Board and Senior Leadership

2024 heralds the beginning of a new strategic planning period and a new structure for AISWA.  AISWA services will be managed by four divisional Directors, under the guidance of Chris Massey, the Executive Director, and the governance of the AISWA Board.

AISWA Senior Leadership

AISWA Directors

More About the Directors
Mr Chris Massey - Executive Director, Association of Independent Schools of WA


Chris commenced as Executive Director of AISWA in September 2022.  

Chris’ tertiary qualifications include an MBA and a Master of Education. He is also a Graduate of the AICD, a WA Leadership Fellow and holds a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.  Chris has held a number of Board positions, including Chair of UniSport Australia, Board member of West Coast Fever Netball Club and was on the Board of Governors at Hale School until his appointment at AISWA.

Mrs Kris Stafford, Director, Curriculum and Pedagogy


Kris has been the Manager of Teaching and Learning at AISWA since 2017.  Kris is a strategic and highly experienced educational leader specialising in curriculum, teaching and learning innovation with exceptional knowledge of current State and national education policies/priorities, K-12 Curriculum, and research informed, best practice teaching, learning and assessment. Kris currently represents the WA Independent school sector on the Department of Premier and Cabinet (and Ministerial) appointed School Curriculum and Standards Authority Curriculum and Assessment Committee. 

Prior to AISWA, Kris was at the Health Department (2014-2016) and from 2007-2014 was at the School Curriculum and Standards Authority as A/Manager & Principal Policy Officer where she provided leadership and strategic policy direction in curriculum for all WA schools.

Mr Thomas Wagner, Director, Strategic Communications and Business Development


Tom’s background encompasses a broad spectrum of fields, including operations, events, marketing, sales, and education. Since 2018, he has served as the Director of Operations and Engagement at Newman College, playing a pivotal role in shaping the institution’s strategic direction.

From 2011 until 2017, Tom was Director of Events for Corporate Sports Australia. In this role Tom oversaw the execution of the Chevron City to Surf for Activ, Bupa BikeHike, Suncorp Bank Freo Fun Run, Warrior Dash and Perth Garden Festival, along with hundreds of major corporate hospitality events. Tom has a proven track record of devising and executing successful commercial growth strategies, including overseeing all aspects of business development and revenue generation.

Mrs Rachael Gazis, Director, AISWA Corporate Services


Rachael initially worked in the accounting profession with the chartered accounting firm BDO, rising to the position of Audit Manager where she co-managed a team of 20. During this period, Rachael worked with a range of clients from aged care providers through to mining companies. Rachael then accepted an opportunity to become Audit Technical Services Manager with this firm with her remit on educating the audit division, ensuring appropriate skill levels around audit standards and methodologies were in place and adhered to. 

Rachael then had three boys and worked in a part time accounting role with a family transport company as well as doing some community work whilst her children were young. Rachael then joined Football West as its Financial Controller and then CFO and Company Secretary in 2014. Football West employed 45 people with an additional large casual contingent of casual staff. Reporting to the CEO, Rachel had full responsibility for this organisation’s finance, accounting, HR, ICT and administration functions. She also led the commercial partnerships team.

Most recently Rachael was the Financial Controller at Optus Stadium with responsibilities encompassing oversight of all financial controls and processes, coordination of the external and internal audit functions, indirect tax returns, budget preparation, and developing the finance team.

Mrs Helen Aguiar, Director, School and Student Programs and Services


Helen has over 25 years of executive leadership experience in Western Australian Independent and Catholic Schools who most recently served as Principal of Perth College from 2019 to September 2023. During this period at Perth College notable new programs introduced included a Perth College playtime offering, a Junior School STEM program, a Perth College holiday program, a K-10 entrepreneurship program, a gifted and talented program, and a sports development and performance program. 

Helen’s executive leadership experience encompasses all aspects of strategy and operations, including teaching and learning, personal and professional development, school management, fostering external community partnerships, engaging with the community, and driving strategic improvement, innovation, and change. 

Prior to Perth College, Helen worked at All Saints College from 2008 until 2018, including the Vice Principal position from 2014. From 2000 to 2007, Helen was Deputy Principal at Emmanuel Catholic College.


The AISWA Board membership is representative of the membership of the Association. In addition, there are two advisory committees; the Legal and Governance Consultative Committee and the Education Policy Consultative Committee.

Each Member school is represented by the Principal and a nominated member of the governing body. The membership meets once each year at the Annual General Meeting and at any additional extraordinary meetings which may be called to consider resolutions that require a vote to be taken. Each Member school has one vote. Click here to view the AISWA Constitution.

Board Composition

The Board of AISWA consists of up to 12 members with the following designated positions: the Chair, the Chair of the Legal and Governance Committee (a governing body member), the Chair of the Education and Policy Committee (a Principal), the Representative to the ISA Board. In addition, at the Annual General Meeting, up to three Principals and three Governing Body representatives may be elected to the Board of AISWA. The Executive Director is an ex-officio member of the Board.

AISWA Board Members

More About the Board
Dr Alec O'Connell - Chair (Headmaster, Scotch College)


Dr Alec O’Connell (Chair) 

Scotch College – Headmaster 

Term End 2024 – Term Number 3+

Dr Alec O'Connell was appointed as the 7th Headmaster of Scotch College in September 2010. 

Alec is currently Chair of Telethon Speech & Hearing (an AISWA Member), Chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Independent Schools in WA (AHISA) and a Director of the Independent Schools of Australia (ISA). He is also a Director of the Perth Symphony Orchestra Board, a member of the UWA Business School Ambassadorial Committee. He currently chairs the External Advisory Board of the School of Health Sciences at the University of Notre Dame.

Mr Chris Massey - Ex Officio (Executive Director, AISWA)


Mr Chris Massey (Ex Officio)

AISWA Executive Director

Chris commenced as Executive Director of AISWA in September 2022.  

Chris’ tertiary qualifications include an MBA and a Master of Education. He is also a Graduate of the AICD, a WA Leadership Fellow and holds a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.  Chris has held a number of Board positions, including Chair of UniSport Australia, Board member of West Coast Fever Netball Club and was on the Board of Governors at Hale School until his appointment at AISWA.

Mrs Donella Beare - Committee Chair (Principal, St Stephen's School)


Mrs Donella Beare (Board Member, Chair of Education Policy Consultation Committee)

St Stephen’s School – Principal 

Term End 2025 – Term Number 1

Donella Beare is the Principal of St Stephen’s School. St Stephen’s is a co-educational school of the Uniting Church in Australia situated on three campuses in the northern Perth suburbs of Duncraig, Carramar and Hepburn Heights, Padbury.

Donella has more than 25 years’ experience in education, including: teaching; senior leadership and executive; governance and administration. Before her appointment as Principal Donella was the Director of the St Stephen’s Institute, the research, training and development arm of St Stephen’s School. During this time Donella oversaw all staff Professional Development and ran whole school conferences focusing on professional development and personal growth of staff.

Her interests and passions centre on teacher training, women in leadership and professional learning.

Donella has spoken at national conferences and professional development functions. She has sat on a range of education and business committees and writes regular “Thought Leadership” articles for Business News.

Mr Ian Curlewis - Board Member (Governor, John Septimus Roe ACS )


Mr Ian Curlewis (Board Member)

John Septimus Roe Anglican Comm. School – Governor 

Term End 2024 – Term Number 2

Ian has been a member of the Board of the Independent Schools Association Western Australia for 17 years during which he was Chair for 3 years. In that period, he represented AISWA on the Board of the Independent Schools Council of Australia in Canberra for 4 years. In the period 2003 to 2018, Ian was a member of the Board at St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School serving as Chair in the years 2012 to 2017. In past years, Ian was also a member of the Board of Ability Centre for 9 years and the Teachers Registration Board for 3 years. Apart from being a member of several Law Society committees over many years, Ian has more recently been the Independent Video Match Referee in all 10 International Rules Test matches between Australia and Ireland between 2008 and 2017.

Ian Curlewis has been in legal practice continually since 1975. He holds B.Com and LLB degrees.

A long-experienced employment and workplace lawyer, Ian has also been providing advice to schools and universities for over 40 years. He heads the Education Team at Lavan.

Ian has advised countless schools in the Independent and Catholic sectors over the years. That advice has covered such aspects as board/council governance, registration issues, legislative compliance, safety and child protection, a school’s duty of care, bullying, school funding, policies, school registration, staff recruitment, discipline and appraisals, service contracts, staff contracts, enterprise bargaining, unfair dismissals, disability access, disability discrimination complaints, student discipline, management of students and families, dealing with parents, claims against schools for breach of contract and in negligence, privacy, freedom of information and access to student records. Ian has also represented schools in relevant Courts, Tribunals and Commissions including the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse.

Mrs Tracey Gray -  Board member (Principal, Frederick Irwin AS)


Mrs Tracey Gray (Board Member)

Frederick Irwin Anglican School - Principal

Term End 2025 – Term Number 1

Tracey Gray is currently the Principal of Frederick Irwin Anglican School. Frederick Irwin Anglican School is a K-12 co-educational school in the heart of Mandurah. She was previously Principal of Sapphire Coast Anglican College in Bega and prior to that held a variety of leadership roles in schools including; Acting Head of Campus at St Stephen’s School, Head of Primary, Deputy Head of Primary at St Stephen’s School. She has also held the position of Manager of Government Initiatives at the Association of Independent Schools of WA. Tracey has been a coach with Growth Coaching International, held the position of Director on the board of TRBWA and Youth Futures WA.

Tracey has a Masters of Education, Graduate Diploma of Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Training and Development. She has written articles as well as co-authored “So you want to be a Teacher?” with Dr Phil Ridden. Her passion is building capacity in educators and helping students and staff flourish and make a difference.

Dr Susan Roberts - Board Member (College Council, Penrhos College)


Dr Susan Roberts (Board Member, Member of AISWA Legal and Governance Consultation Committee)

Penrhos College – College Council Member

Term End 2024 – Term Number 1

Dr Susan Ann Roberts | BA (UWA), DipEd (UWA), MHRM (Murdoch), EdD (Murdoch) 

Susan commenced with the Penrhos College Council in November 2022.

Susan was the Chair of the Tranby College Board from December 2019 to October 2022 and a Board member from November 2016.  Prior to that she has sat on the Boards and/or Councils of the Australian HR Institute (Networks Convenor and member 4 years), PLC (Convenor Education Committee and member 7 years), Trinity Residential College (Chair and member 4 years), St Columba College (Chair and member 7 years). She has recently commenced the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) course to deepen her knowledge in governance and is a member of that organisation.   

As Board member Susan has been actively engaged in periods of strategic planning, challenging and setting annual budgets, policy review and development, Principal appointments, performance appraisals and crafting position descriptions for senior leaders and middle management, governance and accountability, convening committees, building ‘team’ cohesiveness, etc.  

Since 2011, Susan has owned and operated her own business – Sensei HR – and been active in advising and coaching leaders, organisation re-structures, conflict resolution, jobs design, management/leadership training, contracts evaluation and renewal, mediations, and workplace investigations. 

For 10 years, Susan worked as an Academic and Project Leader at Murdoch University during which time she completed research for her Doctorate on the role and function of Human Resource Management in Independent Schools in WA. Her learning about staff in schools, school culture and operations grew exponentially during this time. 

While Susan considers herself a ‘master’ of HR, her heart lies in and with education.  She believes in the power of education to, not only learn about our world and how to navigate through it, bumps and all, but also to develop one’s potential and to build one’s confidence - as it has done for me. 

Mr Alan Jones - Board Member (Headmaster, Christ Church Grammar School)


Mr Alan Jones (Board Member)

Christ Church Grammar School – Headmaster

Term End 2026 – Term Number 1

Alan Jones is currently the Principal of Christ Church Grammar School, a boy’s Anglican day and boarding school in Perth, Western Australia. The school has 1740 students and over 340 staff and is an open entry school with a high performing academic record. The school has a broad co-curricular offering aimed at educating the whole student. Student and staff well-being is highlighted with the centre for Health and Wellbeing as well as an educational curriculum offering in this regard. 

Having held a number of senior executive positions, Alan has a holistic understanding of the diverse learning environment required to deliver a well-rounded, high performing, age and stage education. He has extensive experience gained locally and internationally in strategic, financial and educational leadership as well as in governance, curriculum development, pastoral care, timetabling and boarding. Positions Alan has held in the past include:

• Acting Headmaster, The Hutchins School, Hobart, Tasmania

• Deputy Headmaster, The Hutchins School, Hobart, Tasmania

• Vice Principal / Head of Senior School, Mentone Girls Grammar School, Melbourne, Victoria

• Deputy Head of Campus, Haileybury College, Melbourne, Victoria

• Head of House, Huntingtower School, Melbourne, Victoria

Alan was on the Anglican Schools of Australia (ASA) Board / Management Committee as the Tasmanian Anglican Schools delegate, representing approximately 150 Anglican School nationally. He is now of the advisory board for the assessment and reporting as well as on the board of St George’s College, a residence of the University of Western Australia. Alan is also currently a member of the Principal’s Advisory Committee for School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA) in WA. 

To maintain a culture of self-improvement, Alan has initiated and led educational communities through rigorous external accreditations including the Council of International Schools (CIS), the Primary Years Program (PYP) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) accreditations. He have witnessed the many advantages that stem from creating a positive culture of self-improvement based on international benchmarking against like-minded, world class and high performing schools.

At a Global level, Alan has initiated and implemented international curriculum offerings to local students by running a dual program with the Scottish Higher’s to gain a parallel education and dual matriculation. Alan is also currently strategically working to establish an offering of the Western Australian Educational Certificate (WACE) in China.

On a personal level, Alan has a passion for co-curricular programs and activities, having played a number of sports at a high level. Alan recognises the educational value in a broad, co-curricular program and enjoys the opportunity to witness young people participating in and learning life lessons whilst representing their school. To Alan, education is more than an occupation; it is a way of life.

Mr Mike Smith - Committee Chair  (Principal, Quinns Baptist College)


Mr Mike Smith (Board Member, Chair of AISWA Legal and Governance Consultation Committee)

Quinns Baptist College – Australian Baptist Education 

Term End 2025 – Term Number 1

B.Sc.Ed. , Grad.Dip.Arts., Grad.Cert.Bus.Admin

Commencing his current term on the Board in 2022, Mike previously served on the AISWA Board for 3 terms (9 years).

Taught for 36 years starting January 1976 including as a Maths Science Teacher, HOD Science, Deputy Principal and Principal (18 years).

Appointed on the WA Chemistry Syllabus Committee and Moderator in Chemistry for 1 year.

Mike has worked on Steering committees to set up 10 Baptist Colleges, a Tertiary Institution and two Early Learning Centres over a 30-year period.

At present Mike is Chair of Australian Baptist Education which governs four K-12 Baptist Colleges, two Early Learning Centres and a Tertiary College.

Mike is also Chair of three other Baptist Colleges.

Mr Matthew O'Brien - Board Member (Principal, Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School)


Mr Matthew O’Brien (Board Member)

Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School – Principal

Term End 2026 – Term Number 1

Matthew is Head of School (Principal) at Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School, a co-educational K-12 Independent day and Boarding school in Bunbury, Western Australia. Previously he was the Head of Secondary at BCGS for five years, having moved to the role in WA from Brisbane Boys’ College where he held the position of Head of Strategic planning. In 2006, Matthew was awarded the Queensland Premiers’ Award for Science teaching, in 2007 was selected to become a Primary Connections Facilitator, and in 2014 he was accepted as one of the global members of the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert program. In 2014, Matthew completed 21 Century Learning Design (21CLD) facilitator training, and in 2020, the Disruptive Strategy course through Harvard Business School. Previously, Matthew has been on the committee for the Queensland Science Teachers’ Association, chaired the Presbyterian and Methodists Schools Association professional learning committee, and he is a current member of the Western Australian Anglican Schools Association education standing committee. Matthew has been a speaker at many educational events both nationally and internationally, presenting on a range of topics, including educational leadership and change management, educational interfaces (especially digital stylus use), data to direction, reducing cognitive load, and learning space design. Matthew is an active member of the Gelorup Parish in the Anglican Diocese of Bunbury, which he attends with his wife and two children.

Dr Ian Anthony - Board Member (Chief Financial Officer, Scotch College)


Dr. Ian Anthony (Board Member)
Scotch College , Chief Financial Officer 

Ian Anthony joined the education sector in 2010 after a twenty year career in business management with a US-based Fortune 500 company. After senior leadership roles in Sydney, Singapore and Chicago, he returned to his hometown of Perth with his family, in search of a hands-on role in the not-for-profit sector, and considers himself very fortunate to have become Iona Presentation College’s first Business Manager.  During an eleven year run at Iona that Ian considers to be have been highly enjoyable and immensely fulfilling, he started with Gonski and ending with a global pandemic(!). He experienced the full breadth of the modern bursar’s role, encompassing finance, facilities management, capital planning, risk & compliance, IT, marketing & public relations, philanthropic giving, boarding operations and running a business within a business with canteens and uniform shops.   

In 2020, he joined Scotch College as their Chief Financial Officer, Secretary to the College Council and Executive Officer for the Scotch College Foundation.  Ian has also been active in the WA Chapter of the Association of School Business Administrators (ASBA), serving on their Executive committee since 2012 in a variety of roles including Vice President (2016-2020) and President (2020-2022), and assisting in the running of their various state conferences and the 2015 ASBA National Conference hosted in Perth.  

Roles:  Chief Financial Officer | Secretary to the College Council – Scotch College 
Executive Officer | Company Secretary – Scotch College Foundation   2020 – present  Business Manager – Iona Presentation College  2010 – 2020  Vice President, Global Strategic Business Leader, Light Industries – Nalco (Chicago)  2008 - 2010  Strategic Business Leader, Global Manufacturing Industries – Nalco (Singapore)  2007 - 2008  Division Vice President – Marketing, Technical & Business Support – Nalco (Singapore)  2003 - 2007  Asia Pacific Regional Manager – Alternate Channels – Nalco (Sydney)  2002 - 2003 General Manager & Managing Director – Nalco ANZ (Sydney)  1999 – 2002  Associations:  Association of School Business Administrators (ASBA) WA  Member, Executive Committee Member, Secretary, Vice President (2017-2020), President (2021-2), Immediate Past President (2023-now) · Aug 2010 - Present  The UWA Graduates Association - Convocation  Warden of Convocation (1990 – 91), Deputy Warden (1988-89), Standing Committee Member, Member · Mar 1986 - Present  Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association  Board Member, Treasurer · Jan 1999 - Dec 2001  

For further professional details about Ian Anthony: Ian Anthony | LinkedIn 

Consultative Committees
Legal and Governance Consultative Committee

Chair: Mr Mike Smith

The Chair of the Committee is a member of a governing body of an AISWA member school. In addition, there are six elected members three of whom are governors. The Executive Director is an ex-officio member. The six elected members serve for a period of three years.

The role of the Legal and Governance Committee is to:

  • Address the impact of legislation on the operation of schools.
  • Address matters relating to school governance.
  • Address legal issues confronting school governing bodies.
  • Monitor industrial matters and provide advice to the Board of AISWA and to governing bodies of schools.
Education Policy Consultative Committee

Chair: Mrs Donella Beare

The Chair of the committee is a Principal of an AISWA member school. In addition, there are six elected members who are educators.  The Executive Director or nominee is a member ex-officio.

The role of the Education Policy Committee is to:

  • Provide advice to the Board of AISWA on appropriate responses to education policy decisions made by State and Federal Ministers.
  • Provide advice to member schools on the impact of educational decisions made by the Federal Minister for Education and by State Ministers.

The AISWA Board -  a quick reference:

  • Dr Alec O'Connell - Chair, AISWA Board
  • Mr Chris Massey - Executive Director, Association of Independent Schools of WA
  • Mr Mike Smith (Board Member, Chair of AISWA Legal and Governance Consultation Committee)
  • Mrs Donella Beare (Board Member, Chair of AISWA Education Policy Consultative Committee)
  • Dr. Ian Anthony (Board Member)
  • Dr Susan Roberts (Board Member)
  • Mr Matthew O’Brien (Board Member)
  • Mr Alan Jones (Board Member)
  • Mrs Tracey Gray (Board Member)
  • Mr Ian Curlewis (Board Member)