Walford Women to Watch

We are very proud to celebrate and share the successes of our past students with the Walford School community.

Joan Paroissien OAM (nee Pitcher) (1953)

Director of Nursing (retired)

Joan qualified as a nurse in 1959 and over the next thirty-six years she worked her way up to become the Director of Nursing at St Andrew’s Hospital; a position she held for 17 years until her retirement. Community service has always played a large part in Joan’s life.

During her time at St Andrew’s, Joan helped serve breakfast at the Hutt Street Service for the Homeless before work and she currently volunteers for the Magdalene Centre as an outreach officer.

Joan committed a large portion of her time to the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem and in 2004, Joan was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for services to nursing and community services.

Professor Ann Woolcock (1954)

Asthma expert and respiratory scientist

Ann completed her schooling at Walford before entering the University of Adelaide to study Medicine. After graduating from the University of Adelaide, Ann pursued postgraduate studies at the University of Sydney. Her thesis focused in the mechanical behavior of the lungs in asthma. Towards the end of her postgraduate studies, Ann became the Overseas Research Fellow for the Asthma Foundation of NSW at McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Ann’s contributions to Asthma research were extensive, with over 300 articles and book chapters contributed by her on the subject. In 1985, Ann founded the Institute of Respiratory Medicine in Sydney. Under her leadership the institution expanded to support more than 130 researchers and support staff. It is considered to be one of the top six Asthma research centers in the world. In 2002 the Institute was renamed the Woolcock Institure of Medical Research in her honour. She lost her battle with breast cancer in 2001 at the age of 63.

Meredith Arnold (nee Kroehn) (1955)

Community Service

After leaving Walford, Meredith taught at Loxton High School, married and had three sons. She soon began taking an active role in her community, joining fundraising committees for a number of facilities in the local area, including the Waikerie Kindergarten and the Waikerie Hospital. She also volunteered her time with elective classes at the local high school. Meredith joined the local Historical Society in 1980. She compiled and edited a book entitled “Waikerie and District: a Pictorial History”, published in 1989. Meredith was subsequently awarded Citizen of the Year for Waikerie in 1990.

Meredith was awarded an Order of Australia in 2013 for services to the Waikerie community through her work with the Waikerie Historical Society, of which she is the Chairperson, and for her volunteer work at the Waikerie High School and Hospital.

Meredith has continued her interest in researching the history and attracting tourists to the region through tourist booklets and heritage walks. She continues to be called upon as a local historical expert by media in the area.

Pamela Martin (nee Hammond) (1963)


Pamela has dedicated much of her time to supporting the Walford Anglican School for Girls Community through her many roles and she is currently the Chair of the Walford Council of Governors.

Pamela is also a practicing solicitor and holds the role of Director of Commercial Advice with the Department of Premier and Cabinet, in which she advises the government on intergovernmental relations and manages complex project work.

Mandy Ayres (nee Allen) (1963)


Mandy has dedicated herself to teaching and practicing physiotherapy and sits on a number of Boards involved with education, students and the preservation of history.

Mandy has also dedicated much of her time to supporting the Walford Community and was the Chair of the inaugural Walford Fundraising Committee and has since been involved in raising money for the refurbishment of the Helen Reid Hall and the Walford Sports Centre.

Associate Professor Helen Evans (née Symington) (1964)

Public Health

After Helen Evans graduated from Walford, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts majoring in psychology and history from the University of Adelaide, and then a Graduate Degree in social administration from Flinders University.

Helen has dedicated her career to public health and social policy, becoming an expert in these areas. In the early 1990s, she managed the National Communicable Diseases Program in the Australian Department of Health. She also managed the Australian Government Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Helen served as Deputy Executive Director at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria between 2005 and 2009.

Helen has most recently served as Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the GAVI Alliance based in Geneva from 2009 until her retirement in 2014. GAVI is a public-private partnership that helps ensure that the most effective vaccines are available to children in the poorest countries in the world. Helen Evans has been involved in the work of many international health and development organisations including serving on the board of UNAIDS. She is currently working as a special advisor to the Gavi CEO and has an honorary appointment as Associate Professor at the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne.

Sue Duval (1973)


After leaving school, Sue received a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Statistical Science. She soon moved to the United States, where she pursued studies in Biostatistics and quickly became involved in cardiovascular research and the application of methodological approaches to clinical trials.

Sue is currently a Professor at the University of Minnesota where she is a mentor to graduate students, publishes prolifically in journals and edited books and is researching methodological approaches to understanding heart failure.

Valerie Francis (nee Morrow) (1975)

Engineer and Academic

Valerie was the eleventh female graduate of the Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) degree from Adelaide University and the first female to work in the private sector in civil engineering in South Australia.

Very early in her career, Valerie took an active role in promoting the representation of women in Engineering and construction. Not long after graduating Valerie started the Women in Engineering group in South Australia. This later formed part of Engineers Australia, of which she is now a Fellow.

Valerie joined the University of Melbourne fifteen years ago, and is currently an Associate Professor in Construction Management and Associate Dean within the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Construction. She is the Coordinator of the Master of Construction Management program at the University, and has been instrumental in raising the number of women studying this course to 40% - well above the national average.

In 2009 she joint-authored "Managing Work-Life Balance in Construction" and is currently writing a book on Advancing in Construction specifically for women. This work is based on the largest international study of women in construction, and calls into question much of the previous research in the area.

Amongst her many awards, Valerie received the National Crystal Vision Award in 2012 for 25 years of service to women in engineering and construction.

Jane Mussared (1974)

Community Service

After leaving Walford, Jane Mussared obtained a Bachelor of Social Work and began working for rural community welfare centres around South Australia. After reaching the level of manager of the Adelaide and then Port Adelaide Community Welfare centres, Jane relocated to Michigan and studied for her Master of Social Work degree.

On returning to Australia, Jane moved into teaching and policy making before taking on the role of Manager and Acting Director of the Office for the Aging in the Department of Human Services. Jane is currently the General Manager, People and Innovation with ACH Group, a not for profit aged care provider in SA and Melbourne. Jane’s team leads the organisational focus on customer, innovation, workforce, communication, good lives values, dementia and customer research.

In 2008 Jane was the SA Winner of the Innovation Award in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards and in 2007 she won a Sanicare Scholarship to visit aged care in Malta and the Netherlands. Jane currently serves on the boards of Cirkidz and of Aged and Community Services (SA&NT) and previously was part of the Port Power Community Engagement Task Force for several years.

Sarah Denbigh (nee Taylor) (1983)


Sarah began playing the cello at the age of eight. After completing her Bachelor of Music in 1987, Sarah joined the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and won a permanent chair in 1990.

In the past 25 years with the ASO, Sarah has performed with a huge variety of well-known, international classical artists as well as a number of popular musicians such as Tim and Neil Finn, K.D. Lang, Ben Folds and James Morrison.

Sarah has been a cello teacher for many years as well as a regular tutor for the SA State Music Camp and the Adelaide Youth Orchestra.

Caroline Rhodes (Brokus) (1995)

Agribusiness Specialist

For more than a decade Caroline has been at the forefront of wheat marketing reform in Australia; holding senior policy roles in both State and Federal farming organisations, as an executive of the industry regulator and later managing government and commercial relations for a major global agribusiness.

Caroline has represented the interests of Australian farmers in international forums, including meetings of the World Trade Organisation and the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, and at two sessions of the World Congress of Young Farmers. She was selected to participate in both the European Union Visitors Program and the United States International Visitors Leadership Program, and has served on advisory committees to both Commonwealth and State governments for her policy expertise.

Caroline is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and was named one of the Top 100 Women in Agribusiness by Fairfax Rural media in 2014.

Caroline now combines her professional and pro-bono board work with motherhood. She works part-time as a joint Managing Director of the premier corporate advisory firm, Bespoke Approach, and remains a Company Director of Wheat Quality Australia Ltd, Rural Business Support and is on the Board of charity Foodbank SA.

Dr Maria Fuller (1984)


After completing her education at Walford, Maria studies culminated in a PhD in which she aimed to improve gene therapy techniques by developing a gene transfer system using a derivative from the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and to show that derivatives of HIV could be safely used to transfer genetic material.

Following her PhD, Maria has continued to research gene therapy as a treatment pathway for metabolic and inherited genetic disorders. Maria is currently the Head of the Translational Research Unit at SA Pathology, having previously been the Head of the Lysosomal Biology Section at the Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service in Adelaide.

Maria has received a number of awards for her research work, including the MS McLeod Medal for Research Excellence, an Achievement Award for Medical Research presented by the Honourable Lord Mayor of Adelaide, and a National Health and Medical Research Council Career Development Award. Maria has attracted more than $3 million in research funding and is a reviewer for a number of respected academic journals. She continues to publish articles in peer-reviewed journals and is often invited to speak at national and international conferences.

Dr Zoë Morrison (1994)

After graduating from Walford, Dr Zoë Morrison completed Arts/Law at Adelaide University gaining a First Class Honours degree in Human Geography and several University prizes. She was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to complete a DPhil (PhD) in Human Geography at Oxford University. Her doctoral research was on the topic of social exclusion and involved research and community work in an infamous Oxford council housing estate. On completing her PhD, at the age of 24, Zoë was appointed to a College Lectureship in Human Geography at St Peter's College, Oxford University, and Honorary Research Fellowships in the School of Geography, and the International Gender Studies Centre.

On returning to Australia, Zoë delivered what became known as 'The Morrison Report', an investigation into responses to child sexual abuse and adult sexual assault in the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide, which resulted in changes to church practice and culture.

This was followed by work with the Victorian Law Reform Commission, recommending changes to family violence laws in Victoria. Zoë also worked for Monash University, researching the conditions that support women's academic success. After this she ran the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault and held various other leadership positions, for example she was a member of the National Council to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children, and the Statewide Steering Committee to Reduce Sexual Assault.

Most recently, Zoë was Senior Manager in Research at the anti-poverty Non-Governmental Organisation, the Brotherhood of St Laurence where, among other things, she led research on children and social exclusion.

Elizabeth McCall (1993)

Vocal Performer

After graduating from the Elder Conservatorium of Music in 1998, Elizabeth moved to London to pursue a career in singing. In her 11 years abroad, she has not only forged a path in opera, but has developed herself as a composer, session musician, community arts director and was appointed to the senior management of the UK’s finest chamber music concert venue, Wigmore Hall as Head of Learning. As Head of Learning at Wigmore Hall, Elizabeth ran 400 events annually including “Music for Life”, a program which uses music to connect with people with advanced dementia. In January 2013, Elizabeth released her debut album ‘Two Different Paths”.

Amy Schirmer (2003)

Medical Practitioner

While completing her medical degree, Amy found a passion for Obstetrics and Gynecology and reaching out to remote and rural communities. This led her to the 2h project and specifically the Safe Arrivals project. The safe arrivals project provides training to Traditional Birth Attendants in Cambodia in the hope that the lives of many mothers and babies will be saved by the sharing of knowledge.

Amy traveled to Cambodia with a team of midwives this year to provide seminars to the Traditional Birth Attendants. Amy was the runner up in the Australian Women’s Weekly – Woman of the Future Award and the scholarship she received as a prize was able to fund these seminars. Amy also teaches students and young doctors in her position as a Clinical Lecturer at the University of Adelaide and she is about to embark on a six-year training program to qualify as an Obstetrician and Gynecologist.

Lucy Bonnin (2004)

Lucy Bonnin is a highly regarded and talented artist. She graduated from Walford in 2004 having spent all of her school days here. After leaving, Lucy was awarded a scholarship to attend the Adelaide Central School of Art, where she was able to study with established artists and develop her own artistic talent.

In 2009, Lucy was successful in obtaining a grant from the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme that enabled her to study for a Certificate IV in Business and subsequently establish her own small business, Bonnin Art, in South Australia. Lucy has been very successful in major art prizes, most recently winning the Lethbridge 10000 National Art Prize in 2011 and being selected as a finalist in this year’s Black Swan Portrait Prize in Perth.

Lucy also uses her talents to help raise funds for charity. To date, auctions of works created and donated by Lucy have raised over thirty thousand dollars for charities such as Can Do 4 Kids, The Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation and Autism SA. Lucy also enjoys donating her time to teaching others and has recently re-visited Walford to take an art class with the Year 2 students. Her vision for the future is to establish a gallery in which she can exhibit and support other emerging artists.

Dr Kathleen Pishas (2005)

Medical Researcher

Following a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and Honours in Medicine at the University of Adelaide, Kathleen undertook a three-year PhD investigating novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of Ewing sarcoma, a rare aggressive solid bone tumour that primarily affects children and young adolescents. At the start of her PhD she was awarded the Inaugural Australian and Asia Pacific ASSG/Rainbows for Kate Sarcoma grant in memory of Tom Wood who lost his battle with Ewing sarcoma.

During her PhD, Kathleen published eight manuscripts (four first author), in highly competitive cancer journals and was also the recipient of numerous project and travel grants, allowing her to present her findings at four international conferences. Kathleen was awarded a University of Adelaide Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence and the 2014 Government of South Australia PhD Research Science Excellence Award, recognising that she was the top PhD student in the field of Health and Medical Sciences in South Australia.

A further recognition of her research potential was the award of a 3 year University of Adelaide Post-doctoral Clinical Cancer Research Fellowship in 2013, and recently the prestigious NHMRC Early Career CJ Martin Biomedical Overseas Post-doctoral Fellowship, which was only offered to the top 25% applicants throughout Australia.

In 2014, Kathleen moved to the United States, to continue her Ewing sarcoma fellowship under the mentorship of Dr Stephen Lessnick, a pioneering Ewing sarcoma researcher. She hopes that her research findings will significantly aid in the discovery and implementation of novel therapeutic strategies to significantly improve the survival outcomes for Ewing sarcoma patients.

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