hsc sydney

College Governance

Governance of our college is vested in the Board of Directors, otherwise known as the College Council.

The members of the College Council are:

Dr Catherine Burrows

Dr Catherine Burrows PhD, MA TESOL, BA (Hons), Dip. Ed, GAICD


Catherine is the CEO and owner of Innoverum independent consulting, undertaking projects like:
• preparing strategic and business plans;
• consulting on organisational improvements for a major tertiary institution;
• developing the Treaty education discussion paper for the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.

She is a member of the Regional Advisory Committee for TAFE NSW Western Region.
Before establishing Innoverum, Catherine worked in education for 30 years. She started as an ESOL teacher. Her final position was Executive Director TAFE NSW Strategy and Finance with overall responsibility for TAFE’s $1.8B budget, state-wide strategic policy, planning and reporting.

Catherine was selected as a top NSW public sector innovator and worked as an advisor to two Ministers for Education. On retirement from the public service, Catherine was awarded the Education Department Medal, for service to students, and the prestigious TAFE Medal.

Catherine is the author and editor of educational textbooks, curriculum, and assessment handbooks. She is passionate about students successfully completing their education and achieving their goals.

Kate O’Donnell


Kate is the inaugural Principal at SEDA College NSW, a position she has held since 2015. Prior to taking this role, Kate had 25 years of experience in education, and has held senior policy and implementation roles both in Australia and internationally.

Prior to returning to Sydney to start SEDA College, Kate spent four years working in the United States in a senior leadership role in education with America Achieves, and in that role worked alongside the OECD on reporting international trends in Educational Attainment, as well as advising district and state leaders on the implementation of the Common Core in the USA.

Before her work in America, Kate was the Director of Educational Measurement and School Accountability for the Education Department of New South Wales where she led the development of new technologies, and assessment models as well as supporting teachers, principals, district and state staff across NSW in understanding and using data effectively to help students learn.

Kate has also held the position of Chief Assessor for Writing for Australia, responsible for training hundreds of markers across Australia in effective assessment of student writing from Year 3 to year 10 and developed, in conjunction with the Australian Council of Educational Research, an online learning module for teachers to improve their skills and get accreditation in writing assessment and development.

Kate has been involved in motor sport for most of her adult life and most recently was a class winner, along with driver David Currow, in Targa Tasmania.

Donna Rygate

Donna Rygate


Donna Rygate is an experienced Chief Executive, independent director, business leader and skilled problem solver with a solid track record of positive transformation of organisations.

In addition to holding various board, panel and committee chair and member roles, and doing some consultancy, she loves working on the farming and grazing property she co-owns at Canowindra in Central Western NSW.

From 2014 to 2018 Donna was Chief Executive of Local Government NSW, the peak industry association that represented the interests all NSW general purpose councils and other related organisations.

Donna previously worked in executive, policy, communications, governance and operational roles in the NSW public sector for more than 25 years. She was Chief Executive of the NSW Office of Communities (the umbrella organisation for a range of functions including Sport & Recreation, Venues NSW, Sydney Olympic Park Authority, Penrith Lakes, Youth, Veterans’ Affairs, Volunteering, the Commission for Children & Young People, the Children’s Guardian and Aboriginal Affairs).

Donna also headed Corporate Governance and Policy in the then NSW Department of Planning & Infrastructure; and was the Deputy Director General Strategy, Communication and Governance with the then NSW Department of Community Services. Her broad experience also included roles in central agencies, transport and environment protection.

Donna has an Economics degree with Honours in Government and Public Administration and a Masters degree in Planning, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors course. She is currently enrolled in the Juris Doctor program at Macquarie University.

Donna was made a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration in 2012.

Maria Nordstrom

Maria Nordstrom


Maria is at the helm of Basketball NSW as the Chief Executive Officer. She has over 25 years’ experience as a Business leader, sales professional, and board member.

For the past 18 years, she has worked as a senior executive with a proven track record in successfully and consistently building high performing organisations and cultures. She achieved this through the use of both standard and innovative leadership methodologies, developing and leading high performing individuals and teams.

Her leadership style fosters a culture of trust and empowerment, resulting in improved staff retention and engagement. While Maria uses proven techniques for leadership and coaching, her work is anchored in the reality of day-to-day business demands and challenges.

Maria has extensive expertise in organisational and sales strategy development and execution consistently, delivering solid financial management, effective sales planning and execution, people and performance management and tactical marketing.

Maria’s signature leadership style drives transformation and change, whilst creating a culture of innovation and creativity.

Maria’s Board experience extends to a variety of Chair positions with Community organisations, as well as Board membership of SEDA College NSW, and FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup LOC.

Philip Carroll



Philip Carroll brings complementary skills, qualifications and experiences to the College Council.  A successful senior executive career in complex government businesses, including in public/private settings, saw Philip in a number of key roles including as an advisor to government, a Chief Finance Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Australia’s largest registered training organisation. Philip later founded Philip Carroll and Associates, a collaborative independent consultancy specialising in corporate advisory, business risk and governance advice.

Philip holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) and a Bachelor of Legal Studies.  Recognised as a strategic thinker and leader, he is an accomplished non-executive Director and Chair with appointments in international, commercial, and not for profit organisations.

With an in depth knowledge of the New South Wales education sector and a passion for young people’s education, Philip has also had a lengthy involvement in grass roots sport.  He continues to be an active sports official.

Nikki Pitkethley



Nikki has been involved in grassroots sports for more than 10 years holding various positions supporting her children’s sporting endeavors from managing teams, multiple club committees to holding the position of Secretary for the Universities Women’s Cricket Club in the Sydney Women’s Premier Cricket competition. Nikki has a strong belief and commitment to volunteering, connecting with community, supporting pathways for talented kids and encouraging all children to participate in their chosen sports.

Nikki is community minded and was a volunteer breastfeeding counselor for over a decade, sitting on various Parents & Citizens Committees at both primary and secondary schools in a range of roles including president for two years.

Nikki joined SEDA College in April 2020 as the Principal’s Executive Assistant having previously worked at an environmental/education not for profit, for FMCGs and in student recruitment at UNSW. Nikki holds a BA Communication from the University of Canberra

To sharpen its focus on key issues, the College has established the following committees:

Partners and marketing – Maria Nordstrom (Chair)
Governance, audit and risk – Donna Rygate (Chair)
Learning and teaching – Kate O’Donnell (Chair)