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The REAIE Committee

The REAIE Committee is an entirely volunteer group that serves the membership through project groups and collective decision making.

Project groups meet regularly and are responsible for proposing the scope of work relevant to their project, the budget, the time frame and the resources.

Each month the whole committee meets to hear about the progress of each of the projects and to respond to any pressing issues. Each committee member sits on one or two project groups.

Much time, many skills and numerous points of view are needed to make the work happen. Many REAIE members and the Network Groups through the Network Conveners offer suggestions and feedback about the future directions of the organisation.

Committee members are elected for a two year term. If you are interested in being involved with the REAIE Committee, please click here.

The REAIE Committee - 2023-2024

Kate Mount

Kate Mount

Chairperson

Kate Mount is an experienced and passionate Early Childhood educator of 40 years, holding a Master of Early Childhood. One of Kate’s greatest achievements was her leadership of 16 years, transforming an Early Learner’s Centre in Adelaide into a leading centre, embedding the Reggio Approach in the Australian context. This centre became one of the 4 centres used in the Project Quattro research as part of Re-Imagining Childhood in Carla Rinaldi’s residency in SA in 2012-2013. Kate has been a long-standing member of the Adelaide Network of REAIE and for the last 8 years has played an active role on the National Committee, now Board. Her roles have included Professional Learning Convenor and Chairperson. Kate has also co-led the most recent Study Group to Reggio Emilia, her 4th time experiencing the Study group experience. Kate is driven to making a difference to education using creative and collaborative ways. Now, with years of experience, she is invested in supporting others on their journey in advocacy and democratic practice. Kate shares her learning and thinking through professional development workshops and forums with particular interest in leadership and capacity building, organisational structures, educator research, and the Hundred Languages. Through volunteering for REAIE, Kate enjoys networking with members, attending events and professional learning and being a part of an active and vibrant community. Always wanting to learn more, Kate surrounds herself with challenge and opportunities to truly embrace the notion of re-imagining education for a better future.

Kirsty Liljegren

Kirsty Liljegren

Vice-Chairperson

Kirsty Liljegren is an invested member of the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange Board, embodying the organisation's vision of reimagining education for a just society through her unwavering dedication to collegiality, collaboration, and making a difference. As a co-convenor of conferences and research symposiums, Kirsty has played a pivotal role in creating spaces where education professionals come together to share insights, inspiring practices, and innovative ideas influenced by the educational project from Reggio Emilia. Kirsty is looking forward to drawing on this experience in leading the exhibition task group in the future. In 2023, Kirsty assumed the role of vice chairperson, where her leadership has been characterised by a deep commitment to upholding the values and principles of the organisation. Her efforts in fostering a culture of collaboration and mutual ensure that diverse perspectives are valued and that decisions are made in alignment with the organisation's overarching vision, encouraging everyone to feel valued and included. As the organisation embarks on an exciting new phase under the 2024 constitution, Kirsty remains steadfast in her dedication to advancing the organisation's purpose. Guided by principles of collegiality and collaboration, Kirsty looks forward to working collaboratively with her fellow Board Members and the Operations Team to chart a course that ensures REAIE continues to be a beacon of hope in the field of education, driving positive change and transformative impact for education.

Cara Mearns

Cara Mearns

Treasurer

After commencing a career in commercial law, Cara transitioned into education more than 20 years ago. She is a passionate early childhood educator and leader and holds a Master of Education (Early Childhood). Cara joined the Committee, now Board, in 2014 and has held various positions in that time including Vice Chairperson and Treasurer. Committed to making a difference, Cara has contributed across many areas throughout her time with REAIE. This includes her work with the Documentation Centre, Biennial Conference, The Challenge Journal, and most recently on the REAIE Executive Team. Cara’s roles as Head of Early Learning and Head of Junior Campus at Fintona Girls’ School have seen her lead the teaching and learning of its ELC, and now Junior School, for more than 16 years. As a member of the school’s Senior Leadership Team, she has well developed skills in governance, strategic planning, stake holder engagement, finance and budgets. This experience provided Cara with a foundation of financial understanding that she brings to her role as Treasurer and continues to build upon in collaboration with the Finance Officer, Executive Officer and the REAIE Board. Cara is committed to the work of REAIE and enjoys working in partnership with her fellow REAIE colleagues and the membership. She is committed to the values of the Reggio Approach and looks back fondly on the many professional learning experiences afforded to her through her REAIE membership, particularly her two Study Group tours to Reggio Emilia.

Leanne Mits

Leanne Mits

Secretary

Leanne Mits is an experienced early childhood teacher and advocate for children, families, educators and education. She has been a teacher in rural and suburban communities, in a variety of settings: Long Day Care, playgroups, kindergartens and TAFE. Leanne works full time in a community, not-for-profit kindergarten, as Nominated Supervisor, Educational Leader and Teacher. Leanne has volunteered with REAIE as a Committee Member, (now Board Member), Project Group Convener, Study Group Leader (Reggio Emilia and New Zealand) and overseeing the Hundred Language of Children Exhibition. Leanne’s understanding and experience with REAIE’s systems, governance, policies, procedures, constitution, project groups and their respective action plans is strong. Leanne volunteers on other early childhood Committees and network groups, locally and state-wide, signalling a strong commitment to the potential and importance of volunteerism and the community, not-for-profit sector. Leanne was the recipient of the Victorian Early Years Teacher of the Year Award (2019) and an Order of Australia (2022) for her work, advocacy and commitment to children and early childhood education. Relationships, the role of documentation for children’s learning, and the pedagogies of listening and participation are paramount in Leanne’s work as a teacher and volunteer.

Heather Conroy

Heather Conroy

Committee Member

Heather Conroy has actively supported the initiatives of REAIE as a member of the Committee, now Board, since 2016, accepting responsibility for many varied roles. Her most recent leadership roles within REAIE have been as co-convenor of the 2019 and 2023 biennial conferences and co-convenor of the inaugural 2021 Research Symposium, returning to the role of co-convenor in 2022 for the second Research Symposium. She is currently actively supporting program development for REAIE’s third Symposium and is a participating member of the Exhibition and Conference Task Groups. Heather was elected to the position of International Liaison representative in 2020, as REAIE’s representative to the Reggio Children International Network, a strong network of invited members spanning 32 contexts across the world. Heather’s commitment to the Liaison role demonstrates her belief in open and honest communication with Reggio Children colleagues and to strengthening relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Heather is committed to the establishment and strengthening of relationships with other International Network groups within the Asia Pacific region. She believes there is exciting potential in exploring regional alliances through the creation of shared projects which expand REAIE’s advocacy reach across the region. Heather values the collegiality afforded the work of the Board through a shared commitment to advocacy for children and their right to quality to access high quality education.

Koren Naylor

Koren Naylor

Committee Member

Koren Naylor is an Educator and Leader with more than 25 years' experience in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings across Melbourne and Ballarat. A passionate advocate for the field, she champions pedagogical leadership, sustained professional learning, community engagement, and understanding the needs of children, families, educators, and communities in regional and rural areas. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science specialising in Disability Studies, a Graduate Diploma in Education, and a Master of Education (Leadership and Management). Since 2014, Koren has served as the Director of the Centre for Early Education (CEEd) at Ballarat Grammar. In her leadership capacity, Koren collaborates with various stakeholders, including Heads of School, Board Members, and Business Managers, strategically navigating discussions on risk, compliance, and financial matters to ensure the sustainability and relevance of the organisation. Her leadership extends beyond the gates of Grammar as she has also taken on the role of Network Convenor for the Ballarat REAIE Network and Discussion Group since 2020. Koren endeavours to cultivate an inclusive environment where knowledge, innovation, and best practices converge to elevate early childhood education. Throughout her career, the REAIE has been an invaluable resource for professional learning, networking, and inspiration. She now sees this opportunity as a chance to give back. She welcomes challenges as opportunities for growth, and Koren's appointment to the inaugural REAIE Board reflects her aspiration to further evolve personally and contribute to the enduring success of the organisation.

Sally-Anne Polson

Sally-Anne Polson

Committee Member

Upon first encountering The Hundred Languages of Children Exhibition in 2003 Sally was instantly enthralled and eager to learn more.  Since that time, she has attended two Reggio Study Tours, numerous REAIE Conferences and Professional Learning opportunities.  She strives to incorporate the principles of Reggio Emilia into her pedagogy and practice both as a teacher of children and as an Educational Leader. Sally has worked in a variety of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings, including in regional Victoria, Melbourne and in the United Kingdom in the role of educator, teacher and lecturer.  Throughout her 25 years in the early childhood sector, she has predominantly been based in Long Day Care settings where she values the strong relationships formed with children and families over many years.  In 2016 she completed a Master of Education (Early Childhood). Currently in the role of Educational Leader at MLC Kindle, Sally is supported to foster a culture of research promoting ‘Teacher as Researcher’ as the team embark on centre wide inquiry. Sally-Anne was elected to the REAIE Board in 2024 and is eager to continue to support the realisation of The Reggio Approach® in an Australian context.

Donna Seen

Donna Seen

Committee Member

Donna Seen brings over twenty years of diverse experience in lutruwita/Tasmania's public education system to the Board of the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange (REAIE), demonstrating particular dedication to early childhood education. Currently serving as Centre Leader at one of Tasmania’s unique Child and Family Learning Centres, Donna provides strategic and operational leadership to a diverse, multidisciplinary team, supporting the education, health, and wellbeing of children under 5 and their families within a family partnership framework. With a Bachelor of Education (Honours) and a Graduate Certificate of Educational Leadership, Donna is committed to continuous professional development and research, seeking to enrich her practice and contribute meaningfully to the REAIE community. Her unwavering dedication to fostering collaboration, innovation, and continuous learning drives positive change within educational settings. She has a strong passion for supporting others to step into the beginning of their journey to embed values and pedagogical practices that align with Reggio Emilia principles into their work with young children. Drawing from her diverse roles, including experience as an education consultant on a local non-profit board for children’s art education, Donna underscores the importance of coaching, mentoring, and networking in her holistic approach to pedagogy and practice. She advocates for increased access and participation in quality education for young children, particularly those facing complex challenges. Donna hopes to enrich dialogue and collective efforts through her participation on the REAIE Board, shaping the future of Australian early childhood education that upholds the rights of children.

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Ruth Wallbridge

Committee Member

Ruth Wallbridge has many years of experience as a kindergarten teacher in community kindergartens, long day care and out of home crisis accommodation. She is passionate about the rights of children and seeing all children reach their potential. Ruth has worked with the ideas of Reggio Emilia for many years and has been a member of the Reggio Emilia Australia Information Exchange as a Committee Member, now Board Member, since 2005. During this time Ruth has led the International Network Project Group as well as being an active member of the Professional Learning, Conference and Symposium Project Groups. During this time Ruth also served the organisation as a member of the Executive as Vice Chair for 4 years and as Chairperson for 9 years. Ruth has led numerous study groups to Reggio Emilia and on 4 occasions was REAIE’s representative at the Reggio Children, Loris Malaguzzi International Network. Ruth feels extremely honoured to have participated in the inaugural Teacher Educator Training provided by Reggio Children between 2019 and 2023. Ruth is committed to representing all members through her work as a Board Member and to ensuring REAIE and its members continue to represent Reggio Children and the Reggio Emilia Approach in Australia with integrity acknowledging and maintaining the strong relationship between REAIE and Reggio Children established by Jan Millikan (OAM) Founding Member and Patron of REAIE. Ruth is very much looking forward to working hard and supporting the organisation as it transitions from Committee to Board and to seeing REAIE consolidate its policies and procedures to ensure its viability as an organisation that serves its membership into the future.

Ruth Weinstein

Ruth Weinstein

Committee Member

Ruth Weinstein has over 45 years’ experience working in the early childhood sector. She has worked as a TAFE Lecturer and has been the owner and Director of two early childhood education settings in Sydney for the last 44 years. Ruth has attended 7 study tours to Reggio Emilia and is currently one of the Reggio Emilia Study Tour Leaders. Ruth has been a REAIE committee member since 2015. Ruth is a founding member of the NSW Eastern Suburbs Network group and is currently a Co-Convenor of this group. Ruth is keen to use her current roles to encourage and support educators in their growing interest in the Reggio Emilia philosophy.

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Fiona Zinn

Committee Member

Fiona joined the REAIE Committee, now Board, in 2004 and has proudly served in a variety of roles during this time. With experience as a teacher, leader, lecturer, researcher and consultant in early childhood and primary education in Australia and overseas, Fiona believes passionately in the work of REAIE to promote a new landscape of education for children in Australia. Fiona’s research into the impacts of Learning Environments as the Third Teacher unveils new possibilities for the synergy between Reggio Emilia Approach, the International Baccalaureate, and teachers' spatial literacy practices in international education contexts. Fiona believes professional learning is a key strategy in the growth of REAIE, providing meaningful opportunities for educators to connect, exchange ideas and grow practice together. Fiona also currently fulfils the role of Deputy Head (Early Learning - Year 1) at the Friends' School in Hobart.