Council of Governors

Walford, like most other independent schools, has a Council of Governors which is responsible for the governance of the School.

The Council appoints the Principal who is responsible for the management of the School. The Council, working closely with the Principal and her Executive Leadership Team, determines the nature and values of the School, and future developments. It is responsible for determining the annual budget and monitoring external changes that may have an impact on the School.

The Council meets monthly during the school year to review the life of the School, review performance against budget, monitor progress against annual targets, receive information and determine actions. The Principal and Director of Finance and Corporate Services (also the Council Secretary) attend all Council meetings as standing invitees.

During the year, School staff present to Council information on specific educational topics. The Council regularly reviews the strategic plan in relation to future plans for the School, national and international trends in education and school governance, economic and social issues and government policy.

The members of the Council of Governors are:

  • Mr Peter Hastings (Chair)
  • Mr Matt Johnson (Deputy Chair)
  • Mrs Jane Brooks
  • Mr Al Jawhari
  • Ms Kathryn Presser
  • Mr John Rawson
  • The Rev’d Canon Jenny Wilson
  • Ms Dena Vassallo


Peter joined Walford Council of Governors in April 2018 and became Chair in September 2021. He is a member of all Council committees and chairs the Governance and Risk Management Committee and the Nominations Committee.

Peter is a passionate advocate of girls’ education. His daughter graduated from Walford in 2021 and his mother is also an old scholar.

Peter has 30 years’ experience as a corporate lawyer. For the last 13 years, Peter has been General Counsel and Company Secretary of Elders Limited and its subsidiaries, one of Australia’s oldest corporate groups (with over 180 years of history) and leading agribusinesses. Peter was a key member of the Elders executive team that steered Elders from financial distress in the period between 2008 and 2013 to a stable and profitable ASX listed entity.

Peter is a member of the Elders’ Executive Management Committee, and is responsible for Elders’ Company Secretarial, Legal, Compliance and Risk functions. He brings a strong governance focus to Walford.

In 2013, Peter was recipient of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association’s Australian Corporate Lawyer of the Year award.

Matt Johnson BEc

Matt joined the Council in February 2021.

Matt completed a Bachelor of Economics at Flinders University before a 20-year career in South Australia’s public sector. Commencing in analytical and policy roles he served in central as well as line agencies holding Executive positions across economic, social and environmental portfolios, including as Executive Director of the State’s Social Inclusion Unit, Executive Director of Trade, International Education and Immigration and Group Executive Director in the Department for Environment and Water, where he led a staff of over 300 and was responsible for a number of South Australia’s premier tourism destinations including Cleland Wildlife Park, Seal Bay and the Naracoorte Caves, as well as administering the State’s Crown Lands Program, Heritage South Australia (built form) and nature-based tourism.

Matt also served for four years as Deputy Agent General in London where he was responsible for the South Australian Government’s British and European objectives, principally investment and trade related. Matt was conferred ‘Distinguished Alumni’ by Flinders University in 2014 for services to the State and University.

Matt moved to the private sector in 2019 and is reviving the iconic South Australian food business, Ditters. He is a Director of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and a member of the ASO’s Finance and Risk Committee. Other experiences extend to the retirement villages sector (as Chair of St Matthew’s Homes, an operator of approx. 100 dwellings in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide), the University of Adelaide (Board Member EU Centre for Global Affairs) and the Britain Australia Society.

His daughter commenced at Walford in 2020 and is currently in the Middle School.

Jane Brooks (Kellett,’00) BLL, BHlthSci(Psych), GDLP, GradDipComm(PR)

Jane Brooks joined the Council in July 2015.

Jane has a long association and love for Walford after having commenced as a student with her twin sister Sally in 1991.  As is the Walford way, during their time at Walford Jane and Sally were inspired, encouraged and supported to be involved with all aspects of school life, to ‘give everything a go’ and to achieve their own best, and they thrived whilst making lifelong friends. As a member of Council, Jane is motivated to assist current and future generations of Walford girls to have the same benefits of a Walford education; to feel a sense of belonging and to feel empowered to achieve their best.

Jane has continued her involvement with her school as an Old Scholar. After graduating in 2000, Jane volunteered as a member of the Walford Old Scholar’s Committee from 2005 for almost 10 years,  including time as President of that committee (May 2008-May 2012).

Jane has a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Psychology) from The University of Adelaide. She holds a Graduate Diploma in Communications and Public Relations from UniSA.

She is a director of an Adelaide firm Howe Jenkin Family Lawyers and Mediators, which is repeatedly recognised in Doyle’s Guide for its preeminence.  For each of the past four years she has been individually recognised by her peers in the Doyle’s Guide as being amongst the best lawyers in family law in South Australia, particularly as a family lawyer advising on parenting matters.  As such, she is acutely aware of many of the issues facing families, and young people.

 Her legal background also places her in good stead to sit on the Governance and Risk subcommittee since 2022.

Al Jawhari BEng (Aero/Mech), MAICD

An internationally recognised business leader, Al Jawhari is an entrepreneur, innovator and technology commercialisation expert with more than 20 years of C-level experience. His global experience spans through Defence Manufacturing, Retail, Agriculture, Food and Wine, e-commerce and Software Platforms development. His daughter is in Year 12 at Walford.

Al is currently: Co-Founder and Group Chief Executive Officer for Starke-AMG; Co-Founder for Innovate Inn; Co-Founder for Jewel Creek Farm; Vice President, Board Director and South Australia Chair for Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Industry Advisory Member for Australian Institute of Business; Australia-NA Managing Partner for SeedForum Global; and Member of the External Advisory Board for the UniSA Centre for Enterprise Dynamics in Global Economies.

Al is a member of AIAA, AICD, Block Chain Council, Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary International and holds both US and Australian Patents in VR, Products Traceability, Anti Counterfeit platform/devices and Blockchain.

Kathryn Presser AM, BA (Acc), Grad. Dip. CSP, MBA, FCPA, FAICD, FCIS, FGIA

Kathryn joined the Walford Council in April 2013.

Kathryn has extensive experience in financial, accountancy, risk and strategic planning aspects of private, public, not for profit and government agencies. She has over 30 years’ experience working in senior management roles, including as CFO/Company Secretary at ASX Top 100 listed Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Company – Beach Energy Limited.

Her strong leadership and communication skills have been further refined by serving nearly 42 years part-time in the Australian Army, where she currently holds the commissioned rank of Major.

Kathryn has previously served as a Member of Council at the University of Adelaide and was Chair of the Finance Committee, where she oversaw significant change to their Financial Reporting and Governance oversight to incorporate more transparency. She has previously been a member of the Advisory Board for the South Australian Government Financing Authority and a Non-Executive Director with the Australian Institute of Management.

In addition to her role on Council, Kathryn’s is currently the Chair of the Finance Committee where she brings a sound understanding of the challenges faced in the Not for Profit Sector from skills gained in the varied industries she has worked in.

Kathryn has a strong connection with the School having 2 girls attending the School from 2013.

She was awarded a Member of Australia (AM) in the 2022 Queens Birthday honours and awards in recognition of her services to Accountancy and her extensive community work.

John Rawson BBus (Acc), CA, CTA

John is a Chartered Accountant and has been a partner at Deloitte for over 20 years specialising in taxation where he focusses on solving complex business problems. He has been an elected member of the City of Unley and also the presiding member of the Audit Committee.

John joined the Walford Finance Committee in January 2018 and the Council of Governors in May 2020, bringing strong financial skills and creative thinking to these roles.

John and Maria’s three daughters attended Walford during the years 2003 to 2022. For many of those years all three were enrolled concurrently, so John and Maria understand what it is like to make a big commitment to educating daughters. Over this 20-year period Maria was actively involved in the Parent Teacher Association, including being secretary and treasurer for a number of years, and supporting the School in the many events the girls were involved in. John and Maria believe the education their daughters received at Walford has truly set each of them up to be Her Best and they are extremely grateful for the dedication shown by Walford staff over so many years.

Rev’d Canon Jenny Wilson BSc(Maths) Hons(Pure Maths) Dip Ed BTh MTh

Jenny Wilson was born in England in 1959. Her parents emigrated to Australia when Jenny was 6 months old. After completing her schooling (at St Andrew’s Primary School, The Perse School in Cambridge, England whilst her father was on sabbatical, and Methodist Ladies’ College, Adelaide), Jenny studied Mathematics and Music at The University of Adelaide.  She was awarded a First Class Honours Degree in Pure Mathematics in 1983 and a Diploma of Education in 1984.  She taught Mathematics for fifteen years in secondary schools in Adelaide (at Sacred Heart Senior and, in the 1990’s, in the Senior campus at Pembroke School) and in England (in the Cambridgeshire and later Henley-on-Thames, Berkshire).  In 2001, Jenny embarked on a Bachelor of Theology. She was ordained a Deacon and Priest in 2006 and completed a Masters in Theology in 2015.

Jenny is currently Canon Precentor at St Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide with responsibilities in liturgy, music, education and pastoral care.  Jenny particularly enjoys preaching, working as Chaplain to the Cathedral Choir (boys, girls and lay clerks), facilitating study groups in Ignatian spirituality and celebrating the Eucharist in the midst of the Cathedral Choir’s wonderful voices. From time to time, Jenny acts as a Duty Chaplain at Westminster Abbey, London.

Jenny commenced on the Council at Walford School in September 2014. She is also a member of the Saint Peter’s College Council of Governors and of the Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Adelaide

Dena Vassallo BA, MPRIA

Dena joined Walford Council of Governors in June 2022. Her daughter joined Walford in the ELC and is currently in the Junior School.

Dena has 20 years’ experience as a communications and marketing professional. She is the CEO and Founder of SOCIETY, a leading global creative communications agency representing well-known brands, organisations and government departments across Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Previously, Dena was the Chief Commercial Officer in Asia Pacific for the world’s largest global group of communications agencies, and began her notable career in New York City, USA.

Dena is a board member for Green Adelaide, and held the role of Chair for She Creates from 2022-2023. Known as a positive role model for women in business, and her people-first approach, Dena is a strong advocate for a world-class education for girls.

Dena has been awarded numerous accolades, including Telstra Business Awards, Telstra Business Women’s Award, and industry association awards including Finalist for Public Relations Leader of the Year, and SOCIETY was named Best Places to Work, Asia Pacific, in 2023.