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.

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.

Brad Moreland

Chief of Operations

Our Chief of Operations has never looked so inspiring! Brad is originally from South Africa but has had experience living in London, Hong Kong and then traded the city life in for laid-back island living in Bali, Indonesia. He has worked in banks and even started his own business to help the underprivileged communities in Bali and Lombok by building bamboo wheelchairs with BMX wheels. Brad is inspired by the local communities and children that COH works to support. Living in Bali, he is living his life to the fullest, surfing and exploring the island with his wife, 2 sons, and Bali dog Nusa. Indonesia has been good to Brad and his family, so he is happy to be giving back to this beautiful country. Brad dreamed of being Superman but that all changed when the Marvel movies came out and he instantly wanted to be Iron Man! Brad’s favorite subjects in school were Math and Biology.

Kit Panyawatcharakun

Digital Media Strategist

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.

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.

Zoë Marshall

Executive Assistant and Event Organiser

Our youngest team member Zoë is just 18 and started with us before graduating from high school in Indonesia. In her role as the Executive Assistant and Event Organiser of COH, she makes sure everyone is where they need to be right on time! This young Aussie is an aspiring conservationist who hopes to one day work in South Africa to be a hero to endangered animals facing extinction! Her willingness to make this world a better place is what makes her work here an enjoyable experience for all! Growing up, Zoë’s favorite Disney character was Ariel, as Zoë dreamed about becoming a mermaid one day. Because of that, you’ll find her at the beach during her downtime.

Sanjana Giridhar

Financial Controller

Sanjana is originally from India but currently lives in Singapore. She’s also lived in Australia for a few years, where she gained experience working in the NFP sector. Sanjana likes working in Finance as she enjoys the process of translating numbers to stories. When Sanjana came across COH, she quickly realized that it was the perfect blend of the three causes she supports – Children, Education & the Environment and was inclined to be a part of the COH journey. She believes that education empowers one to break beyond the current circumstances and enables you to build a more fulfilling life of your choice. She is always on the lookout for the next adventure sport when she travels. And during her downtime, Sanjana enjoys wakeboarding and playing badminton. You can also find her on Chess.com, catching a few games over the weekend.

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.

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.

Andrea Wieser

International Programs Manager

Andrea has been calling South East Asia home for the last 18 years. Originally born and grown in the Swiss mountains, the narrow mountain valley and its skiing slopes soon became too small for her. At the first opportunity, she moved overseas and spent the next 18 years in the Wealth Management Industry in Singapore. In her twenties, she used the long weekends and holidays to backpack through SEA and discover the “off the beaten track destinations” while later with her husband and two kids, they spent most of their travel time in Sri Lanka. Different cultures have always fascinated Andrea and wherever she travelled, most of the time she also had donations in her luggage, just waiting to find suitable beneficiaries. Health issues in 2016 brought Andrea on the path of Yoga & meditation and today she is a yoga teacher and a health and wellness advocate. Andrea believes that education is a birthright. Every child in this world should have access to education. It is essential for the development of their social skills, academics, integration and security.

Ash Embi

Field Photographer & Videographer

Ash strives towards making a difference in this big wide world. He even strives towards difference under the sea! Making friends with turtles and fishes, diving, and shooting underwater videography is where you will find him when he isn’t on land. Ash has dreamt of photography since he was 10 years old. He loves the diversity of his job and that each shoot brings new people and new experiences. Ash started working with COH when he shaved his beloved beard off in 2018 to raise money to help rebuild schools after the 2018 Lombok Earthquakes. Growing up, Ash’s favourite subjects in school were art and music. This combination helped him to find his passion for videography! His favourite superhero is Deadpool. Ash doesn’t take things too seriously; he thinks having fun and taking things lightly is very important!

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!

Manuel Gussmann

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.

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).