Life Members

Janette Walker

Janette has been a member of the ECC since its inception in 1990.  She is a registered ECE teacher and has been actively involved as supervisor and licensee for her own childcare centre since 1981.

Janette Walker

Ross Penman

Ross chaired the original committee that set up the Early Childhood Council in 1990.  Previously, Ross had been Vice-President of the Associated Childcare Council.  Ross initially ran the ECC's national office, organised the first two annual conferences and was editor for Swings & Roundabouts for it's first six years.

Ross was an active Executive member from 1990; held the position of Vice-President from 1997 to 2002 and was ECC President from 2002 to 2008.

Ross and his wife Trish are co-directors of Prodigy Learning Centres in Auckland.

Ross Penman

Sherilyn Walsh

Sheri became one of the first members of the ECC when as a private centre owner she was looking for a support group/ sounding board to share ideas.

She later became the area contact for the Taranaki area until these positions were no longer required as the ECC grew and employed paid staff, thus support was given through the head office.

Sheri set up her centre in 1985, early childhood centres [of which there were very few apart from state kindergartens - hers was only the second in Taranaki.] Centres were then regulated by the Dept of Social Welfare. Through the years she has seen many changes, including the Ministry of Education taking responsibility for licencing and regulating, and the ERO reviewing EC centres.

Sheri still owns and manages the same centre although it has grown in size many times.

Sheri Walsh

Brian Elliott

Brian was born in CHristchurch and educated in Wellington and Auckland, graduating from Auckland University in 1970 B.Arch. (Hons).

Brian was chairman of the First STeps Childcare Trust and at one time operated five centres in Palmerston North.

Brian has held many positions within the early childhood education sector, including life memberships of the Manawatu Kindergarten Association, New Zealand Free Kindergarten Union, as well as numerous government appointments.

Brian was involved in the ECC Executive from 1992 and held the position of Hon Secretary/Treasurer from 1995 to 2007.

Brian Elliott

Sue Kurtovich (nee Thorne)

Sue Kurtovich (formerly Thorne) was South Auckland Area Contact from 1992 – 1996 and President of the ECC from 1996 – 1999. In August 1999 she was appointment as the first Chief Executive Officer of the association, a position she held until October 2008.  Sue is now an independent consultant, providing advice and training to centre owners, boards, and their management teams in New Zealand, as well as undertaking ECE project work internationally.

Sue Kurtovich

Margie Blackwood

Margie has been involved in the early childhood education sector since setting up her own centres – Kids Kampus – in Auckland in 1988.  She has been an active member of the ECC since it was first formed in 1989.  Margie has been on the ECC National Executive for over ten years, becoming Vice-President and then President in 2007, in which role she served for four years.  Margie was elected a Life Member of the ECC at its AGM in 2011.

Margie Blackwood
Allan Wendelborn

Allan is one of the founding members of the ECC and is a long-standing member of the ECC Executive as a Patron. He and his wife Glennie founded Kindercare Learning Centres and continue to make an influentiual and positive contribution to early childhood education throughout New Zealand and overseas.

Lonnie Parker

Lonnie has been on the ECC Executive for the last six years and has served as Treasurer for five years.

Lonnie became involved in the childcare sector when she and her husband Ashton purchased a centre in November 2005. Two years later, they extended that centre and built a new one. Both centres are now inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Childhood Education.

Lonnie has worked for a variety of corporates - airline, meat processing and newspapers, in accounting, IT and senior management roles. She is a qualified accountant and has a Masters in Business Administration degree. Her qualifications and experience mean she can bring strategic thinking and good governance disciplines to the Executive Committee.

In addition to the childcare centres, Lonnie and Ashton are involved in other sectors, including residential private hospital care of the elderly. They have two young sons – Jackson and Henry and six grandchildren.