Meet the Team

Meet some of the amazing people who keep us moving forward

Duncan Ward

Founder, CEO

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.

Janica Torres

Bookkeeper

Janica is a seasoned finance professional who is experienced working across multiple international jurisdictions. She has served as the principal financial officer for a complex Australian local government, representing one of the largest local government geographic areas in Australia and handling several million dollars of project finance at a time. She has also served as the corporate accountant for a property investment fund in the Philippines, responsible for all aspects of corporate governance and compliance in addition to the financial administration of an SEC-registered corporation. Janica’s areas of expertise include Corporate Planning and Remuneration Modelling. Janica believes that the best way for us to grow is through education. The growth we experience through education is limitless, overflowing and affects every aspect of your being.

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.

Kit Panyawatcharakun

Social Media & Digital Marketing Manager

Kit comes from a large Thai family with big hearts but little fortune. Thanks to her hard-working parents, her life dramatically changed and she was given the opportunity to have an international school education and live in many developing countries in her formative years. Even in her shifting and changing environments, Kit never forgot her roots and has always felt compelled to do what she can with what she has to help those less fortunate. With her Diploma in Visual Arts and a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies, Kit has been able to give back by combining her passion for creativity and international relations. Kit believes that we can all give back, even in our differences in nationality, wealth, age, gender, or religious and cultural belief. We all deserve to live fulfilling lives in inclusive societies that foster sustainable futures.

Tracy Ward

Co-founder

It’s been said that Tracy’s laugh can be heard from Perth, Australia all the way to her homeland of Cape Town, South Africa. This is a woman with one big personality and an even bigger heart. If you’re having a bad day, just hang out with Tracy; her positive vibes are totally contagious (once she’s had her morning coffee). Passionate about bringing joy into people’s lives, Tracy loves that we bring laughter and fun to children through giving them a school and playground. Some more quick facts: Tracy is our founder’s sister and Classroom of Hope’s co-founder, and she makes the most unbelievable homemade fudge (if you ask her really nicely she just might make it for you).

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.

Manuel Gussman

Field Photographer and Videographer

Manuel (Manu), was a project manager in corporate events who then went on to became a social worker before eventually deciding to become a nomadic photographer. His goal with his photographic work is to contribute to causes that have a positive impact on society. Everything Manu has learned along his journey has always been accomplished with the help of others. He considers all the allies he has met along the way to be a part of his “team of growth”. Manu believes every child should have access to such a team and that is why he is happy to help causes like Classroom of Hope to spread our message and do our work.

Geoff Bartlett

Field Photographer

Geoff is one of those rare and fortunate polymaths. Really, this guy knows a lot about a whole lot of stuff. His wide range of expertise is one of the many reasons he is not only one of our field photographers but has also helped Classroom of Hope immensely with our IT. Geoff brings two decades of IT experience, phenomenal photography skills and a passion for positive change to Classroom of Hope. Driven by a desire for a just world, Geoff believes education is a right that all children should have equal opportunity to access. When he’s not helping us save the world, Geoff spends his time testing out photographic concepts on his family, riding his motorbike, swimming, practicing yoga and discussing economics with his wife. Interesting fact: Geoff’s been slapped on the back by a gorilla in a Rwandan jungle. Don’t believe us? See for yourself

Tudor Morrow

Innovator & Ideas Generator

Tudor is an originator. We’re not sure how he does it but he constantly comes up with amazing ideas that completely blow us away. When we need a new fundraising concept we turn to Tudor. When he isn’t coming up with ideas like our #BagWalkers campaign and helping us save the world, Tudor spends his time, surfing, playing soccer, watching rugby and hanging out with his beautiful wife, son and daughter. As a father himself, Tudor understands the positive change that a quality education can bring into the life of a child. Through innovative ideas and joining together, we can create change through education.

Simon Elwell

Field Photographer

The Kiwi is a flightless bird, but this particular one has managed to visit over 26 countries around the world. Raised in New Zealand, Simon has nested in London, Bangkok and now roosts in Amsterdam. His background in management and sales training occupies a big chunk of his hard-drive, but his heart and soul are filled with photography and creative energy. Simon contributes his stunning photography to Classroom of Hope with a wish to ignite the hearts of those that see his images. His photographs share a story of the endless potential that exists in every child, especially when they have access to a good education. Simon has an unmatched enthusiasm for life and a completely contagious energy. We wish Simon could hang out with us all the time, but he’s understandably living a life of bike rides and picnics in Europe with his beautiful wife and daughter.