OUR PEOPLE

Meet some of the amazing people who keep us moving forward.

MEET THE TEAM

Tanya Armstrong
Chief Executive Officer
Duncan Ward
Founder
Nicola Courtin
Co-Founder & Creative Director
Rachael Conroy
Programs Manager
Damon Carter
Creative Director, Function Creative
Ray Gauci
IT Project Manager
Kristina Buckingham
Digital Media Strategist
Kristoffer Trondsen
Field Photographer & Videographer

MEET THE BOARD

Sean Edwards
Chair
Alexis Guillot
Director
Flavio Bruni
Director
Lorena Paglia
Director
Chief Executive Officer

Tanya Armstrong

Tanya has over 15 years as an executive leader in social housing and homelessness services NGOs in Australia and has a strong track record working with CEOs and Boards to develop and implement strategic and operational plans that deliver on the mission.

Tanya is known for her ability to deliver high-quality outcomes for the benefit of disadvantaged communities and has a long history of being involved in purposeful work. Tanya firmly believes everyone should have access to a home and equal access to education. Six months after joining Classroom of Hope as International Program Director, Tanya was the natural choice to step in to lead the company.

In her spare time, you will find Tanya hanging out with her children in their new home in Bali where they have become passionate about the environment and doing everything they can to reduce their use of plastic. During her down time you will find Tanya pottering in the garden or at the beach soaking up her love of nature!

Founder

Duncan Ward

Our founder is a perpetual optimist, driven by a deep sense of curiosity and a love for adventure. Born and raised in South Africa, Duncan holds Nelson Mandela’s belief close to his heart: that education is the most powerful tool for shaping a better world. He sees each classroom created as a beacon of hope for positive change.

Duncan, a seasoned social entrepreneur and impact consultant, brings 25 years of diverse leadership experience across various sectors globally. Recognised as one of Australia’s top influencers in the impact sector, he advises on sustainability, circular economy, and market strategies for developing nations. Duncan’s accolades include the IMPACT 25 award and the APAC Talent Unleashed Impact award from Sir Richard Branson. Co-founder of Block Solutions Indonesia and Co-Founder director of Revolve-Group, Duncan pioneers block technology integration, building schools and toilets from recycled plastic waste in earthquake-affected areas. His commitment extends to clean energy transition ventures in Africa, generating revenue for governments and community programs through carbon credits.

When taking a break from entrepreneurial projects, Duncan loves to hang out with his wife (Nicola, our co-founder), and his two daughters, as well as surf and travel.

Co-Founder & Creative Director

Nicola Courtin

Nicola plays a pivotal role in shaping our identity, defining our messaging, and crafting compelling stories to communicate our mission. With her unique blend of expertise in Journalism, Socio-cultural Anthropology, and English, Nicola approaches the realities of our work with empathy and cultural understanding. Passionate about education equity, Nicola believes in the power of storytelling to foster empathy and inspire others to join our cause. Collaborating with internal teams and external partners, she ensures consistency and effectiveness in conveying our message.

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Nicola’s journey led her to a serendipitous meeting with our founder, Duncan, while backpacking through Laos, solidifying a partnership dedicated to making a difference. Beyond work, Nicola treasures time with Duncan and their two beautiful daughters. She is a travel lover, health and fitness advocate, dark chocolate aficionado, and astrology enthusiast. 

Programs Manager

Rachael Conroy

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Rachael has spent more than 12 years in Lombok, Indonesia. Rachael was first contacted by COH soon after the 2018 Lombok earthquakes and has since been working with us to get children safely back into classrooms.

Before COH, Rachael spent five years immersed in the Lombok community at a grassroots level, developing and managing educational programs. She has a postgraduate degree in international and community development and is extremely passionate about the environment, education, child rights, and women’s issues. She’s all about getting things done by putting systems in place, to make a real impact on the ground.

Outside of work, Rachael loves walking, reading, singing, drawing, and lounging at Lombok’s amazing beaches with her husband and son.

Creative Director, Function Creative

Damon Carter

When we asked Damon to be our volunteer web designer, we knew we were asking a lot. Luckily for us he felt attached to our cause. See, both Damon’s parents are teachers and Damon grew up truly understanding that education is the ultimate tool that gives people choice in life.

Whether he feels it’s his Karmic duty, or if it’s just because he’s an all-round nice guy, Damon happily provides us with pro-bono pixels. With a wealth of experience, Damon founded his own graphic design company, Function Creative, in 2012. Damon and his team at Function Creative gave us our brand new look too! 

When he’s detached from his computer Damon spends time with his beautiful wife, daughter and son, or he can be found sketching in Perth’s cultural precinct, should you need him.

IT Project Manager

Ray Gauci

Ray began using technology when he was a kid and his dad brought a computer home for the weekend. His dad used to code adventure games for him to play, which was the start of Ray’s interest in gaming and a good story. He also enjoyed watching and playing sports, especially footy and cricket.

Today, Ray is a passionate gardener and his garden has nearly all Australian native plants and is home to several native animals. Over the last few years, he has also been learning to aquascape and keep tropical fish which he describes as a slow and steady but rewarding pastime. Ray enjoys watching plants grow and observing the fish interact with the environment. Einstein said “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”, this is a quote that resonates with Ray.

For Ray, education is about obtaining knowledge and learning from anyone, all the time. He draws inspiration from his team at Classroom of Hope and other not-for-profits. Reading stories from people like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai, and organisations like NASA and Wikipedia is how he learns and improves his knowledge. When we are educated, Ray beliefs, our opinions are formed, better choices are made, options are improved and people prosper.

Digital Media Strategist

Kristina Buckingham

Above all else, Kristina values compassion, connection, experiences, and, you guessed it… positivity!

Originally from Utah (United States), Kristina was brought up in a family that put a strong emphasis on education and on giving back. After earning university degrees in International Development, Spanish, and Sustainability, Kristina has explored many different careers and paths, but through them all, she’s worked to find ways to make a positive impact on the world.

Kristina’s craving for travel, adventure, and exploration has led her to take every opportunity to work and live abroad — a winding path that eventually led her to Indonesia and to Classroom of Hope!

Kristina believes that education and opportunity go hand-in-hand, and is happy to be able to use her passion for communication and connection to expand the opportunities we can offer to future generations.

Field Photographer & Videographer

Kristoffer Trondsen

Kris has been working with photography and videography for nearly six years. He loves that photographs and videos can capture moments to tell a story.

In school, Kris enjoyed studying geography and always showed interest in cultures and societies, and desired to understand why people live their lives the way they do.

Kris is a big believer in our ability to grow, which is why he believes that education is the most important tool for any child to access. Education introduces children to new possibilities and opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise, which allows them to grow!

During his downtime, you’ll find Kris keeping himself active by playing football or swimming in the ocean. When he needs to relax, he enjoys playing video games. Oh, and his favourite superhero is Spiderman!

Chair

Sean Edwards

Sean brings a wealth of business and technology experience to our board. His education culminated in a degree in Engineering which enabled him to enjoy a successful corporate career in technology, ultimately reaching his goal of Chief Information Officer for a major company.

In his free time, you can find Sean swimming at the beach, competing in triathlons, travelling and spending time with his beautiful wife and their 5 teenage children. When Sean was in school his favourite subjects were Maths, Physics and Sport.

Sean is passionate about education because he believes that education enables people to fulfill their desires and continually learn, improve and achieve. Sean’s favourite superhero is Batman because he has no special powers.

Director

Alexis Guillot

Alexis is an experienced not-for-profit company director and currently serves in a key leadership role in local government, responsible for coordinating a multi-million-dollar portfolio of projects encompassing infrastructure, social capital, economic development, and diversification.

In his free time, Alexis has fun hanging out with his wife Sarah and their son, Oliver. He also enjoys reading governance and legal articles, property investment, and swing dancing. He actually met his wife swing dancing! They enjoy the energy and traditional style of lindy hop swing.

When Alexis was in school his favourite subjects were science and biology. For Alexis, education is one of the few things that has proven to have a truly transformative impact on people’s lives, helping them to realise their true potential, reduce inequality, and, over time, build fair and equitable societies. Alexis’s favourite superhero is Batman because he is complex, fierce and without superpowers.

Director

Flavio Bruni

Flavio brings operational and commercial knowledge to the board. He holds a degree in Engineering, leading him to a career consulting and managing projects in Oil and Gas, Mining, and Defence.

In his free time, you will find Flavio hanging out with his wife Mel and their three kids Massimo, Alessandra, and Dante.

Flavio’s favourite subjects were Maths, Physics, and Rowing. Flavio is passionate about education as, in his experience, it is the key to unlocking the confidence in students to develop. Flavio’s favourite superhero is Optimus Prime from transformers due to his strong moral character and willingness to save humanity and Earth.

Director

Lorena Paglia

Lorena, Microsoft’s Data and AI Global Business Programs and Operations Leader, collaborates on strategy and growth. A leader in Microsoft’s Sustainability Community, she champions carbon reduction and ecosystem management.

With 20+ years of experience in corporate advisory, management consulting, and sustainability, she works on transformative projects with executives and boards. Lorena developed an award-winning Environmental Social Governance sustainability method during her consultancy.

She’s an Antarctic Ambassador, BritCham Singapore Board member, and AICD International Advisory Board member, focusing on ESG transformation. Lorena, with an MBA, co-authored texts on sustainability and speaks on sustainability partnering and environmental footprint reduction.

Stay connected with our work!

INVOLVE YOUR BUSINESS