Skip to main content

Our people

Get to know the people behind the Academy.
Image of teachers working at desk

Executive leadership team

The Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership’s (the Academy) executive leadership team plays a pivotal role in achieving the Academy’s objectives.

The Academy is structured around 5 divisions, and is led by a chief executive officer (CEO). The CEO is responsible to the board for all policy and operational matters, and to the Secretary of the Department of Education for budgetary, personnel and other administrative matters.

The CEO is supported by a team of highly skilled and experienced directors.

Dr Marcia Devlin AM

Dr Marcia Devlin AM

Inaugural CEO

Dr Marcia Devlin AM PhD GAICD joined the Academy in 2021 as the inaugural CEO. She is a globally recognised expert in education, equity and leadership, a qualified teacher and a registered psychologist. Marcia began her education career as a primary school teacher before moving into the tertiary sector. Her PhD examines the impact of professional learning on university teacher’s work.

Prior to her appointment at the Academy, Dr Devlin was senior deputy vice-chancellor at Victoria University and held executive and senior roles at Federation University Australia, RMIT University, Deakin University and the University of Melbourne.

Internationally recognised for her expertise in education, she has given more than 100 keynote and invited addresses in 10 countries, won over $6 million in research funding and has more than 330 publications to her name.

Dr Devlin is a trust member of the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre and an elected Lifetime Fellow of the UK-based Society for Research into Higher Education. She also currently serves on the editorial boards for several academic education journals in Australia and the US. She is formerly a non-executive director on the Melbourne Polytechnic board and Chair of their Education Quality Committee and a Board member of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority VCAA). Dr Devlin served on the VCAA Executive Committee and Audit Committee, and as Chair of the Senior Secondary Certification Reform Committee. She was also the Universities of Australia appointee on the advisory board of the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education.

Dr Devlin brings 30 years of national and international experience to the Academy and a strong commitment to continuously improving the quality of learning and teaching, enhancing inclusiveness and diversity in education, ensuring the concept of ‘excellence’ encompasses equity and strengthening educational leadership. In 2023, Dr Devlin was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), for significant service to higher education, and to women.

Peter Saffin

Peter Saffin, GAICD

Chief Operating Officer

As inaugural COO, Peter works closely with the CEO to lead and oversee the Academy’s operational accountabilities, including aligning strategy, budget, business planning, compliance and reporting with the Government’s overall policy and delivery priorities and the Academy legislated objectives.

Peter brings a wealth of experience in education, governance and operations across schools, corporate and not-for-profit environments.

Peter commenced his career as a secondary teacher, holding leadership roles in Australia and New Zealand, working in government, independent and Catholic schools. He then moved into educational publishing, where he led teams producing award winning print and digital resources and learning platforms for Australia and internationally. Peter has managed various operational teams and was Managing Director of ANZ for Macmillan Education Australia.

Prior to joining the Academy, Peter was CEO of the Mathematical Association of Victoria (MAV) where he built a sustainable business model of diverse revenue streams, increased funding sources and led the development and implementation of strategic plans to improve and grow services, advocacy, partnerships, governance, and operational performance.  A large focus of Peter’s work was on partnerships, professional learning and creating impact for the teaching profession. In 2024, Peter was made an Honorary Life Member in recognition of his contribution to the association, and mathematics education in Victoria.

Peter has served on several boards in the NFP sector. Peter was previously Vice President of the Australian Society of Association Executives, Vice President, and Treasurer of the Council of Professional Teachers Association of Victoria, has served on the Australian Publishers Association (APA) Board.

Peter holds a Bachelor of Education (Deakin) and a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science (Monash), is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) and is a Certified Association Executive (CAE).  

Megan Knowles, Director, Business Services Division

Megan Knowles

Director, Business Services Division

As inaugural Director of the Academy’s Business Service Division, Megan is responsible for the provision of the Academy’s corporate and business services and business continuity. These functions include People, Capability and culture, Finance, Facilities management, Technology, Procurement, strategic projects, Risk, Audit, Legal and the Academy’s Project Management Office. These functions are key enabler for the Academy to provide high-quality professional learning and in the pursuit of supporting and acquitting all Statutory Authority requirements of a government agency.

Originally a youth worker, Megan moved into public health and health promotion in early childhood development, where she developed her passion for education.

Megan worked as a classroom teacher and then learning community manager before she joined the Victorian Department of Education in the implementation of key reform agenda priorities such as the Professional Learning Communities initiative and the Literacy and Numeracy Implementation initiative.

During Melbourne’s second COVID-19 wave, Megan joined the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, working on the reopening of schools as well as supporting the design and development of the Department’s technology response to contact tracing. In 2020, she joined the then-Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership where she established the Business Priorities Unit, before moving into the Director role where she established the Business Services Division, the many functions and the staffing profile within this. 

Gerard O'Shaughnessy, Director, Academy Services, photo

Gerard O'Shaughnessy

Director, Academy Services Division

A former secondary school Psychology and Drama teacher, Gerard has significant school leadership experience in Australia and internationally and has served in Head of School and Assistant Principal positions.  

Gerard has a passion for equity and excellence in education, particularly for students with disabilities and additional needs. He recently managed the Department of Education's Student Voice and Academic Excellence Unit before moving into the Learning Design and Innovation area. Gerard also project managed the establishment of the Centre for Higher Education Studies.

Gerard joined the Academy in 2022, and successfully established and led the Participant and Program Support function. Gerard holds a master's degree in educational leadership and management and remains committed to continuous learning and professional growth.

Tyron Paspa, Director, Regional Division

Tyron Paspa

Director, Regional Division

As Director, Regional Division, Tyron oversees the Academy’s seven Regional Centres. He brings together key stakeholders across Victoria to identify professional learning needs and priorities across regional Victoria and bring the Regional Centres to life with high-quality professional learning at accessible locations.

Over more than a decade in the Victorian public service, Tyron has held roles in investment strategy, early childhood and schools policy, infrastructure, and project and program management.

In 2021, Tyron was the Project Director responsible for establishing the Victorian Academy of Teaching and Leadership. He has also made significant contributions to the public sector as a founding manager at the Victorian School Building Authority, working with government to secure more than $10 billion in funding for various initiatives, leading the Asset Management Reform initiative in schools, and has worked across Regional Development Victoria, Corrections Victoria, and the Department of Health. Tyron has a passion for good public administration, connecting with people, and a focus on delivering public value.

Emily Benson

Emily Benson

Director, Teaching Excellence Division

Emily Benson began her career in education in 2007, joining the Department of Education as a primary school teacher, and later served in the role of assistant principal. Emily has held educational leadership positions focused on initiatives to enhance student learning outcomes, such as the Middle Years Literacy and Numeracy Support Initiative and the Tutor Learning Initiative. With a strong commitment to student wellbeing, Emily has also served as Manager of Health, Wellbeing, and Specialist Services.

In 2022, Emily joined the Academy’s Regional Division in the role of Manager, Regional Coordination, leading forums and conferences aimed at enriching the professional development of principals and assistant principals, and supporting the establishment of the division.

As Director of Teaching Excellence Division, Emily oversees the Academy’s flagship Teaching Excellence Program, the Teaching Excellence Program Alumni Network, and the Teaching Innovation Fellowships across all school sectors for Victoria’s exceptional teachers. 

Kendar Parker

Kendra Parker

Director, Leadership Excellence Division

Kendra Parker brings over 25 years’ experience in school education, from classroom teacher to principal and network leader. Prior to joining the Academy, Kendra was principal of two government primary schools in South-East and North-East Victoria. She joined the Academy in November 2021, as one of the inaugural Principals in Residence. Kendra is committed to developing leaders at all levels in line with the Academy's strategic plan. 

In her work at the Academy, Kendra has been instrumental in leading the development and delivery of the Academy’s Leadership Excellence Framework and associated professional learning and resources. She has also provided expertise and insights into the design, development, and provision of many Academy programs. Kendra is passionate about the purpose of education being to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and characteristics to be productive and successful. 

Along with her teaching career, Kendra has worked in the disability sector and as a senior policy advisor and business analyst at Queensland Rail. She holds degrees in teaching, special education, and public policy. As a life-long learner, Kendra leads the Leadership Excellence Division with passion and commitment and a belief in the importance of leadership and professional learning.

Our board

The Academy is governed by a board that includes members from the government, Catholic and Independent school sectors. 

Our board

Browse our programs
Explore our diverse range of educational offerings
Browse all