ACEL Staff

Office of the CEO

Administration Officer & Executive Assistant to the CEO

James Reynolds

James is the Executive Assistant and supports the CEO in calendar management, team meetings and professional developments sessions. As administration officer James also has responsibilities in coordinating for events and conferences while providing customer support to ACEL members and non-members alike.

Programs & Publications

Programs and Publications Manager

Debbi Sundy

Debbi has public relations, communication and event management experience in the education sectors in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Debbi was employed in the UNSW School of Education for four years, most recently as the Professional Learning Coordinator where she led a team that delivered accredited courses and conferences, and previously as the Team Leader: Communications, Events and Student Administration. She also has a strong understanding of accreditation of programs and events, which will certainly help us with our ongoing work with NESA and other regulatory bodies.

Programs and Publications Coordinator

Cass Varela-Chang

Cass is responsible for the smooth running of the ACEL Programs and Publications. This includes the leadership programs, the conference concurrent sessions and the ACEL Journals, Publications and professional resources.

Cass has a BA in Media, Culture & Communication and a Diploma in Creative Writing for Television & New Media. She has a background in creative writing, filmmaking and television production, as well as experience working in television broadcasting. She looks forward to providing high level support to the members and customers of ACEL through conference, program and publications, while discovering and embarking on new passions with ACEL.

Marketing and Communications

Marketing and Communications Manager

Darrin Parker

Darrin Parker is responsible for the ACEL’s Marketing and Communications as well as managing the design and membership teams. Darrin brings over 15 years senior marketing and communications management experience working at leading local and international organisations across the entertainment, events, attractions and media sectors including Paramount Pictures, Fairfax Media and Accor Hotels. Darrin looks forward to working in collaboration with his team to engage ACEL members, the education sector, media and beyond with ACEL messaging and activity as they continue to grow as the trusted source for educational leaders.

Graphic Design & Communications Coordinator

Nalaka Perera

Nalaka is in charge of creating the visual identity of ACEL. It is important that the look and feel of the organisation maintains a professional and modern presence.

He started out as a freelance designer and photographer while studying a Diploma in Digital Media and a Bachelor in Visual Communications in Sydney.  Here at ACEL, his design role involves working on promotional material, digital/web design and print design. Outside of design, Nalaka is also responsible for running IT solutions and technical support around the office.

Junior Graphic Designer

Nerisha Harilal

Nerisha is the Junior Graphic Designer at ACEL and is responsible for aiding in the development of all brand collateral.

Nerisha has a Diploma of Graphic Design and experience working as an intern in the design industry across various agencies. She is eager to grow and develop her design and professional skills working at ACEL.

Events & Branch Support

Event Manager

Kara Vassallo

Kara has over ten years’ experience and extensive knowledge of events and marketing. She has created and implemented strategic marketing strategies in a variety of contexts and enjoys working in a results driven environment. Prior to joining ACEL, Kara was employed with ARIA as an Event Producer at the Sydney Opera House and before that she was responsible for Marketing at the Queensland Law Society.

Kara has a Bachelors Degree in Marketing and Advertising and a Diploma in Communication & Media, majoring in journalism and event management.

Events Coordinator

Alex Fitzgerald

Alex is responsible for event coordination and logistics of ACEL’s national events and workshops. This includes providing a range of administrative and supportive duties and working closely with the Branch Executives.

Prior to Alex’s role at ACEL, she has worked at multiple different event organisations. Most recently in an education organization, coordinating and executing multiple events throughout the year.


Finance Manager

Jane Lowman

Jane is responsible for all aspects of financial management of ACEL. She works in conjunction with Branches, members, the Board and the office team to ensure the company is running efficiently and effectively from a financial perspective.

Prior to her role with ACEL Jane was an administration officer, office manager and accounts payable clerk for various companies. She gained an incredible amount of knowledge and skills from more than a decade of experience in office administration and applies this daily to her role as the ACEL Finance Officer.

Finance Analyst

Sandra Blicharski

Sandra is the Finance Analyst for ACEL and is responsible for budget preparation and analysis, as well as general financial support.

Sandra is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has a double degree in Business and Arts, majoring in Accounting and Economics.

Sandra has experience in auditing firms in a range of industries, including the education sector, through her time working in audit and assurance services at large accounting firms. She has also experience working in financial departments for local government councils.