At Grok Academy, our mission is to educate all learners in transformative computing skills, knowledge and dispositions, empowering them to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future.
To us, computing encompasses basic digital literacy through to advanced computer science and related disciplines, and the application of these skills across all disciplines.
Grok Academy Board
Prof. David Lowe Chair and non-Executive Director
David is currently Professor of Software Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sydney. He is also currently the chair of the Board for Grok Academy Ltd and the independent Chair of the Academic Boards for AITC and SPI, two private education providers focused on delivering postgraduate programmes.
He has active research interests in the areas of laboratory education, professional practice, and computing education. He has published three textbooks and more than 200 peer-reviewed papers. He was the inaugural CEO of The LabShare Institute (a not-for-profit company established to support sharing of teaching laboratory infrastructure), the President of the Global Online Laboratory Consortium (an international association focused on research and utilisation of teaching laboratories), and the inaugural vice-president of the International Society for Web Engineering. From 2002–2008 he was the Associate Dean (T&L) for the Faculty of Engineering, UTS, and then from 2012–2019 he was Associate Dean (Education) and then Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sydney.
He has chaired numerous Engineering course accreditation panels across Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, NZ and Fiji. From 2012 to 2017 he was a member of the Australian Council of Engineering Deans (ACED) executive and convenor of the Engineering Associate Deans network. In 2019 he received the AAEE national award for Excellence in Engineering Education. He is also a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Prof. Shirley Alexander AM Non-Executive Director
Shirley Alexander is Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) where she is currently Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice President (Education and Students); having previously held the positions of Director, Institute for Interactive Media and Learning and Dean, Faculty of Education.
Shirley’s long term agenda has been on the effective use of technologies in education including K–12 and higher education. She has been a member of three successive national government committees advising on improvements to higher education teaching and learning. She was the Chair of the Digital Education Advisory Group (DEAG) Committee reporting to the Federal Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Australia, tasked with provide advice on ways of achieving high quality contemporary learning outcomes from investments in digital education for K–12.
Shirley is responsible for leading the achievement of the University’s key priorities in teaching and learning, the student experience and development of a strong student culture across the University. She also developed the learning.futures strategy at UTS that equips students with the skills and habits of mind they need for success in their future working life.
UTS has almost completed a major campus redevelopment and Shirley has led the initiatives to ensure the new learning spaces are designed for the future of education. To complement this, Shirley is overseeing several major projects including: the learning.futures major curriculum redevelopment project, and the new short forms of learning project, offering a new suite of microcredentials and short courses. Professor Alexander is leading a system of projects to ensure these developments support the future of learning. The projects won the prestigious Wharton-QS Stars Reimagine Education Awards 2015, in the category of Hybrid Learning.
Jas Chambers Non-Executive Director
Jas Chambers works at the intersection of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), governance, policy and action with a passion for work that calls for collaborative approaches often in complex stakeholder contexts.
Jas has worked in Australian higher education and government in senior leadership roles across STEM operations, communications, and international science diplomacy including with United Nations Specialized Agencies and the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, representing Australia.
In 2021 Jas co-founded Ocean Decade Australia, working with organisations across sectors to connect Australia's Ocean Stakeholders. As Director of Provenance Consulting she works with clients on strategic stakeholder engagement, and organisational and cultural change. She serves as Secretary to Science & Technology Australia, Chair of the Sydney Institute for Marine Science Foundation, and is a board member of Grok Academy. Jas chaired the NSW Inspiring Australia Executive Committee on behalf of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer for a decade, stepping down in July 2021.
Prof. Sandra Milligan Non-Executive Director
Enterprise Professor Sandra Milligan is Director of the Assessment Research Centre at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne.
Originally a teacher of science and mathematics, she is also a former Director of Curriculum in WA and has held senior research, management and governance positions in a range of educational organisations, including government agencies, notfor-profits, small start-up businesses and large, listed, international corporations.
Sandra’s current research interests focus on assessment, recognition and warranting of hard-to-assess learning. She directs several research partnerships with school networks and organisations working to develop Learner Profiles for their students.
She is lead author of ‘Future Proofing Australian Students with New Credentials’ report, outlining methods to reliably assess and recognise the level of attainment of general capabilities.
Josephine Napoli Non-Executive Director
In 2022 she joined NAB as Executive, Technology Delivery and Transformation for the Chief Information Office of the Corporate and Institutional Bank.
Josephine is a versatile financial services leader with over twenty years experience. She commenced her career in general insurance and progressed into diverse roles at global and local financial institutions including Macquarie Bank, Citigroup and UBS.
These roles traversed financial markets and investment banking where she advised local and global companies, government entities and private equity on financial risk management. In 2022 she joined NAB as Executive, Technology Delivery and Transformation for the Chief Information Office of the Corporate and Institutional Bank.
She is a passionate advocate for gender diversity and has led many initiatives to support, develop and promote women in her various roles. Josephine holds a Bachelor of Economics in Actuarial Studies (Macquarie), a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment (Finsia), a Postgraduate Certificate in Management (MGSM) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).
Michael Battenally MAICD Non-Executive Director
Michael is an enthusiastic member of the Institute of Company Directors and is committed to the purpose and integrity of good governance.
Michael Battenally’s distinguished career in school education ranges from classroom teacher through to long term school principal, system education leader and representation in national and international policy forums. From his early teaching years as a Maths and Computing educator, he continually fostered digital technology and digital literacy as essential to contemporary learning across the curriculum. He was instrumental in strategically embedding technology across schools and the education system to enhance teacher professional development, create administrative efficiencies and drive a culture of continuous improvement.
Michael is passionate about ensuring diverse learning pathways for young Australians and has strongly advocated for quality learning experiences and outcomes for both academic and vocational students. He also has experience across global education networks, including, leading an International Baccalaureate school and connecting with international contexts and educational leaders.
Over the past decade he was a director of the Australian Secondary Principals Association, Co-President of the ACT Principals Association, and an active member of the International Confederation of Principals Council. In 2021 he was awarded Life Membership of the ACT Principals Association.
Michael is an enthusiastic member of the Institute of Company Directors and is committed to the purpose and integrity of good governance. He is currently the Chair of the Menslink Board, a highly regarded not for profit organisation that supports the mental health and wellbeing of young men. His long term tenure as chair has contributed to the growth and respect for Menslink and created strong links from education to business.
Dr. James Curran Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director
Dr. James Curran is the CEO of Grok Academy, a charity that combines Grok Learning and the Australian Computing Academy from the University of Sydney, where James was an Associate Professor in Computer Science.
Grok Academy’s mission is to educate all learners in transformative computing skills, knowledge, and dispositions, empowering them to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future.
James is Director of the National Computer Science School, the largest computer science school outreach programme in Australia. Last year, 20,994 students and teachers participate in the 5-week NCSS Challenge.
James was a writer on the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and consults with curriculum authorities around Australia. In 2014, James was named ICT Leader of the Year by the ICT Educators of NSW and the Australian Council for Computers in Education.
Kylie Williams Company Secretary
After graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Science in 1992, Kylie commenced her career as a Executive Assistant for the Dean of Engineering at the University of Sydney. She then worked as Executive Assistant for the CEO of the Cancer Council of NSW for a period of approximately 5 years; and then as Executive Assistant for the CEO of the Lowy Institute for approximately 2 years.
After leaving the workforce to have children, Kylie returned to the Cancer Council of NSW. She then returned to the University of Sydney as Events and Communications Manager at CAASTRO (a joint venture with multiple Universities in the study of Astrophysics) for approximately 3 years. Kylie then moved to Grok Learning in 2018 and has held various management roles since then in the organisation, culminating in her current position of Company Secretary and Head of People and Customer for Grok Academy Limited.
Kylie is passionate about developing and implementing effective organisational structure; assisting the employees of Grok Academy to achieve their professional goals; enhancing relationships with new and existing clients; and commercial development of Grok Academy products. She is proud to work for a dynamic non-for-profit deliverer of education services that assists teachers and students to develop computing skills.