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

Alf Ianniello
Council Chair

In 2021 I was appointed Chair, after several years with the College Council. In this role I draw on a depth of experience gained in the commercial sector, including extensive international exposure across the globe. Currently, as Chief Executive Officer, I lead Codan Limited, a manufacturer and supplier of communications, metal detection, and mining technology, headquartered in Adelaide, South Australia.

Prior to this I was the Chief Executive Officer with Detmold Packaging, a South Australian packing company employing more than 2,500 people worldwide. Together with my previous roles at British Aerospace and Schefenacker Vision Systems, in the defence and automotive industries, I have accumulated a wealth of experience.

I have qualifications in electronic engineering and management. I deliver industry and executive seminars and have participated in a number of committees and industry bodies. I apply the same ethos of commitment and hard work to my charitable ventures, having twice led a bike-riding team from Adelaide to Melbourne.

My wife Maria and I have four children, my daughter Olivia and three boys – Benjamin (Class of 2019), Jack (Class of 2021) and Joseph who attend Mercedes College.

Deb Dickson
Deputy Chair

Both of my children attend Mercedes College, and I am a committed member of the community, as well as an experienced executive from the banking, finance and public sector arenas. With extensive experience running large-scale organisational transformations, I have a focus and passion around systemic change management, business performance improvement, and strategy development.

Having held the position of Head of Corporate Services at the SA Housing Authority,  working on housing and homelessness reform I now provide consultancy services specialising in individual and organisational change - Decibel Change - helping organisations consciously and deliberately design change into their strategy and structure, and supporting leaders to lead through the change, and individuals to step into new territory.

I hold a Masters Business Administration, Masters Human Resource Management and Bachelor of Management.

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.

Danielle Finnimore
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.

Helen Strachan
As the Legal and Corporate Affairs Director for Pernod Ricard Winemakers, with wineries in Australia, New Zealand, Spain and the United States, and a member of the Management Committee, I bring a wealth of experience to the College Council professionally and personally as a parent to Mercedes College student Maggie, Seamus and Matthew (Class of 2021).

I am a board member for Australian Grape and Wine Inc, and Chair of the Large Winemakers Committee, and the National Wine Foundation Inc, the Wine Industry’s representative on the DrinkWise Board, and a member of the Australian Wine Industry Joint Strategy and Crisis Response Committees. I am also a member of the Association of Corporate Counsel Australia’s Leading Environmental and Social Sustainability Committee. 

I am most proud of being a mum, my role as a Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador for Pernod Ricard Winemakers, for receiving the ACC Australian Corporate Lawyer Award for Corporate Social Responsibility Excellence in 2019 and for receiving the ‘Champion of Diversity & Equality’ award in the 2020 Australian Women in Wine Awards.

Sam Dighton
Having practiced as a lawyer for more than 20 years, I have extensive experience in commercial, strategic and legal decision making, including as Group Executive Commercial, General Counsel and Company Secretary at ElectraNet: South Australia’s high voltage transmission network operator, and been a Partner is a leading UK law firm. I am a Councillor of the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy.

I have a Masters of Business Administration from Kingston Business School (UK), a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Adelaide and a Bachelor of Arts from Flinders University.

As a committed and visible member of the Mercedes College community, I am keen to add value and bring my commercial, legal and governance experience to the College Council and committees. In 2023, both of my children will be attending Mercedes College, Athena in Year 4 and Louis starting Reception in Term 3.

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.

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 3 Standing Committees

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

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

3. Faith and Education Standing Committee
Narelle Sandercock (Chair)
Jon Cenko
Sylvia Habel
Pip Metljak
Sister Pat Freehan
Andrew Balkwill
Deborah Lubatti
Adrian Chiarolli