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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

Inaugural CEO

Dr Marcia Devlin AM

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, GAICD

Chief Operating Officer 

Peter Saffin

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

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.

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

Originally a Youth Worker, Megan moved into public health and health promotion in early childhood development with the Queensland government, where she developed her passion for education.  

Megan worked in Queensland as a classroom teacher and then Learning Community Manager before she joined the Victorian Department of Education in the Professional Learning Communities Unit. In this role, Megan supported teachers implementing evidence-based inquiry to classroom practice to improve student outcomes.

During Melbourne’s second COVID-19 wave, Megan joined the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, working on the reopening of schools. In 2020, she joined the then-Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership where she established the Business Priorities Unit.

As Director of the Academy’s Business Service Division, Megan is responsible for the provision of the Academy’s corporate services and business continuity, as the Academy provides high-quality professional learning while establishing itself as a statutory authority.

Gerard O'Shaughnessy

Director, Academy Services Division

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

Acting Director, Teaching Excellence Division

Tyron Paspa, Director, Regional Division

Tyron Paspa joined the public sector in 2012 and has held roles in investment strategy, early childhood, infrastructure, program management, and policy across the Victorian School Building Authority, Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education.

Across these roles, Tyron has had some significant achievements, including being a founding manager within the VSBA, working with government to secure more than $10 billion in funding for various initiatives, leading the Asset Management Reform initiative in schools and supporting DHHS during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is the connection with people and focus on delivering public value that Tyron considers the most enjoyable aspects of the public sector.

Emily Benson

Acting Director, Regional Division

Emily Benson

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 in regional Victoria, 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 a regional area. 

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 acting Director of Regional Division, Emily oversees the Academy’s 7 regional centres, partnering with stakeholders to provide high quality and accessible professional learning for teachers and school leaders across Victoria.  

Our board

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

Last updated 05 April 2024