Alison Gilbert shares her journey to Head of College ahead of International Women’s Day


​​​From left to right: Assistant Principal (Middle to Senior Years) Anna Oliver, Assistant Principal Religious Education (Middle to Senior Years) Marnie Adamson, Assistant Principal (Junior Years) Kylie Pierce, Head of College Alison Gilbert, Acting Head of College (Junior Years) Angela Martlew, Assistant Principal (Middle to, and Assistant Principal (Middle to Senior Years) Skye Wallden, and Assistant Principal Religious Education (Junior Years) Donna Gordon. ©Brisbane Catholic Education, Unity College, Caloundra (2024).

Alison Gilbert's 27 years of experience in education and 24 years in Middle and Senior Leadership roles within Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) served as the foundation for her nomination into a program unique to BCE in 2022.  

The bespoke program, Women Breakthrough to Principalship, was designed to empower women aspiring into Principalship roles across BCE’s 146 schools. 

In 2024, this program has been reimagined and extends on the successful Women Breakthrough to Principalship Program. The new program, Women in Leadership, empowers participants to navigate some of the barriers that women face when stepping into principal and leadership roles.   

Alison's journey and participation in the Women Breakthrough to Principalship have empowered her to turn her aspirations of becoming Head of College (Year 7 to 12) into reality.  

Alison now leads one of the Sunshine Coast’s most established schools after being appointed Head of College of Unity College Caloundra West in Term 3, 2023. 

"The program provides BCE leaders with the time to recalibrate our perspectives, fostering a space for reimagining our trajectories as instructional leaders,” Alison says. 
“In this time, it reinforced my passion for continuing to champion holistic education for our young people and provided us the time to learn and grow with each other.” 
In her new role, Alison says she hopes to continue to foster learning environments that support academic excellence and nurture the personal development, spirituality and wellbeing of her students.  
“The Unity College community has been so welcoming, and I am eager to see what the year ahead has in store for us as a school community,” she says. 
We have, as a College, chosen the theme, grounded in unity to focus our work and direction for 2024 and I will continue to try to make a positive difference every day. 
Alison describes students as “the heart of her work.” 
“By challenging and engaging students in their learning, creating a space where they can reach their full potential, student learning continues to progress and flourish,” she says. 
I look forward to continuing to make positive connections with the students, staff, and families at Unity College. 
Alison adds “We are extremely fortunate at Unity College to have strong female representation within our College Leadership Team. 
It is a pleasure to lead Unity College with these exemplary female leaders, Assistant Principal Religious Education (Middle to Senior Years) Marnie Adamson, Head of College (Junior Years) Danielle Gleeson, Acting Head of College (Junior Years) Angela Martlew, Assistant Principal Religious Education (Junior Years) Donna Gordon, Assistant Principal (Middle to Senior Years) Anna Oliver, Assistant Principal  (Junior Years) Kylie Pierce, and Assistant Principal (Middle to Senior Years) Skye Wallden. 
In 2024, BCE welcomes 18 Catholic educational leaders into their first Principalship roles, four of which are new to the organisation.  


About the BCE Women in Leadership program: 

The successful Breakthrough to Principalship Program has been reimagined for 2024 to become Women in Leadership, a transformative program designed for aspiring female principals and leaders across BCE’s schools and offices.  
This new program is designed to enable exponential change and empower aspiring female leaders through interactive workshops, thought-provoking discussions, prayer, and reflection. Participants benefit from the mentorship of successful Principals and leaders who are committed to supporting their journey of personal and spiritual development.  


About International Women’s Day at BCE:
BCE's faith-filled community leads in strengthening its culture and identity by upholding the Catholic value of courage. 
BCE continues its commitment to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide this International Women’s Day (8 March) 
This year’s International Women’s Day theme Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.’ calls to action the need to reflect on women’s equal opportunities to earn, learn and lead.  
This is an opportunity to celebrate women’s and girl’s achievements, reflect on obstacles to achieving equal participation, and advocate for change to accelerate progress toward gender equality. 

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