Exceptional BCE program sees record number of female leaders appointed to Principalships or Head of College


​​From left to right: Principal Catherine Connors, Principal Jayne Solomon, Principal Tricia Howard, and Principal Sally Smith. ©Brisbane Catholic Education. 

A record breaking 20 female educators have achieved their aspirations of leading schools over the past 12 months thanks to a bespoke leadership program offered by Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE).   

Announced ahead of International Women’s Day (8 March), the newly appointed Principals and Heads of College completed the BCE Women Breakthrough to Principalship program, which aims to empower, inspire, and elevate aspiring female Principals across BCE. 
The 20 women are now leading some of South East Queensland’s most established schools, from as far north as Maryborough and Gayndah to Jimboomba and Beenleigh.  
BCE’s Executive Director, Dr Sally Towns, says the new program, ‘Women in Leadership,’ was recently adapted to extend to women in leadership roles across the organisation, not just for those with the aim of leading a school.   
“This program has been reimagined and extends on the successful Women Breakthrough to Principalship Program,” she says. 
“The Women in Leadership program is designed to enable exponential change and empower our aspiring female leaders through interactive workshops, thought-provoking discussions, prayer, and reflection.”  
BCE's Head of People and Culture Cathy Heffernan says 47 per cent of program participants from 2021 and 2022 cohorts were successful in being appointed to roles including Head of College or Principal.  
“BCE’s commitment to fostering increased representation of women in Principalship positions across our 146 schools is evidenced by this achievement,” she says. 
Cathy added that "we have joined forces with Pragmatic Thinking to revitalise the program, which is built on contemporary research to further enhance its impact and reach.” 
“It focuses on societal shifts, patterns, rhythms, beliefs and behaviours to enable exponential change for our female leaders,” she says. 
“Combining research with engaging and practical learning, participants will be equipped with the tools to break through barriers that often present themselves when taking steps to leadership.” 
Trinity College Beenleigh Principal Allison Elcoate and Dr John Dwyer Excellent Leadership in Teaching and Learning Awardnt received her first substantiative Principalship in August 2023 after participating in the Women Breakthrough to Principalship program in 2022. 
“The course had a positive impact on my leadership and the people I now have the privilege to lead,” she sa
“The program helps female educational leaders to create a network of professional women who support and celebrate each other’s successes.” 
Since 2023 Women Breakthrough to Principalship alumni, Bree Brockenshire, Angela Moore, Sarah McDonald, Julie Rey, Allison Gilbert, Judith Jones, Aleisha Connellan, Britt Gurnett, Allison Elcoate, Kim Clarke, Martha Hill, Cathryn Anne Caldwell, Kellie Jacobsen, Louise Olley, Michelle White, Catherine Connors, Sally Smith, Tricia Howard, Kerry Maher, and Jayne Solomon have been appointed as Principal. 


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