Our People

Our Committee

The Country Education Partnership is managed by an elected Committee of Management.

 The CEP Committee of Management is elected annually by the members of the Partnership. It is chaired by an invited individual who possesses extensive expertise and knowledge of rural and remote education. To guide its work, the Committee of Management has a ‘Compact’ which details the mission, values, key focus areas, roles and operations of the committee.

Committee of Management Compact

 The committee further consists of several key stakeholders who sustain an active interest in rural education. The below table details our current committee members: 



Helen Clarke


Jodi Walters

Swan Hill


Fran Waterman


Committee Members

Arn Gorman


Jason Whiteley


Kimberley Tempest


Leigh Mellberg


Joanne Amott


Patricia Perry


Catherine Grace


Co-opted Member

Sally Baker

South Gippsland Shire

CEO Representatives

Kaye O’Connor

CEO Office – Sandhurst Diocese

Samantha Meerbach

CEO Office – Ballarat Diocese




Our Staff

Mark McLay

Mark McLay

Mark commenced in the role of CEO of Country Education Partnership in January 2022.

Mark has over thirty years experience in Education, twenty three years of those as Principal. He has experience working in rural South Australia, Northern Territory and Victoria. Mark has a Dip Ed in Educational Psychology and is passionate about supporting the mental health of both students and staff in rural and regional areas.

Mark is dedicated to continuing to progress CEP’s success in the Rural Inspire Program, Cluster initiatives and Energy Breakthrough. He will also focus on supporting CEP’s membership base, continuing to be the voice of rural education in Victoria.

Trish Hodge

Trish Hodge

Business Manager


Trish began working with CEP in 2005.

She has extensive knowledge of finance and administration support, highlighted by a period of twelve years, from 1982 to 1994, working in the Australian Airforce, in the areas of finance and purchasing.

She made her first step into the education sector in 2002, working as an Executive Assistant with her local North East Tracks LLEN.

Phil Brown

Phil Brown

Project Manager


Phil has been Executive Officer at CEP for more than a decade now and has a wealth of knowledge regarding the function, benefits and challenges of rural and remote education.

Phil has been instrumental in a range of initiatives aimed at fostering enhanced education outcomes in rural communities.

He has further represented these communities through involvement in a range of government and education sector working groups, as well as peak national education bodies.

Joe Collins

National Project Officer Rural Youth Aspirations


Joe’s involvement with CEP began in 2016 when he signed up as a Youth Ambassador as part of the Rural Inspire Program. He has since maintained close contact with the organisation as a board representative and moved into a Project Officer role in 2021. His passion for improving country education opportunities comes from his strong belief that rural and remote communities are villages that grow some very impressive people.

Joe grew up in Woomelang in Western Victoria and attended Tyrrell College in Sea Lake. He completed his Bachelor of Agriculture Technology through La Trobe University in 2020.

Britt Ditterich

Dana McDonald

National Project Officer
Rural Youth Diversity and Aspirations


Dana is a Gunditjmara woman who grew up in Nathalia.

She joins the CEP team after spending the past five at the University of Melbourne in the Law academic support office as an administrator.

Dana is looking forward to starting more conversations around diversity and the Indigenous experience with rural education in her role as well as spending time growing CEP’s Rural Inspire initiative in the Northern Territory and Queensland.


Kira Dullard

Kira Dullard

Social Media Manager 


Kira joins the CEP team in 2022 as the Social Media Manager.

With several years of experience working in the digital design industry within Melbourne, Kira brings a wealth of knowledge to CEP.

Having grown up in a small community, travelled and now living in a rural town, Kira has a passion for engaging with and providing value to rural communities.

Kira is looking forward to promoting awareness about the opportunities CEP offers for rural residents across a range of digital channels.

Julia Enter

Julia Enter

Communications and Social Media Officer


Julia is an alumni of the Rural Youth Ambassador program. She grew up on her family dairy farm in South Gippsland in Victoria and went to school in Leongatha.

Julia has been involved in the Rural Youth Ambassador program and Rural Inspire since since 2016.

She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in International Studies and Politics at the University of Melbourne.

Julia brings to the role within Country Education Partnership with a real passion in helping other rural students have access to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.

In her down time, Julia loves going to the beach, helping on her dairy farm and enjoying all of that inner city living has to offer.

Jemma Walsh

Project Officer
Rural Inspire


Jemma grew up in country Victoria, though currently lives in Canberra while working and studying full time. Jemma is in her final year of a double degree of Political Science and International Relations. 

Jemma participated in the 2014/15 group of Rural Youth Ambassadors. This group of young rural Australians were one of the first drivers of the Rural Inspire initative.

Renae Feder

Project Officer
Rural Inspire


Renae grew up in Kaniva, a small country town in Victoria just 10kms from the SA boarder. She went to high school at Kaniva College where she finished year 12 in 2017 alongside a class of 8 others. Renae has been living in Adelaide for four years studying a Bachelor of Education (middle/Secondary)/ Health Science (PE teaching) at Flinders University. She wants to be a PE and Agriculture teacher in the country. Hopefully one day (years down the track) she can be a principal. 

Renae is passionate about ensuring all students gain a quality education no matter their location and CEP advocates for this. She likes seeing change happen in the education sector that supports every student.