Meet the Team

Meet some of the amazing people who keep us moving forward

Tanya Armstrong

Chief Executive Officer

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!

Duncan Ward

Founder

Our founder is a real-life Peter Pan. He’s an eternal kid at heart and an avid seeker of adventure. To the best of our knowledge he doesn’t fight with pirates and he hasn’t yet learned to fly. Born and raised in South Africa, Duncan is Nelson Mandela’s number one fan and believes that ‘education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world’. For Duncan, every classroom we create is hope for positive change. It’s hard to keep track of all the hats Duncan has worn in his life, but to name a few: he was a sweeper of London Bridge Station, a Zoolander impersonator during his time as a male model and he also spent 17 years working as a Network Engineer and Management Consultant. Now, he is our inspirational leader, husband to Nicola, father to Aura and believer in all things being possible. Duncan was the recipient of the Australian Talent Unleashed Impact award from Sir Richard Branson in 2013 and also a 40under40 award winner in 2016 for his work with Classroom of Hope.

Nicola Courtin

Co-Founder & Creative Director

Once upon a time, Nicola lived in the land of Toronto, Canada. She must have been pretty busy over there because she managed to complete degrees in English, Socio-Cultural Anthropology and New-Media Journalism. As our Creative Director, Nicola uses her magical ability for storytelling to connect our donors with their positive impact. She feels blessed to have received valuable education throughout her life and believes that with the right mix of passion and imagination we can create a world where all children have access to quality education. Nicola is a spirited yogi and is fuelled by the energy of her daily practice. She is a lover of travel, an addict of dark chocolate and an enthusiast of astrology. It must have been written in the stars that Nicola would meet our founder when they were backpacking through Laos so they could live (and work) together happily every after.

Kristina Buckingham

Digital Media Strategist

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.

Damon Carter

Creative & Director, Function Creative

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

Ray Gauci

IT Project Manager

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.

Kristoffer Trondsen

Field Photographer & Videographer

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!