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Our state managers

Our state managers support more than 15,000 Goodstarters to ensure our centre environments are safe, inclusive and high quality.

Our state managers lead and support more than 15,000 Goodstarters everyday, helping them to ensure that every moment counts for every child attending our early learning and kindergarten programs.

They bring an unrelenting drive to ensure our centre environments are safe, inclusive and high quality. With these foundations in place, our children feel a strong sense of belonging and achieve the best learning, development and wellbeing outcomes.

Cassy Baker

State Manager – Regional Queensland


A proud Pitta-Pitta woman, Cassy has a passion for creating high-quality early learning environments that meet the needs of the teams she leads as well as the children and families in the communities she serves.

With a career spanning 20 years in the early learning sector, Cassy has been with Goodstart since its inception in 2010 and during this time has held numerous positions including centre director, area manager and regional manager.

Cassy is currently responsible for the day-to-day operations of centres in regional Queensland and is focused on improving the conditions and experience for those under her leadership.

She is committed to delivering on the strategic goals and quality standards of the organisation as well as building strong connections with families and improving the learning outcomes for children. Cassy takes a contemporary approach to leadership which fosters resilience and high levels of trust and accountability. She is driven to see others succeed and strives to continually build capability and excellence in her teams.

Melissa Henderson

Acting State Manager – South East Queensland – North


Melissa is a people focused leader with extensive experience in training, coaching and growing high performing teams in both the education and commercial sectors. 

A qualified early years teacher, Melissa has over 15 years’ experience in the early childhood sector as a teacher, director, area manager and senior leader. She has a deep understanding of education and practice in the early years and is a fierce advocate for the power of early learning to change lives. 

Starting her career as a social worker in allied health, ignited her passion for social justice, diversity and inclusion – making Melissa the advocate that she is for Goodstart’s vision and the delivery of high quality early learning to create positive social change.

Melissa believes that our people truly make the difference and is passionate about the wellbeing of our educators, children and families. She works closely with our teams to ensure that the children in our centres have the learning, development and wellbeing outcomes they need for school and life.  

Nikki Reeves

State Manager – South East Queensland – South

DipCommunity Services (Children’s Services); Cert IV Frontline Management

Goodstart’s vision and purpose drives Nikki and her passion to ensure every one of her 70 plus centres are supported to deliver positive impact for children, families and their local community.

Over a 20-year career in the early learning profession, Nikki has worked in various roles for both small family-owned providers, for-profit and not-for-profit early learning organisations.

Nikki draws from her operational experience to build capability within her area leadership teams to drive continuous improvement and create the best outcomes for children.

Nikki advocates for the importance of early learning and has an unwavering commitment to ensuring that all children can access safe environments and quality teaching and learning.

Todd Dawson

State Manager – Western Australia


A combined passion for people and early learning allows Todd to inspire Goodstarters to be their best and achieve the best outcomes for children.

Todd leads the operation of more than 50 centres across Western Australia, which provide early learning for more than 5,600 children, 4,500 families and 1,100 Goodstarters each day.

Todd is a curious learner and has extensive experience in leadership, operational management and development of high performing teams. With more than 10 years’ experience at Goodstart, Todd has led both significant performance improvement and positive cultural change projects across both the WA network and nationally.

Todd takes a people first approach, to support both operational excellence, built from a foundation of capable, competent and confident people being their best everyday for children, families and fellow Goodstarters.

Melinda Harrington

State Manager – NSW South & ACT

Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Teaching

Melinda is an accomplished professional with many years of experience in the early childhood education sector.  She is passionate about high quality early learning environments and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the role.

Having worked in various leadership positions in the industry, Melinda brings an invaluable perspective and skill set in driving Goodstart's vision and purpose. She ensures that in NSW South and ACT creating high-quality learning environments is an everyday priority that support children's learning, development and wellbeing. 

As State Manager, Melinda is responsible for overseeing the operations of more than 70 Goodstart centres in NSW South and ACT. Melinda is a people focused leader and thrives on working in partnership with the centre directors, educators, and support staff to deliver the very best outcomes for children, families and local communities

Lisa Chiovo

State Manager – NSW North

BTeach (birth-5); DipMgt; DipBus; Cert IV (Workplace Training & Assessment)

Lisa has been at Goodstart since its foundation and as a Early Childhood Teacher, takes pride in inspiring educators and teachers across the state to continuously deliver high quality early learning experiences.

Lisa has been working in the early childhood profession for over 20 years, with diverse experience working in a range of settings from birth to children aged 12 years as well as in adult vocational education. Over the past nine years, she has held a number of leadership and operational roles at Goodstart. She is passionate about contemporary best practice within the sector, especially infant and toddler pedagogy. Lisa holds a range of qualifications in leadership, management, business, training and assessment which she draws on to lead NSW – North’s 70 plus centres.

Paula Pittam

State Manager – South Australia and Northern Territory

AdvDip (Social Science); Cert IV (Early Childhood Education & Training); Cert IV (Workplace Training & Assessment)

A highly experienced State Manager, Paula is passionate about providing access to quality educational programs to children and families experiencing vulnerability and promoting employment opportunities to people who also experience disadvantage.

Since beginning her career in the early learning, Paula has worked across all facets of early learning delivery. As a previous business owner of an early learning centre and operating as a consultant, Paula has an intimate understanding of the complexities of running a service-based organisation which is closely monitored by regulators. This on-the-ground experience has been huge beneficial to her role leading the SA and NT network of Goodstart centres.

Paula has also worked in the area of quality improvement and accreditation, workplace training and rehabilitation– equipping her with a deep understanding of what’s needed to create safe and high quality early learning environments.

Christine Walters

State Manager – VIC East

BA Hons. Early Years Studies; NVQ Level 3 in Management; NVQ Level 3 in Customer Service; City & Guilds Level 3 certificate in delivering learning

With over 25 years of experience working in the in early learning sector, Christine brings not only extensive knowledge but inspired leadership for high quality early learning.

She has a strong background in working in the education management industry and has a strong passion working for non-profit organisations like Goodstart. 

In this role, Christine is able to utilise her strong expertise in building the capability of others as well as bring her strong love for strategy – so that we’re constantly improving and not losing sight of the future. She has a strong focus on coaching, team building, and mentoring to build a strong and thriving Goodstart culture across her state. Christine has a passion for making a difference and has a natural ability to inspire and motivate others.

Narelle Doorbar

State Manager – VIC North

Dip. Community Services – (Children Services and certificate of education)

Narelle is highly experienced and passionate about the VIC North region and strives to instil a culture of reflection and continuous improvement to deliver on Goodstart’s vision and purpose.

Narelle possesses more than 23 years’ experience working in the early learning sector, including 20 years in Victoria. Narelle empowers leaders through coaching to create and sustain high performing cultures – centred on health and safety and the delivery of high quality early learning.  Narelle is a huge advocate for high quality early learning and teaching and the invaluable contribution educators and teachers make in children’s first five years in partnership with families.

Previous to being appointed as a State Manager, Narelle was an Operations Manager for Goodstart’s Region 33, and brings a strong track record of inspiring centres to meet and exceed the National Quality Standards.

Tiffany Smith

State Manager – VIC West & Tas

M.Ed (Special Education, Inclusion & Early Intervention); B.Ed (Early Childhood); Dip. in Social Science (Child Care Services)

Through her work across the sector, Tiffany has fostered high performing teams – fostering exceptional talent to deliver high quality early learning outcomes for children.

With 30 years’ experience working in the Early Years sector Tiffany has a particular passion for supporting and empowering children, families and colleagues to be the best versions of themselves.

Tiffany has been able to follow her passions and interests gaining extensive experience in the family, youth and children's services and education sectors within community, non-profit and local government areas.

She is proud to be a part of Goodstart and represent an organisation that has such a diverse and multi-disciplinary service offering for children to provide the best quality care and education for children in the years that matter most.  

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