Dr Susan Close

Minister for Education and Child Development

Hon Susan Close

Susan Close was first elected as the State Member for Port Adelaide in February 2012. She was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Public Sector in February 2013.
Following the 2014 State election, Dr Close was appointed Minister for Manufacturing, Innovation and Trade and Minister for the Public Sector. She was appointed Minister for Education and Child Development in February 2015 and gained the Higher Education and Skills portfolio in January 2016.
Dr Close has also chaired two parliamentary select committee inquiries.
Before entering parliament, Dr Close was an executive in the public service and previously worked at Adelaide University as director of student services. She and her partner, Declan, have two children who attend public schools.

Rick Persse

Chief Executive, Department of Education and Child Development

Rick Persse

Rick Persse was appointed to lead the Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) in June 2016.

Rick joins DECD after a successful 4 year period as Chief Executive of the Attorney-General’s Department where he was central to delivery of the government’s program of criminal, civil and administrative justice reform.

With expertise in policy and strategy development, change management, public sector reform and project delivery, Rick’s knowledge of public administration was gained from an expansive career working at a variety of South Australian central Government agencies at an executive level.

Prior to being appointed to the role of Chief Executive, Attorney-General’s Department, Rick worked with government and non-government clients as PricewaterhouseCoopers SA Government and Health Leader.

Rick has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Adelaide and a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management from Griffith University.

Peter Mader

President, SA Secondary Principals’ Association

Peter Mader

Peter Mader is President of the South Australian Secondary Principals’ Association.  He has been a secondary principal in Whyalla at Stuart High School (2001), and at two large Adelaide suburban schools, Salisbury East High School (2002-2006) and Hamilton Secondary College (2008 – 2014).

Prior to becoming a principal, Peter was Manager, School-based Research and Reform (1998 – 2000) where he worked with 39 schools and with 3 institutions – the AEU, the Department of Education and the University of SA – to undertake an inquiry-based approach to school improvement.  In 1996 – 97 he was a member of the Education Department’s Curriculum Unit, with responsibilities for the Key Competencies and Enterprise Education.

Peter’s educational interests include leadership for 21st C learning, curriculum innovation, school improvement and accountability, and the “politics” of education.

Ben Walden

Founder and Artistic Director of Contender Charlie

Ben Walden

Ben’s work with staff and students has received major acclaim at education conferences around the world. He has given main keynote addresses for groups such as the ICP Convention in Australia, the ESF Principals in Hong Kong, ESSARP schools in Buenos Aires, the Latin America Headteachers Conference and the 3 International Baccalareate conferences for Europe, Asia and the Americas, as well as the IB World student Conference. He has also been a regular speaker at the New Heads Conference for the National College of School Leadership in the UK.

He is an actor and presenter who has played a number of leading roles on television and for the Donmar and Almeida theatre companies as well as at Shakespeare`s Globe. Having run many masterclasses for the Shakespeare`s Globe Education Centre he has worked in close collaboration with Mark Rylance and Richard Olivier in the development of an experiential theatre learning technique called Mythodrama.

As a Senior Associate at Olivier Mythodrama, Ben is now running sessions bringing this work at Leadership level into a broad range of organisations across the world. He has also run projects at a number of leading business schools including Columbia, OSBS, the London Business School and Insead.

“Contender Charlie” is the company he has formed to take this, and other theatre techniques, into education. Its courses have now become a regular fixture at Headteacher conferences as well as at staff and student events all over Britain. As well as his leadership and creativity courses for teaching staff, Ben runs sessions for students of many different abilities and backgrounds looking at themes of leadership and calling in their own lives.

His chief passion is using Shakespeare and mythic stories to inspire meaning and purpose in the lives of young people and their mentors.

Professor Bob Lingard

Professorial Research Fellow in the School of Education at The University of Queensland, Australia.

Prof Bob Lingard

Professor Bob Lingard is a Professorial Research Fellow in the School of Education at The University of Queensland, Australia. He previously held the Andrew Bell Chair in Education at the University of Edinburgh, was a Research Professor at the University of Sheffield, and was for a time Head of the School of Education at the University of Queensland.

He is the editor/author of 25 books, the most recent of which are: Globalizing Educational Accountabilities (Routledge, 2016), co-authored with Wayne Martino, Goli Rezai-Rashti and Sam Sellar, the sole authored Politics, Policies and Pedagogies in Education (Routledge, 2014), Changing Schools (Routledge,  2012), co-edited with Terry Wrigley and Pat Thomson, Globalizing Education Policy  co-authored with Fazal Rizvi (Routledge, 2010) and Educating Boys: Beyond Structural Reform (Palgrave, 2009), co-authored with Martin Mills and Wayne Martino.

Bob has published widely in the sociology of education, is editor of the journal, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politic of Education and of the Routledge, New York book series, Key Ideas in Education. Bob’s research focuses on globalization and education policy, the education work of the OECD, data and accountability in education, and school reform and social justice.

Elaine Bensted

Chief Executive, Zoos South Australia

Elaine Bensted

Elaine Bensted is Chief Executive, Zoos South Australia commencing 3rd September 2012. Since being in the role Elaine has led an improvement in the financial position of this conservation charity and an increase in Zoos SA membership base from 26,000 to over 43,000. She also led the work that culminated in the release of a 20 year Master Plan for both Adelaide and Monarto Zoos in early 2015.

Prior to being appointed as Chief Executive, Zoos South Australia Elaine held the position of Chief Executive, Office of TAFE SA. Elaine has previously held senior positions in State and Local Government, and the private sector in the finance industry.

Elaine’s qualifications include an MBA and a Masters in Public Policy and Management as well as qualifications in finance. She has experience in both the private and public sector in management, marketing and community engagement.

Elaine was the recipient of the 2014 Australian Institute of Management Not for Profit Manager Award.

Elaine is also a Board member of Nature Play SA, Zoos & Aquarium Association (ZAA), Children’s University Advisory Board, the Uni SA Under Graduate Advisory Board and The Australian Rhino Project Board.

Professor Alan Reid

Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of South Australia.

Professor Alan Reid

Alan Reid is Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of South Australia. He has been influential in education policy development at the state and national levels, and currently chairs the Public Education Advisory Committee (PEAC) which provides advice to the State Minister of Education on ways to promote public education.

Professor Reid is involved in a range of professional organizations, and speaks regularly to many education groups. His research and publications focus on the broad themes of education policy, curriculum, and the history and politics of public education. Alan’s contributions to education have been recognised through numerous awards, including the national Gold Medal of the Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL) in 2009.

In 2012 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), and he was one of the four finalists for 2017 South Australian of the Year.

Professor Yong Zhao

Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas.

Professor Yong Zhao

Yong Zhao is a Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas. He is also a professorial fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy, Victoria University in Australia. He previously served as the Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon, where he was also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership. Prior joining Oregon, Yong Zhao was University Distinguished Professor at the College of Education, Michigan State University, where he also served as the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Technology, executive director of the Confucius Institute, as well as the US-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence.

His works focus on the implications of globalization and technology on education. He has published over 100 articles and 30 books, including Counting What Counts: Reframing Education Outcomes(2016), Never Send a Human to Do a Machine’s Job: Correcting Top 5 Ed Tech Mistakes (2015), Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World (2014), Catching Up or Leading the Way: American Education in the Age of Globalization (2009)and World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students (2012).

Yong Zhao has received numerous awards including the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research Association, Outstanding Public Educator from Horace Mann League of USA, and Distinguished Achievement Award in Professional Development from the Association of Education Publishers. He is an elected fellow of the International Academy for Education and is recognized as one of the most influential education scholars.

Zhao was born in China’s Sichuan Province. He received his B.A. in English Language Education from Sichuan Institute of Foreign Languages in Chongqing, China in 1986. After teaching English in China for six years, he came to Linfield College as a visiting scholar in 1992. He then began his graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1993. He received his masters in Education in 1994 and Ph.D. in 1996. He joined the faculty at MSU in 1996 after working as the Language Center Coordinator at Willamette University and a language specialist at Hamilton College.

Jo Mason

Professional Development Manager

Jo Mason

Jo has had an extensive backstory in professional development management, development, delivery and evaluation across Australia for principal associations and for organisations seeking to deliver to schools and school leaders in areas like health and wellbeing, social and emotional health and wellbeing curriculum writing, child protection structures and systems, new leadership development and new teacher development.

Her current work as an independent contractor reflects these areas. Jo is currently working with individual schools on  child protection, project learning approaches and connections to STEM and STEAM, human resources and performance improvement, internal school mentoring systems, staff renewal and conference support.

David Giles

Professor of Educational Leadership at Flinders University

Professor David Giles is Professor of Educational Leadership at Flinders University. David has taught in primary and secondary schools, teacher and higher education, on matters on educational leadership and relational education more generally.

Davids research interests focus on relational leadership, relational pedagogy, Appreciative Inquiry and strengths-based practice, and organizational cultures. A recurring theme in his work is that relational and moral imperatives for education are essential to our praxis.