About ACE

Who we are

ACE is a community college redefining careers, changing outlooks and empowering positive futures.

Our mission is to help you get to where you want to go – it’s your success we care about.

We work on this every day, designing and delivering nationally recognised qualifications and skill set courses in areas of high industry demand which are pathways to employment and career advancement. Along the way ACE has developed strong industry networks and partnerships in our signature specialisations of early childhood education and care, community care, business administration and life skills.

We also invest in building community resilience and social capacity through a truly unique range of leisure and lifestyle workshops, from the artistic and creative to the practical and informative.

Award winning outreach programmes popping up in townships and Indigenous communities across country NSW are an important component of our annual program, and underscore our commitment to regional resilience.

ACE Community Colleges, established in 1972, is a Registered Training Organisation (RTO 90032) with services in an ever expanding footprint across Northern NSW and Southeast QLD. Our colleges are located in Lismore and Burleigh Waters.

“At our core we believe in the life changing significance of choice, that everyone can achieve, that we each learn differently; and that there are many powerful alternative pathways to career development. Your success is what we care about.”

Principal / Kerry Johnson

Our Team

Endlessly positive and intensely energetic the ACE team of professional trainers, community board, executive group and customer care crew share a belief in the power of you and your life resolutions. Can't wait to say hello.

Sally Cook
New South Wales Manager - Lismore

A true advocate and big believer in the power of taking charge of your own destiny, getting out there and living your best life, Sally put her successful hospitality career on hold to branch out and has never looked back. First into sales, customer support, product promotion and more recently into vocational training.

“I loved being a restaurant manager and café owner, the interaction with staff, suppliers and customers was just brilliant and has really inspired my professional career. The transition across to vocational education and training came easy to me”.

With multiple qualifications including Diplomas in Human Resource Management, Leadership & Management, Business, Auditing & an Advanced Dip in Hospitality Management to her credit she has commenced yet another Diploma course in RTO Compliance. Wow.

In those few moments between work and study Sally, being a qualified Chef is passionate about food, wining and dining, country picnics and long walks on the beach with her Toy Poodle Snoopy.

Michelle Simpson
QUEENSLAND MANAGER - BURLEIGH WATERS

After an extensive career in commercial lending and finance in NSW, QLD and the Northern Territory, Michelle took the opportunity to bridge over to the not for profit sector with senior roles in education and training, volunteer management and fundraising.

Her education and training leadership achievements have been recognised with numerous awards, including in business excellence, employment and community service. She is a big believer in the empowerment of individuals and the benefits of providing students with a high quality, supportive training experience in a relaxed environment.

Michelle is our Queensland Manager, when not at her ACE Burleigh office she is exploring the beautiful QLD coastline, experimenting with fresh seafood recipes and renovating her home.

Kerry Johnson
Chief Executive Officer - Lismore

A career in primary school teaching went on-hold to follow a big sporting dream. Kerry represented Australia at two Olympic Games in track and field and loved every second of it. Life after sport saw her reconnect with education, whilst deciding not to return to the classroom every job since has had an education component. Kerry says “education can change your world and I have lived that through each of my jobs and I’ve seen it through my years of travelling”.

Working for ACE is her best ever job – She gets to be part of life changing moments for students who perhaps haven’t had good experiences with education in their early years but overcome their fears to take on studying for a qualification. Kerry has recently developed what is best described as a healthy devotion to mosaics and photography – you’ll see her at ACE short courses.

Erin Hutchinson
Operations Manager - Lismore

After working in public practice as a company auditor for 6 years, plus time spent in Western Sydney with a major construction company in finance & HR management roles Erin arrived at ACE for a change of pace & to be part of the Not for Profit sector. She says the job is so rewarding. “Every-day I get to support the development & growth of the ACE business which empowers so many people to reach their full potential through education”.

When Erin is not crunching the numbers, you can find her at the training studio crunching her abs, trying to keep her physical condition as sharp as her finance mind! When she gets the opportunity, she also loves to explore new countries and the culture, food and experiences they have to offer.

Robyn Keenan
National RTO Manager - Burleigh Waters

Robyn is a proud advocate of the power of quality education and the life changing opportunities it provides. As our National RTO Manager she is responsible for scheduling and implementation of training programs, business development initiatives, RTO regulatory compliance and funding contract requirements.

Prior to joining ACE Robyn worked in Vocational Education and Training for more than 15 years. She gained a Post Graduate Degree in Business from Melbourne University and holds a Diploma in Vocational Education and Training. When not working you can find Robyn in the shed restoring furniture, sofa so good! You guessed it she also likes a little fun.

Natalie Hannah
Community Programs Manager - LISMORE

Teaching is the most rewarding thing I’ve done, besides being a mother. I get such a thrill when students achieve their goals no matter how big or small and I feel that I learn as much from my students as they take from my classes. Language, literacy and numeracy encompass every aspect of our lives so my learners bring a wealth of experience which is integrated into the learning along with games and practical activities wherever possible to make it fun and engaging for all of us.

Allan Ellis
Director - Lismore

Being a Director on the College Board is a way I have been able to contribute to the ongoing development and sustainability of adult education provision in this region. ACE Community Colleges, like many other adult education providers, is a Not for Profit organisation and relies on the voluntary input of appropriately skilled community members for high level oversight and strategic direction. With Colleges often relying on income from fee paying vocational education and training programs to help support their general class programs the need for sound management is vital.

Cheryl Amor
Director - Lismore

A passionate advocate for life-long learning, that’s me. A teacher in fashion for over 35 years at TAFE and involved in the delivering of accredited and non-accredited training over this period across our region and on  Norfolk Island. Volunteering is my other love, I’m a keen supporter of Lismore Basketball and have been on the  Management Committee there since 1985.

Peter Tucker
Director - Lismore

I have a long-term interest in the delivery of adult education, being involved in the delivery of courses in the early days of the Adult Evening College – a precursor to ACE Community Colleges. Thrilled to have now joined the Board.

You're in good hands

Training delivered by ACE Community Colleges meets the requirements set by the Australian National Regulator; Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF); the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australian education and training.

03 / where we are

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Lismore, NSW | View map

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Burleigh Waters, QLD | View map

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