute, which will build the capability of leaders, teachers and support staff to ensure that all students have the opportunity to realise their potential.
Dr Anne Kennedy
Dr Anne Kennedy is a highly respected and experienced early childhood education researcher, academic and consultant. She has worked as an early childhood teacher in primary schools and early childhood education and care settings, and as an academic in teacher education programs in Australia, Sweden, Singapore and the USA. Anne is an honorary fellow of the Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, and is a life member of FKA Children’s Services and Community Child Care Association, Victoria.
Anne is an Executive Director of the Parkville Institute and a non-executive director of the Board of The Front Project. Anne was appointed to the Australian Government’s Preschool Outcomes Measure, Ministerial Expert Advisory Group in 2021, the Early Learning Teaching Tool Expert Advisory Group in 2022 and the Victorian government’s Best Start Best Life Taskforce Advisory Group in 2022. She is also a trustee of the Creswick Foundation.
Anne was the early childhood curriculum and pedagogy advisor and clinician in a University of Melbourne multi-disciplinary research team that evaluated an intensive early childhood education and care model for babies and toddlers living with significant adversity. The research showed remarkable learning and developmental outcomes for children who participated in the trial compared with children in the control group.
Leslie Loble AM
Leslie Loble is Industry Professor at University of Technology Sydney, a Fellow of the Paul Ramsay Foundation and chairs the Australian Network for Quality Digital Education and a national council on early childhood development, among other appointments. Leslie previously served as Deputy Secretary in NSW Education, leading strategy, reform and innovative delivery across schooling, early childhood and tertiary education. She established the influential Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation and the award-winning Centre for Learning Innovation and Catalyst Lab. Nationally, Leslie was long-term chair of the Schooling Policy Group, which supports the education Ministerial Council in funding, curriculum, assessment, teaching quality and other central education policy reforms. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2022, named one of Australia’s top 50 school education innovators in 2019, awarded the Australian Financial Review Top 100 Women of Influence in 2013 for her impact on Australian public affairs and holds degrees from Harvard University and Cornell University.
Roger Massy-Greene AM
Roger is the principal shareholder and Chair of Eureka Capital Partners, a private investment company, and Chair of Illawarra Coke Company, a related industrial land rehabilitation and development concern. He is also a director of OneVentures Pty Ltd, a technology venture capital firm. Roger also serves as Chair of Eureka Benevolent Foundation, a family foundation focused on overcoming socio-economic disadvantage. He is a director in the USA and Australia of The Hunger Project, an NGO that provides sustainable solutions for hunger and poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Roger was recognised in 2019 as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia.
Roger previously served as the Chair of Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy, having been appointed by the NSW government to oversee reform of the NSW electricity distribution sector. He co-founded the ASX 200 company Excel Coal Limited and its predecessor Resource Finance Corporation Ltd and served as Chair of Excel Coal until its acquisition by Peabody Energy. Roger served as a member of the Cranbrook School Council for 15 years, retiring as President of Council in September 2020.
Our senior managers
Dr Jenny Donovan, Chief Executive Officer
Dr Jenny Donovan is the CEO of the Australian Education Research Organisation and has driven AERO’s establishment and growth since its inception. Prior to this role, she established and led the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) as Executive Director for 8 years.
Dr Donovan began her career as a high school teacher in Sydney’s western suburbs. She has worked in a number of education roles in operational and policy areas, including several years as Deputy Director of a not-for-profit education assessment agency at the University of New South Wales. She was Managing Director of the National Learning Progressions and Online Formative Assessment Initiative – a national priority project for Australian education ministers.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts with a Diploma of Education from Macquarie University, MA (Hons) from UNSW and a PhD in history from the University of Sydney.
Dr Zid Mancenido, Senior Manager, Research and Evaluation
Dr Zid Mancenido is the Australian Education Research Organisation's Senior Manager of Research and Evaluation. Since AERO’s establishment, he has led the generation and translation of high-quality evidence aimed at improving educational outcomes.
Having started his career as a high school social sciences teacher in Canberra, Zid has experience working across education policy, practice and research with organisations around the world, including Teach for Australia, the Australian Government, the National Institute of Education (Singapore), and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Zid holds a Bachelor of Philosophy (Honours) degree from the Australian National University and a Master of Teaching (Secondary) from the University of Melbourne. He also holds a Masters degree in Education Policy and Management and a PhD in Education Policy from Harvard. He also concurrently holds an appointment as a Lecturer on Education at Harvard, teaching courses in education policy and general pedagogy.
Rowena Finnane, Senior Manager, Strategy and Operations, and Company Secretary
Rowena Finnane is the Australian Education Research Organisation’s Strategy and Operations Manager and Company Secretary. She has led the establishment of strategic and operational functions that enable AERO to operate effectively, including finance, procurement, legal, people and culture, communications, research governance and ethics, and project delivery. She is also responsible for overseeing reporting and governance, as well as managing AERO’s Board.
She began her career as a lawyer, providing legal, policy and strategic advice to a number of organisations and government departments. Rowena played a leading role in establishing the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) and has led senior policy and strategic planning projects across the education sector. She is experienced in establishing new organisations and leading significant strategic change in the education sector.
Rowena holds a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Master of Arts by research from the University of Sydney. She has a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, was admitted as a Solicitor of Supreme Court of NSW and has a current Practising Certificate.
David Boyd, Senior Manager, Engagement and Impact
David Boyd is the Australian Education Research Organisation’s Senior Manager for Engagement and Impact. He has led AERO’s external relationship management since the initial consultation with all education stakeholders about the priorities for the new evidence institute. He leads AERO’s engagement, policy, implementation, and outcomes and impact measurement functions.
Prior to joining AERO, he worked as a senior education specialist and head of education policy for a large non-government organisation in Brazil, where he oversaw national projects on curriculum implementation and teacher workforce development. He has also worked as an advisor to Education Ministers in the NSW and Australian Governments, with a particular focus on programs to address educational disadvantage.
David holds a Master of Education from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts (Social Policy) (Hons) from the University of Sydney.
Dr Lucy Lu, Senior Manager, Analytics and Strategic Projects
Dr Lucy Lu is the Australian Education Research Organisation's Senior Manager of Analytics and Strategic Projects. She leads a team of experts who design and undertake bespoke projects, provide statistical and psychometric advice, and conduct quantitative and qualitative analysis.
Lucy worked in the NSW Department of Education for 20 years, most recently as the Director of Education Statistics and Measurement. She has led multidisciplinary teams responsible for large-scale data collections, data standards, policy and reporting, and statistical and psychometric analysis to enhance policy analysis and decision-making. Lucy has also led projects in areas of practice, measurement and funding modelling, including expanding the evidence base to support the department’s resource allocation model and School Excellence Framework.
Lucy holds a Bachelor’s degree in computer science with her honour’s thesis focusing on artificial intelligence, a Master’s degree in information systems from Macquarie University and a PhD focusing on education measurement from the University of Wollongong.