College Council Our focus is on delivering an ever-better world class education, underpinned by high expectations, quality relationships and strategic investment.

Five enabling strategic goals guide our priorities, with initiatives focused on delivering an ever-better world class education for  students. Our Strategic Plan 2021-2025 encourages active participation from across our community so that together we build on our strong foundations to support students flourish, and position Mercedes College for continued excellence.

College Governance

Responsibility for strategic management at Mercedes College is delegated to our College Council, with Catholic Education South Australia the ultimate authority. The operational management of Mercedes College resides with our Principal.

The membership of the College Council comprises:

  • one member appointed by the Director of Catholic Education
  • three members elected by our parent body.
  • five members recommended by the Council and appointed by the Director of Catholic Education.
  • Mercedes College Principal (ex officio). 

Appointments are for three years with the right to re-election or re-appointment.

Our College Council

Danielle Finnimore
Council Chair

As a parent of two children at Mercedes College, I have been actively involved in our community for six years and am committed to the delivery of our strategic goals to support students to reach their highest potential.

My professional experience expands across many industries, including education, in various senior HR and executive leadership positions. I am currently the SA People Manager for GHD Group, a global professional services firm providing engineering, environmental, design and construction services.

It is this combination of professional experience coupled with my passion for education and creating an exceptional community of learning, that I bring to the Mercedes College Council.

I hold a Masters in Commerce and recently completed the Foundations of Directorship Course at the AICD. I describe myself as a focused, purpose-driven professional with a proven ability to build successful relationships. I also have a strong sense of justice, empathy and diplomacy, and the ability to provide solutions to achieve business objectives.

Sue Kennedy-Branford
With more than 35 years in Catholic Education SA as a teacher, including 2 years at Mercedes College, principal, board chairperson and system leader, Sue has a comprehensive knowledge, understanding and experience of schools. 

As Assistant Director People, Leadership and Culture with the Catholic Education Office, Sue works collaboratively and strategically driving improvement, innovation and change across more than 100 South Australian Catholic schools. Here her focus is on leading system strategy to enhance a culture of professional growth attracting, sustaining and valuing people, their leadership and workforce excellence.

Sue is delighted to bring her educational leadership experience to the College Council and serve the Mercedes College community in a governance context.  She holds a Masters of Educational Leadership and Management from the University of Newcastle, and a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies from Flinders University.

Jock Duncan
With more than 20 years’ experience in senior HR/executive level roles across a variety of industries, I am currently the Director of Corporate Services at Hood Sweeney, an integrated professional services business in Adelaide.

I have wide-ranging responsibilities, from leading our people and culture strategy, to general management responsibilities, and the delivery of consulting services to our clients. Ultimately, my passions are building a high performance culture capable of achieving our strategic goals and delivering outstanding service to our clients.

A key part of sustaining this culture is connecting back and contributing to the communities we operate within. To this end, I have a key role in leading our focus on helping our chosen charities such as Kickstartforkids, which supports under-priviledged children in primary schools through breakfast and mentoring programs.

This service mindset also led me to become involved with the governance of the College, with a role on the Risk and Audit Committee and now the College Council. Together with Karni, I have two children, Lily and Finn, and a deep commitment to help maintain the school's great legacy, as well as positioning Mercedes College as a leading educator in South Australia.

Sam Dighton

Sam joined the Committee for Adelaide as Chief Executive Officer in March 2023, bringing more than 20 years’ international and domestic experience.

Sam is an experienced executive and accomplished leader having led various divisions during his time at ElectraNet including Commercial, Corporate Services and Legal and Risk, as well as being the General Counsel and Company Secretary.

Sam started his career at Piper Alderman, before spending more than 10 years in the UK, first at the South Australian Office of the Agent General, before becoming a Partner at leading top UK law firm Winckworth Sherwood.  On returning to South Australia, Sam led the Riverbank and Strategic Projects portfolio at Renewal SA, before moving to ElectraNet. 

Sam holds a Masters of Business Administration from Kingston University in the UK, a Bachelor of Laws from University of Adelaide, a Bachelor of Arts from Flinders University.  Sam is also a recent graduate from Insead Business School in France and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.As a committed and visible member of the Mercedes College community, Sam brings management, commercial, legal and governance experience to the College Council and committees. Sam’s daughter is currently in Year 5.

Troy Trafela
With 15 years of technology experience and 10 years in people management, I've been described as a ‘business enabler’ with a niche for connecting the dots and enhancing businesses through operational reviews, technology implementations, and creating a culture of ‘the art of possible’.

Within my career, I have managed teams of up to 100 and had ownership of portfolios of 15M across multiple businesses. I continue to drive my results through my skills in people, problem-solving, operational and business strategy, process improvements, digital innovation, customer experience, finance and sustainability.

Supporting the community and institutions that develop, nurture, and guide the next generation is something extraordinary that not many have the privilege of being involved with. I am a proud Mercedes College parent, with my eldest son Marco enrolled since 2021 and Keanu set to join in 2024.

Michael Callisto
As a Mercedes College student from 1986 to 1998, and now as a parent, I would like to give back to the community that has been a big part of my life.

I feel Mercedes is at an exciting period in its history with the new development and the 70 year anniversary in 2024, and I believe my background in Business Management and Finance and ownership of our own family business gives me the necessary skills to contribute to the College Council in a meaningful way.

Toby Hughes
My wife and I have been fortunate to have five children attend Mercedes; each has had a different journey.  They have benefitted from the overall leadership and governance provided by School Council, and I’d like to repay this support.

I have a significant track record in tertiary education and research leadership, which would be valuable additions to the skillset of the Council. I have a professional interest in educational and pastoral transition from secondary to tertiary education, and I look forward to providing valuable input into processes and systems designed to help senior students make good choices to support their career aspirations.

Andrew Balkwill

Appointed in 2020, Andrew is a distinguished educator and leader within Catholic education and Board Member of the SACE Board of South Australia.

During his career, he has been Principal of Thomas More College, Sacred Heart College Middle School, and served as a Principal Consultant within the Catholic Education Office, mentoring education leaders.

Committed to our ethos and Mercy Keys, Andrew is an active advocate for schools partnering with families to set every student up for success.

Supporting the College Council are three Standing Committees

1. Finance, Risk and Infrastructure Standing Committee
Sam Dighton (Chair)
Andrew Balkwill
Alice Calnan
David Lawlor
Barry Roberts
Mat Hannan
Troy Trafela
George Hormazabal
Michael Callisto

2. Culture and Engagement Standing Committee
Danielle Finnimore (Chair)
Andrew Balkwill
Barry Roberts
Melissa Ciplys
Jock Duncan
Dana Bell

3. Faith and Education Standing Committee
Narelle Sandercock (Chair)
Jon Cenko
Sylvia Habel
Andrew Balkwill
Helen Ayliffe
Adrian Chiarolli
Sr Pat Freehan
Pip Metljak
Toby Hughes