As the Founding CEO of The Front Project, Jane is passionate about children’s education, health and development and is committed to helping our Australian business and community leaders place a new value on children in the early years.
Jane has won a number of awards for her work, including the Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur Award in 2012, granting her an ongoing seat at World Economic Forum events, the Victorian Telstra Business Women’s Award in 2011 and the Melbourne Business 3000 Award for Community Innovation in 2010.
Jane is currently a Non-Executive Director of Unison Community Housing and has held senior roles in the for-benefit sector, including CEO of Adopt Change and prior to that the Inaugural Chief Executive Officer of Fitted for Work. Jane was also the Victorian Strategy and Operations Manager for Mission Australia, and has had senior experience across for-benefit, corporate and academic sectors.
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 a professional non-executive director of a variety of commercial and for purpose boards, spanning a wide range of sectors. She was previously the Chair of The Benevolent Society, Australia’s oldest charity.
In her earlier career, Lisa was a partner of law firms Maddocks and Blake Dawson (now Ashurst) where she held a number of senior management roles, including Sydney Managing Partner and Executive Partner. Lisa practised law for over 30 years, specialising in commercial property.
Lisa has a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Tasmania. In 2004, Lisa completed the Advanced Management Program at INSEAD in France and, in 2006, the Australian Institute of Company Directors course.
Lisa is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a member of Chief Executive Women.
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.
Nicola is a highly skilled marketing strategist with extensive experience in C-suite leadership roles, holding Executive Director and non-Executive Director positions spanning marketing, research, education and member organisations.
Nicola has over 25 years’ experience in brand and communications research. She brings extensive knowledge of communications and marketing theory and practice, as well as expertise in the psychological and emotional drivers of human behaviour.
Nicola is a regular panellist at the Mumbrella 360 conference. She consults with many of Australia’s largest companies and State and Federal Government departments helping them navigate the complexity of the communications environment.
Nicola was CEO of Hall & Partners Open Mind one of Australia’s leading market and social research consultancies. The company specialises in communications research, including strategy development, concept evaluation and communications campaign evaluation. She was also the first woman on the board of the Clemenger Group Limited, a world-renowned marketing services company.
Michael commenced his career in private practice, training and practicing with an Australian law firm for four years, followed by nine years in the Hong Kong office of an international law firm, the last two as a partner.
Michael has worked for Woodside since 2005, holding a variety of roles including Mergers and Acquisitions lawyer, head of the Procurement Legal Team and Vice President Legal and General Counsel. He is currently Senior Vice President Corporate & Legal with responsibility for Legal, Internal Audit, Risk & Compliance, Corporate Affairs, Business Climate & Energy Outlook, Security & Emergency Management and Global Property & Workplace.
Michael is a director of Woodside Energy Limited and various group subsidiaries.
Michael holds a Bachelor of Laws and Arts and MBA from the University of Western Australia.
Naseema is an experienced top-line growth director with a strong track record in strategy, marketing, digital channels and branding. A creative thinker, she brings an alternative perspective to The Front Project, and is an expert in business strategy, marketing, brand management, data, mobile payments platforms, financial services and media, including social and technology services.
With hands-on management experience in creative and innovation industries, Naseema is committed to driving a strong and positive culture in businesses she works with, and is passionate about growing and developing people.
Naseema’s executive career was as Managing Director and Partner of global communications company M&C Saatchi, and her qualifications include an MBA from Melbourne Business School.
A Past President of Chief Executive Women (2009 – 2011), Naseema currently holds the position of Director of Melbourne IT Group, helping businesses of all sizes to succeed online.
Simon Kent is a Public Policy Fellow in the Chancellery at the University of Melbourne. Prior to this Simon was a Deputy Secretary in the Victorian Department of Education and Training for six years with responsibility variously for policy, strategy, performance, evaluation, planning, and delivery, across all education, training and developmental life stages.
His six years in the education department followed eight years in the Social Policy Branch of the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC). Simon has extensive experience in policymaking across the education, human services, health and justice portfolios. He has developed good public policy in complex and contested interdepartmental and intergovernmental contexts, and uses multi-disciplinary analysis to develop policy.
Simon commenced his career in higher education advocacy and political advisory roles, then expanded to include schools policy while in the Federal Parliament before joining DPC, including work on reform of vocational education and early childhood development. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and an Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) Executive Master of Public Administration from the University of Melbourne. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia (Victoria), a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and Chair of the ANZSOG Alumni Advisory Council.
Verity Firth has over twenty years’ experience at the highest levels of government, university and not for profit sectors in Australia. Ms Firth is the Executive Director, Social Justice at the University of Technology Sydney. Previously the Minister for Education in NSW, she now leads the university’s Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion, spearheading UTS’s Social Impact Framework, a first of its kind in the Australian university sector.
As Minister for Education and Training she focussed on equity in education, and how to best address educational disadvantage in low socio economic communities, including rural and remote indigenous communities.
As Chief Executive of the Public Education Foundation (2011-2014), Ms Firth led the Foundation's transformation from a fledgling organisation into a major provider of scholarships and support to public education.
Ms Firth was the Member for the state seat of Balmain from 2007 - 2011. Before her parliamentary career, Ms Firth worked as a lawyer and was Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney. She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Anne Kennedy is a leading and highly respected consultant in early childhood education. Her consultancy work follows extensive experience as an early childhood teacher and academic working in teacher education programs in Australia, Sweden, Singapore and the USA. Anne is a Fellow of the University of Melbourne, Graduate School of Education.
Anne was a member of the Charles Sturt University writing team that developed the first national early learning framework for Australia in 2009. She has been involved in numerous key professional development initiatives and projects concerned with the implementation of the National Quality Standard and the Early Years Learning Framework, working for a wide range of stakeholders including all levels of Government, the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Peak bodies, Early Years Manager services, The Centre for Community Child Health, and the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
Anne is a member of the Kids First initiated, University of Melbourne and Murdoch Institute multi-disciplinary research team undertaking Australia’s first randomised controlled trial of the impact and benefit costs of a high quality education and care program for children from birth to three years living with complex vulnerabilities and high levels of social disadvantage. The second year results for the Early Years Education Program (EYEP) released in 2019 show remarkable outcomes for the intervention children’s social, emotional, language and cognitive achievements.
Anne has a strong commitment to community service evident through her membership of several Boards and as an early childhood advisor to numerous projects. Anne was appointed a Life member of FKA Children’s Services Victoria in 2014 in recognition for her outstanding service to the organisation as a Board member and to the early childhood sector, and in 2016 she was appointed a Life member of Community Child Care Association Victoria in recognition of her outstanding contribution to community based services as Chairperson and Board member from 2006 to 2016. In 2012 she received the Barbara Creaser Memorial award from Early Childhood Australia for her valued contribution to the field of early childhood.
Anne is widely respected for her practical wisdom combined with deep theoretical and research informed knowledge which underpins her recognised capacity for knowledge transfer in a sector with significant differences in levels of qualifications, experience and expectations. Her ongoing commitment to professional ethics, equity, quality and improved outcomes for children, families and communities is evident in the consultancy projects and community service roles she undertakes.