Skip to content

Directors and Leadership Team


Directors and Leadership Team


Board of Directors


Barry Irvin AM

Barry Irvin is recognised globally for his extensive experience in the dairy industry and has been Chairman of Bega Cheese Limited since 2000. Barry’s leadership has seen Bega grow from a small regionally based dairy company to now the third largest dairy company in Australia, supplying a large range of dairy and grocery products in Australia and around the world.

Barry’s depth of knowledge of the industry includes a significant understanding of the issues affecting Australian dairy farmers, the key investments required to meet changing consumer needs and the management of long term customer relationships.

Barry was awarded the NAB Agribusiness Leader of the Year and the Rabobank Leadership Award. Barry is very aware of the importance of social responsibility and has been Chairman of Giant Steps since 2002. In 2008, Barry was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for contributions to children with disability and the Australian dairy industry.

Deputy Chairman

Geoff Stein

Geoff is a partner of Brown Wright Stein Lawyers in Sydney, specialising in commercial and tax law.

Geoff has been a lawyer in Sydney for over 20 years. He is one of only a few New South Wales Law Society Accredited Specialists in taxation law and he works extensively with a number of leading accounting firms to assist their clients and gains great satisfaction knowing he is also helping them build their practices.

Geoff advises clients on tax, commercial, trust, estate planning, wealth management and ancillary legal issues. He has developed an in-depth understanding of the legal challenges faced by business owners. This means he is able to take a whole of business approach that goes beyond the obvious legal process, to provide clients with advice that benefits their entire business.

Geoff believes that in supporting business owners it’s vital to understand the interaction between a client’s business interests, their aspirations and their family wealth management – and this is his first priority.

Geoff’s daughter transitioned from the Giant Steps K to 6 program to mainstream education in 2007.


Anna Kelly

Anna is a clinical psychologist based at the Centre for Emotional Health Clinic at Macquarie University.

Anna works primarily with children, adolescents and their families. Anna’s daughter Ruby is currently in the Secondary School and has attended Giant Steps for the past 14 years. Anna chairs the Giant Steps Sydney Parent Advocacy Group, which assists in supporting the parent community at Giant Steps and supporting parents in their fundraising efforts.


Brett Kelly

Brett is a Chartered Accountant who has worked in the accounting profession for over 33 years.

Brett worked in a global Chartered Accounting firm for over 10 years where he was involved in Audit and Business Advisory, working with a wide range of organisations including government, non-profit, unlisted and listed companies.

For the past 22 years Brett has worked for Bega Cheese Ltd where he is the Company Secretary. Brett is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Brett likes to support community groups in his spare time which include Landcare and the local football club. He has been involved with Giant Steps since 2003 where he provides financial advice.


Glenn Poswell

Glenn is a Founder and Partner of Centennial Asset Management, an independent Australian asset management business. Previously, Glenn was a Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Ellerston Capital Ltd, an alternative asset management business established to manage the Packer family’s wealth and external investors capital.

Prior to Ellerston Capital, Glenn was Deutsche Banks’ Asia Pacific Head – Absolute Return Strategies Group, an Advisory Board member for the Adam Scott Foundation (a charity that aims to support disadvantaged and underprivileged youth), on the Advisory Board for RF Capital (Roberts Family, founders of Multiplex) and a Board Member of Giant Steps School.

Glenn holds a Bachelor of Arts and Commerce from Monash University, Melbourne.



Leanne Maccallum

Leanne is a Licensed Conveyancer and Justice of the Peace.

She has worked in conveyancing for many years. She has worked in both small and medium sized law firms both in the suburbs and the city.

She is experienced in all types of property transactions.

Leanne is also the Coordinator of the annual Giant Steps Ball, a major fund-raising event. She has a daughter in the Community College.


Rachel Launders

Rachel is General Counsel and Company Secretary at Nine Entertainment Co, an ASX-listed media company.

Rachel was formerly a partner of Gilbert + Tobin, one of the law firms which assists Giant Steps, where she specialised in corporate and commercial transactions and advisory work, acting for a wide range of clients, including a number of not-for-profit bodies. Rachel has been a board member of Giant Steps since 2001 and Company Secretary since 2003.


Robert Llewellyn-Jones

Rob initiated the foundation of Giant Steps in 1994 after his son Damian was diagnosed with autism. He was the Founding Chairman of Giant Steps between 1995 and 2000 and has served on the Board since 1995.

He works full time as a Consultant Psychiatrist and and is Director of Wellview Health, a multidisciplinary clinic in North Sydney. He is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and is a member of its Faculty of Psychotherapy and its Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry. He has been a Consultant Psychiatrist in private practice since 1993 and specialises in the treatment of depression, anxiety and traumatic stress disorders as well as in treating mental health problems among patients with neurological disabilities. Prior to training in Psychiatry he worked as a GP in Australia, Nepal and the UK. His commitment to ensuring that health services respond to the needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities and to the needs of their families led him to propose setting up a mental health clinic at Giant Steps which was the first of its kind in Australia.

Rob has also been very concerned about the mental health of older people and set up the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Aged Care Psychiatry Service and was Senior Staff Specialist and Director of this Service during the period 1995 to 2005. He was then a Senior Visiting Psychiatrist with NSW Health between 2005 and 2011 and regularly conducted clinics at hospitals in rural NSW. He has also provided geriatric psychiatry outreach to towns in outback NSW with the Royal Flying Doctor and education to rural and remote health professionals using a telemedicine video link.

He has been a speaker at many local, national and international scientific conferences. He was previously Conjoint Senior Lecturer with the Department of Psychological Medicine at Sydney University and with the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle. He has substantial research experience and was awarded a PhD for research into new ways of managing depression in residential aged care. He has published widely in peer-reviewed scientific journals and has received many research grants and several research awards. The Depression Intervention that he designed was replicated in Australia, Japan and the USA. He has served as an advisor to state, national and international bodies on the management of depression and dementia and is a peer review assessor for several international psychiatric journals. In 2016 he received the Distinguished Contribution Award from the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation.


Wil Wilhelm

Wil Wilhelm is a Senior Client Partner with Korn Ferry, a global leadership consulting firm.

Wil leads the human services and private equity practices for the firm across Australia and New Zealand. Appointments from Wil’s 13 years in the industry include those made to the NDIA board.

His earlier operating executive career includes leadership as COO of a private-equity backed healthcare staffing company, and over nine years’ as an operating executive with USA-based telecommunications company Sprint in Kansas City and Hong Kong.

Wil’s early career was in consulting with Bain & Company in corporate strategy and with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in IT systems design. He received his B.Sc. in computer science and mathematics from Sydney University and his M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He has also received a F Fin from the Financial Services Institute of Australia.

Wil has a daughter in the Adult Autism Services program.


James Liew

James is a General Practitioner, having practiced in Epping, NSW for over 20 years and is co-owner of the Peter Gill Medical Centre.

James has a special interest in travel health and is a member of Travel Clinics Australia. He is currently on the Medical Advisory Committee for Allowah – Presbyterian Children’s Hospital and was previously a medical advisor to an international Christian missionary organisation from 2006 to 2014.

James’ son Isaac is in Secondary School and has attended Giant Steps since 2013.

Leadership Team

National Director of Schools and Colleges

Kerrie Nelson

Kerrie holds a Bachelor of Education, Master of Education and a Master of Special Education. She has 40 years’ experience in the disability sector and has spent more than 15 years specialising in autism spectrum disorders. She has been the Principal of three schools and has worked across age groups from early learning, through school-aged children to adult education.

Kerrie’s interest areas are in Educational Management and Leadership with a focus on developing organisational structures that allow the organisation to be flexible and responsive to the needs of students with complex and highly challenging profiles.

In 2020, Kerrie was awarded Principal of the Year, Non-Government, at the Australian Education Awards.

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

National Director of Finances and Administration

Claire Allen

Claire holds a Bachelor of Economics and has worked for 35 years across a range of industries including finance, publishing and education.

Claire has worked for Giant Steps for the past 23 years and is responsible for all compliance and accountability issues pertaining to the organisation.

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

Acting Principal

Andrew Frakes

BAppSc(OT) MTeach(Primary)

Andrew Frakes holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Sydney.

Working as an Occupational Therapist at Giant Steps since 2008, Andrew has a special interest in assessing and developing programs for school readiness. He also has significant experience and training in developing plans to assist children who are having difficulty regulating their emotions.

Recently Andrew completed longitudinal training in the Assessment and Analysis of Severe and Challenging Behaviour conducted by the Institute of Applied Behaviour Analysis.

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

National Director of Speech Therapy

Rachael Bowen

B AppSci (Speech Pathology), GradCert. Psychology, M Teach (Primary)

Rachael Bowen holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Speech Pathology and is currently completing a Masters of Teaching through the University of New England.

Rachael has been working as a Speech Pathologist at Giant Steps since 2007 and has a special interest in assessing the functional communication needs of students with Autism.

She has been involved in innovative research which includes the use of dynamic visual supports to support emotional regulation and the evaluation of key therapy programs. This research has been presented at a range of national and international conferences.

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

National Director of Student and Psychological Services

Helen Appleton 

Helen Appleton is the Director of The Assessment and Diagnostic Centre. Helen has worked at Giant Steps since 2005 focusing particularly on behaviour support, crisis management, family resourcing and working with and training other agencies in best practice techniques in working with children with autism.

Helen has a special interest in autism, developmental delays, intellectual disabilities and mental health concerns for young people. She has presented at both national and international conferences on her work with siblings of children with autism and runs an extensive sibling support program at Giant Steps.

Helen has a Bachelor’s Degree of Science majoring in Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Psychology. Helen is also an Associate Member of APS (Australian Psychological Society).

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

National Director of Music Therapy

Bronte Arns


Bronte Arns is a Registered Music Therapist, Neurologic Music Therapist and Director of Music Therapy at Giant Steps.

She is currently completing a Masters of Research through the University of Melbourne based on factors shaping the practice of music therapists in autism specialist schools. She is also Secretary of the Board of the Australian Music Therapy Association. Bronte coordinates music projects, professional learning and events across the school and supervises practicum students from registered music therapy tertiary courses.

Bronte has presented a number of papers on music therapy and autism spectrum disorders at conferences including APAC 2011, and the World Congress of Music Therapy in 2014. She is passionate about access for all students to the arts, and to music for engagement, health and wellbeing.

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

National Director of Fundraising

Michelle Jocum

Michelle has been a part of the Giant Steps community since 2003.  She has a Master’s degree in International Relations, specialising in community development.

As an integral member of the school’s fundraising and administration team, Michelle manages all matters pertaining to fundraising and events. Michelle’s ability to create and form strong relationships with the parent body has enabled her to grow the donor base and deliver strong and increased funding results. Michelle has a deep passion for Giant Steps, evident in her contribution to the financial growth and expansion of the school.

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

National Director of Adult Autism Services

Semray Ali


Semray graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Applied Science (OT) in 2010 and has been working at Giant Steps since 2012.

As an Occupational Therapist, Semray worked across all programs from K-12 before moving into the Adult Autism Services program in 2015. Semray completed her longitudinal training through the Institute of Applied Behaviour Analysis and is currently a registered Behaviour Support Practitioner.

In addition to her role as Director of Adult Autism Services at Giant Steps, Semray helps manage her family business; a boarding house for adults with mental illness. Semray’s experience and passion drive her to deliver the best possible opportunities for adults living with autism and their families.

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

Head of Secondary

Claire Cherrington

Claire completed a Bachelor of Education (Human Movement and Health Education) at the University of Sydney in 2010, and has been teaching at Giant Steps since 2011.

She has completed a range of professional development in curriculum and middle leadership and has a passion for outdoor education opportunities for students with special needs.

During her time at Giant Steps, Claire has planned and supported a number of camps for the Senior students, including an overnight bushwalking camp in 2016.

Claire is currently the Head of Secondary, Clocktower and a member of the Student Engagement Support team.

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

Head of Primary

Jenny Loughnan

Jenny Loughnan has a Diploma of teaching in Early childhood. Jenny has been teaching at Giant Steps for ten years across both K-6 and Early Learning.

In her role at Giant Steps, she works closely with preschools and schools when transitioning students to other programs.

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

Finance Manager

Gary Katz

Gary is a Chartered Accountant and member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

Gary has over 30 years of experience as CFO and Head of Finance across several industries including Import and Distribution, Manufacturing, Fashion, Not for Profit Fundraising and Wholesale/Retail operations.

Gary joined Giant Steps in September 2019 as Finance Manager and is responsible for the day to day financial operations, planning and reporting.

Telephone:+61 2 9879 4971

Giant Steps Sydney

Giant Steps Sydney