Board of Governance

The Board of Governance identifies and guides the strategic vision and plan for the school. The Board ensures that the school fulfills its legal, financial, and educational obligations as a not-for-profit education provider operating as an independent school. Board members are selected according to merit, skills, and strategic fit with the Board’s skill profile. All are unpaid.

The Board of Governance oversees the school’s functioning and accountability informed by the ethical conduct and integrity of our philosophical mentors while fulfilling the legal and statutory obligations as set out by the Australian Government and the Victorian State Government Department of Education.

Chair Person- Mel Ogden

Role on Board:

  • Chairperson 2022 current
  • Vice Chair 2017-2021
  • Ordinary member 2013-2017

Formal Qualifications:
Master of Arts – Sculpture, Canberra University

Motivation for joining the Board:
I would like to see Geshe Konchok’s vision of encouraging an education model that
focuses on developing a child’s capacity for kindness and compassion towards
themselves and others in combination with critical thinking and the 5 precepts flourish.

Previous engagement with the school:
Former parent

Buddha Dharma Experience:
Practicing Buddhist since 2011

Relevant experiences:
I have experienced education in Asian, USA and Australia including completing the
International Baccalaureate and continuing on to tertiary education.

Relevant skills:
Professional Landscape designer and project management.

Current profession:
Landscape designer / Artist
What do you hope to achieve while serving as a Board:
I would like to be a part of the school’s ongoing development as a place that nurtures its
students, staff and community, has a strong connection with the land and how to work
with it respectfully, and to be a place of joyful engaged learning.

Vice-Chair Person- Dorje Warren Gibson

Dorje has been involved in Buddhism since 2007 and was an ordained monk for many years, residing at Thubten Shedrup Ling monastery near Bendigo.

He has worked as a management consultant for the past twenty years and has been running his own consulting practice for the past sixteen years. Prior to this, he spent many years with a government welfare agency, conducting experiential programs for disadvantaged youth and their families.

He has worked extensively within the resources sector, implementing experiential learning programs for management and operations staff to focus on effective management, change, communication, leadership, values, conflict resolution, negotiation, and team effectiveness.

Dorje’s down-to-earth practical approach to his work has been successful in engaging people into a growth mindset learning culture and he works closely with clients to ensure their needs are met. The Dharma School’s education vision is close to his heart and he has supported the school professionally over many years through his consultancy skills and also as a serving Board member. 


Secretary (Interim) – Andrea Furness

Role on Board:

  • Interim School Principal 2022 reporting to Board 
  • Board Chairperson 2017-2021
  • Interim Board Secretary 2017 to current
  • Ordinary Board member 2014-2015
  • School Principal 2009-2013 reporting to Board
  • School co-founder 2008

Formal Qualifications:

Bachelor of Health Science – HONS, Victoria University.

Motivation for joining the Board:

I was the co-founder of the school under the guidance of Tibetan Buddhist monk Geshe Konchok Tsering. I was the first principal from 2009-12 and worked closely with our founding vision, the original Board and school community to establish the school as the first of its kind in Australia. It is such an important undertaking to establish a contemporary education system that is founded upon the compassion and wisdom philosophical teachings of the Buddha and requires many interdependent skills, support and advice across many levels.

Previous engagement with the school:

I have worked across many areas within the school and Board since the idea for a buddhist philosophical primary school was introduced in 2005. My time has included a break for 2 years when I moved away from Daylesford which gave me an awareness of how unique and important the vision of the school is and how it enriches the lives of all who work to both establish and experience the vision and values of the school. 

Buddha Dharma Experience:

I have been a student of Mahayana Buddhism since the early 80’s and began undertaking studies and retreats in my early 20s. I think that being a parent has been a great motivator for me in holding with the Buddha’s teachings and integrating them into the way of family living. 

Relevant skills:

Established the first registration of the school in Victoria. Managed the school operations and development of policies and procedures as the first Principal. 20 years of service and support to community groups within the Daylesford community. Teaching in the tertiary and private sector in performing arts practice. Supervising student health science clinical placements in the tertiary sector. 

Current profession:

I work in the allied health sector as a Chinese medicine practitioner with specialist areas of interest. I have a practice in Daylesford and Ballarat. 

What do you hope to achieve while serving as a Board:        

I hope to see the school establish itself as an education leader in developing the inner qualities of students that enhances the expected physical, social and academic elements of the Australian curriculum.  Particularly of interest to me is how we as a school support the development of compassion, the wisdom view, kindness and ethical responsibility as intrinsic in our students.


Treasurer – Kim Woodrum

Role on Board:
Treasurer 2017 current
Treasurer 2012-2014

Formal Qualifications:
Bachelor of Accounting, Northern Arizona University
Bachelor of Business Administration, University of the South West, New Mexico
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Motivation for joining the Board:
The school and how it engages with the greater community is such a beneficial thing in the world. When I see how our students engage with their world I am filled with a sense of hope for the future.
While I am working for the school I often feel a warm spot in my
heart and life and understand that it brings so much benefit.

Previous engagement with the school:
I was living in Daylesford and had my own financial services business when I came into
contact with the school. I stepped onto the Board as Treasurer for 3 years initially but
experienced a serious motorcycle accident that interrupted my continuity with the school
for some years as I recovered.

Buddha Dharma Experience:
I engage in daily meditation and Qi Gong and listen to the Dharma teachings that we
have access to as a Board.

Relevant experiences:
Business and Accounting skills training and mentoring.

Relevant skills:
I conduct business health checks and a Business mindfit consultancy on top of my
financial services provided to the business community.

Current profession:
I have my own financial services business that provides digital accounting services,
payroll and financial reporting services to small and medium businesses. I am a certified
Quickbooks trainer and mentor.

What do you hope to achieve while serving as a Board:
I am committed to the ongoing development of the school and supporting its various
projects to ensure that they are well funded and financially viable. I have spent the last
few years auditing and developing the schools finance department and creating best
practice policy and procedure. I am passionate about building projects and would love
to see the school develop its middle years secondary campus.

Board Member Invitee – Sevilla Furness-Holland (Risk management)

  • Role on Board:
    Ordinary member 2019-2021
    DESC Secretary 2020 current
    Board Invitee 2022 current: Risk Management Advisor

Formal Qualifications:
Certificate in Governance and Risk Management (Governance Institute of Australia);
Foundations of Directorship (Australian Institute of Company Directors);
Bachelor of Arts (International Studies), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Motivation for joining the Board:
To have more exposure to the Buddha Dharma and to be part of the fabric and culture
of the School.

Previous engagement with the school:
I helped to coordinate a Dharma School Fair and have also had my younger brother
attend the school as a student and saw the benefits of a wisdom compassion education
approach in his life.

Buddha Dharma Experience:
I have attended different Buddhist retreats and attended many Buddhist teachings. I
have also explored yoga teaching and philosophy through a 500-hour Yoga Teacher

Relevant experiences:
I am a founding board member of Food Next Door Co-op and have 8 year’s experience
working in Risk and Governance roles.

Relevant skills:
Risk management, Strategy and planning, Governance.

Current profession:
Research management, University of Melbourne.

What do you hope to achieve while serving as a Board:
I hope to strengthen the Board’s decision-making processes using a risk management
approach, and to deliver an enhanced and more deeply integrated Dharma Curriculum
through the DESC.

Board Member – Nadeeka Wimalasuriya

Board Invitee – Devon Taylor (Grants coordinator)