Our People

Our staff employs its extensive experience in government, policy research, think tanks and classroom teaching to advise governments, organisations and schools.

Dr Ben JensenCEO

Ben has advised governments in Australia, North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia on education strategy and reform. Before founding Learning First in 2014, he was director of the Grattan Institute’s School Education Program. He also worked with numerous education systems across the world during five years at the OECD, where he conducted international research on education policy and school and teacher effectiveness.

Katie Roberts-HullDirector

Katie works on reform strategy for school systems, strengthening teacher professional development and evaluating school improvement. She has taught in a disadvantaged rural school in Texas under the Teach For America program, and worked in education policy role in the US at TNTP (formerly The New Teacher Project).

JAMES BUTTONDirector Communications

James is working with Learning First and its clients to develop, through reports, policy briefs and blogs, a narrative of school reform told in strong stories and plain language. He spent 20 years as a journalist with The Age newspaper in Melbourne, was a speechwriter for former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and worked at the Grattan Institute.


Meghan works with school systems to design and evaluate professional learning for teachers, develop school surveys, and train school and system leaders in school improvement based on an inquiry cycle. A certified coach in Harvard’s Data Wise Improvement Process, she has taught Year 6 English and social studies in Massachusetts and English as a foreign language in Santiago, Chile.


Jacqueline designs and implements strategies for improvement across systems, and works on the interactions between high-quality curriculum, teacher professional development and school improvement. Before joining Learning First, she managed the Centre for New Public Education at the Foundation for Young Australians, and taught at a secondary school in Melbourne's outer northern suburbs.

SANAYA KHISTYSenior Associate

Sanaya works on teacher professional development, system leadership, evaluation of major education initiatives, and curriculum reform. She also runs capacity building workshops and programs for system leaders. Before coming to Learning First, she worked for two Australian federal parliamentarians.


Tracey is working to build the link between teachers’ understanding of curriculum and assessment and their use of pedagogical practices to improve student outcomes. She has taught in Queensland for 30 years, and was a primary school Deputy Principal.

DR ANNA CLARKLeadership Consultant

Anna works with Learning First’s leadership and training projects. A consultant with INSEAD, one of the world’s leading business schools, she trains middle and senior managers in Asia, Europe and Australia on leadership development.

GEORGIE BOSCHFinance and Operations Manager

Georgie works closely with the CEO in finance and manages the operations of the business. Before joining Learning First she worked for 20 years in professional services and industry in Executive Assistant and Operations capacities.

NICOLE MURNANESenior Associate

Nicole is working on teacher professional development, curriculum evaluation and reform, and school improvement in systems in Australia and overseas. Before joining Learning First, she taught science and biology for ten years in two Melbourne secondary schools, where she was also Science Learning Leader.

RACHELLE COLESenior Associate

Rachelle works with school systems to improve leadership, teacher professional learning, peer observation and mentoring and use of formative assessment. Before starting at Learning First, she taught languages and humanities in a Melbourne secondary school. She has also worked as an assessment and curriculum consultant for schools and non-profit organisations.


Aarushi is working on teacher professional development, curriculum design and whole-system reform strategy. Before joining Learning First, she worked with Teach for India, Bangladesh and China in teaching and designing curriculum and pedagogy to promote the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.


Zoe works on evaluation of teacher professional learning, school leadership and initial teacher education programs. She has trained school and system leaders in use of inquiry cycles, and spent time working as a teacher’s assistant at a primary school in Melbourne’s west, and in the communications team at Cape York Partnership.

NICOLA HARDJunior Associate

Nicola works on evaluation of teacher professional learning and school improvement, and on implementation strategy for system reform, including communications and development of a reform narrative. Previously, she worked as an Education Assistant in a K-12 school in Perth. Nicola holds an honours degree in English from the University of Melbourne.

ALADDIN WATSONJunior Associate

Aladdin is working on curriculum monitoring, teacher collaboration, teacher specialisation and implementation of system reform. Before joining Learning First, he worked as special needs teaching assistant in two South London secondary schools.


Michelle helps to evaluate professional learning programs by analysing surveys of teachers and school leaders. She has experience in data processing and management for a large-scale children’s health research project. She is pursuing a Master of Data Science at the University of Melbourne.