The National Board

Felicity Dunn


Responsibilities: Finance, Risk and Audit Committee, Advocacy and Policy Expert Advisory Committee, Governance Committee
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts/Music, Postgraduate Diploma in Public Policy & Management, Graduate Certificate in Education
Lives in: Victoria
Represents: Playgroup Victoria

Felicity’s professional background is in education policy, with a particular focus over the past decade in early childhood education and care. Felicity is currently Policy and Research Manager at Community Early Learning Australia, a peak body advocating for both education and care services and children. She is also the founder and director of eQIPd – a service which supports education and care services to use feedback from parents and staff to inform quality improvement in their settings. eQIPd clients are more likely to be rated as Exceeding the National Standards compared with other education and care services. Prior having children, Felicity worked in State Government, specialising in education regulatory policy. She has two adorable children, who, like Felicity and her husband thoroughly enjoyed the fun and friendships which have come from playgroup.

Dr Andrew Woolf


Responsibilities: Finance, Risk and Audit Committee (Chair)
Qualifications: BSci (Hons I) (Syd), PhD (Tas), GAICD
Lives in: Australian Capital Territory
Represents: Independent Director

Andrew has over 20 years’ experience in public sector roles in the UK and Australia. His early career was focussed on technology research and development, with peer-reviewed publications in journals, books, and international conferences. Since 2016, Andrew has held senior executive roles in the Australian Government, undertaking policy development and providing central agency oversight of technology investments across government. He has provided advice on cybersecurity policy, data sharing reforms, investment contestability and assurance to Ministers, Cabinet, Parliament, and senior agency officials. Andrew is currently a Senior Disability Champion at Services Australia. He has valued the contribution of playgroups in the life of his own family, and in the broader community.

Sue Conway


Responsibilities: Finance, Risk and Audit Committee

Kate Sowerby


Responsibilities: Governance Committee
Qualifications: Graduate Dip. Social and Organisational Leadership; Advanced Dip. Early Childhood Education and Care; Certified Organisational Coach, IECL. 
Lives in: ACT
Represents: ACT Playgroups

Kate has worked for over 15 years in Commonwealth Government roles specialising in governance and organisational transformation, with experience in advising policy makers and senior parliamentarians. She has led gender equality networks in a number of large government agencies and has worked for the empowerment of women working in the public sector, with a focus on increasing support for mothers returning to the workforce and access to family-friendly work practices. 

Kate has held non-executive director roles with local community sector not-for-profit boards over the past 8 years and is particularly interested in perinatal mental health and suicide prevention. Kate is currently the Chair of ACT Playgroups

Trish Strachan


Responsibilities: Advocacy and Policy Expert Advisory Committee, Contracts and Tendering Consortium
Lives in: South Australia
Represents: Playgroup SA

David Worland


David is an engaging, visionary, innovative and values driven leader with a career committed to improving outcomes across the government, for-purpose, health and early childhood education and care sectors, both in Australia and overseas. With 25 years leadership experience, including 10 as a Chief Executive Officer, David has held C-Suite roles in both large- and small-scale organisations, including national peak bodies.  David has been engaging with Boards of Management for 20 years, with his appointment to the Playgroup Australia Board being his first directorship.

Para Nanayakkara


Para is a finance, business management & governance professional with 30+ years’ experience in private and public sector organizations in various disciplines such as manufacturing, commerce and service, in Australia and internationally, leading teams of accountants.

Para is a hands-on professional with a passion for building effective teams, agile thinking and people empowerment. He is a Graduate of Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD), a Fellow Member of Australian Society of Certified Practicing Accountants (FCPA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants United Kingdom (FCMA).

The Staff

Patricia O’Donovan


Patricia O’Donovan brings a wealth of experience in the community services sector and a deep commitment to strengthening the delivery of quality services to young children and families.
Patricia believes that the starting point for effective services that respond to family and children’s needs must be place-based, spring from an understanding of each unique situation and location and provide strong structural supports. It is this aligned philosophy and passion that Patricia brings to Playgroup Australia.

Patricia has had an extensive corporate career in government and not-for profit organisations designing and implementing effective social support services in the areas of education and health. She has many years working in the early childhood sector both at frontline delivery and in Vocational Training.
Most recently she pioneered and established play therapy services within schools and early childhood services for children impacted by trauma and playgroups that support and enhance the attachment relationship between parent and child through play. Patricia’s skills include executive leadership and organisational strategic planning, team leadership, experience delivering services from within a social justice framework, and business acumen.

She has held executive, leadership and policy roles in the NSW State Government and not for profit organisations. She holds a master’s in early childhood education, complemented by certifications in executive leadership, vocational training and auditing

Erin Nichols


Erin Nichols has a background in psychology and has worked in a broad range of frontline support services (primarily child, youth and family work) before shifting her focus to social policy and working as a policy officer for a peak body in regional NSW. She brings to Playgroup Australia extensive experience working with children and families who have experienced trauma, particularly through domestic violence, and a passion for ensuring equitable access for children and families living in rural and remote areas.     

Katherine McCormack


Katherine McCormack has a background in social work, working in direct service in the housing and disability spaces. Katherine has experience studying and working within community development and has experience in governance support and administration from working at a membership organisation, where she developed knowledge around not-for-profit governance and what makes a membership organisation tick.