QELi is an innovative not-for-profit organisation committed to delivering excellence in leadership by supporting education leaders to establish a strong vision, improve student outcomes and lead change in their school context and wider school communities. We support educators at every level – from teachers to principals and system leaders – and corporate services and school support staff; to develop and improve capacity as leaders through the provision of high quality professional development programs and learning opportunities. Our leadership programs harness evidence-based research, provide access to nationally and internationally renowned facilitators and coaches, and model the critical skills, knowledge and practical application to support educators to develop leadership capabilities, maximise their potential and reach their leadership goals.
QELi was established in September 2010, as a direct response from a review commissioned by the Queensland government into the state’s poor 2008 National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) performance. The Queensland Government engaged Professor Geoff Masters AO, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Council for Education Research, to review education in Queensland, and his report, A Shared Challenge: Improving Literacy, Numeracy and Science Learning in Queensland Primary Schools contained five key recommendations, among them increased support for school leaders. The organisation was established as the first institution of its kind in Australia, representing a unification of the interest of all three schooling sectors in Queensland – state, Catholic and independent – with the premise to lay the foundations for a new generation of skilled, visionary leaders for 21st century schools.
QELi Chief Executive Officer and Board Directors
Chief Executive Officer
Neil McDonald has over 25 years of school and educational leadership experience, as a Queensland state school teacher, principal, and Assistant Regional Director. Before commencing as Chief Executive Officer at QELi, Neil was Executive Director, Organisational Transformation and Capability, Department of Education and was instrumental in leading the Department of Education’s Teaching and School Leadership program. As acting CEO of the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA), Neil transitioned QSA to the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA), and was a key leader in the development of Queensland’s Curriculum Into the Classroom (C2C).
Professor Donna Pendergast
BAppSc, GDip Teaching, MEdu (Hons), PhD
Professor Donna Pendergast is Dean and Head of the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University. She has an international profile in the field of teacher education with a particular focus on the middle years. Her work includes teacher and school leadership for middle years reform, along with developing capabilities to enhance teacher efficacy in both initial teacher education and in professional learning. Her journey has included leading and developing the first dedicated teacher education program in Australia in middle years education; influencing state and national policy directions; conducting state and national evaluations; developing a reform model which is currently employed by several Australian states to guide the reform of teaching and learning in early and in middle years; leadership of competitive research tenders commissioned by state and federal authorities; leadership of the Leading Change Program responsible for preparing 258 school leaders to be ready for the shift of Year 7 to secondary schools and the implementation of Junior Secondary; development and delivery of the Junior Secondary online learning modules for 1000 teachers; and more than 100 published publications. In 2016 Donna was awarded the Griffith University Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Higher Degree Research Supervision for her outstanding leadership and supervision of higher degree research students.
BCom, LLB (Hons), LLM, FCIS hD
Deputy Board Chair
Paul Paxton-Hall has been practicing in the commercial and property fields of law for more than 35 years. Paul regularly advises commercial clients, small to medium enterprises and professional organisations, as well as church-based and other not for profit organisations. His areas of expertise include contracting, directors’ and officers’ liability and associated risk management, tax and estate planning, corporate governance, company structuring and mergers and acquisitions. Paul is a member of the Taxation Institute of Australia, the Governance Institute of Australia and the Queensland Law Society where he sits on the Law Society’s Not-for-Profit Committee.
Kris Isles’ career spans 20 years in consulting with significant experience in the education sector, where he has been involved in extensive transformation and other projects across early childhood, schools, vocational education and universities. Kris brings a broad range of expertise around program and change management blended with a good understanding of financial management and a practical and collaborative approach to making change stick in an organisation. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) and is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and New Zealand.
BA, Grad Dip Ed, MEd, GAICD
Josephine Wise is Director Education Services at Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) and leads teams that support teacher and school leader quality and student performance, support for students with disability, and other school services. Josephine commenced her career teaching in Lutheran schools, where she worked for more than 10 years. She was national Manager of Policy and Programs (Professional Learning) at the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) and was responsible for a shaping phase in a curriculum project with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). Josephine holds a Masters of Education with a focus on Leadership and Management, is a Director of the Queensland College of Teachers and is a member of faculty advisory boards for Southern Cross University, and Griffith University.